Tag Archives: Martin McMahon

From top: Leo Varadkar’s welfare cheats campaign; Minister for Social ProtectionRegina Doherty

Writer and activist Martin McMahon has waged a lengthy campaign to end the situation where one in five self-employed workers in Ireland is not really self-employed.

Recently he got creative.

Martin writes:

I saw it happen. I was there. I contacted the Garda National Bureau of Fraud Investigation and attempted to report the crime.

I have no doubt that it is a crime I witnessed, it’s certainly an indictable offence under the relevant Social Welfare legislation. The Garda on the other end of the line in Harcourt Street didn’t want to know, saying:

“There’s noting to see unless the Minister for Social Welfare tells us there’s something to see”

I’ve contacted every Welfare Minister and at least two Justice Ministers since. Dermot Ahern didn’t want to know even though former Taoiseach John Bruton wrote to the Department and asked why nothing was being done.

Mary Coughlan, Seamus Brennan, Martin Cullen, Mary Hanifin and Éamon Ó Cuív all ignored it, Fianna Fail were a brick wall. I sat down with Dominic Hannigan and explained it to him.

Dominic got it straight away, in fairness anybody who has taken the time ‘gets it’. Dominic took it to Joan Burton as Social Welfare Minister, Joan replied that it was “Not currently an issue”.Since leaving office, Joan has a new found interest and pontificates regularly on why it is now an issue.

Last year I wrote to Justice Minister Fitzgerald and explained the crime I had witnessed and the implications. Minister Fitzgerald, against my wishes, forwarded it on to the then Social Welfare Minister Leo Varadkar.

Like all of his predecessors, Leo did nothing, didn’t even acknowledge that he had received it from Minister Fitzgerald.

Four weeks ago, I tweeted to the recently appointed Social Welfare Minister, Regina Doherty-​

I wasn’t surprised that the Minister replied. I’d met the Minister and her team at the last general election. They were all decent people, friendly and accommodating.

The Minister contacted me by private message and we arranged to meet in the Pillo Hotel in Ashbourne on the 29th of June. The meeting lasted about an hour.

It was clear from the outset that the Minister had taken the time to read the piece I’d tweeted to her and more importantly had watched the videos attached to the piece.

I explained to the Minister how in January I’d set a trap for the Department of Social Welfare and that they’d walked straight into it, I used those exact words.

That in springing the trap, the Department revealed that it was still knowingly making incorrect insurability of employment decisions based on the crime I had witnessed 16 years earlier.

The Crime

On the 22nd August 2000, a Social Welfare Inspector wrote and signed a ‘Report’. The report was an account of a meeting he had with 2 representatives of a well known company which took place on 17th August 2000.

The report was submitted by the Social Welfare Inspector as evidence in a then ongoing ‘Insurability of Employment’ determination by the SCOPE office of the Department of Social Welfare, for the purpose of making a legally binding decision.

​On March 1, 2001, the Social Welfare Inspector read aloud and submitted as evidence his report in an Appeal Hearing which took place in the quasi-judicial Social Welfare Appeals Office.

The Social Welfare Inspector’s report was (and is) accepted as the primary evidence in it’s overturning of the SCOPE Office decision. This event was witnessed by a Barrister, a Solicitor, A legal representative and the General Manager for the appellant company, a Senior Counsel and State Solicitor for the Social Welfare Mininster, a Barrister and Solicitor and 2 representatives for the Communications Workers Union, 2 representatives from the Scope Office, the Appeals Officer and me.

This event and the evidence contained in the Social Welfare Inspector’s report are reported and quoted in the Appeals Officers written account. The Manager named in the Inspector’s Report was not present in the Social Welfare Appeals Office when evidence attributed to him was accepted as evidence.

On December 6, 2001, in the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Barrister representing the company (same Barrister as represented the company in the SWAO) objected to the use of the Social Welfare Inspector’s report.

The Barrister informed the Appeals Tribunal that the Company’s Manager named specifically several times in the Inspector’s report had never met the Inspector and that he emphatically did not give that evidence. The Manager named in the report was present in the Appeals Tribunal.

The Chairperson of the Appeals Tribunal commented at the time that the Dept. had questions to answer but was not present.

