Tag Archives: Joan Burton



From top: Labour party ad ahead of the 2011 General Election; Joan Burton and Gavin Jennings this morning

Tánaiste and Labour party leader Joan Burton spoke with Gavin Jennings on Morning Ireland earlier  about the future of her party ahead of the next general election.

Mr Jennings asked Ms Burton about Labour ads released prior to the last general election in 2011 – warning people what would happen should Fine Gael be elected – and what benefit cuts Ms Burton intended to reverse, if any.

The interview took place at Labour’s think-in in Wicklow.

Gavin Jennings: “Your party has agreed at this gathering to a vote transfer pact with Fine Gael. Is it a vote for Labour or a vote for Fine Gael?”

Joan Burton: “No it’s a vote for Labour because, above all else, we’ll be going to the doorsteps asking people to vote number one for the Labour candidate and number one and two in the constituencies where we’re running two candidates. After that, because we need to focus on who’s going to form a Government after the next election and what I’m concerned and the reason I made the intervention, Gavin, is that we have a very dissonant, discordant opposition who seem to detest each other as much as they dislike the Government. So the question: we are on the cusp of an opportunity to really build the Irish economy, get people back to work and spread the benefits throughout everybody in the country but we can’t do that without a Government. And electors now have to begin thinking about what kind of Government they would like to see after the election. This Government has worked well, we’ve taken on a difficult job, we’ve done our best and we’ve now got the country into a recovery place so I think there’s a lot of sense in saying, after you’ve voted number one for Labour or number two for Labour, then vote for our partners in Government.”

Jennings: “You want voters to reelect a Fine Gael-Labour government. In the last week, before the last election, warning voters not to let Fine Gael govern on their own and asking them to vote you in, your party issued a poster: Every Little Hurts. Just a reminder, warning of a €50 hike in car tax, an increase in VAT to 23%, a 1% increase in duty on wine, a €250 cut to annual child benefit for a family with two children, a 3% hike in DIRT to 30% and a water tax of €238 a year. Which of those did you prevent?

Burton: “Well, what we did was, and we said this in our manifesto and I said it particularly, as the Labour party’s finance spokesperson, that I wanted to get the country back into recovery mode, get people and businesses back to work and that is what we’ve done…”

Jennings: “Which of those cuts did you prevent?”

Burton: “…That was our primary promise. Well, can I just say in relation to social protection, for instance, we’ve protected all of the weekly rates. In relation to work, we’ve created 110,000 extra jobs; we now have a situation where there’s 9.5% unemployment – down from over 15%. We prioritised, when we went in to work, rescuing the country, and it was a very, very…”

Jennings: “And you’ve made that point. Of those six threats which of them did you prevent?

Burton: “Well what we’ve done now is we’ve put the country in recovery mode and looking to this Budget, we will actually be addressing the Budget and the fiscal space that is there for families with children, for older people, particularly people in retirement. And for people who are vulnerable and who need support.”

Jennings: “The only one of those threats that didn’t come to pass was the €238-a-year water tax but only because of the offer of a €100 grant which hasn’t yet been paid. Are you still going to pay €100 to people who don’t pay for their water?”

Burton: “The forms in relation, and the letters in relation to the water conservation grant are going out, as I speak. And, I have to say, going around the country and talking to people, particularly people who are retired, it means that if somebody is living in a house on their own, their net charge for water will be a fairly modest €60 a year and for a family of two adults or more, it’ll be €160 a year.”

Jennings:Are you still going to pay €100 to people who don’t pay for their water?

Burton: “Well I’m very confident that the vast majority of Irish people are very honest and they deal very honestly with Government and my understanding and my anticipation is, just again, based on conversations with people, that people who have registered with Irish Water, the vast bulk of them, as we’ve seen already intend to pay the charge.”

Jennings: “51% have paid so far.”

Burton: “And for a new utility, which has just been established on a countrywide basis, that actually is exactly where…”

Jennings: “Can I ask you again: are you still going to pay €100 to people who don’t pay for their water?

Burton: “Let me be clear about that one: we’re going to pay the €100, Gavin, to people who have registered for Irish Water…”

Jennings:Even though they haven’t paid for their water?”

Burton: “I anticipate, because people are very, very honest, I anticipate that those people who take the conservation grant will address their responsibilities. Remember as recently as last week, we had the Boylan, we had the Boylan Report in the EU from the leading Sinn Féin person…”

Jennings: “I’m just trying to get an answer to the question, Tánaiste, you are going to continue paying €100 to people who don’t pay for their water?

Burton: “The condition on which the grant is paid is based on whether or not the person has registered…”

Jennings: “Not whether they’ve paid.”

