Oh No, I’m Not. Oh Yes, You Are

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Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil yesterday

Yesterday in the Dáil, during TDs’ final day before the Christmas break…

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar he was a “nasty piece of work”.

It came about while Mr Varadkar was answering questions from Fianna Fáil TD Michael Moynihan and Labour TD Brendan Howlin about the policy of the Taoiseach’s department using the Government jet.

While he was speaking about the Government jet, Mr Martin raised Fine Gael’s Dara Murphy, who recently resigned his seat as TD for Cork North Central to take up a new role in the European Commission after he was heavily criticised for his absences from the Dáil since 2017 as he worked for the European People’s Party in Europe…

From the panto exchange…

Leo Varadkar: “Requests for use of the ministerial air transport service are made by Ministers’ private secretaries to my office and are dealt with in the first instance by the staff of my private office.

“Requests are examined by my staff with regard to the need for and purpose of travel, destination, availability and suitability of other travel arrangements, and other logistical details.

“Any necessary clarification or further information is sought at this point. All operational matters are settled directly between the office of the Minister in question and the Department of Defence or the Air Corps.”

Micheál Martin: “It is blindingly obvious that the bilateral meetings that took place in Zagreb, outside of the venue for the meeting of Fine Gael’s European political party were brief, formal and a cover for those, such as the Taoiseach, who used official transport to claim that it was official business.

“Croatia, however, is a partner and ally of Ireland’s in the European Union, and the fact that the Taoiseach met its President and Prime Minister formally is reasonable.

“The more important question is what official resources the Taoiseach used at the meeting of his political party in Zagreb and whether he always fully respected the non-political nature of public servants by not involving them in meetings held at his party political conference.

Will the Taoiseach assure us that all costs relating to those parts of the trip that involved being at the party conference, including personal transport, were paid for by Fine Gael?

“Equally, will he assure us that no public servants were brought to the party conference?

“In a related matter, it was for this party that the former Deputy, Dara Murphy, was given leave to work for by the Taoiseach, because of which he was absent from his Dáil work.

Perhaps Dara Murphy’s good fortune was that, unlike Deputy Bailey, no opinion poll was done showing him to be a liability to Fine Gael.

“Will the Taoiseach tell us whether he has asked Fine Gael how much money it received to support Dara Murphy in his Dáil work? Every party gets political funding related to the number of Deputies it has. Does he think he will ask the party to return the money? This would be for the period that the former Deputy was working in Europe.

“The Taoiseach’s attempt to defend himself by going on a personal attack on others impresses nobody. These are legitimate questions that deserve legitimate answers.”

Joan Burton: “On the Croatian meeting of the European People’s Party, EPP, of which Fine Gael is a member, will the Taoiseach indicate the arrangements made by the leaders of the European People’s Party in respect of appointments, given that the European People’s Party, like the other party groups in the European Parliament, is fairly extensively funded by the European institutions and that it would be very strange for national appointments to the international desks of the party groups not to be known about and agreed to at the highest levels in national parties?

Will the Taoiseach enlighten us as to how the appointment of Mr Murphy, while he was a Deputy, came about?

“Did the EPP advise Fine Gael, perhaps through the party secretariat, that the appointment would be made?

Why did nobody raise a query as to how somebody could have two full-time jobs, one in this House and the other with the EPP?

The latter is not an honorary job such as being a vice president or president of a party group. It is a full-time, active job.

“Will the Taoiseach state whether carbon credits are used to offset his travel on the Government jet?”

Martin Kenny: “The rationale put forward by the Taoiseach is clearly not appropriate.

“Using the Government jet to attend an EPP meeting does not stand up to scrutiny and nor does it wash with anyone.

“Even the most independent observer of the Taoiseach’s decision to use the Government jet for this purpose would admit that it reeks of entitlement, which goes to the core of the matter.

“I understand from media reports that when the previous Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, was in office, he did not use the Government jet and always used commercial airlines to attend such meetings.

“Perhaps the Taoiseach will explain his decision to use the Government jet in this instance and in others. While I am sure he, like many of us, is fully aware of the sensitives regarding the use of the Government jet, he seems to have ploughed ahead regardless, which seems to be the attitude of the Government in respect of many issues.

“It goes ahead and says, “Divil may care what the people will think.” That attitude will come back to bite the Government, and hopefully soon. Will the Taoiseach confirm what role the former Deputy, Dara Murphy, had in organising the event? Was he central to it? Did he organise the attendance list for it?”

Varadkar: “I reiterate that the Government jet is used in accordance with a protocol set out in the Cabinet handbook, which has been extant for a long time.

