Tag Archives: brid smyth


Billboard from SIPTU’s ‘Stop 67’ campaign

This morning.

SIPTU’s Deputy General Secretary Ethel Buckley spoke to RTÉ Radio One’s Seán O’Rourke about the union’s “Stop 67” campaign to stop plans to raise Ireland’s State pension age to 67 from January 1, 2021.

Ms Buckley said the campaign has been running for “a number of months” but today’s launch of the campaign is being carried out in conjunction with other groups such as the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Age Action and Active Retirement.

From the interview…

Ethel Buckley: “Our priority is to ensure that the legislation is changed so that they do not proceed with 67 on New Year’s Day [2021] and we have not heard yet, from Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil that they will repeal the legislation.

“So our campaign will continue, in fact it will ramp up to get those commitments from those parties.

“And the first priority of the next administration, however that will be made up, is to repeal the legislation and then to engage in a negotiation, a real negotiation, on the issues presented by State pension age in the long term.

“The progressive parties have said that they will legislate to remove the 67 increase, with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have not yet.”

Seán O’Rourke: “Well, effectively, have they not done the same thing by saying they will have a transition payment, equivalent to the pension?”

“No, I have not heard them saying that it is equivalent to what people would receive on the State pension. What I have heard them say is they will continue the transitional arrangement that was there.

“And that represents a gap of €45 in the income of a single person and €76 for a couple between the transition payment and what you would get on a State pension…”

O’Rourke: “I’m just looking at what Fianna Fáil have said. They will pay sums equivalent to the old-age pension to people over 65 in the meantime, pending a review.”

Buckley: “In 2017, there was a Joint Oireachtas committee looking at the issue of the State pension. And there were very prominent members of the Fianna Fáil party, including Willie O’Dea, the pensions spokesperson, on that committee.

“And the committee recommended to the minister, in July 2017, to conduct a review and to not go ahead with 67 as planned.

“That was in July 2017, we’re now in January 2020 and they have not done that. So we have heard this before from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“And we need cast-iron guarantees and what people need is that cast-iron guarantee before they go to the polls on the 8th of February.

“People need to know exactly not idle promises, they need definite commitments.”

O’Rourke: “And what about the cost of this? I mean what’s your estimate of the cost?”

Buckley: “Well, the minister’s estimate of the cost, she [Regina Doherty] was, there were parliamentary questions put to the minister Regina Doherty on the 10th, 11th and 12th of December and she said, on the record on the Dáil, that the annual net cost is €217billion a year. Those are the minister’s figures.

“And we accept them.”

O’Rourke: “Yes, but I mean the gross figure is €430million and that’s the basis upon which they must operate. And what you’re saying is the net thing, which I suppose, you know, it allows for what the State would claw back in income tax and so forth.”


Election 2020 leaflet from Age Action.

Via Age Action

Listen back in full here


This Saturday, at noon.

Outside the Intreo office on Cork Street in Dublin 8.

People Before Profit’s Bríd Smyth, above right, who’s hoping to retain her Dáil seat in Dublin South Central, will host a protest over the pension age increase.

She writes:

“Next year the age at which a person qualifies for a state pension will increase to 67. Each year’s increase in the pension age costs a worker €12,911 a year.

“So, next year, the Irish state will save €25,822 for every worker in the country. This is a shocking robbery and must be stopped. This is will be one of the highest retirement ages in the developed world.

“People Before Profit TDs want to restore the pension age to 65. We shall try to initiate a major ‘people power’ movement that will seeks to follow the example of French workers and restore an established retirement age.”

Pension protest: Restore the pension age to 65! (Facebook)

Previously: When I’m 65

Grey Expectations

From top: The Coombe; Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger; People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith; Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl 

This afternoon.

In the Dáil, during Questions on Promised Legislation – which were taken by Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger and People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith spoke about a pregnant woman Emma Connors, from Clondalkin, Dublin, whom they say has been refused a termination at the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital in Dublin, despite two consultants certifying that she needed a termination for a fatal foetal abnormality.

Ms Coppinger said the board of the hospital overruled the two consultants’ direction and asked her to wait four weeks to see if she has a spontaneous miscarriage.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl repeatedly asked the two politicians not to discuss a person’s medical situation during the Questions on Promised Legislation segment.

During her contribution, Ms Coppinger said:

“At 13 weeks this woman went for her 12-week scan. They could clearly see at that point that the organs of the foetus were outside of the body. They brought her back a week later where that was fully confirmed when they got a better image.

“One doctor, her consultant, and then another consultant was brought in and he said ‘yes, this is a fatal foetal abnormality’. But then, a week later, it went to the board. And the board have overruled that.

“…This is about the law…Ceann Comhairle, if you don’t mind..this is about…this is the second….a main maternity hospital in the capital city of this country is refusing this woman her constitutional rights when two doctors certify what is very clearly a fatal foetal abnormality.

“And it would seem to me that it’s because of the chilling effect of criminalisation that maternity hospitals are acting in this way. And don’t forget the Rotunda is only enforcing the law to 11 weeks which the minister has written to them about.

