Punishment shootings facilitated by family members is a phenomenon with which I, as a documentary film-maker, am very familiar. In 2012 I began talking to the O’Donnell family in Derry. Earlier that year Majella O’Donnell had taken her teenage son, Philly, to be shot by local gunmen.
Majella, her son and his shooters are all part of a community that considers itself to be still at war. They are Republican dissidents and do not feel represented by the Republicans who signed up to the Good Friday agreement on their behalf.
I have made films all over the world but on my doorstep found a story that was more compelling than anything I’d ever previously encountered.
…The resulting film, A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot, will receive its international premiere this weekend in Copenhagen, at CPH:DOX, one of the most prestigious documentary festivals in the world, where it has been nominated for an award. The Oscar-winning director Joshua Oppenheimer is now executive producer.
The international interest is in disappointing contrast with the UK. The documentary premiered at the London film festival last year but as yet, no UK broadcaster has committed to screening it, despite mounting concerns that Brexit could reawaken old divisions.
Various shows looked at the fall-out of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s comments in Washington yesterday when he claimed he made a call to Clare County Council when he was Minister for Tourism in 2014.
Readers will recall Mr Varadkar said he made the call after he got a phone call from Donald Trump, who was then a businessman, about a proposed wind farm which was to be built close to Mr Trump’s Doonbeg golf resort, subject to planning permission.
The wind farm subsequently didn’t get planning permission. [The decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanala but the board upheld the decision to refuse permission].
Readers will recall, Mr Varadkar specifically said of the permission not being granted:
“The president has very kindly given me credit for that, although I do think it would probably have been refused anyway. I’m very happy to take credit for it…”
Clare County Council last night said it had no record of any contact from Mr Varadkar.
This morning, on Morning Ireland, RTE’s Micheal Lehane reported:
“The latest on it is that it was in fact the Taoiseach’s office that made an inquiry about the status of the planning application.
“They say nothing more than that and a record probably wouldn’t be kept in that instance .
“And it’s being compared by Leo Varadkar’s side to a politician making a call about the status of a medical card and saying it’s nothing at all along the lines of any judicial matter so therefore, on that grounds, they say, it’s acceptable, but there’s no doubt, it is controversial and many in Leinster House believe it highly unusual given the nature of what was being proposed on the planning application and the big purchase at Doonbeg at the time.”
Later, also on Morning Ireland…
Presenter Dr Gavin Jennings spoke to Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley and Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway about the matter.
Dr Jennings specifically asked Senator Conway if Mr Varadkar rang the council – as Mr Varadkar himself said – or not.
From Mr Conway’s response…
“My understanding is that he didn’t ring the council. I’ve been speaking to council officials. None of them can recall receiving a phone call from Leo Varadkar.
“I have been talking to people in Leo Varadkar’s office who were working with Leo Varadkar at the time he was minister for transport and tourism and they’re absolutely clear that Leo Varadkar did not make a call – that, basically, somebody in his office made an inquiry in terms of the status update.
“As we all do on a regular basis, we regularly, as public representatives get phone calls about planning files by people who are supportive of them and people who are not supportive of them.
“Sometimes we will just check, we can do it online or we can make a phonecall to see what’s the story with this file, you know when is a decision due, and so forth.
“What the Taoiseach did was the Taoiseach sought information, his office sought information for somebody who was employing over 300 people down in West Clare.”
Further to Morning Ireland, on Today with Sean O’Rourke, which was presented by Damian O’Reilly…
Mr O’Reilly spoke to Labour leader Brendan Howlin and Louth Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd about the comments.
Mr O’Dowd said:
“It was a humorous side remark and I accept that’s what it was and it’s something that he spoke about on other occasions. The key point is that at the core of this is that he got a call from Donald Trump, he wasn’t president. Leo wasn’t Taoiseach at the time, he was Minister for Tourism and Sport.
“And indeed, people in public life receive calls all the time from business people, all the time from the public about this and the other and on planning issues, we’re often invited to meetings arguing people for something or against something and as Mr Howlin said there, I mean, Regina Doherty is strongly opposed a planning application for a wind farm in her own constituency, so there’s nothing new…
“[Leo] made a query, through his office, as to what was the status of the application and that’s what he did.”
“…there was no law broken, it wasn’t interference…”
“...he didn’t interfere, he made a query...”
“The office inquired about the planning permission, they didn’t make representation and that’s the democratic process…”
“But the other point is he did it openly, there’s nothing hidden about this, he spoke about it two years ago [in Time magazine], he joked about it in public, what’s the big deal here?“
On Ryan Tubridy’s RTE Radio One show Tubridy…
Mr Tubridy said:
“All the papers covering the trip to Washington by the Taoiseach. And, you know, part of me thinks, oh, he’s telling his story about Doonbeg and I presume he thought, it’s a gas story and it’s a bit of an old, a bit of fun, and you’re in Washington.
“But, you know what, when you’re Taoiseach and you’re in Washington, you have to remember that you might aswell be on the main street in Killarney or wherever you want to be in Clare because it’s just, you kind of think when you go out there, you think the rules are a bit different but they’re not.
“And sure enough, we’re not talking about trade and immigrants in as much a way as you can hear on Morning Ireland there, the interest of the trip has really been slanted towards what he said about Doonbeg and the wind farm and you heard [Fianna Fail TD] Timmy Dooley, a local interest, talking about that.
