‘Deputy O’Brien Should Not Dare Lecture Me’


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Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien and Tánaiste Joan Burton during Leaders’ Questions yesterday

Yup. Burton.

You’ll recall the death of Jonathan Corrie on December 1 last. His body was found less than 50m from the Dáil on Molesworth Street.

His death prompted Taoiseach Enda Kenny to spend three hours on the streets of Dublin, meeting homeless people. Junior Minister Alan Kelly then announced that 260 extra beds would be made available to the homeless before Christmas. Mr Kelly also promised that a bed would be available for every single homeless person in Dublin.

Yesterday, Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan raised the subject of homelessness, addiction and the provision of beds – in light of the Government’s moves before Christmas.

She said:

“When discussing this before Christmas, I stressed the need to commit to supported drug-free accommodation for those in recovery in order that they would not have to mix with those who are actively using. One such facility not far from here was described by the 18 persons in recovery there as having been a rock of stability, but because of pressure to take homeless persons off the street, which is very important, there has been a reconfiguration and that accommodation is no longer drug free. The changing of the culture to a mixed one has undermined the recovery journey of those in the facility, especially those who are at the early stages of recovery.”

“I take no pleasure in saying that what has happened has been disastrous. As a result of that reconfiguration, there is now widespread heroin use. There is dealing and chaotic behaviour. There are multiple relapses. There has been at least one serious overdose and there are debt issues as well. In spite of all of these warnings being brought to the attention of Ministers, Dublin City Council and the HSE, in spite of findings from a report on homelessness and addiction and in spite of recommendations from the users’ forum, this went ahead. I consider that a serious breach of duty of care to those in recovery.”

Later, as Tánaiste Joan Burton was responding, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien told the Dáil his brother, a recovering heroin addict, is currently homeless and being forced to sleep in shelters with other addicts as a cap on his rent allowance is preventing him for accessing accommodation.

Joan Burton: “I very much share Deputy O’Sullivan’s view that the best resolution for an individual who has serious addiction problems is to try to get himself or herself completely clean. Given my experience down the years and knowing many who have made that journey as well as many now working in the sector, I agree that such is the best model. On the organisations which are involved in delivering the services and the decisions they make around how they approach that, something I would like to see developing more strongly is that when addicts are clean, aside from being in hostel accommodation, which should be a transitional phase…”

Róisín Shortall: “It is not, and that is the point.”

Burton: “…the hostel accommodation should recognise the stage that they are at. What should happen then is that we should seek to find homes for such persons. Not only have I been in many centres throughout the country…”


Burton: “I was in Cork before Christmas…”

Peter Mathews: “The Tánaiste is talking herself into eternity.”

Burton: “…at the invitation of Simon. Simon in Cork, if I may say so, has an excellent approach to providing long-term homes…”

A Deputy: “Does the Tánaiste want to attach it to a vow of silence?”

Burton: “…for those who have come through a certain treatment situation.”

O’Brien: “The Tánaiste does not have a clue.”

Mathews: “The Tánaiste should stop talking.”

Michael Kitt: “Quiet.”

Ray Butler: “What does Deputy Mathews mean, “Stop talking”?”

Mathews: “It is meaningless.”

Burton: “I spent last Monday talking to 15 or 16 very fine persons, as good any day as the Deputy or any of his colleagues who sit beside him…”

Bernard Durkan: “Hear, hear.”

Burton: “….who have substance problems which they are battling to overcome.”

O’Brien: “I have a brother who is homeless. He is a recovering heroin addict…”

Burton: “The Deputy should not dare lecture me.”

O’Brien: “…who cannot get accommodation because of the cap on rent allowance.”

Michael Kitt: “The Tánaiste should be allowed to continue without interruption.”

Burton: “Deputy O’Brien should not dare lecture me.”

O’Brien: ‘That is exactly what is happening.’

Kitt: “Order please.”

Burton: “Deputy O’Brien should not dare lecture me.”

O’Brien: “He has been forced to go back into a hostel where drug taking happens in front of him.”

Kitt: “The time is almost up.”

Burton: “I have just said that the approach of getting a home for people and getting people substance free is the correct approach.”

Kitt: “I thank the Tánaiste. That concludes Leaders’ Questions. We will now move on to the Order of Business.”

Eric J. Byrne: “Why does his good family not take him home?”

O’Brien: “Shut your mouth.”

Derek Keating: “A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that is completely out of order.”

Pádraig MacLochlainn: “Deputies should have a bit of common decency.”

Keating: “It is completely out of order for Deputy O’Brien to tell another Deputy to shut his mouth.”

Byrne: “What would one expect from Sinn Féin?”