Burton: “I anticipate that people who’ve registered and who actually look for the grant, will pay. But remember Sinn Féin, in the European Parliament report, by their leading MEP, spoke as recently as last week about a progressive water charge linked to usage. So can we just have a little bit of honesty from some of the parties who are pirouetting at a crazy rate in relation to policies.”

Jennings: “If you could just stick with the questions we’re putting to you, if that’s OK for the moment…Lots of talk by you and others in the Government over the past few days about relief and payback in the upcoming Budget and indeed in the upcoming term of Government that you hope to be reelected to. What benefit cuts, during you term as minister or in the nine austerity Budgets we’ve endured, are you going to reverse?

Burton: “Well, first of all, the greatest boost to anybody’s prosperity in this country is for someone who’s unemployed to get work and, as I’ve said to you, and I don’t know if RTE finds this difficult  but we now have 110,000 extra jobs and we’ve got unemployment down from 15% to 9.5%. Just to clear that that boost of employment is the greatest boost to people’s prosperity.”

Jennings:What benefit cuts are you going to reverse?

Burton: “What I’m looking forward to in this Budget, what I’m looking forward to in this Budget is focussing, as I did last year, on a number of particular areas: families with children. So I anticipate, subject to the finalisation of the figures, I anticipate we’ll be in a position to improve child benefit and also to have a better childcare package because that’s a very big issue for families with young children.”

Jennings: “It’s not a full reversal of the child’s benefit cut is it?”

Burton: “Secondly…”

Jennings: “Is it?”

Burton: “There’s no figures which have been decided yet, Gavin..”

Jennings: “What about the back-to-school allowance?”

Burton: “We..”

Jennings:Will you reverse the cut to the back-to-school allowance?”

Burton:No because we, what I want to do there is to support all families with children through child benefit and to look at targeted measures – none of which of yet have been signed off on..”

Jennings: “With respect, a child benefit increase to every child, to every family in the country is not a targeted increase. What benefit cuts, I’ll ask you again, are you going to reverse?”

Burton: “I think, Gavin,  can I just say to you, I think that’s quite an extraordinary statement by RTE, that child benefit doesn’t benefit families with children. I don’t know what, I don’t know what world RTE inhabits, perhaps in Dublin 4 but I can tell you, right across this country, in town and country, in village and city,  families with children look forward to more support. People who are retiring look forward to more support. One of the things I did last year was to reintroduce at a 25% was the Christmas bonus. I hope to be in a position to at least double that this year, we also provided additional money for people living alone who are older or who have a disability. That was the first increase in that since 1993.”

Jennings: “The respite care grant, disability payments for young people, one-parent family payments, rent supplement, funeral allowance, are you going to reverse any of those?”

Burton: “Well I told you that, last year, Gavin, anybody who’s living alone, either retired or on a disability payment, we increased for the first time in decades – the Living Alone Allowance which was worth a small but important amount to people who are on a disability payment and living alone and similarly for older people living alone. I speak every year and during the year to organisations who represent people who rely on a social welfare income and I’ve based what I’m doing in the Budget on the amount of money that we can afford sensibly and prudently spend and secondly on the recommendations of those organisations.”

Jennings: “And last year when I put that question to you about reversal of social welfare cuts that have been made during the nine austerity budgets, you said, ‘we’re not in a position to do that yet’. This year there is more money, this isn’t an austerity Budget.”

Burton: “And the targets will be families with children and people who have retired and people, for instance, who have a disability and people who are caring and a very significant package of investment into getting people back to work, into apprenticeships, into training, into third-level places and to building primary and secondary schools and getting more teachers into a school. It’s a whole-of-life package – that’s what the Budget will be – about improving the living standards as far as possible of everybody in the country. That’s what the approach to the Budget is. And if you’re suggesting to me that we would simply look back to the period of the greatest difficulty in the country’s history and not look forward to how we can grow this country, how we can get more investment into this country, how we can get more people back to work, well I think the focus for this country needs to be on the future and how we make things better for everybody and I have to say, that is what I did last year, that’s what I said when I spoke with you. What I was going to focus on and that’s what I’m going to focus on this year again.”

Jennings: “You, of the main party leaders that we’ve spoken to in the last number of days, this will be your first general election as leader. The others had all faced it last time around. How’s the party better off under your leadership than Eamon Gilmore?”

Burton: “Well first of all we’ve had a number of very successful changes in Budgetary policy. We focussed last year, for instance, on removing and lowering the USC, removing and extra 40,000 people out of the USC net and, this year in the Budget, we will be reducing the USC further, that will be a very big boost, particularly to people on low incomes, in work, and to families and others on middle incomes, people in the range of €25,000 to €70,000 a year – that will be a very big boost to them.”