“It is used within those rules and I assure Deputies that civil servants would not allow it to be used outside of them.

“I visited Zagreb on 20 and 21 November. The programme for my visit included an official meeting with the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovi. The meeting took place for more than a hour, included a press conference and was held in the Prime Minister’s office.

“I also attended a reception hosted by our ambassador, attended by members of the business community and of the Irish community in Croatia, which took place at the ambassador’s residence.

“Unfortunately, due to a technical issue that delayed my arrival in Zagreb, it was not possible for me to meet President Grabar-Kitarovi, which had been planned, although I look forward to meeting her on another occasion if she is re-elected.

“My meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr. Plenkovi, was especially timely as Croatia will assume the Presidency of the European Union for the first time in January.

“During its term of office, it will manage a number of files of importance to Ireland, including Brexit, the Union’s budget for 2021 to 2027, inclusive, and the multi-annual financial framework. We also discussed enlargement, on which Croatia, as a Balkan country, has important insights.

“While in Zagreb on 20 and 21 November, I also had the opportunity for an extensive range of valuable meetings and discussions with other European leaders, principally concerning the next steps on Brexit and the future relationship with the UK.

“My visit to Zagreb included meetings with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk; the incoming President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen; President Anastasiades of Cyprus; President Iohannis of Romania; Prime Minister Ludovic Orban of Romania – not Hungary; Prime Minister Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria; Prime Minister Arturs Krišjnis Kariš of Latvia; Chancellor Merkel of Germany; the Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, of Greece; Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway; and the former Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz.

“As a small member state with a similarly small administration, Ireland understands well the scale of the task involved in undertaking the Presidency.

“I offer the Prime Minister, Mr. Plenkovi, my full support and co-operation in that regard. For my meeting with him, I was accompanied by the ambassador and a small team of officials and advisers from my Department. No civil servants attended the EPP congress but security, of course, did.

“On the former Deputy, Dara Murphy, I said yesterday what I was going to say about an inquiry, and I hope that inquiry can happen, as it should.

The impression has been created that he was totally absent from the Dáil for two years, but that is not true. In fact, he was present for more votes in this calendar year than Deputy Micheál Martin was—–”

Martin: “That is outrageous carry-on.”

Varadkar: “—–and for the same number as the Deputy since the middle of July.

Martin: “The Taoiseach is a nasty piece of work.”

Varadkar: “Those are the facts.”

Martin: “I am here every Tuesday and Wednesday, as the Taoiseach knows.”

Varadkar: “Rather than all the name-calling, the Deputy should not be so sensitive.”

Martin: “Be fair.”

Varadkar: “If the Deputy is willing to be critical of former members of my parliamentary party, he should at least be willing to account for existing members of his parliamentary party who are under investigation.

“It is reasonable to ask him whether they will be ratified as candidates for Fianna Fáil in the forthcoming election, and whether he will rule out considering appointing them as Ministers should Fianna Fáil participate in the next Government.

“The people would like to know, if they vote for Fianna Fáil, whether some of the Deputies under investigation will be rewarded for their conduct by being made Ministers under Fianna Fáil. It is reasonable for the public to ask that question and to want to know the answer.”

Meanwhile…

Miriam Lord, in The Irish Times, who reported on the spat last night, writes:

By the way, he [Leo Varadkar] was right. Dara turned up (then skidaddled) to vote on 51 occasions as opposed to party leader Micheál Martin’s 51 occasions.

Oh, and Taoiseach Varadkar trailed them all. He voted 36 times.

Miriam Lord: ‘You’re a nasty piece of work’ – Micheál and Leo clash again as Dáil winds down for Christmas (The Irish Times)

Read the debate back in full here

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30 thoughts on “Oh No, I’m Not. Oh Yes, You Are

  1. kellma

    So it wasn’t more , it was the same and the Taoiseach himself had a lower attendance? What a load of pants.

    1. Cian

      The Taoiseach has more important things to do than sit listening to the TDs waffle…. like get blamed for practically everything that happens.

      1. Dr.Fart

        classic FG attitude from Cian there .. see, Cian, everywhere else in the world, responsibility falls with the person in charge, running the show, only FG seem to think that nothing is their responsibility and people should stop pestering them about their horrendous failings and jsut let them do what they want to do which is swan around from photoshoot to photoshoot. an utterly hollow party with no substance at all, and rallied around by the likes of you, putting party over people every time. selfish little bunch.