Keating: “He should withdraw the remark and apologise.”

MacLochlainn: “In the circumstances, Members should have a bit of common decency and cop themselves on. The Deputy is the first one to run to the television. He should cop himself on.”

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Previously: The Best We Can Do

Video via Merrion Street, go to 29.27 for Maureen O’Sullivan and 39.00 for Jonathan O’Brien

Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O’Brien labels Labour deputy a “d***head” after “flippant” comments in the Dail (Mirror)


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74 thoughts on “‘Deputy O’Brien Should Not Dare Lecture Me’

  1. Rep

    Read that in the Times today. It should be shown in as many places as possible to show what a massive dipstick Eric Byrne was there. I hope that it will go down wonderfully in his constituency.

        1. collynomial

          I’ll rise to the challenge:

          An elected representative of a party that wants to oust those parties used to “the old ways of politics” is making a case on behalf of his brother. It’s clientelism at its lowest.

          1. collynomial

            In fairness, first: my comment was in jest second: I never even mentioned that he was an addict. I don’t think that his condition changes things.

  2. Barry the Hatchet

    Jesus, Eric Byrne is a fuppwit of the highest order. My response to him would not have been nearly as restrained as Jonathan O’Brien’s was.

  3. scottser

    yet another serious issue relegated to the status of mud-slinging in the dail. for someone who works in housing i despair of this shower. all it takes is a bit of understanding and leadership but what we get is a bullsh1t row and nothing done to tackle a crisis except give landlords tax breaks. unbelievable.

    oh, and there are residential facilities for recovering addicts such as coolmine and homeless services such as crosscare amiens st which offer drug free facilities.

    1. JimmytheHead

      fair play scottser. its a disgrace that old Joanie is happy to write off the possibility of more assistance to those who need it, like shes already checked that box so no need for any more talk on the matter

      1. brownbull

        perhaps Sinn Fein could rescind the local authority property tax deductions to finance additional facilities Jimmy?

    2. Drogg

      Hi Scottser the problem was that the initiative to get more people off the streets in the wake of the Jonathan Corrie case has meant that drug users have been accepted into drug free facilities which has caused a rise in the cases of people relapsing.

      1. scottser

        hey drogg, that’s pretty difficult to quantify. for a start, anyone with an active use issue is placed usually in a Supported Temporary Accommodation, where they have keyworking staff on hand to ensure basics are done – registered with a local authority, payments, medical cards etc. these places accept and manage drug users and have safe use policies and practices. they generally have fast-track links to stabilisation services and referral fast-tracks to residential detox etc.

        relapse unfortunately is a given for most people trying to stabilise and for the most part can be a necessary learning experience. i would accept though, there is an element in the shelters who go in solely to deal, happy to get thrown out in order to get in somewhere else. the shelters are unfortunately full of people vulnerable to these scrotes. i’ve heard tales of them opening a lad’s door, throwing 100euros worth of gear onto the bed saying. ‘i’ll be back for the money tomorrow’ and that’s it. lad gets hassled, robbed, forced to sell to pay off the debt. this has been going on for years and not just since the extra beds came on stream.

        1. Drogg

          It just shows how much needs to be done, but i feel that FG are just trying to put selotape on a leaky pipe, if ya get me.

          1. scottser

            sellotape on a leaky pipe is all it is drogg. the answer to the housing crisis is housing. i tells ya, if they took back 10% of what we’re paying to unsecured bond holders they could sort this out within 12 months. even before christmas there were enough beds to cope with all homeless persons, the problem is that there was no accommodation to move from homelessness into.

  4. Pick.

    Eric Byrne. He sent every one of his constituents a Christmas Card at the taxpayers expense. His vouched expenses are massive as they are, he claims for everything.He won’t be returned next election.

  5. Manta Rae

    Irish politics eh? Was that meant to be a debate? They should just lock the doors of the Dail after kicking that bunch of feckless feckers on to the streets for all the good they do, It’ll save the country a fortune and spare us all earache from a bunch of over-paid, puerile and childish windbags. As for the trolling Labour TD, he sounds a right nasty piece of work – and that’s saying something given the company he keeps…