Jennings: “Do you think that your party will fare better under your leadership in this General Election?”

Burton: “I feel very confident in terms of the response that I’m getting from people that Labour’s plan which is to grow this country and to grow and have a renewal, to have a recovery and to have that on a social basis, a cultural basis and to have it spread right throughout the country, I think that’s what people are interested in. This country has a great future and, actually, I think, in all fairness to you, you should be talking the country up, not actually trying to talk the country down. People have sacrificed a lot, they faced difficult days and now we actually stand on the…we stand to actually improve life for everybody in this country, it’s an opportunity we should take with both hands as we look to the future.”

Listen back in full here


Ah here.

This afternoon.

Tánaiste and Leader of the Labour, Joan Burton arrives at the Glenview Hotel in County Wicklow, for the first day of the party’s Autumn Think-in greeted by local Labour TD Ann Ferris, crawling lickspittle chivalrous press officer Dermot O’Gara and unnamed photographer.

Nice Audi, in fairness.

(Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie)



This afternoon.

The Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Fianna Fail leader Michaél Martin, Willie O’ Dea and Barry Cowan at the traditional ‘toupee check’ during the party’s Autumn think in.

(Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews)

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 09.28.51

RTÉ Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds on RTÉ’s Nine News on Wednesday

You may recall RTÉ Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds’ report on RTÉ’s Nine News on Wednesday in which he said more than 20 people are expected to be charged in relation to the protest in Tallaght last November in which Tánaiste Joan Burton was ‘trapped’ in her car.

One of those named in the reported was Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy. Mr Murphy has since made official complaints to the offices of the DPP, the Garda Commissioner and GSOC over the leaking of the information to RTÉ.

An internal Garda investigation is now under way into this leak.

Yesterday, Garda whistleblower John Wilson told Newstalk: “The source of the leak may or may not have come from within an Garda Síochana. It could have very well have emanated from a high level from the office of the DPP.”

This is what was said in the report on Wednesday:

Eileen Dunne: “More than 20 people are expected to appear in court in the coming weeks in connection with a water charge protest in Tallaght last year in which the Tánaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her car for over two hours. RTÉ News has learned that the DPP has directed they be charged with a variety of offences. For more on this, we’re joined in studio by our crime correspondent Paul Reynolds. Paul, can you fill us in on the background first of all?”

Paul Reynolds: “Well Eileen, people will remember that last November the Tánaiste Joan Burton and her assistant were trapped in her car in Tallaght, in Jobstown for about two hours. Their car was surrounded by protesters who were chanting, banging on the car, shouting slogans. Now after that incident, the gardaí began a criminal investigation and almost 40 people were arrested, including juveniles, teenagers and three public representatives. Among those detained were the Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy and two anti-austerity councillors, Kieran Mahon and Mick Murphy. After they are released, they held a press conference outside Terenure Garda Station at which they said, they accused the gardaí, and the Government, of political policing and they said that they were confident that a jury would find them not guilty of any charge, particularly of a charge of false imprisonment. However, the garda investigation continued and a number of other people were arrested.”

Dunne: “So what has the DPP now directed?”

Reynolds: “Well, in total, 40 people were arrested and the gardaí sent a number of files to the DPP in relation to around 30 people, my understanding is 30 files were sent to the DPP for consideration. Now, we have learned tonight that the DPP Claire Loftus has directed that around 20 people, more than 20 people, are to face charges in connection with the incident. Now these charges include allegations of false imprisonment, violent disorder, criminal damage and offences under the Public Order Act. Now, some of those people are due to be charged with some offences but others, I understand, will face multiple charges.

Dunne: “Now I understand that any trial will take place in the circuit court as opposed to the district court. What’s the significance of this?”

Reynolds: “Yeah there had been some public commentary in relation to this because the DPP hadn’t come back within six months of the incident that people may not be charged at all because it would have been statute barred but that only applies to the district court. Charges have to be brought within six months if somebody is to appear before the district court but this doesn’t apply in the circuit court. So the directions have come back and these people, who are to be charged, will face trial on indictment which is before the circuit court. Now the circuit court is different because in the district court, you appear only before a judge, there’s no jury but in the circuit court you may appear not only before  a judge but also before a jury and are entitled to trial before jury. However the penalties, at Circuit Court level, are more severe. Now the gardaí must implement the DPP’s directions so in the next few weeks people may either be arrested  and brought to the courts, they may be arrested and brought to a station to be charged and then given station bail to appear before  a court at a later date or they may be summonsed to appear in court.”

