A Profile In Pettiness


From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the dail yesterday; Dr Rory Hearne

In the Dáil yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in a reply to Independent TD Joan Collins, addressed the findings of a report researched and written by Dr Rory Hearne and his colleague Mary Murphy from Maynooth.

Mr Varadkar attempted to undermine the legitimacy of the report by using dáil privilege to make personal comments about Dr Hearne.

Joan Collins TD,: “Does the Taoiseach agree that families and children should not – as the report and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission recommend – spend longer than three months in emergency accommodation, including family hubs, and that this should be legislated for and there should be a commitment to close all hubs by December 2019?

Does he agree there is a danger, as the study says, that the newly established family hubs could become a form of direct provision for poor families?… It has been said to the Taoiseach here today that these hubs can possibly become the direct provision centres of the future.

He has heard it and he has had to respond to it. He has to deal with this emergency and meet with this group, Rory Hearne and the housing committee to go through this report. It is really crucial that we deal with these issues now and not let this continue.”

Leo Varadkar:: “I have met Rory Hearne on occasion in the past. I recall he was student union president in Trinity when I was a student there and I think he may even have been an election candidate for one of the left-wing groups more recently than that.

I met him not too long ago at a running event in the Phoenix Park where he was less than pleasant, to put it that way. It certainly was not the kind of polite conversation I would expect from a university academic.”

The report, Investing in the Right to a Home: Housing, HAPs and Hubs, conducted as part of a Europe-wide examination of how to strengthen social investment, shows that the housing crisis has not yet peaked and is in fact likely to escalate over the next five years and that families can be severely damaged and traumatised from living in emergency accommodation, including from family hubs.


UPDATE: An earlier version of this story contained a response from Dr Hearne, which we have removed at his request.

29 thoughts on “A Profile In Pettiness

  1. Donal

    Yet again a taoiseach and government that doesn’t want to listen to criticism plays the man and not the ball

  2. Frilly Keane

    he’s loves that “on occasion”
    don’t he

    its like “Sit ye a shon” with Gerry and the lads

    anyway; one thing for sure
    Leo is definitely burning bridges
    within his Party and with the electorate
    I’d say the Christmas Recess might see a bitta backroom rumbling

    what’ll he do next d’ye think

    look for the Aras?
    he’d hardly be moving far like
    makes sense

  3. Fact Checker

    Here are two measures of poverty for 0-17 years olds for every year from 2004 to 2015 as complied by the CSO:

    At Risk of Poverty Rate (%)
    2004 22.7
    2005 22.9
    2006 22.3
    2007 19.9
    2008 18.0
    2009 18.6
    2010 18.4
    2011 18.8
    2012 19.8
    2013 19.6
    2014 20.3
    2015 19.5

    Consistent Poverty Rate (%)
    2004 9.2
    2005 10.8
    2006 10.5
    2007 7.4
    2008 6.2
    2009 8.7
    2010 8.8
    2011 9.3
    2012 10.7
    2013 12.8
    2014 12.7
    2015 11.5

  4. Listrade

    Great work Leo. Other scientists and academics we can now dismiss because of being left wing:

    Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Richard Lewontin, Stephen Jay Gould, John Desmond Bernal, Richard Feynman to name a few.

    It’s good to know. Who needs peer reviewed academia anyway?

    1. mildred st. meadowlark

      All we need in this country is another enquiry. And possibly another committee. But that’s all.

  5. Diddy

    The new HAP scheme is wildly popular. It pays most of your rent,offers private sector landlords tax breaks to take it and allows you to work AND keep your hap for 2 years if u find a job.

    This is decent, try bone crushing Uk austerity for size. The overall problem remains however. Low wages not matching private sector housing price demands. This is leaving hundreds of thousands of people in the lurch

  6. rotide

    Seriously, how is Varadkar invoking dail privilege here?

    NOTHING in that statement is libellious.

    The double standards relating to dail privilege on this site are astounding.

    1. Listrade

      I’m surprised Leo didn’t call his encounter with Dr Hearne thuggery and demand an apology.

      1. rotide

        I’m still a little unclear where the privilige comes in on his statements yesterday as it’s as plain as the nose on your face that he was right.

        These statements don’t even come close, but hey they provide a good foil for Rory’s hyperbole.

        1. Nigel

          Not sure about the privelege bit either (needs to be checked, eh? Checked? Privelege? Needs to be checked? Nevermind.) but he has just been, well, dissed rather meanly by the Taoiseach in the national parliament. I know we’re a small country and all, but still.

        2. Listrade

          Not sure about privilege either, but it is a very weak response and unprofessional response. Instead of addressing the report, he made comments on one of the author’s politics and character. There’s a very marginal scope to say that it was defamatory, but I’d agree that is scraping the barrel.

          But that’s not the issue. If he disagreed with the report, say why. If he hadn’t had a chance to read or be briefed on the report, say so. Instead he related an unfavorable anecdote about one of the authors. Stop the presses: sometimes people aren’t always nice to you. Is this the reality now of Leo’s term? Rather than counter left policies, he continually paints the left as an enemy. Loud and growing. Thuggish.

          There was a simple response to Paul Murphy which is that it isn’t for the Dail to get involved in the legal process. It has to be separate. Even when I don’t like what happened in that case, I do see that point. But instead he perpetuated the idea that Murphy got away with something, that Murphy was behind the aggression and responsible, even though that was the exact thing that was shown to be false by the video evidence.

          Whether he invoked privilege or not, is irrelevant. It was a glib comment that avoided any comments on a serious issue. Forget politics, policy debates deserve better.

  7. dav

    Thank you Rory Hearne for exposing yet more failings of yet another Taoiseach of this nation.
    I know we’ve all become used to the low standards in high office that successive civilwarshirted governments, but surly something’s got to give soon…

  8. Liam

    The Leopard does not change its spots and Leo is staying true to his past form. He is very arrogant and emotionally detached from the sufferings of the Irish people and sees these suffereings as some knid of deserved punishment for their failings in life. This guy feels entitled to rule and doesnt see that he has benefitted from much privelige in his life and that is why he is where he is today and not homeless!!

    1. realPolithicks

      He always came across as a bit of an arrogant ahole, but he’s stepped it up a notch since he became Taoiseach.

  9. TheCitizen

    Can someone post a screengrab of Dr Rory’s response please?
    Equal standards etc. if it was Varadkar it’d be easily got.

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