Tag Archives: Dail

This afternoon.

In the Dáil, during Leaders’ Questions, which were taken by Tanáiste Simon Coveney.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett raised this afternoon’s debate and vote on Permanent Structured Co-operation – an EU security and defence agreement – otherwise known as PESCO.

The ultimate aim of PESCO is to “deepen” defence co-operation among EU members states.

Mr Barrett ended up asking Mr Coveney to publish the Attorney General’s advice on PESCO but Mr Coveney pointed out the AG’s advice is never published.

From their exchange…

Richard Boyd Barrett: “Tanaiste, minister, this is the week that Donald Trump has declared war on the people of Palestine and the wider Arab and Muslim world by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – threatening to inflame conflict right across the Middle East.

“Now, against that background of war mongering, increased militarism by Trump, it is more important than ever that Ireland holds on to its traditional position of military neutrality and opposing war mongering and militarism.

“And yet, it is precisely in this week, that the Government has rammed through and quite successfully, to this point, buried what is the biggest betrayal of Irish neutrality since the decision to allow US forces use Shannon Airport to bomb Iraq back into the Dark Ages.

“The vote that will take place today, for us to join permanent, structured cooperation on a new common defence project in the European Union is an absolute betrayal of Ireland’s neutrality.

“It is a step towards involvement in what is explicitly being touted by Donald Tusk, by Juncker, by Macron as a new European army and common defence pact.

And you have buried this. You misled the business committee because the decision to join PESCO was taken, we were informed by Minister Kehoe who didn’t know much else frankly about this, but the one thing he informed us last night, was this decision was taken on the 21st of November and yet, for two business committee meetings, afterwards, not a mention that you were planning to push this vote through this week.

“No doubt you’ve been briefing the media that there’s nothing to see here, it’s irrelevant, not significant, there’s no legal implications, but the truth is this is us joining up in a common defence which will require us regularly, I’m quoting, increased defence budgets in real terms, to meet the 2% GDP benchmark, that would mean a quadrupling of our Irish defence expenditure.

“These are binding..common commitments. It will involve bringing our defence apparatus in line with other member states.

“It will involve establishing permanent, inter-operability with NATO, it will involve increased expenditure on arms and weaponry to benefit the European military industrial complex and now my question is not only why have you mislead the country, and try to bury this significant betrayal of Irish neutrality but I want to ask you seriously: is this not unconstitutional?

“Apart from everything else, is it not unconstitutional? Article 29.4.9 of our constitution says the following: ‘the State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to establish a common defence pursuant to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union where that common defence would include the State’, our state.

“This is a common defence, it is explicit, anybody who wants to, who doubts that, should read the PESCO agreement. We are signing up for a common defence, in defiance of our own constitution and you’ve mislead the public, you’ve mislead the Dail, and played fast and loose with the business committee.”

Later

Simon Coveney:What I don’t agree with you on, deputy, is the attempt by you, and others, in this House, to paint PESCO, Permanent Structured Cooperation, as something that it’s not.

“I’m a former Minister for Defence, I’m somebody who has listened to many debates in relation to this initiative. The truth is, deputy, that is simply a structured initiative that allows member states to opt in and opt out, depending on what they’re comfortable with, on different projects.

“We have other non-aligned countries, and usual countries like Sweden, Austria, Finland that have already signed up. And from an Irish perspective, this is an opportunity for us to essentially share resources and access other resources in areas where we are comfortable in co-operation and it’s no more or less than that, on a case-by-case basis.

I suspect we will want to use this in terms of counter-terrorism, in terms of peace-keeping and training, in areas potentially like marine surveillance, so that Ireland can be part of collective initiatives when it’s appropriate to be a part of those collective initiatives in the context of the European Union.

“As the Taoiseach said yesterday, other countries will see it differently. Other countries may want to get more involved in a more structured way in projects that will not have an involvement in.

