From top: Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy; Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald; Taoiseach Enda Kenny; Fine Gael TD and Minister for Jobs Mary Mitchell O’Connor
Further to reported allegations that IDA Ireland has blocked more than 50 potential job creators from accessing a cash reward via Connect Ireland – an initiative that came out of the Global Irish Economic Forum in 2011- for introducing foreign firms to invest in Ireland…
Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy raised the issue with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon – and in his response Mr Kenny once again said he was accused of clogging up the roads in Cork for all the jobs he’s created.
He made this jobs/traffic claim during Leaders’ Questions on February 21 and during the Friends of Ireland lunch with US president Donald Trump at Capitol Hill, Washington last week.
From Ms Murphy and Mr Kenny’s exchange…
Catherine Murphy: “Taoiseach, during Priority Questions, to Minster Mitchell O’Connor back in February, I asked about the anomalies emerging between IDA and Connect Ireland. There’d been a number of articles in the Sunday Business Post, which cause me to question what had actually transpired between the two agencies and if this is likely to result in the State, in a cost to the State, because of the disagreement.”
“A reply to me, the minister told me that she couldn’t go into detail because there was an ongoing legal dispute between the parties. Yesterday, the jobs committee heard allegations that Connect Ireland were possibly stymied in creating jobs in what sounds essentially like a turf war.”
“On the other side, IDA have noted that Connect Ireland failed to, by a long shot, to reach the target set in the number of jobs created, or the scheme was set to create. Whichever side is correct, the fact remains that there is a significant and fundamental difference between the jobs numbers claimed by both the IDA and Connect Ireland.”
“A Morning Ireland report today told us that the verification process used by the IDA to ascertain whether a connector would be due a payment until the scheme refused a significant number of connections yet, on a review, a third of these were overturned. This suggests a serious issue with the verification process used by the IDA.”
“The core issue here, Taoiseach, is that there’s potentially, there were potentially jobs lost to Ireland. And if this is the case the reasons for that must be made clear. An important element of this is the potential repetitional damage caused. Imagine from the point of view of someone who wanted to invest, when there’s two State agencies essentially almost in dispute with each other. And look at the confusion that would create. The issue is time sensitive in that the contract expires this coming Sunday. And, clearly, these issues must be satisfactorily addressed not just behind closed doors, before any new contract is entered into or, indeed, this one is cancelled.”
“So my questions are: why is there such a fundamental difference between the IDA and Connect Ireland regarding the jobs numbers? Who is nearer to the truth here? And, if it transpires that Connect Ireland are the ones telling the truth, how much will the IDA, using in public money, have to fork out in compensation?”
“Is that figure likely to be in the many millions? As has been reported in the many media – with figures of around €14million circulating. And will it be the IDA or the Department that would be the ones called to pay out the compensation if that was the case and has any amount been factored into either of their budgets? for this”
Enda Kenny: “Well, I think the first thing I should say is that I’m quite sure that you welcome the improvement in the numbers of people working in the country. Unemployment has called from 15.2 to 6.6 with over two million-plus people now working in Ireland, spread throughout the region where every sector is growing.”
“In fact, I was accused in Cork recently of being responsible for clogging up the roads with people going to work which I suppose is a challenge, a challenge of success. I might say, I was interested in this initially, Deputy Murphy, because this was born out of an initiative that came from the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum with the aim of involving global diaspora in job creation here when things were very, very bad…”
“There are three issues here. One is the legal issue, which I can’t comment on, and that’s in respect of the financial situation. The second is: what were the number of jobs and what are the number of jobs that were created by the ambassadors and by the connectors of Connect Ireland and thirdly, what is the position now? Well. This was a four-year scheme, it was extended after contact was made with Government for a further 12 months and that runs out on Monday…”
“Jobs are jobs and when we had none, we were very lucky to get any kind of jobs in here… I can’t comment on the court case but I will look forward to seeing Minister O’Connor’s review of this and that’s difficult given that there is a litigation at the moment…”
Murphy: “First of all Taoiseach, can I just say that your reply was a disgrace. It’s very disingenuous to question whether or I or others support jobs: of course we support investment in jobs in this country. I know what the Succeed in Ireland programme is about and I think most people in this house know what the Succeed in Ireland programme is about. I asked you very specific questions and I believe I’m entitled to a response to those.”