On the 14th of October 2002 in the Circuit Court, I called the Social Welfare Inspector as a witness. I had sent a summons to the Inspector some weeks previously.

Prior to the hearing, the Social Welfare Inspector pleaded with me not to call him. I refused his request. In the court, I asked the Inspector to read his report (as he had done in the Appeals Office).

The Barrister (same Barrister as previously) objected because the Manager named in the report, who was present in the court, denied that he had ever met or spoken to the Inspector. The Inspector conceded to the Judge that he had never met or spoken to the Manager.

This was a civil case, the Inspector was not on trial, the Judge ruled that the report was inadmissible as evidence. The Judge then addressed the Appeals Officer who was watching the proceedings from the body of the court.

The Judge informed the Appeals Officer that “This matter will need another day in court”. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Appeals Officer shook my hand and congratulated me with a “Well Done”.

The Department of Social Welfare has never sought another day in court about the Inspector’s Report and indeed continues to actively cover up the crime to this day. The Inspector’s false report remains the key evidence in a test case which continues to misclassify thousands of workers as self-employed.

The Inspector’s Report cannot be and is not accepted as credible evidence in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings except for the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

The Conspirators

In July 2000, I wrote to the SCOPE Office of the Department of Social Welfare. SCOPE is the office charged with deciding whether a person is employed or self-employed. I requested an insurability of employment decision.

I had been working for a number of years in an industry where all workers are labeled as self-employed under an agreement between Employer Representatives and the Revenue Commissioners.

My application for a decision prompted a secret meeting between high level representatives from IBEC, ICTU, Enterprise Trade & Employment, Finance, Revenue and Social Welfare.

This meeting was labeled “The Employment Status Group” and met within days of my application whilst the decision was sub judice. The application I had made was specifically discussed. Revenue, IBEC and Finance instructed that the worker (me) was to be forced to the High Court to overturn the self-employed label.

​The Revenue representative at this secret meeting was also the person who had agreed this deal with employers in secret, in the Burlington Hotel on the 3rd of April 1997. The Social Welfare Representative at this secret meeting held a senior position in the Social Welfare Appeals Office until 2009.

The SCOPE Deciding Officer refused to bow to such political pressure in his legal deliberations and ruled that I was not self-employed and was, in fact and in law, an employee.

The Social Welfare Inspector was instructed to issue a ‘Demand Notice’ to the employer Company for arrears of unpaid employer PRSI.

The deal agreed between Revenue and Employers was exposed as creating and facilitating widespread bogus self-employment. The Scope Decision was immediately appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office by the Company.

Although not directly involved in the Appeal, the Department’s Representative at the Employment Status Group (also Senior Official in the SWAO) secretly submitted altered evidence and was present in the SWAO as the Appeal was being heard.

He met privately with several parties including a meeting he asked me to step into in a room in the SWAO during a break in proceedings. He told me everybody was ‘happy’ with the secret deal, I asked him how could he know when he hadn’t spoken to those being forced into bogus self-employment. I witnessed him, with my own eyes talking to his subordinate, the Appeals Officer who was hearing the Appeal, whilst it was under appeal!

This was the Appeal where the Social Welfare Inspector read aloud from his report and where it was submitted and accepted as evidence. The SWAO Appeals Officer overturned the Scope Office Decision based upon the Inspectors false report and the Revenue’s secret deal with Employers was safe.

T​he Trap

Late last year I got a call from a bricklayer on his way into a hearing in the Social Welfare Appeals Office. He was one of ten workers automatically labeled as self-employed by the Electronic Relevant Contracts Tax system agreed and operated between Revenue and employers in the construction industry.

These men had been in a high profile dispute with one of Ireland’s largest construction companies. As a part of that dispute, the men had individually applied to the Scope Office for insurability of employment decisions. The Scope Office decided that the 10 men were not self-employed and were, if fact and in law, employees.

eRCT is a massive system, many thousands of workers are automatically classified as self-employed under this system. Once again Revenue was facing the prospect of being exposed for operating and facilitating systems which create widespread bogus self employment.