      2. GiggidyGoo

        I’d say he has some important things to do alright. Organizing back stage passes, drinks afterwards with entertainment folk and the like. Or making up some posters like ‘Murphy cheats, cheat us all’ or ‘Care for a Quango’
        You’ve basically told us that Varadkar hasn’t any responsibility to answer to the public, via Dail questions. Tsk tsk.
        He’s a boy in relative politics terms. No more. He is a coward. He is afraid of questions.

        1. Ambivalent Gendered Brit

          Not meaning to quibble but doesn’t he actually pay people to come up with those one-liners?
          (using our money)

      3. Cian

        I said “The Taoiseach”. Any Taoiseach. It’s not party based.

        It’s not about shirking responsibility – it’s not wasting time sitting in the Dáil listening to 155 TDs waffle on. Have you heard the amount of rubbish sprouted there? (by all parties I may add).

        If you look at the UK – the Prime Minister doesn’t attend parliament all the time. In the US the president doesn’t go to congress. The leaders don’t have time to waste when they have other important things to do.

        The exception to this is Leaders questions – they should attend these.

        1. Hector Ramirez

          If he has more important things to do rather than attend the Dail, why is the public services in this country the pits?

          I suppose he’s not to blame there either, after all he has ministers to run departments.

          So what does he do?

      4. GiggidyGoo

        Eh – who is ‘The Taoiseach’?
        If you meant ‘any’ taoiseach, you’d have written ‘a taoiseach’

        1. Cian

          you are right. I was responding to a post about the current Taoiseach. But it applies to any Taoiseach, and in fact any world leader.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            Tut tut. How many new names have you had to come up with now? There’s a benign want in you it seems.

          2. Ambivalent Gendered Brit

            There’s nothing wrong with reinventing oneself. You could take a leaf out of my book instead of ranting on about all the usual suspects all the time. Gwanouttadat

            PS why am I on naughty step? I complied with the request

          3. millie vanilly strikes again

            Chastised for sowing your wild oats with TWO devices at the SAME TIME?

            How very puritanical.

        1. GiggidyGoo

          I’m not a TD, so no-one. You on the other hand I’m sure have no problem with the Dail button-pushers – after all it’s leaning towards the illegal spectrum, your home.

  2. V

    What’s more irritating is that we can hardly point to the Septics Congress & Senate or even their White House, nor at the Commons and laugh at their carry-on

    FFS
    Has professional politics really come to this?
    I get that these household parties have to accept a few chancers and numpties, as well as inherit them, or oblige a patronising gender quota
    And they may be excused by way of a sly guise and simpleton excuse that that’s Democracy for ya for some of it in fairness;

    But Western and alleged developed World Public & Political representation has become the joke that nobody gets, so they turn off.

    And nobody really cares – not even those that could do something about it and put themselves forward / make themselves available,
    Nor the main parties either, who would opt to pick from their own narrow pool of members rather than seek out the best choice to represent their party voter in any particular Constituency.

    And now – neither do those that cast their votes

    We’re the actual laughing stock of Professional Politics – not the Politicans

    1. Ambivalent Gendered Brit

      You’re a nice person but have always displayed considerable bias and if I may say, have the blinkers on with respect to the objective outcome from the political process.

        1. Ambivalent Gendered Brit

          Bias in favour of the process I’d say
          It’s because you’re clearly an ethically minded and upstanding person yourself

          1. V

            Not necessarily
            I respect whatever the procedure and process is, and I’m regularly heard saying we have to work with what is in front of us
            Bit I have never been behind the door calling out the weaknesses within it
            Far from it in fact

            Everything from Conflict of Interest, standards of Fitness and Probity, Gender Quotas v Equality, even the Dáil Prayer to the State of this Government

            And I think my archives here, more than demonstrate that

            It’s not just cake I blather on about you know

          2. Ambivalent Gendered Brit

            Ah I know all that, I meant more the political process. You’re very heavily invested in that, and I don’t really mean that in any negative way. I am very realistic about the inability of politicians, and consequently don’t get as excited about any of it any more – is that cop out?

          3. V

            My thing is elections
            But principally – undeniably, The Count

            And I do get very protective of it
            And the tally

            It’s a sight to see and the greatest thing about our Democracy, and one of the few things this State has got right; what we get right

            So when I see and hear the special people letting on about spoiled votes and tampered ballot papers and false bottomed boxes and dodgy van drivers ara’ – yeah I do get weeweeed off. It deserves better than a squabble with people who don’t even have the respect for our Democracy to bother to learn how it actually functions on its biggest days.

            If that’s a bias
            Then yeah
            Loud and proud about it too

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