  6. brownbull

    Classic manterrupting from Matthews and O’Brien – Burton is speaking on a complex issue and they seek to interrupt her, denigrate her, before she has the time to finish. As if Peter Matthews gives a crap about anyone who finds themselves on the streets whatever the causes. While Byrne got it wrong saying that to O’Brien, he has a strong track record dealing with addiction problems in D8 over 20 years. SF on the other hand – what has their response to drug problems traditionally been? Feck off out of here before we blow off your kneecaps? They have the numbers in every urban local authority in the country to respond proactively on the homelessness issue but seek to cut property taxes and divert funding instead. Their position on this issue, like all issues, is scorched-earth attack at all costs on the government above meaningful productive engagement. While insensitive and ill-fitting behaviour for a public representative, and I’m sure he will pay for it with his constituents, Byrne was right to call out O’Brien on his posturing and hypocrisy – if he didn’t handover the bulk of his pay packet to his political cult he would have enough for the best professional treatment, care and housing for his brother

    1. Clampers Outside!

      So, Mr Byrne has worked on the D8 drugs problem for 20years you say…. well, I’m sure all would agree that that makes his comment willfully ignorant of the truths of addiction and therefore even a hell of a lot more disgusting to have been said in the first place.

      Byrne, his colours, nails and mast…. for all to see.

      I’ve written to Byrne to let him know (& I’m no fan of any SF’r) what I thought of that. Mr Byrne’s email is eric.byrne@oir.ie if anyone would care to contact the little man.

  7. Manta Rae

    And another thing, while I’m at it..

    ‘Deputy O’Brien Should Not Dare Lecture Me’

    Who on earth speaks like that these days? It’s like a line from the Quiet Man…I wonder if Joan imagines herself as some sort of modern-day Maureen O’Hara. I need a lie down….

  8. tim

    I’m sure Eric Byrne would be the first to home a heroin addict in his beautiful Terenure abode – it’s jut that no-one’s asked him to yet.

  9. Randy Ewing

    Could OBrien not stump up for a bit of rehab for his brother out of his 95k a year pre expenses instead of leaving him to his own devices?

    Just sayin like………….

    Non pun indented with the use of device in a comment about SF

    1. Barry the Hatchet

      Like all Sinn Fein TDs, O’Brien takes home the average industrial wage (approx €42k gross) and uses the remainder of his salary to employ people to do research, man his constituency office, etc. With four kids, I doubt he has a lot of change from that.

      1. Dubloony

        Sorry, nope, not buying it.
        Like all SF TDs, he takes everything he is entitled to. Plus expenses.
        He chooses to comply with the SF policy for living on average industrial wage.

        For anyone who has a family member who is an addict will know how chaotic that life is. If he has a family of his own, his first duty would be to protect them from that erratic life.

        The government got the emergency accommodation together but there’s a fall out from the rush to do that.

        1. mauriac

          just like Westminster where they take full salaries and benefits and don’t even show up.what SF reps choose to spend their money on is up to them…the beal bocht is bull

    2. Cork Narrie

      And who are you to say that? Are you familiar with the family? Who is to say that Deputy O’ Brien has tried umpteen times to help his brother, has offered his family home to his brother, who has gone through so much heartbreak to help his addict brother. You appear to know very little about addiction and homelessness. Troll on, troll.

      1. Randy Ewing

        He was the one who put it into the public arena not me. I purely made a comment on what little of his hard luck story he put out therem if he didnt want peoples sympathy / comments he should not have said it in the dail.

        Id be very surprised if a sitting TD couldnt pull a few strings to get his brother a rehab bed.

  10. Jimmy Rimmel

    Eric Byrne should know all about republican organisations – and should therefore avoid high horses

  11. W_Thomas

    Eric Byrne should really issue an apology as this is the one and only thing that many people will know about him, and it was a really horrible thing to say.

  12. bobsyerauntie

    O ‘ Brien had every right to defend himself and his brother , against those kind of personal remarks. Eric Byrne and Joan burton obviously don’t have any insight into how homelessness and drug addiction go hand in hand with social exclusion. O’Briens point about rent allowance rates and the need for rent caps was lost amongst the political point scoring from Eric Byrne and Joan Burton. Rent allowance and rent allowance discrimination are some of the direct results of bad and unjust social policies and it seems to me that anytime anybody tries to address real issues like these in the dail – labour and Fine Gael – drag everything down into juvenile farce . The sooner we get these entitled muppets out the better.

    1. timble

      It was O’Brien who introduced his brother into the debate when he interruped the Leaders Q response to Maureen O’Sullivan.
      As for rent allowance – raising the caps won’t do anything when the issue is lack of supply. At it will do is put more money into hands of landlords and raise rents for others in the market

      1. bobsyerauntie


        It doesn’t matter, the point is Joan Burton and Eric Byrne are more concerned about making snide comments about things which they know nothing about (homelessness/drug addiction) for political point scoring. Eric Byrne was way out of order. Deputy O’ Brien clearly has direct experience of the effects of drug addiction, homelessness, and rent allowance discrimination. It’s not a matter of simply raising rent allowance rates, but capping rent at a certain level would stop these crazy rental cycles from spiraling, and in effect would stop rents from becoming unaffordable. This goes way beyond a mere ‘supply’ issue, the ‘housing crisis’, is not simply lack of supply, similar to the way they always preach that the financial crisis is a ‘lack of credit’. This is nonsense.