“And so I would ask the deputy to actually call this what it is, as opposed to trying to create some kind of conspiracy that simply doesn’t exist.

This is a conversation that’s been happening since the Lisbon Treaty and it is now something that is coming to finality, following a long debate that a lot of countries have been involved in, neutral states, NATO members and others.

“And Ireland insisted, as others did, on language in the context of the setting up of PESCO to ensure that it is constitutional, to ensure that it doesn’t undermine Irish neutrality, to ensure that the triple lock still applies if we’re going to send troops to any other part of the world.

“So, from that point of view, we have tested this in the context of some of the questions that you’ve asked and it does not undermine what is important to Irish people and what is important to me which is that Ireland remains non aligned militarily and a neutral state.”

Boyd Barrett: That is the most cynical rubbish I have ever heard.

“Right. And I really appeal, I really appeal to the public and the press to simply read the document. Notification on Permanent Structure Cooperation. OK?

“It includes, for example, binding commitments. First of all, it refers to 20 binding commitments, there’s no ambiguity about the language. One of those includes commitment to agree on a common technical and operation standards of forces, acknowledging that they need to ensure interoperability with NATO.

“That’s NATO that involves Donald Trump and the United States, right?

“That’s what we’re talking about. We are committing to the integration of Irish defence forces with NATO. It commits us and we still haven’t got answers on this, it commits us to real increases in defence budgets ok?

“Successive medium-term increase in defence investment. Increasing the share of expenditure allocated to defence research and technology which will be reviewed on an annual basis. A national implementation plan to meet these targets.

“This is the military equivalent of the Fiscal Treaty and we are signing up to it. And what, this is what, I’ll just conclude on this.

“This is Tusk said about PESCO, it’s purpose is to protect the bloc from the effects of the migrant crisis and hostile bordering states. Effects of the migrant crisis? 35,000 people drowned in the Mediterranean thanks to Fortress Europe.

And they want to militarise the wall that Donald Trump dreams of building to keep those desperate people out. This is what they’re about. And you have deceived the public. And I would just ask this simple question: Give us the legal advice that that doesn’t run counter to Article 29. Can you give us that advice before we have to take the vote today?

“From the Attorney General that that does not run counter to Article 29 of the constitution.”

Coveney: “Well I can tell you deputy that we wouldn’t be bringing a vote to this house if we hadn’t….sorry…you know only too well, that the AG’s legal advice is not published, ever. So, so. You know. Stop asking for things you know you can’t access…”

The AG’s responsibility is to get legal advice to the Government and the Government then brings proposals to the House that’s consistent with that, that’s the way this House works. That’s the way this House works.

“In relation to interoperability, deputy, there’s nothing new in that. The Irish Defence Forces have worked with NATO in the past. We’ve done it in Afghanistan and any time you send peacekeepers to any part of the world, are you seriously suggesting that our peacekeepers shouldn’t be interoperable with colleagues that they work with? In parts of the world where they put their lives at risk, deputy, to defend peace and stability of strangers that they’ve never met.

“The problem that you have is that you don’t seem to understand the risks that Irish troops put themselves in, in the pursuit of peace and stability

And my job is to make sure that we reduce those risks by making sure that they have the budgets and the equipment to do the job properly to ensure that we have enough people in terms of personnel in the Defence Forces to make sure that they’re well-equipped and well trained.

“And to make sure that when they’re working with others, when we make the voluntary decision and it’s confirmed by they triple lock, to send troops to parts of the world, that they have trained, and that they are interoperable in a professional sense with others that they will be working with.

“And that makes perfect sense to me. It is also absolutely consistent with the new White Paper on defence which was supported and passed in this House.”

Watch the Dail debate on PESCO live here

Related: Dáil hears claims Ireland ‘selling out’ neutrality for EU support on Brexit (The Irish Times)

UPDATE:

UPDATE:

Next Tuesday.

Outside Leinster House.

At noon.

