Tag Archives: Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar taking Leaders’ Questions earlier today

Earlier this afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked about the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald reminded Mr Varadkar of several items that emerged in the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, including:

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan claims she first learned of the concerns about the Garda College on July 27, 2015 when head of HR John Barrett briefed her and others about the matters.

Mr Barrett claims he was told by College Administrator Sgt Pat McCabe that Ms O’Sullivan knew as early as June 23, 2015, while Mr Barrett claims former Chief Administrative Officer Cyril Dunne told him Ms O’Sullivan knew on June 30, 2015.

Either way, on July 31, 2015 four days after the briefing from Mr Barrett – Ms O’Sullivan wrote a letter to the Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy stating: “I have disclosed to you all the instances of loss, fraud or irregularity are known to have occurred or have been reported”.

But she didn’t disclose the matters concerning the Garda College to Mr McCarthy.

And the C&AG was only eventually made aware on May 31, 2016, by the head of internal audit Niall Kelly – who has previously cla

Readers may wish to recall that at a previous PAC meeting, on June 14, 2017, the current Chief Administration Officer at the College Dónall Ó Cualáin said:

At that point [October 2015], the advice was that the legal advice had to be sought and obtained before Mr [Niall] Kelly could commence his work [audit], all the bank accounts had to be closed, and all the moneys and investments had to be brought into one account. All that work was ongoing.”

It’s understood this advice was not from Head of Legal Affairs Ken Ruane but from Cyril Dunne.

Further to this, Ms McDonald asked Mr Varadkar if he has confidence in Noirin O’Sullivan, who became interim Garda Commissioner in 2014.

Further to this…

Mr Varadkar replied:

“Yes, I do have confidence in the Garda Commissioner and the Government does, too. The problems that are besetting the gardai are long-standing.  Many, most, if not all of the problems that beset the gardai predate her becoming Garda Commissioner. And I believe that she is somebody who is fighting many battles on many fronts in an effort to put things right.”

Hmmm.

Previously: A Templemore Timeline

Meanwhile…

In The Irish Times

Political reporter Sarah Bardon writes:

The [PAC] session was mammoth and the line of questioning was robust. But at times it seemed unfair to the witness.

O’Sullivan faced committee members that have already decided she is unfit for office. Can she expect a fair hearing when at least 10 of the 13 members have stated publicly they believe she should be removed as commissioner?

Questioning of Nóirín O’Sullivan was intense and sometimes unfair (The Irish Times)

Helen McEntee, new junior minister for European affairs, with her fellow junior ministers following their appointments yesterday afternoon with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, centre

This afternoon.

Further to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s choice of junior ministers yesterday…

Fine Gael has released the following statement:

Fine Gael in Government has done more than any other party before it, in terms of gender equality in politics.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has maintained the highest number of female Cabinet Ministers in the history of the State – first achieved in July 2014 .

Currently there are four female full Cabinet Ministers, including the Tánaiste, and in addition, a female Super Junior Minister who sits at Cabinet.

Of the 11 Fine Gael female TDs, six are either Ministers of Junior Ministers, including the Super Junior Minister, meaning 55% of Fine Gael female TDs occupy senior Government positions. Of the five Fine Gael female TDs who are not Ministers, four are first-time TDs.

Fine Gael introduced gender quotas cutting funding to political parties if they failed to run at least 30% women candidates at the General Election.

As a result of this, the 2016 election saw 35 women elected to the Dáil. This was the highest number of women ever elected to the Dáil and a 40% increase on 2011.

Fine Gael has more women elected to the Dáil than any other party. However, there is no room for complacency and we continue to work to encourage more women into politics.

Fine Gael ran more female candidates than any other party in the last local elections of 2014. In that election we had the highest number of female candidates ever to feature on a Fine Gael ticket.

The party gave every possible support to these female candidates in their electoral bids, including training and mentoring specific to the challenges faced by women in politics.

Fine Gael is completely committed to increasing the number of women actively participating in politics and will continue to seek to boost the number of women at al levels of the party.

FIGHT!

Related: Leo’s London romance shattered by women trouble back home (Ellen Coyne, The Times)

Previously: It’s Good To Be King

Statement via Hugh O’Connell

Right now.

In the Dáil.

In his first Leaders’ Questions.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar responds to questions about the appointment of former Attorney General Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal.

Watch live here

Previously: Faster!

UPDATE:

During Leaders’ Questions.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin claimed a payment made to Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty was in breach of legislation.

Brendan Howlin said:

“Taoiseach, last week, you unveiled your new Cabinet. It included  an unprecedented number of ministers of state with the right to attend at Cabinet. Within 24 hours, it emerged that one of these four ministers could not receive the corresponding allowance without a change in the law….

“Over the weekend, the situation got worse. It has now emerged that a payment of a a third such allowance to the Government chief whip [Regina Doherty] from last year was also unlawful.

The whip was paid an allowance of €15,829 for her role as Government whip. No such position exists under law. It is clear from documents released under Freedom of Information that the allowance was paid to the Government whip on the understanding that the Government whip was actually being paid for her responsibilities as Fine Gael whip. This might seem like a technical and minor matter however,r under the law, no allowance can be paid to a party whip, if that person is a minister or a minister for state.