From top: Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking in Capitol Hill last Thursday; former High Court judge Bryan McMahon
You may recall how Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave a speech in the presence of US President Donald Trump at a Friends of Ireland lunch in Capitol Hill, Washington last Thursday, concerning the estimated 50,000 Irish who are living in the United States illegally.
The speech prompted an article in The New York Times headlined, ‘Irish Premier Uses St Patrick’s Day Ritual to Lecture Trump on Immigration’.
At the beginning of his speech, Mr Kenny mentioned that he would be presenting a miniature replica of Arrival, a bronze sculpture of a famine ship by John Behan, to Mr Trump.
In 2000, the then Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Bertie Ahern unveiled the original 26-foot by 26-foot Arrival at the UN headquarters in New York.
“This sculpture celebrates the Irish people who traveled the world in search of a new life and all the nations and countries which welcomed them and offered them a chance for that better life.”
During the speech, Mr Kenny said:
I haven’t had the opportunity to present you with a particular piece of sculpture which is entitled “Arrival,” by John Behan. It’s a miniature — but it’s quite large — of what stands at the United Nations in New York of the tale and the story and the history of Irish immigrants after the famine years.
… I just want to say, I had a very good meeting this morning with the Vice President and with General John Kelly. Sitting at the table, we were hosted by the Vice President in the traditional breakfast in the Naval Observatory. Didn’t get much chance to eat the breakfast, I have to say; it’s one of the difficulties in politics — it’s in front of you but you can’t get near it. We did discuss the question of immigration, which is so important to the fabric of our people. And I know that in this country, this is an issue that the administration and the President are reflecting upon. And that’s something that, again, we will work with you diligently in this regard in the two sectors that we used to have a facility for E3 visas for young people who want to come to America and to work here. We discussed that very constructively this morning.
And secondly, as a part of the overall immigration reform that the Irish have contributed so much, it would be part of that. And we look forward to the works that will take place at the time ahead.
You might say that when Mike Pence’s grandfather landed here in Ellis Island in 1923, that the contribution had been made by so many Irish for so many years. It was in 1771 that the friendly Sons of St. Patrick were put together in Philadelphia, and one of their first honorary members was a young man called George Washington.
And seven years later, he handed the first commission to a naval officer called John Barry, who was co-founder of the American Navy. And he was joined later by John Holland, who designed the first submarine. And he was followed by Louis Brennan, from my hometown, who had a major impact on the navigation systems for torpedoes.
And so many others, from Henry Ford, through music and culture, and so many other areas, that 22 members of the American Presidents who sat in the White House had either Scots or Irish blood in them. And you follow in that line, sir. And I’d just like to say in finality, this is what I said to your predecessor on a number of occasions: We would like this to be sorted. It would remove a burden of so many people that they can stand out in the light and say, now I am free to contribute to America as I know I can. And that’s what people want.
I know you’ll reflect on this, but I’m always struck by the American National Anthem when it’s sung before the great occasions. And I suppose being an emotional Irishman, the hairs tingle at the back of your neck when you hear your own national anthem.
But for us, when Old Glory waves, and you put your hand on your heart and you say, “The land of the free and the home of the brave,” ours is still as brave as ever, but maybe not as free. Because of the 4,000 Congressional Medals of Honor given out to the defense forces, over 2,000 go to the Irish Americans. So they fought in the Revolutionary War. They beat the daylights out of each other in Fredericksburg and Gettysburg and Yorktown, and other places, in Atlanta. They fought every war for America and died for America — and will continue to do so. All they want is the opportunity to be free.
