Former Minister for Communications Denis Naughten

Following the resignation of the former Minister for Communications Denis Naughten in October…

And the announcement of a review by Peter Smyth of interactions between Mr Naughten and businessman David McCourt, founder and chairman of Granahan McCourt – which is leading the last remaining consortium bidding for the National Broadband Plan…

To see if these interactions undermined the integrity of the procurement process…

Last night it was reported that Mr Smyth’s review has been given to the Government.

Further to this…

Will Goodbody, of RTE, reports:

The Attorney General has advised that the review of the National Broadband Plan procurement process by its Independent Auditor should be sent to the individuals named in the document before being published.

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications said it would be published shortly, but could not say specifically when.

The spokesperson also could not say whether those individuals named would be given an opportunity to respond to the report’s findings before it is published.

The report, which was received by Minister for Communications Richard Bruton yesterday, was not discussed at this morning’s Cabinet meeting.

It is expected to be presented at Cabinet next week.

Broadband review may be sent to individuals before publication (RTE)

Previously: National Broadband Plan on Broadsheet

Courting David

Rollingnews

Broadsheet on the Telly: mixed eclectic voices with hostage video broadcast quality

Last week, Broadsheet on the Telly bowed out after 89 late night episodes.

Neil Curran, who produced the show, broadcast live on Thursdays, and served as its movie critic, writes:

Many moons ago, Broadsheet put out a call for punters who might be interested in joining a new initiative of the site, Broadsheet on the Telly. The requirements were in true Broadsheet fashion, vague; “if interested, email us”. So I did.

Soon after I got an email from a John ‘Preposterous’ Ryan asking about having a chat. Well this was exciting. Was I going to be auditioned and quizzed on my knowledge on the site? Would John ask tough questions on politics or economics to test my worth? Would John quiz me on my political loyalties to see if I was a spy?

My relationship with Broadsheet over the years has been one of a casual nature. I wasn’t familiar with the site during the time of Kate Fitzgerald but became aware of it not long after. I read many of the articles, light hearted and heavy hitting, but I rarely visited the comments section.

At the time, Broadsheet had a reputation of “anything goes” in the comments section so I never got acquainted with the regular posters nor the drama that sometimes raised its head.

Cut back to that video call with John and seeing him for the first time. I expected a skinhead wearing a faded Pink Floyd t-shit with a Sex Pistols poster in the background on my screen. Instead I got a man with, let’s be honest, fantastic hair and a well ironed shirt, soft spoken with humility.

There was no audition, no quiz. Just a chat. I got the impression he wasn’t overrun with emails from people desiring to be part of the Telly slot. I guess people were just appreciative the anonymity the site offers.

Those early broadcasts saw a mix of panellists while the show found its footing. Johnny Keenan was there like myself from the start. Similar to me, Johnny didn’t have a background in media or politics and took party in the show for nothing else other than to be part of an alternative panel show.

Things plodded along until the tragic story about the late Ms. Dara Quigley broke. Broadsheet posted a link to the video of Ms. Quigley captured a few days before her death and all hell broke loose on the site. Regular commentators and panellists jumped ship and the comments section of the post was being hit over and over with anger from readers. Eventually Broadsheet took down the video link, but the anger continued and the damage had been done.

Of course, I missed all this on the site. Due to work commitments I hadn’t visited the site in two days. John sent the regular email about the show and I sent a reply committing to the show as normal.

I became aware of what had happened on the site from the string of upset and angry emails from some of the panellists afterward. As I caught up on what I missed and it made for very unpleasant reading and it was clear there would be only one thing talked about on the show that night.

I faced a choice. Do I also bail on the show? Do I add my anger to the comments? No, instead I chose to go ahead with the show. I was a panellist not a staff member and I believed that the site, via John, should be given the chance to explain themselves. I also found it difficult to believe that a site like Broadsheet, posted the video to draw attention to themselves or drive traffic too. I wanted to hear the Broadsheet perspective.

Episode 14 is a show that I will never forget. There were tumbleweeds in the pre-show online lobby. The only non-staff panellists who turned up was the ever-reliable Johnny and myself.

