Independent TD Catherine Murphy, top, and Tánaiste Joan Burton in Dáil this morning
This morning, during Order of Business in the Dáil, Kildare North Independent TD Catherine Murphy told Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton that she is experiencing major delays in receiving replys to Freedom of Information requests that she has sent to the Department of Finance.
She also said she received one FOI response two weeks after a newspaper obtained the exact same FOI response – even though they were due to receive them at the same time.
Catherine Murphy: “The programme for Government included a commitment to introduce new Freedom of Information legislation, which it did, and my understanding is that it also, it also allows for a review of that legislation. Tánaiste, I have put in Freedom of Information requests into the Department of Finance and I’ve got to say that I’m really unhappy with the way the legislation is playing out.”
“I was due to have responses about the same time as responses to the same questions were given to a journalist. Two weeks later, I got them, the exact same pieces of Freedom of Information. I’ve other material that I’m waiting, that’s overdue by weeks. I’ve gone through the appropriate channels, making the complaints and they’re not being provided to me. I’m not being given an explanation. And I’ve got to say it’s completely unsatisfactory.”
“Will you consider strengthening the legislation, if it’s found not to be working and if there is evidence that this is not working, at an earlier date, will you bring in a review before the term of this government is concluded, thank you.”
Joan Burton: “Well, we’ve just very significantly strengthened and expanded and restored the remit of the Freedom of Information Act and, certainly, I’m not aware of the details of what you’re complaining about – I will certainly refer that to the Minister for Finance for comment and reply to you. But what I think is also important and what this government has, as a policy, is to have a more open information society whereby, rather than having people request information, solely through the Freedom of Information Act, that as much information as possible is actually published. I don’t know about the specific incident you’re referring to, Deputy. So, as I say, I’ll refer it to the Minister for Finance for further comment and reply to you.”
Expensive phone selfie-ness outside the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.
The launch of the Labour Party’s #MakeItHappen campaign aimed at encouraging supporters of the referendum to take practical steps to get more people to vote Yes. The #MakeItHappen campaign will be rolled out over the course of the next three weeks. The first activity of the #MakeItHappen campaign is to talk to older people and to persuade them of the need to vote Yes.
Top from left: Brenna Clarke, Jimmy Somers, Jack Eustace, Grace Williams, Alice Somers, Alex White [Director of the Labour’s Marriage referendum campaign] and Joan Burton.
Sinn Féin’s support has risen significantly by five points to 22%.
Fianna Fáil is up one point to 19%.
When [undecideds] are excluded, Fine Gael support was measured at 25% down two points
Labour has also dipped by two points to 8%.
Support for Independents and the smaller parties fell by two points to 26%. 72% of people questioned have said that they would vote yes in the Same Sex Marriage Referendum with 20% opposed to the proposal and 8% undecided.
The latest RED C/ Sunday Business Post opinion poll.
Tanaiste Joan Burton and Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger in the Dail today
I don’t see any guys.
Siteserv DOMINATED dáil proceedings today.
Justice minister Frances Fitzgerald has announced an independent inquiry to be set up independently by, cough, Michael Noonan.
Meanwhile Ruth Coppinger pressed Joan Burton on her depth of knowledge about the Siteserv transaction. To wit:
Ruth Coppinger: “The secretive sale of this company Tanaiste has been raised in this house, by the way, for years – on numerous occasions. Deputy Catherine Murphy has done us all a huge service and I commend her aswell for her work, she raised it before. Other deputies raised it to the Taoiseach and to the Minister for Finance. I raised it myself actually, in a Leaders’ Question, and had my mic switched off. Hope it won’t happen today.But, of course, Denis O’Brien is so well connected to Fine Gael, owns large swathes of the media, that it’s taken this long to get us this far. Now Tánaiste specifically, on the issue of Siteserv, and if your baying hounds could stop shouting over the deputies that are here. Can you please answer the following questions: Richard..”
Ceann Comhairle: “Sorry, order please”
Coppinger: “Richard Woodhouse, an alleged acquaintance of Denis O’Brien..”
