From top: Minister for Children Katherine Zappone; Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly; Ms Daly speaking in the Dáil earlier today

This afternoon.

In the Dáil, during Leaders’ Questions.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly voiced her frustration over the manner in which scandals are handled in Ireland.

Ms Daly was speaking in light of the Cabinet yesterday approving a request from the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation for an extension of a year before publishing its final report.

Yesterday: ‘Geophysical Survey’ Of Burial Ground At Sean Ross Abbey To Begin Tomorrow

From top: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

In the Dáil, during Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised the recent death of Orla Church – who was the 21st women to die in relation to the CervicalCheck smear test scandal.

Mr Martin said, it was his understanding that, some free repeat smear tests conducted in the wake of the scandal have been rendered invalid because the tests expired due to delays caused by a backlog.

The provision of these free repeat smear tests ended on December 31, 2018.

Mr Varadkar confirmed some tests did expire.

Mr Martin pressed Mr Varadkar to explain when the Minister for Health Simon Harris informed Mr Varadkar of this situation.

From their exchange in the Dáil…

Micheal Martin: “In essence that information has been withheld. That’s why it [the free repeat smear tests] discontinued Taoiseach. The minister’s decision was against expert advice that warned him, repeatedly, that this would damage the entire programme.

“It is my understanding and it is my information that the programme is in jeopardy because of all of this. And further there’s significant decisions and communications would have to occur because of this. I asked were you made aware of this by the minister?

“Would you please answer that question.

“I asked as to the rational behind the minister’s decision – against repeated expert advice and that this was not clinically warranted and it would damage the efficacy of the entire programme.

“Taoiseach if we’ve learned any lessons about this, the withholding of information, the secrecy and denial that was part of the first phase of this scandal is being repeated yet again.

“In terms of the lack of upfront, honest responses to parliamentary questions and the ducking and the diving and the papering over the cracks and the covering up that goes on then subsequently.

“So we’re now all led to believe that it just evolved that the decision was closed down in December. It didn’t just evolve. It was a discovery made, Taoiseach – that tests were invalid because the expiry date ran out because of the backlog and the delay. That has consequences Taoiseach in terms of many women involved.

“And we need, I would ask you Taoiseach will you ensure that the minster comes before this House and makes a comprehensive and transparent statement in relation to what I have asked today?”

Leo Varadkar: “Thanks Deputy. The rationale behind the decision by Minister [for Health Simon] Harris to offer free out-of-cycle smear tests back in May or June was to respond back to the anxiety by many women that their smear test may have been misread and it was done in good faith, in good faith, for good reasons.

It was never intended to be a permanent offering, it was only ever intended to last for a few months and those free tests cease to be available at the end of December this year [sic].

I was made aware of a backlog a few weeks ago and Minister Harris informed me a few weeks ago. I’ll answer your question if you’ll allow me to.

I was made aware by Minister Harris a few weeks ago that there was a backlog and this was creating problems and, as a result of that, some tests had expired and would have to be repeated. And the minister, for that reason, worked with, is working with the HSE to deal with that and to make sure that additional capacity is found in order to catch up on the backlog.

“I’m sure the minister will be happy to come before the House and make a statement on it.”

When Mr Martin pressed Mr Varadkar to state when he was specifically informed of the matter by Mr Harris, Mr Varadkar repeated it was “a couple of weeks ago, I don’t remember the exact date”.

Mr Varadkar said he didn’t want to mislead the Dáil and repeated that he couldn’t remember the exact date he was informed.

Previously: “I Don’t Believe I’m Being Told The Truth”

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

Louise Bagnell, creative director Cartoon Saloon, the Kilkenny-based studio behind Oscar-nominated animated features Song of the Sea and The Breadwinner, describes the making of ‘Late Afternoon’, nominated for Best Animated Short at the 2019 Academy Awards.

In fairness.

Meanwhile…

Late Afternoon director Louise Bagnall and producer Nuria González Blanco celebrate their nomination yesterday.

Animation Oscar Nominees React to Good News (Animation News)

Redditors in Paintings


 

Last weekend, Redditor Gaddafo posted a picture of his mother holding a painting she’d done. Soon, another Redditor, UK__z  posted a picture of himself holding a painting of the image.

And on it went from there.

biotv

A vigil for the victims of the Carrickmines halting site fire in 2015

Yesterday.

A jury at the Dublin Coroner’s Court returned a verdict of misadventure at the inquest into the deaths of 10 victims of the Carrickmines halting site fire in October 2015.

The Carrickmines fire claimed the lives of Thomas Connors (28), his wife Sylvia (30), and their children Jim (5), Christy (3) and five-month-old Mary.

Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27), who was pregnant, and her daughters Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4). Jimmy Lynch (39), a brother of Willie, also lost their lives in the fire.