These lads were looking for help when they rang me. I’d been following their dispute closely and wrote about it They had no legal or union representation. The Appeals Officer was pressuring them to have all the cases heard at once in some sort of ‘test case’ for the construction sector.

I hadn’t seen any of the evidence. I advised the lads that once they got in there, they’d be faced with an extensive legal team from the Appellant Company. I advised that they inform the Appeals Officer that they were unaware that they would be facing legal representatives and that they needed an adjournment to consider seeking legal advice. The adjournment was granted.

I instructed each of the men to request from Scope & SWAO all available data under the data protection acts which they did. I read through all the evidence and met with the men a number of times.

These 10 cases expose bogus self employment perfectly. I agreed to help the men. I warned them from the outset that the Scope Office decisions would be overturned. I explained that the SWAO was making decisions based on a political edict and not on legal precedent. I wrote about the cases which caused some consternation at high levels in the department –

The ten men had commenced work on site between April 2014 and August 2014. Two were ‘Labourers’, unskilled manual workers, and 8 were bricklayers paid per block laid. All were labeled as self-employed by the principle contractor using the eRCT system.

There is no directory of labourers or bricklayers and positions are generally filled by word of mouth as “Getting a start” on a particular site.

Some of these men had been telephoned by a person who the Company claims was the subcontractor but social welfare records show that the man was not a subcontractor and was indeed in receipt of a social welfare payment at that time.

It is the Department’s evidence that he played little or no part in this issue. The men worked for several weeks without getting paid. Two of the bricklayers were approached by management of the Company. They were informed that the only way they could get paid for the work they were doing, was to set up a company which the principle contractor would pay their wages into.

The managers had the paperwork ready and all it required was the two men’s signatures. Due to the lack of wages, these men were under severe financial pressure. They signed the paperwork and took it to an accountant as they were told to do by the principle contractor.

There was no profit margin in this arrangement, it was a straight forward funneling of the men’s wages through a third party company. The men were not required to provide their own liability insurance and the company agreed that the 10 men would operate under the principal contractor’s insurance.

The arrangement quickly fell apart on advice from the accountant that the company the men had been told to set up to get their wages was operating illegally. Scope had made the only legal decisions they could if the face of such overwhelming evidence, these men were employees of the principal contractor in every fact and practice of their labour.

In January, the appeal of these ten Scope Office decisions by the appellant Company was heard in the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Representatives for the Company stated that it considered these 10 men to be self-employed because they consider every worker below the level of site foreman to be self-employed.

No new evidence was presented at this Appeal and the Scope Office Deciding Officer stated at the end of the hearing that he had heard nothing which would change his original decisions.

Springing The Trap

I had two things to prove by setting the trap, the first, that the Social Welfare Appeals Office was making insurability of employment decisions based on a political edict of the Employment Status Group and not based on legal precedent, and the second, that the Appeals Office was deliberately and demonstrably misinterpreting the evidence to accommodate the political edict from the Employment Status Group.

On the 25th of May this year, the Appeals Officer issued his decisions in all ten cases. He upheld the Appellant Company’s Appeals in all cases.

The proof that the Social Welfare Appeals Office is making decisions based on the political edict of the Employment Status Group and not legal precedent comes in the first point of the Appeals Officers comments/conclusions section of the decisions in which he states –

“Comments/Conclusions: The Oireachtas appointed expert group to determine self-employment status provided a definition of a likely self-employed person”

The Oireachtas appointed expert group the Appeals Officer refers to in his decisions is the Employment Status Group which has no legal standing whatsoever.

Determinations of the Employment Status Group are political decisions and cannot be and are not accepted as legal ruling or precedent by the Scope Office, the office charged with making insurability of employment decisions.

The Employment Status Group was not established to determine self-employment status, it was established to prevent punitive employees from exposing that the Revenue Commissioners are knowingly misclassifying employees as self-employed.

Although there are many points in the Appeals Officer’s decisions which expose that the Appeals Office is deliberately and demonstrably misinterpreting the evidence to accommodate the political edict from the Employment Status Group, I draw your attention to a specifically significant point on liability insurance.

As was said previously in this piece, the men all of whom were labeled independent contractors, carried no liability insurance. I raised this point with the Appeals Officer who raised it with the appellant Company.