“I’d say that they’re probably…a bit of a face palm, ‘oh, if only, maybe, you just didn’t need to tell that story and maybe if you hadn’t and everything else’, but…anyway…that’s what he did and that’s what they’re doing.”
“The headline in The [Irish] Times is: ‘Trump open to deal on undocumented’, but actually it’s the story that seems to be getting the most traction is the on the side which is ‘Varadkar criticised over Doonbeg’.
“Bit of a pity really because those trips are really meant to be fun, good news trips and you come back armed with loads of stories about investment and everything…“
I heard on the radio this morning that the Chinese are no longer willing to recycle our recyclable waste and now we may have to pay additionally for that. I also heard that if there are any food remains in a single green bin then the entire lorry-load is discarded. If this is correct then the green bin is a waste of time.
I was born in south Dublin in 1966 and we had one bin about half the size of the current black bin and it was collected every week by the council.
The greengrocer called into the house every Thursday and delivered eggs and vegetables for the week. The breadman came and delivered the bread every day. The milkman came and delivered bottles of milk every day and took away the empty ones. There was no packaging.
At some point in time, all of these services were sent into oblivion because big companies could sell poorer quality produce cheaper. The people “running” these companies never did and never will understand anything other than “profits”.
The cost to the consumer today is that we will have to pay on the treble or the quadruple for succumbing to what appeared at the time to be a “sweet deal”.
I encourage consumers to seek out suppliers who produce and sell directly so that we might encourage a return to the ways of the 1960s and 1970s.
From top: Leo Varadkar with US president Donald Trump at The White House yesterday and above at an earlier lunch in the Capitol Hill building where he revealed his efforts to help prevent a wind farm being built near the Trump golf course in Doonbeg, County Clare
Mr Varadkar said that about three or four years ago, when he was minister for tourism, he received a call from Mr Trump who said he had a “problem” near Doonbeg, that somebody was trying to build a wind farm that would “impact on tourism”.
The Taoiseach said he initially thought the call was “a pisstake by one of my staff members” as he thought a businessman like Mr Trump would write a letter first to set up a meeting.
“But, as we all know, President Trump does work like that. He is a very direct man, likes to get things done,…
“…So I endeavoured to do what I could do about it and I rang the county council and inquired about the planning permission and subsequently the planning permission was declined and the wind farm was never built.
Clare County Council release the following statement…
“The planning application was received on 15th August 2014. All representations, objections and observations made in relation to this and all other planning applications are available to view on planning file and the Clare County Council website.
“There is no representation by Leo Varadkar, the then Minister for Tourism and Sport, or any elected member on this planning file. The decision on 8th October 2014 by Clare County Council to refuse this planning application was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanala. Following consideration of the appeal, An Bord Pleanala upheld the decision by Clare County Council and refused permission for the proposed development.”
An Bord Planala was set up for this reason, to stop central Government from meddling but @FineGael are above anything like that. Rules don’t apply, they can ride roughshod over an entire nation for 7 years using austerity as their excuse for giving their rich friends a dig out!
Gemma O’Doherty with Gabriel Mariya, European Commissioner in charge of Digital Economy and Society; Top: the expert group. from left :Wout van Wijk with Mariya Gabriel and INM’s Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae
Following the appointment of INM editor in chief Stephen Rae to an expert group on fake news.
Luke ‘Ming Flanagan writes:
You would expect that those appointed to a High Level Expert Group (HLEG) to advise the European Commission on ‘the phenomenon of fake news, defining the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, grasping the international dimension, taking stock of the positions at stake, and formulating recommendations’ (to quote their own website) would be vetted to ensure they meet the very highest standards of journalistic integrity, that they hadn’t even the most remote association with anyone whose own record on media integrity was open to question.
You would be wrong.
The appointment of Stephen Rae of the Independent News Media (INM) to that European Commission HLEG was the source of major concern in Ireland, especially among those familiar with the actions of the major shareholder in INM, Mr Denis O’Brien.
Yesterday, along with award-winning journalist Gemma O’Doherty (removed from her job by Mr Rae while she was investigating police corruption), I met with Commissioner Gabriel to discuss those concerns. This is what we learned:
1) The selection process was seriously flawed;
a. Who decided on the final 39 people, from the original applicant bank of over 300? Nameless people from the European Commission services.
b. For such a critical group, who did the background checks on the applicants, the due diligence? No-one – according to the Commissioner ‘we didn’t have the resources for that’! All CVs were accepted at face value, so that – for example – someone who in their own background would have had a history of disseminating fake news, and/or incomplete news, and/or blatantly biased news, could make it onto the final group.
2) The Expert Group has produced its report, and according to the Commissioner, has now completed its mandate. Or maybe it hasn’t. Technically they’re in place to the end of the year, and in their report they have recommended that they should in fact meet again. The Commissioner would not dismiss this possibility, yet also insists they have completed their work.
3) The Commissioner isn’t remotely concerned about having someone about whom there are so many questions, not even when it was pointed out that the majority of active Irish MEPs believe this individual is a questionable appointment, at best.
Is this an acceptable appointment, is this an acceptable standard from the European Commission for making such appointments? I
n both instances I believe the answer is no, this is NOT acceptable. In the first instance I will work to end that appointment, in the second I will work to improve this practice.