Tag Archives: Brendan Howlin

From top; Supreme Court Justice Séamus Woulfe; Labour TD Brendan Howlin

This morning.

On Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One.

Former Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin discussed Sáamus Woulfe’s appointment….

Brendan Howlin: ” I’ve been privileged to serve in three coalition governments, two with Fine Gael. I know these things work and the notion that, for example, if we were in Government with Fine Gael that a minister would make such a strategic decision about an appointment of this nature, a really important appointment of the highest court in the land, without clearing it, politically, with the partners in government is absurd. It just wouldn’t happen, never happened.

“And I don’t believe, from what we’ve heard now, that it happened in this instance either. Unless the two other parties in Government, Fianna Fail, and remember Fianna Fail had the Taoiseach’s position and the Attorney General’s position when the decision was made. That they simple acquiesced to it and the fact that they weren’t involved, any way at all in it, is just not credible. So the Greens too, I would have assumed, even as a junior partner in a three-party coalition, there is a structure where everything, before it goes to Cabinet of a very serious nature, is cleared.

“In essence, just so that people understand how Cabinet works: Cabinet is by and large more a decision-making body than a debating chamber. You don’t go shoot the breeze and talk about things and merits and demerits. By and large, things come to Cabinet for a decision when they are politically agreed and something as important, as the appointment of a member of the Supreme Court would have to be [inaudible] by all the component parts of Government.”

Claire Byrne: “So the conversations would have happened before the recommendations were made to Cabinet?”

Howlin: “There’s no doubt about that. I mean, you see, the Minister for Justice, I think performed stoically and valiantly yesterday. And she’s right to say that the Minister for Justice would always bring one name to Government. But behind that, that decision would have been largely made at that point.

It would be the acceptance of the agreement of the parties in Government and would have been brought to Government. That’s the way it works…..”

He added::

“If the Government actually came clean and said this is actually what it is, that some would regard as a grubby and political deal and we decided because Fianna Fail were going to get the new Attorney General’s job, that we have finalise the position for the outgoing Attorney General and that’s the deal. That would be both legal and constitutional. Now we might have something to say about it being ethically acceptable but it’s legal and constitutional currently.

The problem for the Government is that it is concocting another version of events, that somehow all of this was left to one individual, newly appointed minister for justice to make the decision on her own.

“I’m saying anyone who know the process knows that that is not credible and that it would be better if the Government said ‘yeah that’s the way we did it on this occasion…’.”


Howlin: “Why would it be left to a newly appointment minister to determine from, we now know, five serving senior judges, plus the outgoing Attorney General with no judicial experience, and the other list which is the panel of all eligible judges, to determine that by herself without reference to anybody when we know that there are more vigorous processes now for decisions that would not be as important in the law. That would be unbelievable.”


This morning.

Also on Today with Claire Byrne

Dr Laura Cahillane, lecturer in law at the University of Limerick, said:

“Even if this was, say a naked political appointment, there’s not much you can do about it because the current process actually allows for that to happen. And that is the problem because even though this mightn’t be problematic from a legal perspective, it is problematic from a moral perspective, from a legitimate perspective and even from the perspective of the independence of the judiciary. So this is why this process needs to be urgently reformed in order to ensure fairness and transparency.”

Asked about Minister McEntee claiming that Tanaiste Leo Varadkar told her that Seamus Woulfe “would make a good judge”, Dr Cahillane said:

“I suppose people will have to draw their own conclusions in relation to what happened there but what I’m really confused about is the fact that apparently the minister hadn’t yet received the names of the judges who had expressed interest at that stage. So there was already conversations ongoing about who was potentially going to be appointed but yet apparently the whole list of candidates were not given to her at that stage. She also said that she didn’t receive those expressions of interest until she had already indicated that a nomination was to be made to Cabinet. So I’m quite confused as to the process there and when exactly did the expressions of interest from the judges were received and when they were considered.”


“….the impression was given…that somehow that JAAB was saying that this was the most suitable candidate, now the thing is the Act, the 1995 Act, does actually use the word ‘recommend’, the problem is that, in practice, that’s not what JAAB does…”

Earlier: King Henry VIII, The Benchers And Séamus


This morning.

In the Dáil.

Labour TD and the party’s spokesman on justice Brendan Howlin (top) put forward several amendments to the Criminal Justice (Enforcement Powers) (Covid-19) Bill 2020.

The first amendment called for the deletion of the words underlined in red (above).

He explained:

My amendment seeks to delete that final half-sentence which is line 14, namely, “whether in relation to a relevant provision or otherwise”. The interpretation section, under section 1 of the Bill, defines a “direction” given by a member of An Garda Síochána as “a direction given under section 31A(7) of the Act of 1947 in relation to a relevant provision”.

