Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny speaking at the European Financial Forum event in Dublin Castle this morning before a fire alarm went off, with delegates eventually leaving and gathering outside.
From top: Minister for Health Simon Harris and Taoiseach Enda Kenny; Ray Moylette (centre) at spinning classes at Islandeady Cycling Club; Islandeady, County Mayo
First they disassemble.
Then they start spinning…
Peter Fleming writes:
In November, there was some uproar about a Mayo cycling club (Islandeady Cycling Club) receiving Lotto funding from the health fund by Health Minister Simon Harris.
Uproar being that it was associated with Enda Kenny and it’s unusual for such clubs to get funding from this fund, especially anything close to €20,000.
The club denied Kenny had any hand in this, but it is not so and no Irish media, apart from The Sunday Times (see below), are reporting it.
I’ll include the text of the article in full as it’s behind a partial paywall.
Enda Kenny, the taoiseach, made two representations to Simon Harris, the health minister, on behalf of a cycling club in the Mayo village where he grew up that was seeking lottery funding from the Department of Health last year.
Islandeady Cycling Club was subsequently awarded €20,000 in funding, despite the department’s lottery fund being ring-fenced for the “provision of health-related services”.
Pádraic Horkan, the club’s public relations officer, has previously said the taoiseach had “no hand, act or part” in the funding application and had not been consulted about it.
This weekend Ger Deere, the taoiseach’s assistant and a member of the club, said he had brought the application to Kenny’s attention.
The club, which has more than 100 members, sought funding for 30 indoor exercise bicycles and 30 mats to help it provide spinning classes.
Correspondence released under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) shows Kenny wrote to Harris on behalf of Islandeady Cycling Club, of which he is an honorary member, on May 19 enclosing the club’s application for lottery funding and asking to be kept appraised of its application.
“I would appreciate if you may evaluate the contents and advise me on the matter,” he wrote. Harris responded saying the club’s funding application was “receiving attention”.
On July 5, Kenny wrote again to Harris on behalf of the club “seeking an update on their application”. On July 8, an official in the department assessed the cycling club’s application for funding and advised that it met the criteria laid down by the department for lottery funding.
“The application is for capital funding and aims to increase physical activity across the wider community,” she noted.
At a reception to mark the taoiseach’s honorary membership of the club in December 2015, Kenny promised to join in one of the club’s weekly “cycling spins”. Last August, Kenny, who takes part in a charity cycle around the Ring of Kerry every year, launched a fundraising event at the club.
Each year hundreds of organisations apply for lottery funding from the Department of Health. Last year 120 organisations received €2.7million in grants.
The department defended its grant to Islandeady, saying “being physically active is one of the most significant improvements people and communities can make to improve physical and mental health”.
My own research on this last month showed that, going back to 2009, there have only been about a dozen sports groups/clubs which have seemingly had a grant from this health fund.
Most of these were small €1,500-€4,000. Though there was one of €15,000 to one club.
However, most of these also have a broader scope than being just a sports club, and provide outreach facilities for people with physical and mental disabilities and illnesses.
Islandeady Cycling Club does not. It wants 30 high-end turbo trainers.
The club’s president is Joe Moylette. His son is former boxing champing and gym owner Ray Moylette. Ray will be using these turbo trainers to deliver spinning classes to the club. Presumably for a fee.
It stinks, and from the very top heads should roll.
Enda Kenny join the Department of the Taoiseach’s staff choir for the annual recital of Christmas carols with minister Paschal Donohue (top left) and government chief whip Regina Doherty (top right) and (above) The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone with Minister of State with Responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath.
Taoiseach, Enda Kenny officially opened the new Dining Hall at Barretstown, the charity for seriously ill children founded by the late actor Paul Newman in 1994.
‘Elizabeth’s Tree House’, the new ‘heart’ of the camp is specifically designed to meet the needs of campers, “providing a combination of excitement and tranquillity inside its modern tree house design”.
Middle pic from left: Enda Kenny, Maurice Pratt, Chairman of Barretstown and Dee Ahearn, CEO Barretstown with Ben MacHugh blue jacket), his brothers David ( left) and Patrick (front), and Cillian McDonnell (2nd from left) and his sister Cliodhna.
Further to yesterday’s vote by the board of Independent News and Media to give shareholders a dividend while closing off the company’s pension scheme – and the protest by former and current employers over the same…
During Order of Business in the Dáil.
Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny if he found it acceptable that “a solvent, profitable company in this country, can change and close down a defined benefit pension scheme, on a whim – to the detriment of their pensioners and deferred pensioners”?
Readers will note that Mr O’Dea didn’t specifically name Independent News and Media (INM) and neither did Mr Kenny in his reply to Mr O’Dea….