Ceann Comhairle: “Sorry, deputy..”
Coppinger: “…who’s also..”
CC: “Sorry, deputy please, I, I, I just, I know…”
Coppinger: “Who’s also..”
CC: “Sorry, no, there are people’s names in the public, in the public arena but I don’t want people making accusations against people who aren’t [inaudible]…”
Coppinger: “These are facts, Cathaoirleach these are just facts. He was also the head of specialised asset recovery at IBRC and oversaw Denis O’Brien’s borrowings at IBRC. Brian Harvey, the CEO of Siteserv.”
[ At a press conference on Friday April 24 former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes said Mr Woodhouse was excluded from the Siteserv sale because he was “handling Mr O’Brien’s finances”]
Coppinger: “Received a personal lump sum of €800,000, as a result of the sale to Millington, €800,000. Siteserv’s chairman…”
CC: “Please respect the rule I’m asking you, that’s what I’m putting to you today. OK, continue.”
Coppinger: “Yeah these are facts Cathaoirleach. Siteserv’s chairman Hugh Cooney was also obviously involved in the NTMA, Enterprise Ireland and reportedly also was on an American trip that the Taoiseach attended with Denis O’Brien and we know lawyers Arthur Cox represented both O’Brien and IBRC.”
CC: “Question please?”
Coppinger:”`But why Tanaiste was there no independent representation for the Irish taxpayer. Why was there no legal representation for the Irish taxpayer? The sale was processed we know by people with many connections to people in Siteserv, Davy and KPMG and, of course, the big question, why were other bidders making much larger offers not even considered?
For example, Tanaiste, can you comment that the only tender, and this is very important, that included a payment to directors was the Millington tender. Now if that’s the case why would it not be in the interest of shareholders to take that bid. And if it is true then this was obviously the company that was being positioned to get the water meter contract that’s going to be a license to print money, if you can force through the water charges. What other sweetheart deals took place or are happening and have happened recently at Anglo? From Fine Gael’s bankers? We’ve already heard about Topaz and Beacon Hospital, etc…”
Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Tanaiste and Labour Party Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton speak to the media on the ‘Government Progress Report on Recovery’ at Government Buildings.
The harp podium-filled hoo ha marks the Government’s fourth year in office and outlined report on progress made in relation to the ‘Agreed Programme for Government and the Statement of Government Priorities 2014′,
As well as outlining priorities for the next 12 months.
Tanaiste Joan Burton, with Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton (left) and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Croke Park, Dublin today to announce details of the Action Plan for Jobs for the government’s strategy to “accelerate the jobs recovery in every part of the country”.
Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien and Tánaiste Joan Burton during Leaders’ Questions yesterday
You’ll recall the death of Jonathan Corrie on December 1 last. His body was found less than 50m from the Dáil on Molesworth Street.
His death prompted Taoiseach Enda Kenny to spend three hours on the streets of Dublin, meeting homeless people. Junior Minister Alan Kelly then announced that 260 extra beds would be made available to the homeless before Christmas. Mr Kelly also promised that a bed would be available for every single homeless person in Dublin.
Yesterday, Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan raised the subject of homelessness, addiction and the provision of beds – in light of the Government’s moves before Christmas.
“When discussing this before Christmas, I stressed the need to commit to supported drug-free accommodation for those in recovery in order that they would not have to mix with those who are actively using. One such facility not far from here was described by the 18 persons in recovery there as having been a rock of stability, but because of pressure to take homeless persons off the street, which is very important, there has been a reconfiguration and that accommodation is no longer drug free. The changing of the culture to a mixed one has undermined the recovery journey of those in the facility, especially those who are at the early stages of recovery.”
“I take no pleasure in saying that what has happened has been disastrous. As a result of that reconfiguration, there is now widespread heroin use. There is dealing and chaotic behaviour. There are multiple relapses. There has been at least one serious overdose and there are debt issues as well. In spite of all of these warnings being brought to the attention of Ministers, Dublin City Council and the HSE, in spite of findings from a report on homelessness and addiction and in spite of recommendations from the users’ forum, this went ahead. I consider that a serious breach of duty of care to those in recovery.”
