“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…”
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.”
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.”
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.
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 Stateand 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.”
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach-in-waiting Leo Varadkar
On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
Presenter Audrey Carville, in an interview with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, asked him about the front page story in today’s Irish Independent, headlined: “FF deal with Leo will quieten Left parties in Dáil’.
In the story, Kevin Doyle reports:
Fianna Fáil is pushing to have the allocation of speaking in the Dáil dramatically restructured to favour larger parties.
In a shift away from so-called ‘new politics’, Michéal Martin wants to team up with incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to rebalance power in the Dáil to reflect the number of TDs in a party.
….During his meeting with Mr Varadkar, the Fianna Fáil leader argued that the d’Hondt system should be used for deciding speaking time. This would see time allocated based on the size of a party’s representation.
“I think Leo understood where I was coming from very strongly on that,” he said.
Further to this.
From Morning Ireland earlier…
Audrey Carville: “Let me ask about the front page story in the Irish Independent this morning. That you, along with Leo Varadkar, are planning to restructure Dáil speaking time, away from left-wing parties. Is that true? Are they getting too much?”
Micheál Martin: “No, I’ve been saying this for quite some time. This is not news in the sense that my, or our, position is that we should have the d’Hondt mechanism which basically means that people get the time that reflects their parliamentary strength. The majority of our TDs are not getting the time, fair time in the Dáil and it’s the same for the Fine Gael party and, indeed the Sinn Féin party…”
Carville: “Are you feeling threatened by the quality of their contributions?”
Martin: “No, no it’s just that we want fairness. I think nobody an argue that if you 45 TDs you should get a proportion of the amount of time that reflects that. We’re simply saying that the current situation is not fair and a lot of deputies are getting squeezed out and excluded from having the opportunity to participate in Dáil debates so I think it’s only fair that the amount of time we get should reflect our strength in the Dáil.”
Later, when asked if he’ll miss Enda Kenny:
Martin: “On a personal level, we got on very well and I wish himself and Fionnuala the very, very best. I think, fundamentally, he was a courageous politician, he took over when Fine Gael was at a very low ebb. I think he’s probably smiling a bit today that there are many people who are out there declaring that he was the greatest leader since Brian Boru even though they were looking for journalists to brief a short time ago against him, that’s the nature of politics. So I think he’s probably enjoying the moment that he’s enjoyed the last number of weeks. But I wish him well and I think he worked on behalf of the country, extremely enthusiastic, he was a patriot and he was a courageous leader.”
Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy (above) has released a statement, saying:
“Fianna Fail want the best of both worlds, they already have the benefit of having one foot in Government and one foot in opposition and now they want to effectively silence those of us who actually present real opposition to what is essentially a cosy Fianna Fail and Fine Gael arrangement in the House.”
“While Fianna Fáil may, in name only, be the main opposition party, their deal to support the Fine Gael minority Government ensures that they do not offer a credible opposition. In such a scenario the rest of the opposition become vital at holding the Minority government and its supporters to account.”
“For Fianna Fáil to try and dilute that opposition is yet another breathtakingly arrogant move by a party who seem to be confused about whether they are in Government or Opposition.”
During her statement, Ms Zappone said she has appointed forensic archaeologist Niamh McCullagh, who carried out the preliminary excavations in Tuam, Co Galway, to lead a team of international experts to advise the commission.
She said the team – whose terms of reference she is publishing today – will carry out further geophysical surveys to examine “the extent of potential burials on the site”.
The minister said she will receive an initial technical report by the end of June, while a more detailed report on options for the future of the commission will be submitted to her by the end of September. She said the reports will be available to the public.
Starting from July, on the first Friday of every month, Ms Zappone said she will publish a monthly update on her department’s website.
And she said she’s appointed an “experienced, qualified facilitator with an international reputation” to help her hold a series of consultations with former residents of the homes who were in the homes without their mothers.
An open invitation to these consultations in Dublin and elsewhere – depending on the expressions of interest – will be sent out tomorrow, she said.
Further to her previously announced idea of establishing some kind of a truth commission, Ms Zappone also said she will be inviting the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence Pablo de Greiff, from Columbia, to Ireland.
She said, over the summer, she will undertake a “scoping review” in relation to possibly extending the commission’s terms of reference.
Readers will note Ms Zappone said in March that she would be carrying out this same scoping exercise.
Finally, she said:
“I sometime wonder, if I’m around in 2027 or 2037, what will they say, on Reeling In The Years about 2017. Will it be the year 2017, that the international media descended on Tuam as we, once again, declared our outrage at past deeds. Or will it be a year where we faced up, womaned up and maned up and decided that we will do things better.”
“This is a defining moment for us. As a member of Government, and the only Independent woman in Government, I feel a huge sense of responsibility to begin to heal the fractured trust between our citizens and our State. It is a time that someone shouted stop, it is a time that we all shouted stop and I believe that a model of transitional justice will help us move forward with that. “
Catherine Connelly said:
“I’m extremely concerned about the distinction you’re drawing between children who were in the homes with a mother and without a mother. I believe you are misinterpreting, either deliberately or unintentionally, the report that was done by the commission.
“On page three of your speech today, you’re going to set up consultations with those who were resident as children without their mothers.
“I think that is a shocking distinction, maybe I’m misreading it, perhaps you can explain it. I believe that you’ve taken that, inappropriately from the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation where the commission simply, in their interim report, and I believe the motivation for the interim report was to draw attention to the way that this government and previous governments have dealt with the mother and baby homes and left them outside of the redress scheme most unjustly.
“And they made the point that children without mothers had a particular grievance, they did not say that babies who were in there with their mothers should not be included.”
From top: Solidarity TD Mick Barry; Taoiseach Enda Kenny
During Leaders’ Questions.
Solidarity TD Mick Barry raised the matter of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s missing phone.
“Former Garda Press Officer Superintendent Dave Taylor claims that he sent a text to Noirin O’Sullivan, some years ago, in which he told her that a journalist had interviewed a person making allegations against Maurice McCabe. Taylor claims O’Sullivan sent a one-word reply, ‘perfect’.
“We are told now that Noirin O’Sullivan’s phone from that time has gone missing and cannot be provided to the Charleton Tribunal. Perfect.
“Dave Taylor’s phone hasn’t been provided to Charleton either. It was taken from him, as part of an internal Garda investigation, led by Noirin O’Sullivan’s husband and has not been returned to him.
“So. Noirin O’Sullivan’s husband has Dave Taylor’s phone. And Noirin O’Sullivan can’t find her own phone. Perfect again.
“A senior Garda source told The Irish Times ‘a search of Garda HQ has taken place in recent weeks to try and find the missing phones’. It goes on to say, ‘but there’s little hope of the material being found at this stage’. I’d say there isn’t all right, Taoiseach.
“Was that phone officially reported missing? If so, when exactly? Was [former Garda Commissioner] Martin Callinan’s phone officially reported missing? When exactly?
“By the way, I’m given to understand that Noirin O’Sullivan used a second phone, a personal phone, known as the off-site phone for some Garda business. Has this phone been sought? Has she lost this phone too?”
In his reply, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said:
“You come in here with a report, which is a report from a journalist I understand, that a phone is missing from the, that was in the possession of the Garda Commissioner. I don’t have the, I don’t know whether that’s a true statement or whether it’s not. Whether it’s an allegation that stands up or not.”
“But I expect that Justice [Peter] Charleton will find out the truth of that.”
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 →