Therefore, under the direction section of this Bill, a member of An Garda Síochána can legitimately enter a premises for the purposes of giving direction in regard to a relevant provision of this Bill. Section 3(1)(a) expands that so they can enter the premises for the purposes of giving a direction not only under the provisions of this legislation, but also “or otherwise”, whatever “or otherwise” might mean.

…. We need to clarify that what we are giving here is the power for members of An Garda Síochána, without warrant, to enter premises to do inspections.

…We need to ensure that the provisions we are providing for in this legislation are met, and where they are not met, there is the capacity to give a direction to the proprietor of such a premises to comply with the legislation.

It is often the case the drafters slot in words like “or otherwise”, giving a much broader scope than this House would intend to legislation.’

A Dail vote on implementing the amendment subsequently failed.


Minister for Justice Helen McEntee

During a debate on the bill last night, Mr Howlin said:

“I listened carefully to the Minister, Deputy [Helen] McEntee, at the beginning of this debate but we do not actually know what specifically is to be criminalised either now or into the future.

…At the briefing on Friday, I asked the Minister for Justice and Equality’s officials what specifically the offences are and where are the regulations are. These crafters of the legislation before us told me they did not know.

“I have never dealt with a situation where the crafters of the legislation did not know what the crimes being specifically legislated against were.

They said that it was a matter for the Minister for Health and that it would be published on Monday. In fact, the Minister for Health signed 14 pages of regulations yesterday. The difficulty with the regulations is that some of them are what are known as “penal” and some are not penal. What is the difference?

In essence, non-penal regulations are entirely advisory and nobody can enforce them. The penal regulations are enforceable. There is a strong view in jurisprudence that a law that is not enforceable is not a law at all. Regulations that do not carry a penal sanction are not regulations.”

MeanwhileContinue reading →

This afternoon.

Dáil, Leinster House, Dublin 2.

Labour TD Brendan Howlin said:

“Like others, I’m daily being contacted by people, by hairdressers, by other businesses who want to get back. And we have to have sound, logical, expert reasoning to give to them.

I’m afraid what’s happening in these draft guidelines erodes that because eating food gives you no additional protection.

You know whether you go in and have your Chicken Korma (top) or your Cottage Pie does not give you extra protection against the virus. And why would that criteria be a determinate. Can you explain that?

“And also, just because people are asking and will ask, why is 90 minutes determined?”

Minister for Health Simon Harris responded:

“What I would appeal for everyone is to wait for the final guidance…”

Earlier: My Mask And Me

Stagger Your Boozing

Top pic: BBC Recipes

Brendan Howlin (centre) with colleagues following the announcement of his resignation as Labour Party leader this evening



Labour’s Brendan Howlin to resign as party leader (Newstalk)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews




Last night.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin told RTÉ’s Bryan Dobson that Labour would not go into Government with Sinn Féin.

It followed reports that he said he would be “happy to sit down” with Sinn Féin and discuss working in government as part of an alliance of left-wing parties on Monday night.

Mr Howlin and Mr Dobson had this exchange:

Brendan Howlin: “From the Labour Party’s perspective, I’ve made it clear, we’ve real difficulties with Sinn Féin. Fundamental issues of trust and governments can’t be formed unless you have trust.

“So I was asked would we sit down with ehh…”

Bryan Dobson: “So what’s the answer to the question. Will you go into Government with Sinn Féin or not?”

Howlin: “I, I…I would not see the Labour Party being involved in any arrangement with Sinn Féin but if people want to, if they want to talk to us after the election, I said that we’d sit down, as a sort of a trade union official, and talk to everyone.”

Dobson: “But to no purpose, because you wouldn’t go into Government with them?”

Howlin: “Well it depends, I think…”

Dobson: “I mean, are you trying to have it both ways?”

Howlin: “No, no, no…absolutely not.”

Dobson: “Sounds like you are.”

Howlin: “Well there you are. I think that it’s very clear. I’ve made it crystal clear right now.”

Dobson: “I’m still not clear: would you go into Government with them or not?”

Howlin: “I said, from the Labour Party’s perspective, I would not. I don’t see any situation where that would arise.”

Right so.

Previously: How Was It For You?



This afternoon.

Iveagh Garden Hotel, Dublin.

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin launches his party’s Generel Election 2020 manifesto.

Asked about entering government with Sinn Fein, Mr Howlin said:

“There’s two phases in that. I think one of the mistakes all of us in the left made in the past is we were picked off, attacking each other.

The Greens went into government with Fianna Fáil and they were demolished. We went into government and we were demolished.

We need to have an alliance of progressive thinkers who could set out a platform of investment to solve this crisis. Once we have that, I’m happy to sit down with Sinn Féin.”