And this administration, working with Democrats and Republicans, I hope, can sort this out once and for all. And for future years, you determine what it is that you want to do. As George Mitchell said last evening, you can’t return to open immigration, but for the people who are here — who should be here, might be here — that’s an issue that I’m sure your administration will reflect on. And we in Ireland will give you every assistance in that regard. There are millions out there who want to play their part for America — if you like, who want to make America great. Heard it before? Heard that before?
Further to this…
Readers may recall there are an estimated 20,000-26,000 undocumented migrants living and working in Ireland.
In addition, readers may recall how Direct Provision is the system by which asylum seekers are accommodated in Ireland and it is overlooked by the Reception Integration Agency. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work or go to college while the majority of people living in Direct Provision have no facility to cook their own food.
Adults receive €19.10 per week while children receive €15.60 per week.
In April 2016, retired Judge Bryan McMahon spoke at an event in the Jesuit Refugee Service.
Criticising the length of time asylum seekers have to live in direct provision, Mr McMahon called for a blanket, one-off amnesty for the 3,500 people who had been in direct provision for more than five years – in the spirit of 1916.
“That would be a great start, in my view, just to take the 3,500 people and say, ‘it’s not going to happen again, it’s a one-off and it’s a gesture to 1916 and the men in the GPO’. No one, in my view, would object, that’s my instinct on it and, in fact, au contraire, most people would applaud us for doing something like that.”
The junior justice minister David Stanton, of Fine Gael, subsequently ruled out the idea.
Graphs from the Reception Integration Agency report for January 2017
Some details pertaining to asylum seekers in Ireland…
According to the most recent report from the Reception Integration Agency, as of January 29, 2017, 57,644 people seeking asylum in Ireland have been accommodated in direct provision centres since April 10, 2000 – the year direct provision was set up as an interim measure.
This figure of 57,644 does not include the 2,838 unaccompanied minors – children who have arrived in the country without a parent or guardian – who have sought asylum over the same period.
Between 2000 and 2010, 513 separated children went missing from State care and 440 were still unaccounted for in 2011.
In 2009 – when, as of 2008, 454 separated children had gone missing and just 58 were subsequently accounted for – in a report on separated children, the Ombudsman for Children wrote:
“This large number of missing children is alarming as is the apparent lack of further investigation into incidents.”
A mechanism to allow asylum seekers make formal written complaints about the centres was only introduced by the Department of Justice in 2011 but it has been criticised by asylum seekers and advocacy groups for not being independent of the RIA.
In 2014, the High Court found that the lack of an independent complaints mechanism was unlawful.
Just last month, the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon announced that the Ombudsman for Children’s office plans to start accepting complaints from children in Direct Provision from April 2017.
As of January 2017, 4,427 people – including 1,139 children aged under 17 – were living in 32 direct provision centres across Ireland. This number of people represents 0.09% of the population.
Just two of the 32 centres are self-catering centres – Watergate House on Usher’s Quay, Dublin 8 and Carroll Village in Dundalk, Co Louth – where a total of 118 people lived, as of January 2017.
From top: Enda Kenny with Donald Trump in The White House on March 16; Tony Groves
Once upon a time…
…the boy king realised he need never have to tell the truth again.
Tony Groves writes:
A long time ago, in a village far, far away a boy was creating havoc. He was lashing out at the villagers, calling them All Ireland Champion Whingers and telling fantastical tales of adventures that never happened. The villagers, fed up of the Boy Who Cried 2 Pints, sent the lad to bed with no supper.
But the boy was not to be stopped. Deciding to run away, he put on his father’s suit and climbed aboard a small boat to the mysterious island known as Dáiland. As well as people similar to those in the village the island of Dáiland was filled with malicious Beasts known as Politicians. The boy, trying to find his place, spent years ducking and dodging them.
Slowly, he grew more confident. He recalled the tale of the Man With 2 Pints and how he’d tricked some of the villagers. So he began to tell even taller tales.
Extravagant stories and preposterous claims were told to the Beasts over and over. He spoke to them of a place where everything was wonderful that he called Retrospective Recapitalisation Land.