A family-friendly protest organised by the #MyNameIs campaign group will be held involving singers, musicians, playwrights, actors and anti-homeless activists.

Earlier: Another Homeless Person Dies

Thanks Rory

From top: Social Democrat TD Roisin Shortall and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

In the Dail.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Social Democrat TD Roisin Shortall raised the Paradise Papers with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Ms Shortall said:

“Taoiseach, I want to raise the issue of the Paradise Papers and the information which is now emerging in respect of Apple’s tax arrangements.

“The facilitation of these arrangements, by successive Irish Governments and the considerable negative impact which this is having on Ireland’s reputation.

“The central theme, running through the Paradise Papers, is the relentless quest of the wealthy and the powerful , the great and the good, to find ways of avoiding paying tax.

“We saw this most startlingly in the operation of the Double Irish and its use by Apple and the subsequent ruling by the European Commission that this favourable treatment constituted state aid.

“In that regard it certainly seemed that the facilitation of tax avoidance was an intentional strategy, adopted by Government, and its agencies, in 1991, and updated in 2007.

“It was very hard to understand why the Government in Septmeber of last year, with the full benefit of hindsight, could stand over the manner in which the sweetheart deals were done and vouch for their full compliance with the law.

“The public, generally, cannot understand why the Government should now be spending considerable, additional millions in appealing that ruling.

“Then Minister Michael Noonan’s position was very hard to understand.

“In 2013, he signalled that he intended to close down the Double Irish on which the tax avoidance arrangement was based.

“The impact of this was considerable for Apple’s tax liability. We know that there was much engagement between Apple and the Department of Finance around this time.

We also know, thanks to the Paradise Papers, that Apple went on a jurisdiction shopping spree in search of another tax-dodging deal.

“We know that following the closing of the Double Irish that Apple restructured their companies, that they registered two of their Cork companies in Jersey and took up tax residency in Ireland where their remaining Cork company Apple Operations Europe.

“This combined with the changes made to the Capital Allowance regime in 2014 allowed Apple to sell their IP back to the Irish registered company and avail of the massive tax breaks which this measure facilitated.

“So, Taoiseach, the questions are: Was our Capital Allowance regime changed to allow Apple to keep it’s formerly stateless profits entirely untaxed?

In other words, was it done to compensate Apple for the loss of the Double Irish?

“Had Apple, or their representatives, requested a change to the Capital Allowances regime?

“And how much has Apple benefited by this change?

“And how much as the State lost?”

In response.

Mr Varadkar said:

“The answer to your question is: No, or at least, not to my knowledge. It maybe a question that you want to put to the Minster for Finance who would have more information thanI do on those particular matters.

“I don’t have a detailed knowledge of any companies’ tax affairs or any individual’s tax affairs for that matter?

“Tax avoidance is very much an international problem. And international problems require international solutions.

“And, as we found, when it comes to dealing with tax avoidance, by large companies, once one country acts, the company just moves to another jurisdiction.

That is why we need an international solution to this problem if we’re going to bring about a situation whereby companies pays their fair share of tax.

“In this regard, Ireland is an international leader. The OECD, the organisation for economic co-operation and development, based in Paris, is the international organisation that deals with taxation and deals with this area, making sure that companies aren’t able to exploit differences in tax law from one jurisdiction to the next.

The OECD has designated Ireland as one of only 22 countries in a world of nearly 200 where we’re entirely tax compliant, or compliant rather with tax transparency

“And we’ve also signed up to information sharing. So we’re going to share information from one country to the next as to how much tax each company pays in different jurisdictions. That’s going to be very useful.”

The Double Irish is gone. Stateless companies are gone as well. And also the current Finance Bill which is going through changed the way that we tax intellectual property.

“However we don’t accept at all that Ireland was involved in any special arrangement or state aid for Apple and that is why we are fighting that case.

“Because it’s simply not the case that Ireland was involved in State aid.”