“I’m happy to sit down with Sinn Féin but the caveat I’ve entertered and I entered this on every occasion, is there is a fundamental issue of trust. Now I have served in government and it collapsed on the basis of trust, government, between different parties, only can survive on the basis of trusting one another.”


Brendan Howlin Would Consider Working In Government With Sinn Fein (Irish Examiner)

Leah Farrell/RollingNews

This afternoon.

Buswells Hotel, Dublin 2

The launch of the Labour Party’s Local Election Manifesto with above, from left: Fingal councillor Duncan Smith, Labour Party leader  Brendan Howlin and Dublin City Councillors Dermot Lacey, Alison Gilliand and  Mary Freehil.

Mr Howlin said:

“I hope people will look at real issues in this campaign instead of those not in the competence of local authorities, because some councils instead of doing the business of the local community are trying to do the business of the United Nations,” he said.

“What people are telling me is, where there used to be Labour councillors and aren’t anymore, we’re missed.”

Cllr Lacey said::

“We spent several hours [at Dublin city council] discussing whether we fly the Palestinian flag over Dublin city hall. On another occasion we called in the Spanish ambassador to tell them off over what is happening in Catalonia.”

Howlin accuses rival left-wing parties of acting like part of ‘the United Nations’ (Irish Examiner)


Stop that.

Rowdy ‘leftists’.


Talking to colleagues across Europe, I now hear for the first time that there is actually suggestions being made that the Irish backstop issue should be postponed. I think that’s very dangerous for us and it’s something that we have to resist.

“But it was highly predictable. I think there is still solidarity from all the discussions I’ve had certainly from social democratic colleagues in relation to this matter but I’ve no doubt that that will become a focal point over the next number of days.

“So there has to be a very clear determination set out by the Irish Government that the backstop issue, and that is a permanent backstop – the whole idea of a backstop being a temporary measure is bizarre, even as a suggestion.

“And that that matter should be put to bed so there can be no discussions on any long-term arrangements with the United Kingdom until that matter is determined in accordance with the agreement that is set out by both the European Union and the UK authorities last December.”

This afternoon.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin speaking to journalists on the plinth at Leinster House.

Howlin: Europe is ‘considering’ postponing Brexit backstop (RTE)

DUP threat over Brexit backstop deal (BBC)

This afternoon.

Kildare Street, Dublin 2

Leader of Labour Party Brendan Howlin (centre)speaking to the media at the launch of the Labour Campiagn Posters for Michael D Higgins to continue as President of ireland

Mr Howlin said:

“We have negotiated with the Michael D Higgins campaign and we have been allocated a spend of €70,000 from the overall spend.

We spent around €60,000 on the last referendum campaign and that is the sort of spend we expect to put in to the re-election of Michael D Higgins.

In terms of the number of posters, we have an initial run of 4,000. I think there will be a demand for an awful lot more.

Our organisations right across the country are looking to campaign to re-elect the president and an awful lot of people outside the Labour party family want to join us in that work.”

Labour to spend more on Michael D campaign than on abortion referendum (Independent.ie)

Sam Boal/RollingNews

From top: Members of the Labour party at its think-in at the D Hotel in Drogheda, Co Louth; a number of political correspondents outside a meeting of the party yesterday


At the Labour party think-in in Drogheda, Co Louth.

A number of political correspondents listened through a door while a private meeting of Labour party members was under way.

Further to this…

Jennifer Bray, in Times Ireland edition, reports:

Brendan Howlin was excoriated by disgruntled members at a private meeting during the Labour Party’s think-in yesterday.

Mr Howlin faced a sustained onslaught about his leadership and was told that the public was “indifferent” to him and that the manner in which he was elected leader was “disgraceful”.

During a sometimes raucous meeting, councillors also vented their frustration about “disenfranchised” voters and the direction of the party.

Alan Kelly, the Labour TD for Tipperary, attacked his party, saying that the performance of the parliamentary group was “not good enough”.

Members should be encouraged to break ranks to air their grievances, he said, while representatives in the Dáil needed to be in the media more often.

Meanwhile, this morning.

Elaine Loughlin, in the Irish Examiner, reports:

A lengthy and at times heated debate on the Labour party leadership ended with members hugging each other, Brendan Howlin has revealed.

Mr Howlin has said the issue of leadership of the Labour party has been put to bed until after the next General Election.

Brendan Howlin attacked by Labour members over ‘lacklustre leadership’ (Jennifer Bray, Times Ireland edition)

Labour Party think-in: We are ‘going nowhere fast and doomed if we don’t change’ (Daniel McConnell, Irish Examiner)

Latest: Labour party are now united, says Brendan Howlin (Elaine Loughlin, Irish Examiner)

Pics: Labour and Sean Defoe