He spun fables of his feats of daring-do; including one about how he faced down the Evil Hordes looking to carry away all the ATMs in Dáiland. The boy convinced the Politicians to make him their king with promises of things he called Allowances and Unvouched Expenses.
As king, the boy ordered the Politicians do to all sorts of wild and crazy things. He told them the more they break things the better the Recovery will be.
The Political Beasts, so excited by the freedom of not having to tell the truth anymore, went stomping all over the island. Kicking Austerity Dust into the faces of the inhabitants and telling them it’s part of Keeping the Recovery Going.
The people, once they’d spat the Austerity Dust out of their mouths, weren’t pleased. They set about organising and challenging the Political Beasts. The Beasts, worried that their party might be cut short, turned on the boy king. But he was ready for them, he knew the best way to cover up a lie was to tell an even bigger lie.
So the boy king told the Beasts that he was following orders from a higher power, which he called “The Troika”. He said he’d gladly step aside and let one of the Beasts take over, but he warned them that The Troika eat Beasts for breakfast! Needless to say, the Beasts scurried back all over Dáiland and told the inhabitants of The Troika and how they’d better not make any more trouble, for all their sake’s.
The boy king, so happy that his lies had gone unchallenged went back to partying. He even came up with a way to handle the occasional misstep. Whenever a Beast or an Islander would step out of line, the boy king would simply have them locked up in an Inquiry. And yet…
And yet the boy king felt incomplete. No amount of records set, achievements or accomplishments could fill the hollow in his heart.
The boy king, if he had the ability to tell the truth, would have admitted that he would never truly be happy in the knowledge that a village far, far away is still missing its idiot.
Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld
Reading From Book of Dark Blue after Leo Varadkar, WB Yeats, and Enda Kenny
We are for the Ireland that rolls
laughing out of its bed every morning, those
whose national anthem is the alarm
clock exploding on the bedside locker and it still dark;
who, even August bank holidays, are
in the shed before five a.m.
fashioning origami former Garda
commissioners, or writing violin concertos in praise
of the Little Sisters of the Bon Viveur,
Blessed K.T. Whittaker and anyone else
who got up ridiculously early
to make this country what it
We represent those who know should they fall
up a ladder, or for some other reason –
be it insanity or baldness –
be unable to properly function,
we in government will do nothing
except, if they’re lucky, repeatedly
knee them in the nasty bits.
We whose ancestors have eaten
the still throbbing heart of General O’Duffy
(or at least what we thought was his heart)
now see leaflets tumbling through respectable letter boxes
in which cretin and comedian crow their gutless song,
their arguments a bladder bloated with animal blood.
We say, down the disposal pipe
with all these and their cries
of avarice and failure,
those who engage in wilful wastage of water
by sitting there all day – the jets
fizzing up their crevices –
in Jacuzzis given them
by the tax payer.
Drown them in the tank
and bill them for their own extinction,
for they are weasels who’d drink
of your chickens until they’re dry.
We are for people who look both ways twice
when crossing the road
and remember where they left their keys.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny will stride into the White House on St Patrick’s Day for his meeting with Donald Trump wearing a pair of Donie Vaughan’s shoes.
“He gave me a call on Sunday night to see if I was around,” Donie told The Mayo News.. “You see the Taoiseach of the country’s name coming up on your phone and you are kinda wondering what this could be about! He was looking to come into me to buy a pair of shoes, it’s quite surreal….
From top: Taoiseach Enda Kenny; Independent TD Catherine Connolly of Galway West
During Leaders’ Questions.
Independent TD Catherine Connolly raised the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.
Specifically, she raised concerns about Taoiseach Enda Kenny using “carefully crafted words” to tell the Dáil, “no nuns broke into our homes to kidnap our children”.
And she recalled an interim report the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes gave the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone last September.
This interim report was to identify any matters that the commission felt warranted further investigation as part of the commission’s work and, recently, the Adoption Rights Alliance and Justice for Magdalenes Research groups have called on Ms Zappone to publish it.
