Anthony Flynn, of Inner City Helping Homeless, and new figures from the Department of Housing
Just before the Fine Gael leadership debate in the Red Cow Inn, Dublin.
During which contender and Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said the party needs to represent both “the man in a sleeping bag on Grafton Street tonight as well as the man creating 1,000 jobs”.
The latest homelessness report, for the week April 24-April 30, 2017 from the Department of Housing was released, showing that the number of people who are homeless has reached a new record high of 7,680 – 4972 adults and 2,708 children.
Anthony Flynn, of Inner City Helping Homeless, wrote:
The last number of days have been fairly chaotic when it comes to homelessness. Tuesday in particular, we saw the highest ever recorded number of rough sleepers and a drastic situation of no hotel/B&B accommodation for 12 families.
This led to a frenzy of supports required to be put in place and services increased to cope with demand. A number of families were referred to Garda stations as there was nowhere else to go. One such family had to be accommodated within our offices until supports could be put in place Wednesday morning. Some of those that were affected slept in tents others in cars.
How did we come to this situation?
A lack of short to medium-term planning is the best answer I can give. A complete lack of inter-agency communication and a lack of will from the powers-that-be. The eye has been taken off the ball in regard to homelessness and the long-term planning aspect has left short-term problems. Homelessness has become a crisis right across the State but hasn’t been treated as such. Our volunteers deal with thousands of individuals weekly, many of whom have become lost in a system of ‘no hope’.
I have spent the last four years in a voluntary position within Inner City Helping Homeless; I have met an abundance of people, from homeless to colleagues. I have made some great friends and am privileged to lead an organisation that shows empathy, compassion and is made up of decent human beings.
This week however, I can say that it has been the worst week I have seen within the homeless sector. Up to 30 children refused accommodation, whilst those who are charged with solving our homeless crisis enjoy their evening off.
Families sent from pillar to post in order to be left with no hope, no accommodation and no home. Homeless has become an epidemic, a plague that has spread so wide across our city and state.
Homelessness has become a business, a sector, it cost in excess of €100million a year to operate. To some that means profit, which in turn means that homelessness will remain.
This however should not take away from our responsibilities, people are suffering.
Children are being now left on the streets, a prediction that Father Peter McVerry made only a year ago. Homelessness has become socially acceptable. It has become tolerable to pass somebody by in a doorway, it has become bearable to leave families stuck in hotels, and now, this week, it has become justifiable to leave children without a bed.
Richard is a Dubliner living in Copenhagen while Richard Ray is a Niagara native, with Corkonian roots, who has moved to Spain.
Last June, in a blues bar in Copenhagen, somebody mentioned to Richard that there was another bluesman out there with a virtually identical name. What was initially idle bar chat turned into a mini obsession and soon an email with the subject ‘Long Lost Blues Cousin?’ was winging its way to Richard Ray. It took mere days for a plan to be hatched — a joint tour of Ireland and Denmark.
The Blues Cousins Tour has conquered Copenhagen already, now they’re on their way to West Cork, via Dublin…
Richard and Richard Ray will play Hackett’s Bar in Schull tomorrow night, at 9pm; Levis’ Bar in Ballydehob on Sunday, at 6.30pm; and Crane Lane, Cork, also on Sunday, at 11.30pm.
TDs made statements on the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, received by Fine Gael’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor.
It followed the acquittal of former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank Sean Fitzpatrick earlier this week, after lead investigator from the ODCE shredded documents which were relevant to the investigation.
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said:
“The first thing I think we need to say, in relation to this debate, is that Ireland doesn’t do prosecution of white collar crime and it’s not just this collapse of this trial or the acquittal of Seanie Fitzpatrick, but it’s, for decades now, we’ve seen that thread.
“We’ve seen the underfunding of resources, of agencies that are supposed to be tackling white collar crime, we see staff resources being cut and we see our legislative framework, that should underpin a strong, robust anti-corruption and white collar crime agenda, simply not there.
