[Fine Gael Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, Labour Minister of State, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Jan O’Sullivan and Fine Gael Arts Minister, Jimmy Deenihan at the launch of the programme for Limerick City of Culture 2014]
You may recall how Limerick city was chosen as the City of Culture without any open competition.
The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday [not online] how Finance Minister Michael Noonan – a Limerick TD – lobbied for €6million for the festival… before he signed off on the money for the festival.
John Lee and Ben Haugh reported:
“Michael Noonan made representations to a Cabinet colleague over funding for Limerick City of Culture months before he signed off on €6m for the project. On July 2, 2013, the Finance Minister passed on a letter from Limerick City and County Manager Conn Murray to Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan asking for €6m funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
On October 15, Mr Noonan allocated the exact money requested in Mr Murray’s letter to the City of Culture in Budget 2014 – more than half the project’s total budget of €11.4m…As part of a normal budgetary process, Mr Deenihan would have to seek money from Mr Noonan to grant Limerick City of Culture any money as he controls the Government’s purse strings. Mr Noonan also wrote back to Mr Murray to inform him of his intervention, saying he should be assured of my attention to the matter.”
Finance Minister Michael Noonan went on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night following former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s resignation yesterday morning and the lunchtime announcement by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that he has set up a commission of investigation to look at the widespread recording of phone calls at Garda stations across Ireland over approximately 30 years, up until November 2013.
It’s understood that 2,500 tapes of conversations exist.
Minster Noonan – who was justice minister from December 14, 1982 to February 14, 1986 – appeared with the caveat that he would have a one-to-one interview and that he wouldn’t have to discuss matters with any oppposition members..
Host Miriam O’Callaghan was keen to get a timeline of events from Minister Noonan, to essentially find out who knew what and when in relation to these recordings.
She was especially determined to find out what Justice Minister Alan Shatter knew and when he knew it. This is largely because of what has been reported so far, specifically:
- Enda Kenny told the Dáil that he first he heard about the issue of garda station recordings was when the Attorney General Máire Whelan told him late on Sunday afternoon around 6pm.
- On Monday night, a senior civil servant was sent to have a chat with Martin Callinan – who was under pressure from Labour and Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar to withdraw his ‘disgusting’ remark about Garda whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and John Wilson – to talk about the Government’s unease about ‘recent events’. Callinan was also informed of the Government’s plan to hold an investigation into the garda station recordings.
- On Tuesday, Alan Shatter learned about the garda station recordings for the first time.
RTÉ News reported last night that a letter was sent by Callinan to the Department of Justice on March 10 – five days before Minister Shatter left for Mexico as part of his St Patrick’s Day jaunt – outlining the matter about the garda station recordings, while the Attorney General was made aware of the matter as far back as November 2013 and had been involved in a working group in order to deal with the issues, in consultation with Martin Callinan.
GSOC reported on these issues in June 2013, when it investigated a Garda assault case involving Anthony Holness. The GSOC report said the Garda Commissioner ‘may wish to re-evaluate his practice regarding the recording of such calls and the consents required if it is to be permissible to use such recordings in evidence’.
RTÉ’s Katie Hannon of Prime Time said t she was told Minister Shatter didn’t see that GSOC report and that there was no legal obligation for the GSOC report to be brought to Minister Shatter’s attention.
With that in mind, here’s a transcript of Minister Noonan’s one-to-one interview with Miriam O’Callaghan.
Miriam O’Callaghan: “Minister, first of all, this is a very strange affair, before we go into the substantive problem of obviously recorded phonecalls in Garda stations, it’s important to work out who knew what and when. So if we deal with that issue today, of the recording of the phonecalls in garda stations. People are wondering why it was announced today because that information was in the public domain ever since the court case back in November. As you know, the Holness case and then the GSOC report in June. So, how was it today that it was so important? It was announced and that people only became aware of it in your Government?”
Michael Noonan: “Well, obviously, we don’t know all the facts and that’s why a Commission of Inquiry is being set up and that’s why the gardaí, under the new commissioner and the Department of Justice have been instructed to provide full reports and I can’t give you full answers but I can tell you what I think may have happened.”
O’Callaghan: “I don’t want to cut across you so soon but I’m not asking what actually happened in the gardaí, I’m asking you now about the Cabinet and who knew what and when.”
Noonan: “That’s what I want to address. First of all, the Garda Ombudsman made a report in June of last year and he recommended that because the practice of recording had come to light in Waterford Garda Station, in a particular case that the Commissioner might re-evaluate the practice. This was a very tentative, you know, pitch by the Ombudsman’s office.”
O’Callaghan: “Well it was a direct quote actually, they said ‘Commissioner [Callinan] may wish to re-evaluate his practice regarding the recording of such calls’.
Noonan: “Yeah, he may wish to re-evaluate…
O’Callaghan: “Based on a court criticising that behaviour.”
Noonan: “What I’m saying is that, nothing hangs on it, but it was a tentative enough way of putting a recommendation. Now I don’t know whether the Commissioner re-evaluated or not but, coincidentally, the practice was ended in November , so I presume there was a re-evaluation at some level in the guards.”
O’Callaghan: “But how come Minister Shatter or the Department of Justice was not aware of the GSOC report?” Continue reading →
“[Fianna Fail senator Terry Leyden] also said that it was generally accepted that “the wrong man was on trial” for Fr Molloy’s death.”
“He indicated that he had recently raised the Fr Molloy case with Minister Michael Noonan, who had been Minister for Justice at the time of the Castlecoote priest’s death.”
“The Fianna Fail Senator revealed that Minister Noonan had registered some concerns about the case with the Secretary General of the Department of Justice some time after Fr Molloy’s death.”
“He was told by a TD from Laois/Offaly at the time that no-one ever will stand trial for this murder. I won’t name that person now but the Minister told me himself. He was so concerned he went to the Secretary General of the Department of Justice to report what was said to him,” Senator Leyden said.”
From yesterday’s Roscommon Herald, by Maresa Fagan.
So we were fortunate that we had colleagues in Europe that were prepared to support us. We were fortunate that we had the IMF that were prepared to support us because if we didn’t have those lenders of last resort everything that we have done over the last four years or so would have to be done in one fell swoop, in one budget where the living standards of everybody in the country would’ve been cut by about 60%. And if you want to see what happened elsewhere, have a look at Iceland where 40% of personal savings were wiped out.
Have a look at Argentina who defaulted twice in the last twenty years or so. They still can’t access money in the international markets and at each default it got so bad that middle class decent people who lost their jobs were searching in dustbins to get food to feed their families. So we were lucky we had our lenders of last resort.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan speaking at the afternoon session of the Fine Gael national conference in Limerick on Saturday.
Watch the full speech here (Scroll to around the 1:51 mark)
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore have ruled out any row-back on the budget in the light of growing unease among backbench TDs in both Government parties about some of its harsher measures, including cuts in the respite care grant.
The €325 cut in the €1,700 grant for respite care yesterday assumed greater importance as a possible stumbling block for some Labour and Fine Gael TDs.
The new property tax, the €5 a week increase in PRSI and particularly the cuts in child benefit were also being viewed as potentially difficult issues.
Mr Kenny, while accepting that many of the budget changes made to achieve a €3.5 billion adjustment were “unpalatable”, nevertheless insisted that all measures would be implemented.