Even Johnny, an always upbeat gentleman, was sombre. John briefed us on his intention for the show; he would explain why he posted the video link. While at first, I didn’t agree with his views on it, I respected the integrity he showed in his explanation. He took the feedback from people on the chin but believed he was serving a greater purpose. It can be watched here . Right or wrong, I believed his intention was good.

It was somewhat of a turning point for me and how I viewed John and the site. That’s the thing with John Ryan. He always has a higher vision. His vision for the show has always been pure. He wanted to give a voice to regular folk and threw out open invites for guests all the time.

And It really was an open platform.

If someone didn’t come on or bailed, it was their choice, never the site. If you didn’t like a view on the show or indeed a person on the panel, you were welcome to take part of at least submit a view to the site (which in the latter life of the show could be done via the Live Chat on YouTube). There was no silencing of a voice if someone wanted to be part of it. (Unless you posted obnoxious comments in the Live Cha)

Broadsheet on the Telly did truly offer an alternate panel show that just couldn’t be matched by mainstream media. And while it was a low budget operation by volunteers, both staff and panellists, there were a number of stories that you wouldn’t necessarily get elsewhere particular as in-depth as covered by Broadsheet; Olga’s coverage of the Disclosures Tribunal, Lucky offering insight into the Direct Provision system, Vanessa’s financial review of RTÉ and the elements of the housing crisis, the candid in-depth interview with Tuam Home survivor Peter Mulryan with updates from lawyer, Kevin Higgins, both Stephen Garland and Kenny Tynan offering insight into the challenges they face getting the medical support and care they need in Ireland (for separate conditions). The list goes on.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been part of such as interesting show through the ups and downs over the 89 episodes. John, Olga and the Broadsheet team are doing great things with the site and long may it continue. Hopefully the show will return at some stage, after all, how are you going to know what movies to catch in the cinema at the weekend?

Previously: The Last Chatter

Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville, Co Donegal

This Sunday.

At the Methodist Hall on the Main Street of Moville, Co Donegal.

At 3pm.

Fáilte Inishowen will be hosting a public information meeting about the arrival of asylum seekers to Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville.

Tracey Cullen Sheehan, of Fáilte Inishowen, writes:

“Fáilte Inishowen is pleased to announce the first event in its campaign to ensure that all of the asylum seekers arriving in the coming weeks are warmly welcomed and strongly supported in settling in to this vibrant community by the sea.

“All are welcome to attend, and representatives from health, education and social agencies in the area will be in attendance to offer their perspectives and to take questions from the floor.

“Invited speakers who have come through the discredited system of Direct Provision will focus on how best local people might show solidarity and friendship to those who are arriving.

Vukasin Nedeljkovic is an artist and researcher from Serbia whose excellent multidisciplinary project, Asylum Archive, documents his own experience of Direct Provision.

“Having sought asylum in Ireland in 2007, Vukasin was put into the Direct Provision system and, faced with the stress of life waiting to for his asylum application to be processed, began his excellent project ‘as a coping mechanism’.

“Vukasin’s recently-published Asylum Archive book tells a story of weight and importance that too few people have heard about — we will be petitioning Donegal County Library to include a copy in every branch.

“South African activist Lucky Khambule [him off the telly!] has called Ireland home for the last five years.

“He lived in Direct Provision for three years and this experience drove him to co-found MASI, the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland — in pursuit of justice, dignity, social equality and the right to work for people seeking asylum as they had been banned from doing so since Direct Provision was enacted.

Caroline Radcliffe from Moville is experienced in the field of human rights and will speak of her time working with asylum seekers in the hostel that existed in the early 2000s in Moville.”

Fáilte Inishowen (Facebook)

Anne Marie McNally tweetz:

Baggot Street just now. ‘In a Bowl’…as opposed to what exactly? €2 quid cheaper if you lick it off the counter?!

Meanwhile…

In Tesco

In fairness.

This morning.

At Government Buildings.

Family members and friends of the 48 people who died and 214 people who were injured in the fire at the Stardust nightclub, in Artane, Dublin on Valentine’s Day in 1981, march in protest before handing in more than 48,000 signed postcards to the Attorney General – calling for the 48 inquests to be reopened.