The company conceded that it had agreed that the men could operate under their liability insurance but stated that the men could lose financially by having to bear the cost of making good faulty or substandard work.

That position was accepted by the Appeals Officer and is quoted in his decision as being one of the factors determined by the Employment Status Group as a likely indicator of a Self-Employed person.

The issue of ‘Financial Risk’ and liability insurance in the context of self employment status was previously considered at length by the Employment Appeals Tribunal which ruled –

“In relation to the risk and profit factors, the Tribunal finds that the claimant carried little or no risk. In particular he was not required to have insurance”

In the construction sector the question of liability for faulty or substandard work is a well publicised hot potato issue in projects such as Priory Hall. Under self-certification of building standards, sub-contractors are responsible for signing off on work they have completed.

Yet these subcontractors were not required to have public liability insurance. If in 1, 5 or 10 years the walls these men built collapse, there is no public liability insurance to insure the public.

For the Appeals Office to accept that the men bore some vague concept of losing “financially by having to bear the cost of making good faulty or substandard work” in lieu of a legal requirement to have liability insurance as an indicator of self-employment, the Appeal Office exposes that it is deliberately and demonstrably misinterpreting the evidence to accommodate the political edict from the Employment Status Group and in the process of doing so, is leaving the public exposed to extensive financial and physical risk.

Bearing the cost of making good faulty or substantial work is a common practice for all workers and is not specific to the self-employed. Liability insurance to cover the cost of faulty or substandard work is not common to all workers and is specific only to independent contractors.

This deliberate misinterpretation by the Social Welfare Appeals Office is at the very heart of why insurability of employment decisions are so vital to the safety of the general public. ​

The Only Way Forward

Throughout this briefing, Minister Doherty asked intelligent and pertinent questions. The Minister explained to me that this was how she liked to do things.

The Minister acknowledged that the figures provided by ICTU on the cost of bogus self employment far exceeded the figures used to justify Leo Varadkar’s campaign against social welfare cheats.

The Minister accepted that the Social Welfare Inspector’s ‘Report’ could not be relied upon as evidence by the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Minister committed to arranging a meeting with the same Senior Counsel who had represented the Minister for Social Welfare in the 2001 Social Welfare Appeals Office hearing with a view to me meeting with him also.

​I explained to the Minister the only legitimate way forward was under the provisions of social welfare legislation.

Under Section 263 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 1993, the Chief Appeals Officer can set aside any Appeals Office decision the Chief Appeals Officer believes erred in law or fact. It is a fact that the Social Welfare Inspectors Report cannot be accepted as evidence in any proceedings and that this decision must be set aside pending judicial review.

It is also a fact that the 10 decisions of the construction workers erred in fact and in law with the SWAO’s acceptance that independent contractors can operate under a principle contractors liability insurance and that a political determination by the Employment Status Group in relation to liability insurance superseded the legal precedents and case law handed down over the years from the higher courts. In light of these facts, the Chief Appeals Officer has no choice but to set aside the 10 Appeals Office decisions pending judicial review.

There is no other legally prescribed route for the minister to determine which of the two offices (Scope & SWAO) under her control is erring in law and fact and one of them demonstrably is.

On what way to proceed in relation to the Social Welfare Inspector’s Report, I left that entirely to the Minister’s discretion. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve reported to the highest authority available evidence of a crime which has led to substantial financial losses for the Department of Social Welfare.

As far as I’m concerned the Minister has no choice but to request a full investigation by An Garda Siochana regardless of whether the Chief Appeals Officer sets aside the decisions or not.

The meeting ended with the Minister committing to meet me again in the near future. Later that evening the minister thanked me on twitter for bringing it to her attention and for trusting her with it.

On Saturday last the Minister contacted meand told me that she was ‘up to speed’. She asked was I available to meet last Friday. I confirmed that I was.

On Friday the Minister contacted me by twitter and at first confirmed that we would meet later that afternoon but later cancelled the meeting and asked for my phone number to have a telephone conversation and to rearrange our meeting for sometime after the holidays.