Last night.

In the Dail.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness on the tracker scandal.

Earlier today.

In the Dáil.

In light of the Jobstown verdict two weeks ago.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy said:

“It started with politicians. It started with a Labour minister a few hours after the protest, saying it was false imprisonment. It was followed by the Taoiseach saying that it was kidnapping. It was followed by the now Taoiseach saying it was thuggery. It was followed by our lost colleague Noel Coonan describing it as the same as Isis, and it was echoed by large sections of the media.”

“Now Taoiseach, politicians, not courts, politicians have to deal with the consequences. If you believe it’s serious chance, as there is, that the gardai gave false evidence on the stand, will you accept that we have to have an independent, public inquiry.”

In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says:

“Deputy, you had a fair trial. It went on for nine weeks. Your peers heard both sides of the case, the prosecution and the defence and they reviewed the evidence and they acquitted you of false imprisonment. You’re not a victim here…”

Via RTE News

Meanwhile…

Again?

Mick Caul tweetz:

Eamon Ryan brings his rubbish into the Dáil…

Farmer and father-to-be Thomas Power died in an ambulance near Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, as it was travelling to Cork two weeks ago.

At the time of this death, the catheterisation lab in University Hospital Waterford (UHW) was closed for the weekend. It’s open for cardiac tests and procedures Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

Thomas had suffered a heart attack.

Further to this, friends and family members – including Thomas’s sister Catherine Power, above – gathered outside the Dáil this afternoon calling for 24/7 cardiac services in the area.

Protest over cardiac services in southeast (RTE)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

From top: Labour TD Brendan Howlin and Independent TD Michael Lowry

In the last few minutes.

Independent TD Michael Lowry responded to comments made earlier by Labour leader and TD Brendan Howlin in relation to Leo Varadkar securing Mr Lowry’s support for his nomination to the position of Taoiseach and the recent contact between the pair.

Mr Howlin said:

“I note today that you will be supported by Deputy [Michael] Lowry. I’m informed that you’ve spoken to Deputy Lowry on a couple of occasions in recent days and I read in this week’s Tipperary Star that Deputy Lowry has claimed that, in return for his support, he will have access to your office, as Taoiseach, to your officials and to your ministers. As Taoiseach, I hope you will put at end to such contact. You should not depend on his support.”

In his response, Mr Lowry said:

“Deputy Howlin, I consider your comments here today to be nasty and offensive. I have absolutely no doubt, and I’m in this house for 30 years, that your actions and your words were prompted by your deputy from Tipperary, Deputy Alan Kelly because they’d be very typical of his reaction to me in my county.

When you attack me in such a manner, as you did today, you insult the people of Tipperary, the people who vote for me, as an elected representative from this House. And I remind you Deputy Howlin that, like every member of this House here today, I have a democratic mandate from the people of Tipperary who have voted for me consistently and put me as their representative in this House.

I have enjoyed their confidence and their trust for over 30 years and I hope when the next election is called, they’ll re-endorse me as a member of this parliament for the constituency of Tipperary.”

“And, finally, I would say to you, Deputy Howlin, that I have exactly the same entitlements to access the system of Government as any other member of this House. My telephone conversations with Taoiseach-elect Varadkar were on the basis of the Programme for Government, for the policies which I was hoping that he would support.

“And on the basis of those two discussions that I had with him, I’m very happy to support him as Taoiseach and to continue to support this Government, particularly on budgetary matters because it’s not possible, as members of a parliament, to be clambering every other day for resources and monies to be spent on particular projects if you’re not prepared to stand up and to take the budgetary measures that are necessary to make sure there are funds available to implement the policies you seek.”

Watch Dail proceedings live here

Earlier: And Breathe…

UPDATE:

In addition.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy also had something to say about Michael Lowry’s support for Leo Varadkar, saying she finds it difficult to be…

“…preached to about budget responsibility by someone who’s been in the courts and who’s been with Revenue in relation to his own tax affairs. It’s hardly the kind of ethical, you know, ethical behaviour that should exemplify the kind of rebuilding of this country.”