Previously: Not For Turning

Stardust Memory

Meanwhile…

Justice For the Stardust 48 (Facebook)

Pics: Mick Caul

From top: UK prime Minister Theresa May At Dublin Castle last year during a EU summit; Derek Mooney

Indefatigability. I like the word. Though more prosaic than poetic, I even like how it sounds. But it is the quality which it describes that attracts me most: dogged persistence, the cussed determination to keep on keeping on.

It is a word which fell into disrepute after it was deployed in 1994 by far-left British Labour MP George Galloway, in cringing televised audience with Saddam Hussein.

Galloway concluded his unperforated imitation of a wad of three-ply Andrex (other brands are available) with the peroration:

“Sir, I salute your courage, your strength your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem.”

While the taint of Galloway undoubtedly did the word harm, it is time to reclaim and rehabilitate it, not least as it is the best available word to describe Theresa May’s relentless commitment over the past year.

When future historians come to rank the British Prime Ministers of the past 100 years, May will appear well ahead of her immediate predecessor, David Cameron, on the list. What she lacks in style and charisma she makes up for in fortitude and resolve.

It is difficult not to admire her ability to withstand the fiercest and most vituperative criticisms and to manage to conclude negotiations on a Withdrawal Agreement, even a flawed one.

She has gone a long way to square what seemed to be an unyielding circle and secured a deal that delivers on Brexit by taking the UK out of the EU institutions.

She has done this by constructing a clumsy, if not grudging, relationship with the EU Customs Union and Single Market that will not excessively damage UK business or impose border infrastructures either on or around this island.

She has also managed, though most of the credit should go to Michel Barnier and his team, to design a situation that could allow Northern Ireland to become an EU/UK hub or gateway, putting it in an economically beneficial situation for the first time since its creation almost a century ago.

It is an achievement that has not been lost on the Scottish government. Indeed, the possibility of Northern Ireland having an economic advantage over Scotland is the reason why the SNP at Westminster will oppose the Agreement.

How ironic that Northern Ireland’s economic viability could be secured in a deal which the DUP will fiercely oppose and on which Sinn Féin will abstain. Further evidence of how broken politics in Northern Ireland has become.

But while Theresa May is deserving of admiration for what she has managed to achieve, we on this island – North and South – should not allow this to turn us into cheerleaders for the Withdrawal Agreement.

Yes, the deal is far preferable to a disorderly no-deal-Brexit, but there is still another and far better option available: a second referendum. A #PeoplesVote where the choices are (1) this deal or (2) No Brexit. It is the option now favoured by many across the political divide.

It is the option which Tony Blair backed strongly last week in a well-argued opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph and his Institute for Global Change website.

Though I have argued here in the past that holding a second referendum on Brexit could cause as many problems as it solves, particularly given the big turnout in the first one, British politics is now so divided and bust that I too have come to the conclusion that there is now no other way to resolve the folly of Brexit than by going back to the people.

The harsh reality of the House of Commons arithmetic is that it is impossible for Theresa May to construct a simple majority for the Withdrawal Agreement.

The DUP are again hellbent on saying No while the SNP looks almost certain to oppose the Withdrawal Agreement as do the Liberal Democrats

May will not get the support of all her own Tory MPs. On one side there is a tranche of 40-50 hard-line Brexiteer Tory MPs determined to oppose her Withdrawal Agreement on the erroneous basis that it concedes too much to Brussels.

On the other side there is the smaller counter group of pro-European Remainers, such as Dominic Grieve, Jo Johnson and Anna Soubry who will likely oppose the deal because it takes the U.K. out of the Customs Union and the Single Market.

This leaves the future of the deal in the hands of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.

But Corbyn says he opposes the Withdrawal Agreement and that he could quickly negotiate a better deal with the EU, though that would presumably require an election.

Unless there a sizeable group of labour MPs are prepared to defy the whip, cross the floor to back May and risk the possibility of deselection at the hands of Corbyn’s “momentum” faction – then the Withdrawal Agreement is as good as dead.