I have never doubted the Minister’s sincerity on this issue and I still firmly believe that the Minister is committed to tackling all social welfare fraud including bogus self-employment.

I am not disappointed that the Minister has not yet telephoned nor that our meeting was cancelled. I completely understand that the Minister has a heavy brief. I don’t need to be informed immediately that the Minister is taking action on foot of our meeting.

I do ask, in the current economic climate. if the Minister can afford to wait over a situation which is accepted to be costing the Department of Social Welfare at least 2 million euro every week ….. and the real cost is likely to be far higher.

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic

Previously: Self Employment Is Not Working

meath2meathforunity

Above From left: Shane Cassells, Damien English, Seán Boylan, Paeder Tobin and John McCallister at the ‘Meath for Unity’ debate last night

A funny thing happened at the Meath For Unity debate…

Martin McMahon writes:

Last evening I attended a ‘Meath for Unity‘ debate in the Newgrange Hotel Navan chaired by Meath GAA legend Seán Boylan. The debate on the issue of Irish unity was organised by Peadar Toibin TD with guest speakers Shane Cassells TD, Junior Minister Damien English and special guest John McCallister former Ulster Unionist Party Member of the Legislative Assembly.

Sean kicked off proceedings with an account of his own personal experiences of north/south relations during his career. Shane followed with a historical context. Damien stressed the importance of consent beyond a 50% + 1 majority for unification. Peadar was excellent with facts, figures and the potential benefits for the Island as a whole should unification occur. John was brutally honest in his view that unification was a distant second for the unionist community behind the more pressing issue of Brexit.

The debate was then thrown open to the floor. Questions about Ireland in the Commonwealth were raised and answered. The need for more private business growth was stressed by Peadar.

I listened with interest to all the questions raised and answered. I was lucky enough to ask the final question. It wasn’t a premeditated question, it had occurred to me while listening to John and trying to see the situation from his perspective. I asked Damien:

“How can we be seen as a country for all the people of Ireland when Fine Gael gift the National Maternity Hospital to a Holy Order?”

The question genuinely electrified the room. Most recognised my effort to look beyond our own insular view of the situation but a sizable group became immediately irate and accused me of ‘Ambushing the Minister’.

It was not my intent to ambush Damien. For me it was the kind of nitty gritty question which would have massive ramifications if we are ever to reach a position where unification is a workable possibility.

Much to the anger of the majority of those present, Damien avoided the question by saying that it was a good deal with which doctors agreed and that we should all read the agreement (I have).

The palpable anger in the room at Damien’s non-answer does not bode well for Fine Gael. The issue of the National Maternity Hospital’s ownership is vital not only for women and their families, it has implications far beyond our current borders and is pivotal in how we in the south are perceived by our northern brethren.

The anger at grassroots level as to how the ownership of the National Maternity Hospital has been handled by Fine Gael is a very bad omen for Fine Gael. I have no doubt that when it comes to election time, the ‘little free stater’ attitude they have displayed on this issue will come back to bite them in a very big way.

The ownership of the National Maternity Hospital is not exclusively a south of Ireland issue, the world is watching, our neighbours are watching, Fine Gael has failed to realise that they are on a bigger stage, a possibility of unification stage.

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic

Pics via Meath4Unity

paulmurphy

Paul Murphy (centre) outside the Central Criminal Court today

Roll up.

Bring your rotten veg.

For the last of the 1916 tributes.

Martin McMahon writes:

As part of the ongoing 1916 Rising Commemorations, the Fine Gael led government has arranged a special series of ‘Show Trials’ for the entertainment of the masses.

Very kindly, Irish newspapers, journalists and politicians have risen to the challenge of making this experience as close to the original as possible. To quote that memorable Irish Times 1916 editorial:

​‘We said, and we repeat, that the surgeon’s knife of the State must not be stayed “until the whole malignant growth has been removed”… Our demand that the elements of rebellion should be finally extinguished… We have called for the severest punishment of the leaders and responsible agents of the insurrection.’

Exactly as in 1916, the public has been fed a constant stream of vitriol against the defendants and those who support them. Comparisons to ISIS and labels such as ‘Sinister Fringe’ have been spat across the parliament floor in a wholly convincing portrayal of the bloodlust for vengeance which existed among the ruling class and courtiers in 1916.