Willie O’Dea: “There’s an implied recognition in the Programme for Government that the pension problem in this country needs to be dealt with. Now, can I ask you: do you find it acceptable that a solvent, profitable company in this country, can change and close down a defined benefit pension scheme, on a whim – to the detriment of their pensioners and deferred pensioners and there is no provision in Irish law to deal with it. Can you tell me when such a provision will be put in place?”
Enda Kenny: “There is no law, no legislation governing this, in respect of Ireland. As you know, there are two defined benefit pensions in respect of the case that you’re probably referring to. In Britain, they have a defined benefit which is based upon levies and only becomes of, only becomes, is only used when the company involved becomes insolvent. The measure, company, we refer to now, is not insolvent. This is a matter in respect of defined benefit contributions that has caused quite a difficultly, a number of difficulties, over the period. Obviously, the last actual certificates filled by defined benefit schemes with the Pensions Authority show that over 60 per cent meet the standard and the remaining schemes had recovery plans. And there is concern that the certificates due in the coming months will, however, show significant deterioration.”
“The operation of a pension scheme is, in the first instance, a matter for the trusteesof the particular scheme. The minister met recently with the chairperson of the Pensions Authority. He’s asked the authority to report back to him with an assessment of the current overall position in relation to defined benefit schemes. So he will report to the House when that comes back.”
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy also raised the matter but did specifically mention INM.
Catherine Murphy: “…Taoiseach, do you now accept that there is a gap in the law that is leaving a group of people, we’re seeing with one company, INM, the Independent newspapers, we’re seeing them – whom have the benefit, mind you, of €130m-plus being written off by AIB and the Bank of Ireland – leaving people who’ve worked in that industry, they’ve deferred their pensions in a lot of cases, leaving them very exposed because of this gap in the law.”
“There’s an urgency about this and other companies doing exactly the same thing. Taoiseach, do you not see that there is a need for urgent legislation in respect of this gap in the law?”
Kenny: “Well, the point is that, in the UK, there is a pension protection fund which is paid for by levies, but it only comes into use when the company is insolvent and the company you mentioned is not insolvent. Clearly, the…
Ceann Comhairle: “The Taoiseach, without interruption.”
Kenny: “The minister has met with the chairman of the Pensions Authority. He’s asked him to report back on the issue of defined benefit pensions. The situation that will arise over the coming months and coming years, obviously, we’ll deliberate on that when he, when he has that report back…”
Donald Trump and Michael Noionan at Shannon Airport in 2014; Enda Kenny in the Dáil during the US primaries.
In the wake of Republican candidate Donald Trump winning the US presidential election with 276 electoral votes to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s 218…
Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke to journalist Martina Fitzgerald on RTE’s News at One in the last hour.
From their discussion…
Enda Kenny: “…Ireland falls into the category of wanting to work very closely with the United States and we will work vey closely with the president and with his new administration. One element I pointed out to him in the letter I sent to both he and the vice president is that immigration reform is something of importance to Ireland here and because of the new change in both the Senate and the Congress, we will work closely with the Republican members there and on the basis of hopefully seeing immigration reform put back on the agenda.”
Martina Fitzgerald: “But do you stand by the comments that you believe, that some of his statements were racist and dangerous and that you would explain that to him…”
Kenny: “I referred to the comments that he made in the heat of battle in the primary election and obviously, I will work very closely with the president-elect. I listened, as I said, to his first comments this morning about healing wounds, about building partnerships about working with other countries that want to work with the United States and we fall into that category very much. Our relationship with the States for many years has been expanding and developing. I might point that, for instance, 100,000 American people are now employed by Irish-owned companies across 50 states.”
Fitzgerald: “So you won’t be withdrawing that statement that you thought they were…”
Kenny: “I will work very constructively, as will the Government, with the American administration. I see our interests as a country that has had a long proud history of working with America, very closely with America, to do so in the future. I look forward to that.”
Fitzgerald: “What about his plans to slash US corporation tax to 15%. How concerned should this country be about that?”
Kenny: “Well obviously taxation is, in respect of the United States, are a matter for the US administration. Our corporate tax rates here are a matter for the Irish Government, as a member of the European Union. It’s within our competence, as a national entity, to deal with it here ourselves. So, from that perspective, I expect business to continue, and to continue very strongly. In fact, the investment line from the States into Ireland continues to be very strong. We want to see that continue to develop for the future. It’s not just about tax, it’s essentially about the quality and the range of young people coming through to meet the emerging skills and demands of the future.”
Fitzgerald: “But would it be a concern if it went to 15%?”
Kenny: “Well, many countries in Europe are changing their corporate tax rates. That’s within their competence. As I said, it’s the European Union measures. Matters of corporate tax for the United States are a matter for their administration and I’m sure they will reflect on that in the future.”