“This means that you cannot pay such an allowance to the new Government chief whip. It also means that an illegal overpayment has been made to Minster Doherty.

Related: Doherty faces repaying €16k to the State (Irish Independent)

From left: Maire Whelan; President Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

The letter, which is confidential and known as a “warrant of appointment”, insisted President Higgins ratify Ms Whelan’s role in the appeals court immediately.

The unpublished letter is understood to have included a “specific” demand that the appointment be made on Monday morning, despite the fact the timeline had until then not been the subject of any discussion.

While no formal reason was included in the letter explaining the schedule being sought, sources close to the process said they believe the timeline was put forward to ensure the position was set in stone before any Dáil or Cabinet criticism today.

Fight!

Government insist Máire Whelan be appointed ahead of Dáil reconvening (irish Examiner)

Yesterday: With The Stroke of A Pen

Rollingnews

This afternoon.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets the British Prime Minister Theresa May outside No 10 in London.

It’s not a caption competition until you say so…

Update:

Leo Varadkar ‘reassured’ about DUP deal (BBC)

Video: Today FM

Update:

In his first speech as Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar said:

“I don’t wish to respond to the other deputies, as suffice to just say this: I received 57 votes here today, only two of those 57 were allowed to speak opposite 40 members chose to abstain, but only one of them was allowed to explain why.

“And so it’s important to democracy that we have diversity but democracy is also about proportionality and the equal right to speak must also apply…

Applause from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil benches

“…so the equal right to speak must also apply to ministers and backbenchers of this party and also the main opposition party.”

Yesterday: New Old Politics

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.”

Watch Dail proceedings live here

Earlier: And Breathe…

UPDATE:

In addition.

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.”

FIGHT!

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach-in-waiting Leo Varadkar

This morning.

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.

Previously: ‘They’re Loud And They’re Growing’

‘This Hard-Left, Conspiratorial View’

Listen back in full here

UPDATE:

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.”

The panel on RTÉ’s Saturday with Claire Byrne at the weekend

At the weekend.

On Saturday with Claire Byrne.

Claire was joined today by Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy, political editor of the Irish Examiner Daniel McConnell, Fianna Fail TD Darragh O’Brien, Independent Alliance TD Michael Fitzmaurice, Fine Gael party chairman Martin Heydon and Irish Times political reporter Mary Minihan.

During their discussion, Michael Fitzmaurice was asked about why he will not be supporting the nomination of Leo Varadkar for Taoiseach in the Dail tomorrow.

Claire Byrne: “Michael, you’re not going to vote for Leo [Varadkar]. You’re going to vote against Leo. You abstained when it was Enda Kenny but you’re voting against Leo. What did he do to you?”

Michael Fitzmaurice: “Leo did nothing. I made it very clear that, first of all, it’s nothing against him. It would be the same if it was Simon Coveney and I wish him luck by the way. But the last time I was at talks and, look it, it went up to the very last few minutes but a Programme for Government was put together and that Programme for Government and all the people, in fairness Fianna Fáil were involved at the time, and Independents were involved and we drove up and down the road many a day to try and put a document together and, unfortunately, there are lots of parts of that Programme for Government that would be important and parts that I would have been very involved in myself, like agriculture, and rural, you know, things in rural Ireland that haven’t been delivered on. Look it, it has basically been…”

Byrne: “So it’s a protest vote really?”

Fitzmaurice: “Look it, there’s no point in voting, there’s no point in spending 80 days up and down a road to have a piece of paper that you look at above in a frame and nothing happening on it. And that’s the reason and that’s the only reason. There’s absolutely nothing against Leo Varadkar. As I say, I wish him the best of luck. But that’s my stand and I’m taking it.”

Daniel McConnell: “Michael, Michael, come on, would you not be honest like, cause we’ve spoken about this before and others who have spoken about this before. You know Simon Coveney was one who was very involved in the talks but Leo Varadkar, all the way through, was a very disinterested figure, he was more interested in looking at his phone than he was looking in the eyes of the Independents. Is that not more the reason for not voting for him than the failure to put the stuff through like?”

Fitzmaurice: “If you want to deal with, you’re dealing with two different issues there and you’re asking me two different questions and I’ll deal with both questions very frank and clear. In fairness to Simon Coveney, he put in hours and hours and there was many a row during it and, in fairness to him, he never threw the baby out with the bathwater.

“Yeah, there was less interest from Leo but that’s absolutely nothing got to do today with, when you agree a Programme for Government or when it’s there, it’s about delivering and, yes, some things have been delivered on, I’m not going to go saying or slating that nothing has been delivered. But the important things and especially, you know, I see things in agriculture – cause that’s the type of rural area I come from – that’s ferociously important to keeping families in rural areas that hasn’t seen the boom thankfully that Dublin has seen and Galway city has seen. And that’s good and job numbers and more people working is good things. I’m not being critical of everything.”

Byrne: “And you did say that if Simon had won the contest that you would take the same stance.”

Fitzmaurice: “Yes…”

Listen back in full here

Pic: Saturday with Claire Byrne