The Minister for Recreations told us:

“We can’t do military trials, but we appoint the judges and control the jury. We encourage people to come along to the courts where rotten fruit & veg will be provided free of charge to throw at the guilty on their way in and out during the course of the trial. We expect it to be a huge family event”.

In a break with history, it is understood that negotiations are underway with RTÉ and SKY to televise the executions live from Kilmainham Jail where the Garda Band will play a constant loop of ‘God Save the Queen’. Seats are limited and families are advised to book early for what will be the last event in the 1916 Rising Commemorations.

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic

Earlier: Meanwhile, At The Jobstown Trial

For Your Consideration: Jobstown, Protest On Trial

Rollingnews

29/05/2013. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Leo Varadkar, An Taoiseach and Enda Kenny T.D. to officially open Irish Sport HQ On behalf of the National Sports Campus. Pictured is An Taoiseach and Enda Kenny T.D, the Chairman of the National Sports Campus Development Authority, Sean Benton, and the chief executive Barry OÕBrien at the official opening of Irish Sport HQ at Blanchardstown. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

“Well, it’s not about water, is it?”

Enda Kenny, November 2014

Martin McMahon writes:

‘It’ is etched on the worried face of a young mother walking from Cork to Dublin.

‘It’ is CF sufferers huddled and masked in protest outside a newly refurbished Leinster House. ‘

It’ is Grace betrayed by unaccountable shadows.

It’ is Megan’s twisted spine, her publicly promised operation cancelled when the camera is turned off

‘It’ is whistleblowers criminalised.

‘It’ is the tears in tissues beside the computer after the weekly Skype to older children and grandchildren who may never be seen again toiling in far flung corners of Australia or America.

‘It’ is Dublin Airport Christmas week where broken hearts will brim with joy once again reunited, squeezed half to death with years of missed embraces condensed into minutes only for those hearts to be ripped asunder weeks or even days later as loved ones leave a country that has failed most of us.

‘It’ is the fear of never seeing elderly parents again save to bury their bodies in graves that will never be tended or prayed over by the generation they raised.

‘It’ is skipping meals to pay bills that were never ours.

‘It’ lies freezing on unwelcoming streets, in Georgian doorways or crammed in hostel hotels with no dignity, forever destined to live in the margins.’

It’ is newspapers advertising thousand euro coats ripped up to cover holes in the soles of shabby shoes.

‘It’ lies dying on hospital waiting lists. ‘It’ is social immobility denied yet propagated by the same affluent few generation after generation.

‘It’ is protesters criminalised in courts at the behest of billionaires who will enjoy immunity from criminalisation in rich men’s tribunals.

‘It’ is a Dail that fails to hold government to account.

‘It’ is in the breaking of a people forced to protect banks and bondholders who will never be stooped by the burden of ‘it’.

‘It’ is a hundred years of right wing government, of broken promises, of pandering to a privileged elite.

‘It’ is a tale telling Taoiseach.

‘It’ is a country divided by wealth and influence. ‘It’ is knowing there is a better way sold out for petty political positioning.

‘It’ was never just about water.

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic

Rollingnews

Vera Twomeyt’s daughter Ava has Dravets Syndrom,an extremely rare drug resistant epilepsy.

Martin McMahon writes:

William Brooke O’Shaughnessy was born in Limerick in 1809. He first studied medicine at Trinity in Dublin before transferring to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland from where he graduated in 1829.

O’Shaughnessy joined the British East India Company in 1833 and moved to Calcutta, remaining in India for approximately nine years where he fulfilled the roles of surgeon, physician, professor of chemistry at Medical College and Hospital Kolkata.

His medical research led to the development of intravenous therapy and introduced the therapeutic use of Cannabis sativa to Western medicine.

O’ Shaughnessy established his reputation by successfully relieving the pain of rheumatism and stilling the convulsions of an infant with cannabis.

This led O’Shaughnessy to declare that “the profession has gained an anti-convulsive remedy of the greatest value”. In 1856 he was knighted by Queen Victoria.