Watch back here

Gardaí launch investigation into how plans to arrest water charge protesters were leaked (Newstalk)

Garda investigation into RTÉ revelations on Burton protest charges (RTE)


Paul Murphy TD (on ground second right) at a sit down protest during a visit to  Jobstown, Tallaght by Tanaiste Joan Burton last year.

Further to the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge over 20 austerity protestors for ‘falsely imprisoning’ the Tanaiste Joan Burton and an aide.

Paul Murphy TD, who may be among those charged following a dawn arrest earlier this year, writes:

The news that over 20 people will be charged with serious criminal offences in relation to the protest in Jobstown is shocking. Reports indicate that a number, including of people, including me, will be charged with false imprisonment – a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. This is an extremely serious attack on the right to protest.

People from Jobstown, who participated in a protest which delayed the Tanaiste for about two and a half hours are now facing the potential of going to prison. How many people does Joan Burton feel should be imprisoned because she was delayed for a couple of hours?

The question has to be asked about why this information was leaked to the media, via a crime correspondent [RTÉ’s Paul Reynolds], before people themselves were told they would be charged. Just as no Garda was in touch with me to question me before my arrest, nobody has been in touch suggesting that we would be charged, or charging us.

This will be a major political trial initiated on foot of political policing. It will be a trial of over 20 people for having the temerity to protest, including delay the Tanaiste, who is responsible for vicious attacks on working class people, including most recently the cuts to lone parents.

If the Labour Party thinks protesters facing potential prison sentences is going to in some way redeem itself in advance of the next election, it will be sorely mistaken. This may only add to the dramatic rejection that Labour will receive, particularly in working class communities like Jobstown, where people now have a deep feeling of betrayal.

The context to this move is clear – one of absolute crisis for Irish Water and the government. 57% of people have refused to pay the water charges, Irish Water has failed the Eurostat test and the government is reeling from this rejection of its water charges. This new attempt to criminalise protest and intimidate people from protesting will not work. It will inspire more to come out for the next national Right2Water protest at 2pm in Dublin on Saturday August 29.


Paul Murphy (Facebook)

Over 20 to be charged over Burton incident (RTÉ’s Nine O’Clock News)

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 12.27.07

Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton in the Dáil this lunchtime

“The Order of Business shall be as follows. Number 33: Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2014  report and final stages resumed… It’s proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders that 1) the Dáil shall sit later than 5.30pm tonight and shall adjourn on the conclusion of Topical Issues which  will take place not later than 9pm tonight. 2) The sitting shall be suspended on 2.30pm today for 30 minutes. 3) The proceedings on the resumed report and final stages of number 33 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 9pm tonight by one question which will be put from the chair and which shall be in relation to amendments include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.”

Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton imposing a guillotine on the  Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2014 Dáil this afternoon.

This effectively means Ms Burton has imposed a vote at 9pm – on the bill – thus ending further debate on the bill.

In response, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said:

This Environmental Miscellaneous Provisions Bill originally, in its original incarnation was to deal with such matters as dog breeding, dog licences and Killarney National Park. Now, I think you’re going to have to have a fairly flexible interpretation of the law to explain how a piece of legislation like that is used as a vehicle to do things like: force landlords to tell Irish Water who’s renting a property; make it compulsory the charges be paid before a sale of a house, include in all tenancy agreements obligation to pay the Irish Water tax and to ensure that local authorities will be enforcers of this tax. That’s a bit of a stretch, I think, by any standard.”

“And this is just the latest episode in which you demonstrate, not alone contempt for the Dáil. We could probably stomach that but utter contempt for the citizens outside this Dáil and the citizens that we serve. Utter contempt. We have raised with you, and I raised with you, Tánaiste, many, many months ago and asked you to show your hand in terms of the penalties that you were cooking up for people who weren’t in a position, or who just would not pay your unfair water charges. You avoided that issue like the plague and then you store it up until now and you put some of it in with legislation dealing with dog breeding, dog licences and Killarney National Park and all in an effort to ramroad, ramrod this legislation through just before the summer in the vain hope that you’ll get away with it, that people will be distracted, that they’ll go off on their holliers and forget all about it. I think you’re very wrong if that is your assessment.”

“Finally, Ceann Comhairle, on a matter of good parliamentary practice, even if we were to accept that this dog breeding, dog licence, Killarney legislation was the appropriate mechanism, you’re deliberately, you deliberately, you’re not even affording the basic right of scrutiny of the amendments, you’re guillotining the bill and you’re doing it in a cynical fashion.”

Related: Water Services Bill goes to Seanad after Govt ‘guillotines’ debate in Dáil (Irish Examiner, December 18, 2014)

Previously: ‘We Don’t Know What We’re Supposed To Be Amending’

‘That’s A Matter For The Landlord’

Thanks Anne-Marie McNally