This is dangerous situation as the likely default position in that event is a no-deal Brexit.

In this scenario – and right now it is the likeliest one – a second referendum as the only viable route out of the impasse. As Tony Blair argues:

“We need unity after the Brexit division. It can only come through clarity. And the only route to clarity is through the people. It may seem improbable; but everything else is now impossible.”

Though the clock is ticking fast and the window for holding a second referendum is closing, it is easier to construct a Commons majority for a second vote, especially among Labour MPs, than for May’s deal.

But there is another, more selfish reason, why we in Ireland should be using our influence to urge a second referendum and a complete rejection of Brexit.

Stopping Brexit entirely and keeping the U.K. in the EU institutions, in the Commission, the Parliament and, most importantly, the Council is in our interest as it is the only way we can keep our closest political ally in the EU by our side.

Ireland and the U.K. have each been the others most important ally since we joined the EEC in 1973. Though not always ad idem, we have shared a common outlook and approach to most economic, tax and trade issues and our interests have aligned better with those of the U.K. than any single other big player.

We need the U.K. at the Council table over the years ahead as issues such as the consolidated tax base and common defence and security are discussed.

While Varadkar and Coveney may feel that they have personal and party political capital invested in seeing the Withdrawal Agreement succeed, our long-term national interests will be far better served by stopping Brexit and a second Brexit referendum is the now the only way to do that.

Derek Mooney is a communications and public affairs consultant. He previously served as a Ministerial Adviser to the Fianna Fáil-led government 2004 – 2010. His column appears here every Tuesday Follow Derek on Twitter: @dsmooney

Rollingnews

Last night.

Ceres Park, Copenhagen Aarhus., Denmark.

Michael Obafemi (above with mother Bola and brother Affy) made his senior international football debut last night when he was brought on as a substitute during the Republic of Ireland’s goalless draw with Denmark.

Mr Obafami, who was born in Dublin and plays for Southampton in the Premier League, was also eligible to represent England or Nigeria but committed to play for the Republic of Ireland earlier this month.

In fairness.

Michael Obafemi: ‘I want to get as many Ireland caps as possible’ (Irish Times)

Fine Gael Minister for Education Joe McHugh with the Irish Ambassador to Japan Anne Barrington and Japanese Ambassador to Ireland Mari Miyoshi in 2016

The decision of the new Minister for Education Joe McHugh to review the decision to make history an optional subject at Junior Certificate is very welcome.

History should be restored as a core curriculum subject without delay, as this academic discipline has essential values relevant to modern Ireland and to promoting an understanding of the importance of active citizenship, social inclusion and diversity in our society.

In post-Belfast Agreement Ireland, a progressive approach to the teaching of history and an inclusive spirit towards historical commemoration should be viewed as key tools in underpinning peace, tackling deep-seated social problems and building a new shared understanding.

There is a significant body of international academic research that shows that the role of history education, in developing a sound knowledge of the history of one’s own country and of the wider world, can contribute to progressive democratic citizenship.

In a world where we are often bombarded with a wide range of electronic information of varying degrees of intellectual rigour and quality, and in a world where there are real concerns about the phenomenon of “fake news”, it is important that our young people have the ability to evaluate source material and to develop analytical skills, which the study of history teaches us.

The last census showed that persons born abroad accounted for 17.3 per cent of the population in the Republic of Ireland.

In the space of roughly a generation, our country is in the process of making the transition from a relatively homogeneous state to a pluralist nation.

The progressive teaching of history can foster a sense of inclusion, a respect for diversity and also strengthen awareness of civic responsibilities in the emerging generation, now in our schools and colleges, who will help shape the future of this island.

Division, rancour and conflict are themes that emerge from Ireland’s long history that we do not want to repeat or relive in a new era.

Mr McHugh is correct in noting that it is through “learning the lessons of our past that we can plan for the future”.

As Ireland now prepares for our second century of independence, the inclusive study of history is a means to build stronger communities and a vibrant, peaceful nation.

Dr Brian Murphy,
Access Foundation Programme,
Dublin Institute of Technology,
Dublin 1.

The return of history as a core subject? (Irish Times letters page)