Today, Vera Twomey is walking from Cork to Dublin to fight for medical cannabis for her daughter Ava who is denied access to medical cannabis by draconian and unnecessarily restrictive conditions established under Health Minister Simon Harris.

Thanks to a famous Limerick man we know the science is solid, it remains to be seen if the actions of a brave Cork woman can overcome these nonsensical and damaging restrictions.

You can follow Vera’s long walk on twitter #veratwomey

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic

Petition: Medicinal Cannabis Leglislation To Save Our Daughter (Change.org)

Pics: Jim Coughlan

File Photo: Reports have come out of the Fine Gael PP meeting last night, prior to the No Confidence debate in the Dail, that the two ’Big Beast’s’ in the race to succeed Enda Kenny as leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, joined forces to propose that FG prepare for a General Election. Thus forcing the Taoiseachs hand in setting a date for the transfer of power to a new leader.End. 29/05/2013. L TO R. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar with Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny officially open Irish Sport HQ On behalf of the National Sports Campus. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Leo Varadkar and Enda Kenny

He’s just a very ordinary minister.

Martin McMahon writes:

Back in the Charles J day, Haughey was more than shrewd enough to have the measure of his would-be successor. Of Bertie Ahern he said:

“He’s the man. He’s the best, the most skillful, the most devious, and the most cunning of them all”

There was a strong element of ‘it takes one to know one’ in Haughey’s remark. Charlie knew people; he knew what made them tick (or thick); he knew the buttons he could press and the ones not to press in order to achieve the best political outcome for himself.

Charlie’s people skills undoubtedly revealed a high emotional intelligence which he used to ruthlessly manipulate others and become the dominant politician of his generation. Haughey never allowed himself to be upstaged by his eventual successor.

The same cannot be said of Enda Kenny. Despite his best efforts to marginalise Leo in the Angola Ministries of Health and Social Protection, Leo has managed to shine brighter than Enda.

One might be tempted to think that Leo is the man, the most skillful, possibly the most devious or maybe the most cunning of them all.

One would be wrong.

The writing is on the wall for Enda. Pretty much everybody knows this except, of course, for the Taoiseach himself. Even if he does defy popular public opinion and insist on limping on, his days as Taoiseach and Fine Gael party leader are numbered. A voter-friendly face is essential to the party faithful.

Leo has become a ‘Daaahling‘ of established media types. His gaffe prone history is conveniently forgotten in the scramble to counter the inexorable return of Fianna Fáil.

No matter how dismal, cynical or self-serving his performance, he is relentlessly flogged by the mainstream media as something he most certainly is not.

This MSM fabricated version of Leo was perfectly encapsulated back in 2014 by RTÉs Drivetime in an analysis by Health Correspondent Sara Burke of Leo’s first six months as Health Minister:

“I think he’s fared very well. It’s the first time we’ve had a competent Minister for Health. It’s early days but he’s hardly put a foot wrong. He’s been really good at preempting crises. He preempted the really high numbers we saw in E.Ds (Emergency Departments). He’s very good at dampening expectations. The weekend before an extremely critical HIAQ report on ambulance services, he went out on the Saturday night with the ambulances.

He made that really nuanced, excellent speech in the Dail on Clare Daly’s proposal in relation to abortion before the story broke of the pregnant woman who’s clinically dead in the Midlands……..

Critically I think Leo’s done two things, he’s brought political news to the point which has been really missing now and he seems to have the support of the Cabinet behind him and critically the support of the Economic Management Council and that’s how he managed to achieve (prevent) any more cuts to Health and a slight increase but also he’s brought clarity and direction setting out a clear stall with his top ten priorities.”

This MSM position is a master class in cognitive dissonance. Leo did not fare well as Health Minister. He was forced to row back on the key plank of the Government’s health reforms, Universal Health Insurance.

Far from preventing cuts to the Health budget, Leo consistently backed his own party on every single callous cut resulting in longer waiting lists, front line under-staffing and A & Es that do actually resemble battle fronts in third world countries.

All of his predecessors in Health also had lists of priorities. Reilly, Harney and Martin were not considered ‘competent’ simply because they had a ‘list’ of what they wanted to achieve.

