Cormac Ó hEadhra presented The Late Debate on RTÉ Radio One tonight with guests Independent TD, Shane Ross; Fianna Fail TD, Sean Fleming; Dearbhail McDonald, legal editor of the Irish Independent; and Ken Murphy, of the Law Society of Ireland.
Fiach Kelly, of The Irish Times, joined them to report on tonight’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting dominated by cronyism..
From the discussion:
Dearbhail McDonald: “What’s catching up with Enda Kenny and his party at the moment is what caught out other bodies, such as the Catholic church, it’s not the…for example, in the Catholic church, it wasn’t the fact of clerical sex abuse, it was the cover-up and I think what the public are very very disenchanted and angry at is the manner in which it is being held, being insulted, you know. ‘And I’m sorry if you thought this was something that you imagined it to be’ or whatever that mangled phrase by the Taoiseach was.”
Shane Ross: “In the Dáil today, there wasn’t a single Labour minister there, or yesterday when Enda Kenny was taking questions on this cronyism. They deserted the Dáil, they were deliberately absent, they didn’t want to be associated with it and they did nothing about it. They are as guilty as Fine Gael, not just by innuendo, but because they’re at it themselves, they’re at it themselves. Because they’ve got…look at the board of An Post and see how many Labour people who are on there who are ex-apparatchiks, they’re at exactly the same game themselves and they’ve been caught. I think, I think, and I may be wrong, the proportion is it’s 2:1, Fine Gael get two, Labour get one and that’s the end of the story.”
Fiach Kelly: “The [Arts] minister herself [Heather Humphreys] made a contribution to the meeting. Again, she didn’t really go further on what she said in the past few days. She told TDs that when it came to Mr McNulty’s appointment to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, she did it entirely on his merits and she was described as having made an address, that she could have read from a script, and didn’t really say much that we didn’t know already.”
Chosen to defend the taoiseach’s handling of the John McNulty affair Fine Gael TD Jim Daly (above) joined Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and host Miriam O’Callaghan on Prime Time last night.
He deserves a position on a board somewhere..
Miriam O’Callaghan: “The Taoiseach says John McNulty asked him, said he’d like to be on a board to boost his credentials for the Seanad and that Enda Kenny didn’t tell his officials that but, just by coincidence, his officials ended up sending his CV to the minister [Heather Humphries]. Is that believable? Is that credible?”
Jim Daly: “I agree with you, there are more answers than questions remaining at this stage. Sorry, there’s more questions than answers, the opposite to that, at this stage. Look this debacle, and it’s nothing short of a debacle has me, and I know I speak for many of my colleagues, we’re embarrassed by it, we’re annoyed by it, quite frankly, I don’t like having accusations put to me on the doors in Clonakilty, in West Cork, where I am, that you’re no different to Fianna Fáil, you’re no different from what’s gone before.”
O’Callaghan: “But, Jim Daly, I know, you’re on a, you’ve a tough wicket tonight, to be here, right. But did you ask before you came out tonight, for instance, those kinds of questions that I will be asking tonight, like, is that believable, that John McNulty would say he wanted to be put on a board to boost his credentials for the Seanad and then, just coincidentally, the officials who work with Enda Kenny send it to Heather Humphries?”
Daly: “I’m as eager to get the answers. I’m as annoyed, Miriam, as I said, and embarrassed, at the start of it from this. And I am eager to get the answers and I’m anxious that we do that. And the place for that will be, this is a Fine Gael issue, it’s an internal issue for Fine Gael. It has been brought into the public domain by the actions of some. I don’t know what the answers that you’re going to be asking, the answers to all those questions tonight…”
O’Callaghan: “Who do you think could answer those questions though?”
Daly: “Well I’d be very hopeful and, again, anxious that I’d get those answers and the party would get those answers tomorrow evening [tonight] at the parliamentary party meeting. It’s going to be a difficult meeting. There’s 100 of us there, 100 members of the parliamentary party and we are very eager, anxious and…”
O’Callaghan: “But Jim Daly I appreciate and respect the fact that you’re here tonight, you were sent out but is it good enough that you’re sent out to represent the party and you do not know the answers to any of these key serious questions.”
Daly: “Well I’m more than happy to come out here, I think, you know, I don’t think it’s right and proper that nobody turns up from a political party to answer the questions, I’m happy to give you my views, I’m a member of the party. I’m not just a member on the ground of the party, I’m also a member of the parliamentary party. And I’m happy to give you my views and to share my views on that and to keep this story in context, I suppose, and to put it into context, as opposed to dodging any questions. I’ll answer anything…”
O’Callaghan: “Ok, fair enough, well to ask the same question another way, do you believe the Taoiseach’s version of events, there. The question I put to you?”
Daly: “Yeah. Well if you’re asking me, do I think the Taoiseach has lied to date, no I don’t, you know, think he has told any lie to date. But there are further questions that I have to know. I mean today the Taoiseach introduced an official into the, the narrative, if you like, and that an official went with a file to the minister. Well, who was that official? What authority was…”
O’Callaghan: “Did you ask tonight, though, before you came out, who the official was?”
Daly: “No I wasn’t speaking to the Taoiseach before I came out tonight and I think he’s…”
O’Callaghan: “Or any of his officials?”
Daly: “No, I, I didn’t. I’m going to have to wait til tomorrow, tomorrow afternoon, the Taoiseach was in the Dáil most of the evening today, I was at various meetings all day, I met with the Children’s Ombudsman officals, I’d numerous things going on so I wasn’t in that position. But what I will be saying is it’s tomorrow evening, we will have an opportunity, as a party, to go and ask those questions and I’ll be looking forward to getting those answers.”
“In my experience of working with various editors over the years, it doesn’t matter if the death has just taken place. Even in the case of a baby’s death, the pressure is on reporters from radio and TV stations to talk to the family and to get the all-important quotes and pictures.
Sometimes local councillors are willing accomplices in this practice, colluding in identifying the victim’s address and even giving background information.
The stories are legion. I have twice been asked to approach a family in hospital while their child was recovering in intensive care. I didn’t try very hard.
I have heard, on multiple occasions, news editors cheering at the news of a tragedy involving an attractive woman.