The halting site had been established as emergency temporary accommodation and, the court heard, was exempt from planning and fire safety guidelines due to its ’emergency’ status.

Further to this…

The Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre have called for laws to be changed to make sure temporary emergency halting sites meet fire safety and planning regulations.

In a statement, Pavee Point Co-Director Martin Collins says:

“This has been a terrible time for the Lynch, Gilbert and Connors families who have had to relive the horror of that night in 2015.

“We hope that this inquest will bring some closure to the families and enable them to move on with their lives.

“Every support should be made available to support these bereaved family members. And we empathise with them at this time.

We are also calling on the Government to amend legislation to ensure that temporary emergency halting sites should meet fire safety and planning regulations so a tragedy like this never occurs again.

This was an emergency temporary site that had been there since 2008. These families should not have been left in these conditions for 7 years. The site was exempt from planning and fire regulations because of its ‘emergency’ status.

“We heard during the inquest that the portocabins did not meet building regulations and that the close proximity of the portocabins “virtually assured” that the fire would spread.

Under Department of the Environment guidelines for temporary halting sites, housing units are supposed to have at least six metres between them and families are supposed to only stay for up to five years.

There are currently temporary emergency sites in existence that have been there for 30 years. And each year money for Traveller accommodation is returned to central government by local authorities – unspent.”

Pavee Point Calls for New Laws for Temporary Emergency Halting Sites (Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre)

Misadventure verdicts on 10 deaths in Carrickmines fire (Louise Roseingrave, The Irish Times)

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed (top left and above) spoke to Audrey Carville about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

From their discussion…

Audrey Carville: “Who will check the contents of that tanker-load of milk as it prepares to cross the border on a daily basis?”

Michael Creed: “What is abundantly clear and has been from day one, Audrey, is that this government is not countenancing in any circumstances returning to a situation where we have hard border infrastructure. That…”

Carville: “So where will the border be? Will you check it in the factory?”

Creed: “That will not happen. There will not be hard border infrastructure. We have a solution to these issues in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement. The UK Government must be the focus now. It is not for us, who have engineered this solution, in negotiation with the British Government…”

Carville: “Minister, many people listening to you this morning might think you are treating us all as if we are stupid.”

Creed: “No, what I am clearly stating is this is a moment of high political drama and it is imperative that the Irish Government’s position is clearly understood in the context of a debate that is current and fluid in the UK parliament. We have a solution to these issues. We share the same position that the Northern Ireland Secretary of State shares in the context of there being no hard border under any circumstances.”

Carville: “So you are not prepared…Yes, but you’re not prepared to say, in the event of a no-deal, where the European Commission is absolutely clear – there has to be checks on live animals and animal products, where those checks will take place and who will do the checking?”

Creed: “We share the exact same position as articulated by president of the Commission when he articulated in the Dail chamber that there would be no hard border infrastructure sought by the European Union.”

Carville: “So where will the border be?”

Creed: “Well, the border issue is dealt with in the context of the backstop. We are not in a situation…”

Carville: “Not in a no-deal. Minister, please, with respect, all of us are invested in this, as is the most of the country is, understands that that is not the case. The Withdrawal Agreement does not deal with a no-deal Brexit – so I’m asking you in the event of a no-deal Brexit, who will do the checking on the animals and food products? And where will they be checked?”

Creed: “Well we have arrangements in the context of the central case scenario or a hard Brexit for border inspection posts on an east-west basis. In fact earlier this morning I was down in Dublin Port looking at our preparations in that context.”

Meanwhile….

Earlier: Splendid Isolation

The ‘How To be Sound‘ podcast

Rosemary McCabe meets much-loved social media fashion plate James ‘Exchequer Street Boy’ Kavanagh.

Rosemary writes:

James talked about what exactly people mean by “PC gone mad”, the variety of STIs he has experience of and how he’d choose to describe himself, given that his main source of income is social media brand partnerships. (Hint: it’s not “social influencer”)…

How To be Sound

Previously: Exchequer Street Boy on Broadsheet

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

In a private meeting with party leaders last night, Mr Varadkar and his department secretary general John Callinan said unless the Irish question is resolved, the EU could hypothetically move control of any border away from Ireland and onto the continent.

Such a scenario would remove the need for a hard border between the Republic and the North.

However, it would also mean Ireland and the UK would be treated as one bloc, several sources at the meeting told the Irish Examiner, which must be “avoided at all costs”.

Meanwhile…

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet briefing, Mr Varadkar’s spokesperson said “the Government is not in denial” over the scale of the crisis.

However, he repeatedly declined to explain how to avoid a no-deal Brexit without using the withdrawal agreement or the backstop, stressed “there are no preparations for a hard border”, and said it remains up to Britain to find a solution.

Ireland faces isolation with Britain as EU border mooted (Irish Examiner)

Barnier says time-limited backstop would be useless (RTÉ)

Rollingnews