That leaves only what’s described as Leo’s ‘Preempting’ of crises. Had James Reilly mooched around ambulances the weekend before a damning HIQA report came out he would have been rightly crucified by MSM for creating a self-serving photo opportunity to deflect from his own personal responsibility in creating the very crisis he was ‘preempting’.

There is no difference between what Leo does and a politician kissing babies in public whilst cutting children’s allowance in private.

As for his ‘preemptive’ nuanced, excellent speech in relation to abortion, rarely have we seen such blatantly cynical politicking. An issue that should have been about the rights of women was instead hijacked and spun by Leo to suit Leo’s favourite subject, Leo’s phantom largesse.

So absurd was Leo’s statement at the time, that Kenny distanced the party by rationalising it with a comfortable yet unbelievable illusion that Leo was speaking in a personal capacity and not as the Minister for Health as Leo claimed, a ploy repeated by Enda in regard to Ms Zappone’s activities.

In Social Protection Leo is a ghost, occasionally he issues a statement which is pounced upon by RTÉ where statements from other Ministers gain little if any purchase.

His comment that Maurice McCabe is a heroic whistle blower deserving of a full apology reaches a new low in self serving cynicism from a party that had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the Maurice McCabe debacle.

Leo, like Fine Gael, is not devious, skillful or cunning. It’s not that they don’t try, but the fact remains that like much of Fine Gael’s time in government they have proved to be no better than Fianna Fáil and they are a damn sight short of Fianna Fail’s ability to fool people for any meaningful length of time.

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic

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Leinster House, Kildate Street, Dublin 2

How do you know a cover-up is in progress?

Observe the rules.

Martin McMahon writes:

There are a basic set of steps to every active cover-up. Regardless of whom is covering up what, these steps are universal:

Character Assassination – Attack the person exposing the cover-up, do it repeatedly, throw whatever shit you can in the hope that something will stick. This is a classic deflection tactic and will continue regardless of what evidence comes to light.

Internal Review – An Internal Review has a twofold purpose, firstly, it slows the pace of exposure and secondly (and infinitely more importantly), it places control of the process firmly in the hands of those covering up. Any written evidence can be ‘disappeared’ or if that proves impossible, contradictory manufactured evidence can be adduced in order to muddy the waters. This is particularly of use when combined with step 1. Those with nothing to hide have no fear of an independent outside investigation. When you hear the words ‘Internal Review’ it is a certain indicator that a cover-up is taking place.

Incomplete Label – This step has a number of names – ‘No evidence of wrongdoing‘ – ‘Not enough evidence to prosecute‘ etc. It places the onus on the person exposing the cover-up to leave no stone unturned in their exposure of a cover-up. This step is the one most often bought into by Media. A comprehensive exposure may run to hundreds or thousands of documents, not exactly convenient for editors with short attention spans. Reducing your exposure of a cover up to a convenient soundbite guarantees that an ‘Incomplete Label’ will be placed upon it.

Deny & Delay – When all else fails, deny, deny, deny. When ‘Plausible Deniability’ is no longer possible, baldfaced lies become dogma. The Justice process is so slow that continued denials may take years if not decades to reach a courtroom or tribunal. The costs involved in using the Courts are prohibitive for most individuals who will already have been beggared in their efforts to expose a cover-up.

‘Kicking’ it to the courts is the last line of attack by those who would cover-up. By the time any decision is made, the cover-up is no longer relevant to Media and the wrongdoers will have escaped any meaningful sanction regardless of a Judges decision.

In Ireland, the reward for aiding and abetting in a cover-up is promotion. It’s the ‘bung’ that just keeps giving, an increase in remuneration that spans the length of a career and on into one’s pension. Once compromised you belong to the ‘man’ – the next time you’re asked to look the other way you are compelled to do so.

Over time, a dysfunctional organisation ends up with willing compromisers in all the top positions. Even paragons of virtue are susceptible to the promotion manipulation. One can do everything by the book, cross all the T’s, dot all the I’s and dig your heels in.

In return you will get a clap on the back, an ‘attaboy, job well done’ and a move up the ranks that on the surface is a promotion but in reality is a move out of the way so that a willing compromiser can take over.

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic

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