        There are very deliberate unjust social policies which are implemented to keep the status quo of inequality intact in Ireland. Fine Gael and Labour are implementing policies which contribute to inequality and marginalization of people who are already vulnerable and marginalized. That is what O’ Brien was pointing out- that his brother could not find accommodation because the rent allowance rates were too low for the increasing rents, and that landlords were not letting to people in receipt of rent allowance due to discrimination, therefore his brother was ending up in hostels surrounded by drug users- which was not helpful for his addiction!

        The fact that Eric Byrne would make such a cheap, snide, flippant comment about homelessness, shows how out of touch Labour are. When someone with an addiction becomes homeless, it is not just as simple as taking them under your roof, I know this personally, as I was homeless for a time, and a friend of mine is homeless and has an addiction, and I wouldn’t have him over to stay with me because he needs professional help and many addicts can be extremely difficult to trust. My own aunt, when she was on heroin, stole my grandmothers wedding rings (her own mother) and sold them, when she was in the height of addiction she couldn’t be trusted in any of her family’s homes. That’s the sad reality of addiction, something which Burton and Byrne have no clue about but which O’Brien clearly does.

        When you have a bunch of entitled middle class, land/property owning self-serving career politicians running the country how can you expect them to care or to understand what the ordinary person goes through? Quite simply, they don’t and they don’t care either…

        1. Milo

          What a load of bullplop. Plenty of us know the difficulty of family members with serious issues leading to homelessness. We just choose not to cynically use them as an electioneering device. Rent caps will merely encourage landlords to sell up at the first chance to private owners OR ask for cash backhanders. Dumb commentators like you created the fiasco where junkies were thrown in with recovering addicts – like everything a wafer thin analysis making the situation worse….

          1. bobsyerauntie

            I can’t quite believe you said “Bullplop”, what age are you? Are you even an adult yet?

            I figure you’re likely one of these cushioned, middle class spoiled types, who has had had a very limited and sheltered life…

            “Bullplop?” are you serious?..


            I’m far from dumb, and I have been on rent allowance, I’ve been homeless, I’ve rented privately, I’ve lived in many different situations, and landlords do still take rent top up’s anyhow- they always have. Rent allowance discrimination is also very real and this contributes to homelessness. A civilized government which cared for vulnerable people would bring in rent caps and if we had rent caps in the Celtic tiger years and the government had some interest in controlling the housing market now, they would bring in controls, but guess what? Most TD’s are landlords! Alan Kelly is a landlord, so it’s not in his interest, and the landlord/tenant class apartheid contributed (and still contributes) to Ireland massive problem with ever widening inequality.

  13. Stumpy

    Is it just me, or does Jonathan O’Brien look a bit like Brian from ‘Spaced’? Also – Byrne behaved like an obnoxious pr1ck.

  14. Glat

    Burton says what in practice should happen.
    O’Brien points out from personal experience that it is not happening.
    Burton says how very, very dare you say I am wrong.
    Kitt shuts the conversation down.
    Byrne makes a snide comment.
    O’Brien snaps back.
    I’m far from being a SF supporter but if O’Brien had accused of Kitt being a sock puppet of Barrett, refused to withdraw his remark and organised a sit in, I’d be behind him all the way.

  15. SADDo

    Burton’s response on “lecture” is as poor as Byrne’s. Well done, Joan, Minister for Homelessness.

    Ironically, the only people who will vote for @Labour now are those who are seriously addicted to toxicity.

  16. Kieran NYC

    If a government TD brought up his homeless, addict brother in a debate, he/she’d be accused of exploiting him to score political points.

    But Byrne was an absolute tool who readily plays the Dail game of “who cares what the Opposition says, just shout them down anyway”. This time around he got burnt. Would be nice if this changed behaviour in the Dail, but…

  17. aidanm62

    The ignorance of Deputy Byrne is a timely reminder of the panic in the government parties.
    He felt the need to shout something, anything, in an effort to stifle any opposition comment. The fact he came across as an ignoramus was immaterial to him so long as he was heard to be supporting his glorious leader. This despite admitting he didn’t know what was going on.
    Comparisons between the mayo midget and his North Korean counterpart may be unfair on Kim Jong Un but the fact remains, on planet enda, all opposition must be silenced before the public hear what they have to say.

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