“My colleague spoke about the request, when the ODCE was established in 2001, and it was established as a result of the tribunals of investigation, the massive corruption that we’ve seen in those tribunals, tribunals that span three decades, yet only one conviction because of corruption.
“Despite the fact that we know that politicians were up to their neck in it, in relation to brown envelopes. Despite the fact that we know that people had benefitted, in terms of their own lifestyle as a result of backhanders given to people in influential places but CAB didn’t go in and seize the assets at that time, because there’s one rule for certain individuals and another rule for others.
“But when it was established in 2001, within a number of years, the director was requesting resources. The director wrote to Micheál Martin, who was the line minister at that time in 2005, and continued to write to him over a period of time, telling him that the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement was wholly inadequately resourced.
“Minister Martin at the time refused the request and at a time when tens of thousands of additional public sector workers were bing recruited, not an additional staff member was given to the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement.
“Bertie Ahern, sitting for years where you’re sitting today, and said that they needed to wait their turn. And, at the same time, at the same time, Seanie Fitzpatrick and his ilk were setting in train the economic disaster that people the length and breath of this country had to endure over the last ten years. And that is a symbol of how this country deals with white collar crime. Continue reading →
People Before Profit TD Brid Smith (top second left) alongside ‘Pensioners for Equality’ protesting outside the Dáil calling on the Minister for Social Welfare, Leo Varadkar to end the “systemic inequality in the contributory pension and the homemaker scheme”.
Lilian MacCarthy (above centre) from Rialto in Dublin has over 30 years of contributions, but is looking at a reduction of 24 Euro per week.
The new Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland met for the first time.
At a media briefing, when asked about calls for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to stand down, head of the commission Kathleen O’Toole – who was on the panel which appointed Ms O’Sullivan to Garda Commissioner in 2014 – said:
“I don’t think it would make a difference whether it was Nóirín O’Sullivan or someone else. I think this management team inherited a poison chalice. And I think we need to get beyond the finger-pointing and the name-calling. We want to look to the future.”
Further to this…
During Leaders’ Questions, taken by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace spoke about Ms O’Toole’s comments and, later, revisited the protected disclosure made by whistleblower Garda Nick Keogh.
Readers will recall how Garda Keogh, in May 2014, as a member of the drugs squad in Athlone, made a formal complaint to the then confidential recipient Judge Pat McMahon about a garda in the drugs squad and their alleged involvement in the supply of heroin in Westmeath, Offaly and Longford.
Garda Keogh also claimed a State mobile phone was supplied by a senior garda to a suspended garda whom Garda Keogh alleged had links to the drugs trade in Co Westmeath.
In November 2014, Mr Wallace told the Dail that since Garda Keogh had made his complaint, he had been subjected to constant harassment by senior management, manufactured complaints were made against him, and his activities were monitored. In December 2015, Garda Keogh went on sick leave.
In 2016, John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reported that an internal investigation found evidence to substantiate “many” of Garda Keogh’s claims.
However, Garda Keogh still has to see any report of this investigation and it’s understood none has been published.
In addition, Mr Mooney reported that the DPP toldGarda Headquarters that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute those implicated, but that a senior garda and a drugs squad garda in Athlone would face disciplinary proceedings.
Readers may also recall how, in January of this year, GSOC requested to oversee the disciplinary investigation of the two gardai but Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan refused GSOC’s request.
From today’s Leaders’ Questions…
Mick Wallace: “Tánaiste, yesterday Kathleen O’Toole confirmed the suspicion of many, that the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is a fig leaf to divert attention away from the crises in Garda management. She said that their task is not to scrutinise the performance of individuals and that Garda management inherited a poison chalice. What she forgot to tell us is that the present commissioner was part of the poison when she got the job in 2014. Why did they appoint someone that was part of the problem?”
“Head of GSOC [Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission] Mary Ellen Ring said last week, I would have thought you could have this commission done and dusted by December the 1st, if they just sat down and read the [Garda] Inspectorate’s reports and that there was no guarantee that the report delivered by the Commission on the Future of Policing in September 2018 would be acted upon.”