Ms Connolly and Mr Kenny had the following exchange…
Catherine Connolly: “A shocking discovery, according to everyone, and particularly to yourself Taoiseach. But this is something that Galway has been aware of for a long time, highlighted by Catherine Corless back in 2014, in her painstaking and self-funded research.”
“By the witnesses, the many, many women who went before the commission of inquiry into child abuse which culminated in the Ryan Report, as far back as 2009. They told their stories about their experience in Mother and Baby Homes. It was brought to the attention of Martin McAleese when he concluded his report on the Magdalene laundries. So none of this is shocking to the survivors.
“What is shocking to the survivors, and to me, is the carefully crafted words that you’ve come into the chamber with. And, in particular, that you say ‘no nuns broke into our homes to kidnap our children’, ‘we gave them up to what we convinced ourselves was the nuns’ care’ and so on. I don’t doubt your bona fides, a thaoisigh, but I certainly doubt your judgement in reading that out, a carefully crafted speech with a sentence like that in these circumstances. My question: please answer. Where is the interim report that has sat with the minister since September last year? Please confirm that the site will be sealed off as any crime scene is sealed off.”
“Please confirm that records will be made available to those that are seeking them and somebody like Peter Mulryan doesn’t have to go to the High Court to seek the records of his sister. Please stop the hypocrisy…”
Enda Kenny: “That was the reason that a Commission of Investigation was set up and that has its independence with wide-ranging, wide-ranging terms of reference and it hasn’t actually reported its official findings yet. Nor indeed has the coroner declared what he considers the next step to be. The gardai have independent responsibility. What you’re asking me to do now, is to direct an independent commission to do certain things. The questions that you ask are valid questions and they do need to be answers and I expect that they will be answered. And you can refer to carefully crafted sentences if you like. The fact of the matter is: the nuns did not take the children out of the houses of Ireland. They were sent to these Mother and Baby Homes, in the vast majority of cases, by the families themselves. The disgrace that was wreaked upon parish after parish, simply because a young woman became pregnant, to give birth to a child…”
Connolly: “I’m not sure if you’re completely and utterly out of your depth or that you just stick to prepared scripts. I really don’t know what the issue is. I haven’t asked you anything about the coroner, nor the guards. I specifically asked you, in relation to publishing an interim report that your minister has since September last year. There’s the reply. She is going to publish it. I’m asking you now to confirm, why it hasn’t been published? Eight months later? What’s in it that’s so frightening? What’s in it that prevents it being published? In relation to your commission and our shameful past, who made it shameful to have what was natural, a pregnancy and a baby? Who made that shameful? Who instituted that those babies were taken? Not directly by the nuns in the middle of the night but as a result of a visit from a priest or someone else doing their job.”
“Please don’t insult the women of Ireland on International Women’s Day and just, and answer the question: when is the interim report going to be published? Please confirm that the site in Tuam will be sealed appropriately. Please stop talking about a memorial at this point which is utterly premature and deal with the facts and the issues that the representative organisations are asking you. At some stage the Government has to learn.”
Kenny: “Far from insulting the women of Ireland, I want to stand by finding out answers to these particular problems and these particular questions. And it is beneath you to take that line, deputy Connolly. Beneath you to take that line.”
“Now, the gardai themselves have a duty here. Certainly contact them if that site is not sealed off already. I haven’t read the interim report that Minister Zappone has. I’m quite sure she’s in consultation with people about this. I see no reason why the report cannot be published, the same as any other report. It may have to be in some redacted form, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it, I haven’t read it. I’m quite sure the minister will answer for that.”
“But I want you to understand this Deputy Connolly, I am as committed as anybody else to seeing that we deal with this for once and for all. I come from the west of Ireland, as you well know, and I can’t put a figure on the number of young women in my time, since the 1950s, who were sent away to foster homes or to other countries to have their children. Simply because they became pregnant out of wedlock. If you think that I insult the women of Ireland, by trying to do what I want to do here, in respect of our Government and our people, then you’re very much mistaken.”