FIGHT!

Yikes.

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

Earlier this afternoon.

Scenes from inside the Dáil chamber after Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave his resignation speech, followed by speeches about Kenny’s tenure from party leaders and party representatives.

Meanwhile…

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger raised the case highlighted in yesterday’s Irish Times by Kitty Holland.

About how a young pregnant girl, who was at risk of suicide, was sectioned – after she sought an abortion.

Ruth Coppinger: “Taoiseach, honesty in politics is important so I’m not going to engage in fake, back-slapping. I will congratulate you on writing your own speech which I believe you did. I was a bit bemused at you mentioning Michael Davitt, a revolutionary and a socialist but we’ll leave that aside.

“In summing up your legacy, Taoiseach, I could focus on six years on unprecedented austerity, suffered by the many to bail out the few or the massive homeless and health crisis that you’re laving in your wake. Or indeed the crisis in the gardai and in the State.

“But, in the short time I have and the day that’s in it, I’ll pick one issue that sums up completely the type of Ireland that you and the establishment that you’ve so ably represented have bequeathed in the five decades you’ve been in the Dáil. And that is the incarceration, internment and imprisonment of a vulnerable, pregnant teenager, who asked for an abortion and who asked for help.

“And although we know little of the circumstances, we do know this: A pregnant child shouldn’t be forced to have a child. A pregnant child, in legal terms, is a raped child. The pregnant person best knows how they feel about being pregnant. And, Taoiseach, people around the country are comparing this outrage are comparing this to an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Twenty-five years ago, this nation rose up at the incarceration of a teenage rape victim but it’s still happening under your watch because you did nothing to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

“The much heralded Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act that you and the Labour party boast about has proven impossible for any suicidal person to access an abortion because they’re put through an inquisition. Their feelings are ignored and their rights to bodily and mental autonomy are completely ignored. And this happened last year. We do not know what happened to this girl, whether she succeeded in getting an abortion or whether she was forced to remain pregnant.

Now Taoiseach, we’ve a history in this country, it’s been mentioned today, of incarcerating pregnant women and girls and we thought that that era was over but many people have been outraged over what they’ve found out over the last 24 hours – that a psychiatrist would have the power, with their own views, to section a girl for the crime of wanting not to be pregnant.

“It seems it’s an illness warranting being locked up, to want an abortion. Not alone that, Taoiseach, but it appears a judge adjudicated and heard this case and awarded a guardian to the girl and, wait for it, her foetus. Now…”

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl: “I don’t want to interfere with any member’s contribution today. But I’m afraid you’re venturing into territory that is completely at odds with the business that’s before us today.”

Coppinger:With the legacy of the Taoiseach?

Ó Fearghaíl: “I, you’re talking about a specific case which none of us have full information.”

Coppinger: “Yeah. I, ok, thank you, Ceann Comhairle, I’ll bear that in mind. I’m going by the information that we do have and I’m just generalising now. So, not alone that Taoiseach, a judge adjudicated on the case, as I said. But Taoiseach, you’re going and what I hope is the reactionary policies are going with you. That the backwardness that was visited on young people in this country for so many decades will also go. You’ve had your time, hopefully we’ll have a different time.

“That the yearning there is for a different type of society among young people in particular, can be brought about. And, in finishing Taoiseach, I hope we see a movement now to bring about the separation of Church and State and the type of legislation that gives the person involved the right to make this decision for themsevels. And, hopefully, that movement won’t take very long.

With your new incumbent, we’ll find out but I certainly would encourage people to actively ensure that it happens because we can’t trust the people in this Dail to ensure that these cases don’t happen again.”

Watch back in full here

Previously: ‘Not The Solution’

Meanwhile, in London…

The cosmic ballet continues.