“As the head of the Garda Inspectorate Robert Olsen, previous reforms identified had not been implemented. No one, he said, had made the change happen. In the last few weeks, things have got so bad at Garda Headquarters that a decision was made to grant a barrister and junior counsel to both the Commissioner and her most senior Assistant Commissioner, at the expense of the State. They can’t even be in the same room without being lawyered up.”
“As a result of the failure to resolve issues around the complaints made by the same Assistant Commissioner, including interference in the interview process for the Commissioner’s job back in 2014. Despite the expenditure of tens of thousands in consultancy payments to a company to investigate the issue – a job that was never tendered.”
“Interestingly, that same interview panel that trawled the world before deciding that Noirin O’Sullivan was the best person to replace Martin Callinan, involved not only Josephine Feehily, who in her role as head of the Policing Authority has failed to recommend the removal of the Commissioner; Kathleen O’Toole, who yesterday indicated that she wanted to take the heat off Noirin; but also Vivienne Jupp, a former executive of global management consultancy Accenture, a company which benefited from multi-million euro contracts with An Garda Siochana.”
“Vivienne Jupp was also instrumental in establishing Cyril Dunne as Chief Administrative Officer inside An Garda Siochana who was among the first to be made aware of the Templemore scandal.
“Yesterday, the outgoing Taoiseach said if a minister were in charge of a calamity, like that in the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement, they’d be immediately sacked. Tanaiste, you might find yourself heading up a different department in a few weeks time, the present commissioner has given more than enough proof that she is not the person to bring An Garda Siochana forward.”
“Minister, Tanaiste, this might be your last few weeks in justice, would you not consider doing what needs to be done in the best interests of An Garda Siochana because the legislation allows for you to remove the commissioner when it is in the best interests of An Garda Siochana and it certainly would be.”
“The house that is known as An Garda Siochana is falling down around her ears. While scandals, which can only be described as white collar crime continue to escalate around Templemore, at the other end of the scale, the plot thickens around the Garda involvement in the heroin trade in Athlone.
“On the 19th of May, 2017, presiding Circuit Court judge Keelan Johnson expressed his displeasure, annoyance and frustration at being seriously misled by a garda. The judge outlined, in public, in open court, that, on the 7th of June, 2016, while sentencing a woman on drug offences, committed on the 2nd of June, 2015, a garda purposefully, and deliberately misled him and the court.”
“The same drugs operation, for which other gardai have been found to have had an involvement in, as a result of the protected disclosure of Garda Nick Keogh three years ago, yet, nobody’s been arrested, nobody’s been charged, three years later. Why? Because some of Noirin’s inner circle are being protected.”
“The Late Late Show will be celebrating 50 years of the Community Games in Ireland with three of Ireland’s sporting stars… rugby star Tommy Bowe, world champion walker Olive Loughnane and former Republic of Ireland international Niall Quinn.
Norah Casey is one of Ireland’s most successful and best known businesswomen. After years of keeping it secret, Norah will, for the first time, speak openly about the violence she suffered in her first marriage…
Paul Burrell was Princess Diana’s rock for a decade… he’ll give viewers the inside track on the royals…
Almost 60 years ago, Irish born Paula Douglas was taken to America by her adoptive parents. It wasn’t until she saw [the film] Philomena that she began to question the circumstances around her own adoption. With no clues to her true identity, she appears on the Late Late on Friday to share her story…
Ryan will be making good on a promise made during the hugely popular The Late Late Show Country Special with legends of the Irish scene Big Tom and Margo in studio to perform their new duet ‘Through the Years’… and new music from Damien Dempsey.
A debate between Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar (top) will be broadcast from the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin with Gavin Duffy acting as convenor.
Further debates will take place in Carlow tomorrow night; Ballinasloe, Co Galway on Saturday; and Cork on Sunday.
The debates take place ahead of next week’s vote – almost 21,000 Fine Gael party members (25%) and 235 local representatives (10%) early in the week, and 73 parliamentary party members (65%) on Friday, June 2.