Later, as Tánaiste Joan Burton was responding, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien told the Dáil his brother, a recovering heroin addict, is currently homeless and being forced to sleep in shelters with other addicts as a cap on his rent allowance is preventing him for accessing accommodation.
Joan Burton: “I very much share Deputy O’Sullivan’s view that the best resolution for an individual who has serious addiction problems is to try to get himself or herself completely clean. Given my experience down the years and knowing many who have made that journey as well as many now working in the sector, I agree that such is the best model. On the organisations which are involved in delivering the services and the decisions they make around how they approach that, something I would like to see developing more strongly is that when addicts are clean, aside from being in hostel accommodation, which should be a transitional phase…”
Róisín Shortall: “It is not, and that is the point.”
Burton: “…the hostel accommodation should recognise the stage that they are at. What should happen then is that we should seek to find homes for such persons. Not only have I been in many centres throughout the country…”
Burton: “I was in Cork before Christmas…”
Peter Mathews: “The Tánaiste is talking herself into eternity.”
Burton: “…at the invitation of Simon. Simon in Cork, if I may say so, has an excellent approach to providing long-term homes…”
A Deputy: “Does the Tánaiste want to attach it to a vow of silence?”
Burton: “…for those who have come through a certain treatment situation.”
O’Brien: “The Tánaiste does not have a clue.”
Mathews: “The Tánaiste should stop talking.”
Michael Kitt: “Quiet.”
Ray Butler: “What does Deputy Mathews mean, “Stop talking”?”
Mathews: “It is meaningless.”
Burton: “I spent last Monday talking to 15 or 16 very fine persons, as good any day as the Deputy or any of his colleagues who sit beside him…”
Bernard Durkan: “Hear, hear.”
Burton: “….who have substance problems which they are battling to overcome.”
O’Brien: “I have a brother who is homeless. He is a recovering heroin addict…”
Burton: “The Deputy should not dare lecture me.”
O’Brien: “…who cannot get accommodation because of the cap on rent allowance.”
Michael Kitt: “The Tánaiste should be allowed to continue without interruption.”
Burton: “Deputy O’Brien should not dare lecture me.”
O’Brien: ‘That is exactly what is happening.’
Kitt: “Order please.”
Burton: “Deputy O’Brien should not dare lecture me.”
O’Brien: “He has been forced to go back into a hostel where drug taking happens in front of him.”
Kitt: “The time is almost up.”
Burton: “I have just said that the approach of getting a home for people and getting people substance free is the correct approach.”
Kitt: “I thank the Tánaiste. That concludes Leaders’ Questions. We will now move on to the Order of Business.”
Eric J. Byrne: “Why does his good family not take him home?”
O’Brien: “Shut your mouth.”
Derek Keating: “A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that is completely out of order.”
Pádraig MacLochlainn: “Deputies should have a bit of common decency.”
Keating: “It is completely out of order for Deputy O’Brien to tell another Deputy to shut his mouth.”
Byrne: “What would one expect from Sinn Féin?”
Keating: “He should withdraw the remark and apologise.”
MacLochlainn: “In the circumstances, Members should have a bit of common decency and cop themselves on. The Deputy is the first one to run to the television. He should cop himself on.”
“The people that I want to see around the bed are the doctors, not the lawyers. In my view the eighth amendment does not actually serve women well when issues of their life, their safety, their health, are in question.”
“The thing that I find extraordinarily difficult about this kind of a case is that as a consequence of the eighth amendment, and I’m somebody who was opposed to the eighth amendment, the Labour Party was opposed to the eighth amendment, we said it was wrong to put it into the constitution, but the people of Ireland in their wisdom decided differently – and that’s their prerogative in any referendum to make a decision as they see fit.
“But what we have now, and will have, without a doubt, is over a period of time cases which will throw up the most agonising and difficult dilemmas and at the centre of that will inevitably be young women and the babies that they’re carrying.“
Tánaiste Joan Burton speaking to political correspondents earlier today.