Mr Varadkar’s 12-page Taking Ireland ‘policy ideas paper’ can be read here, while Mr Coveney’s 16-page Positive Strong Leadership paper can be read here
Minister for Housing Simon Coveney on Tonight with Vincent Browne last night
On Tonight with Vincent Browne.
In a pre-recorded interview with Fine Gael’s Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, who is running in the Fine Gael leadership race against Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar…
Mr Coveney said he is different to Mr Varadkar who, earlier this week, said he wants to lead a party for “people who get up early in the morning.”
In addition, Mr Coveney said “those people are as important to me as people who pay for everything” referring to people in receipt of social welfare payments.
The Housing Minister also called for people to judge him based on his actions, pointed to his €5.5billion social housing plan.
From the interview…
Simon Coveney: “I think there is a choice for the party that’s quite different.”
Vincent Browne: “Tell us the choice, between one person who says what and the other person says. Tell us both.”
Coveney: “I will. What I have been talking about is a party that represents everybody. Unlike most parties in the country at the moment, many of the smaller parties in particular, focus on niche areas in society and only represent that group of people and then actually get political traction on the basis of division and anger and protest.”
“What I’m talking about is Fine Gael representing someone who is unfortunately in a sleeping bag tonight on the streets of Dublin, as well as supporting people who are creating thousands of jobs. And supporting them and celebrating that success.
“This is a party that I joined and it’s a party that I’ve been a part of for nearly two decades of my working life that I believe has to get the best out of everybody regardless of their limitations or disabilities or social disadvantage or whatever. And…”
Browne: “Ok, that’s what you stand for…tell us how…”
Coveney: “I am not the kind of person that talks about Fine Gael only representing the person that gets up early in the morning.”
Browne: “And that’s what you stand for. Now tell us how that differs from what Leo Varadkar stands for?”
Coveney: “Well I think that is my vision for the country, is one…no, let me finish now and I’ll get to your question.”
Browne: “Ok, good.”
Coveney: “My vision is one of social justice, as well as economic progression. And I think that the approach that I have, that Fine Gael needs to reach out to people who don’t naturally support us and who may never support us in the future but our responsibility to try and get the best out of those people in society, not in some kind of dependancy way but in an enabling way.”
“I think that is a very different message to what I’ve heard from Leo Varadkar this week when he talks about Fine Gael being the party of the person that gets up early in the morning to work. Of course those people need to be represented by Fine Gael because they pay for everything. But there are many people who need the State’s intervention to allow them fulfil their potential and those people are as important to me as people who pay for everything.”
Browne: “Ok, he’s talking…”
Coveney: “I think that is very different vision for the party.”
Browne: “Ok, he talks about a sense of, culture of entitlement in the country. Do you perceive that?”
Coveney: “I mean, I think there is a politics in Ireland at the moment, that calls for the State to deliver people’s rights on everything. A right to a house, a right to healthcare, a right to education, a right to a decent income.”
Browne: “Justice. That’s justice.”
Coveney: “Yeah it is… but the way…”
Browne: “Are you not in favour of that?”
Coveney: “The way in which you achieve it is to ensure that the State enables people to make a contribution to society, as well as a dependency on a government. And I think that is the big difference between me and the hard left. And I think, you know…judge me on what I’m actually doing. I mean, in housing policy at the moment, Vincent, people will talk about the numbers and so on. We have a huge social housing build programme that’s now under way, it’s a €5.5billion project and so on. But the real change, actually, that I’m looking to bring to social housing policy in Ireland is forcing integration.”
“I no longer accept the hard-left arguments that we should designate whole parts of cities and fill them with social housing estates in a mono-tenure way. Instead we have to ensure that social houses are part of private developments and that private housing is part of new social developments…”
Browne: “Are you suggesting that Leo Varadkar is part of the hard left?”
Coveney: “No, I’m not. I’m not suggesting anything about Leo Varadkar, I’m talking about myself.”