“I’m asking you to get the minister to meet this woman today. She should not have to pay to travel [to the UK] which is what she’s talking about doing if she doesn’t have her constitutional rights affirmed.”

Ms Smith said:

“I spoke to this woman last night. Emma Connors, she’s from Clondalkin. She’s pregnant on a much-wanted baby but she has been told by her doctors: you can go to England.

“Her words to me were: ‘this is not what I voted for, I have constitutional rights’. Now what are you Tánaiste [Simon Coveney] are you doing to do about it today? Not next week, today. She finds it hard to sleep, knowing that the condition, that her much-wanted child is in and she wants a termination. She’s entitled to it, this country voted for it.”

The Ceann Comhairle said:

“We cannot and will not have, in this chamber, a situation in which individual cases are brought up here and ministers called upon to adjudicate or comment upon medical situations. It is completely… the law is one thing, discussing individual medical circumstances is not appropriate, not appropriate, not in order.”

Simon Coveney said:

“The law is now clear in this area. The Government with the support of many in this house passed legislation in a way that was consistent with what we promised we would do in the context of the referendum that was taken.

“So the law is clear. But I agree with the Ceann Comhairle. I don’t think it’s appropriate, deputy, to raise a tragic case of somebody who is clearly under a lot of stress and this case needs to be dealt with appropriately by doctors in a hospital. Not on the floor of the Dáil.”

Ms Smyth told Mr Coveney the woman wanted it to be raised and she wanted to be named.

The Ceann Comhairle then said:

“Deputy, there are patients in hospitals across the country that might want various circumstances that they find themselves in, distressed, discussed here on the floor of the house, it hasn’t happened and it’s not going to happen now…you’ve raised your point, you’ve made your point, you’re out of order, you’re out of order, you’re out of order…”

Watch Dáil proceedings live here



From top: Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Brid Smyth

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

The CervicalCheck smear test scandal was raised again during Leaders’ Questions which were taken by Tánaiste Simon Coveney who told the Dáil that, this morning, he spoke to the husband of one of the 17 women who died.

Solidarity-People Before Profit Brid Smyth held up a diagram showing who is accountable to whom within the HSE and called for “heads to roll”.

Addressing the Minister for Health Simon Harris, she said she knows of a young health worker who was suspended from her job for two months for criticising HSE spending and the trolley crisis on Facebook.

The following are some points which were raised…

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary told the Dáil:

“For many woman, their first point of contact to get the information was their GP. If they got an appointment with their GP, they found that CervicalCheck only actually formally contacted GPs this morning – eight days later [since Vicky Phelan’s case in the High Court] and they provided a completely innocuous update which provided no new information to the thousands of GPs around the country who are struggling to deal with this. Again, Tánaiste, I ask, why the delay?”

“…Tánaiste, when will the 38 remaining women who have yet to be informed of their audit be informed. Secondly, will all of these women receive medical supports and full medical supports. I’m aware of at least one of these women whose medical card was withdrawn over the past number of weeks, by HSE medical cards, and who is being put through the ringer to provide information. Yet, she was able to get a phone call recently to tell her about her false positive.”

“…The Taoiseach announced that women can have new smear tests undertaken, that is a welcome development. Will these smear tests be audited in a different laboratory from those that are currently being used to audit smear tests?”

“…Vicky Phelan this morning has called for a scoping inquiry, agreed last evening, to be held in public. Will the Government agree to her call?”

“…I want to ask you about comments made by the Secretary General of the Government this morning in the Public Accounts Committee to deputy Marc MacSharry in relation to sensitive cases. Were the Government alerted some months ago about this case in the context of the sensitive cases update?

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said:

In relation to Tony O’Brien, my understanding from speaking to the health Minister, and I also think it seems to be breaking in the media, he is, he has confirmed to the Health Minister that he will be taking a leave of absence from any involvement outside the HSE between now and when he steps down from the HSE to focus on contributing in a positive manner to the work that needs to be done…”

“In relation to the list of sensitive cases that does get presented to Cabinet from time to time, we have asked the Cabinet Secretary to look at the lists of sensitive cases that had been on that, on that list. And Vicky Phelan’s case was not on the sensitive cases list.That’s my understanding. It is information I’ve been given literally on the way in to the House this evening. But that is my understanding in terms of the confirmation that the Secretary to the Government has provided.”

Irish Solidarity–People Before Profit TD Brid Smyth said:

“I’m not playing politics when I make this point. But we found out yesterday that the State Claims Agency received a request in January for her [Vicky Phelan] files, they then knew in March, the head of the National Screening Programme knew in March that there was a claim going to court.

“He kicked it up the line to the head of National Screening and they kicked it up the line to the department who knew in March. The minister didn’t know.

“Right. I’ll just make it simple for everybody who’s here. That is a diagram of the transitional organisation structure of the HSE. I’ve coloured you in, in blue, to match the colour of your shirt, Minister.

“But this here is the risk committee, answerable to you. This is here is the director general [of HSE] answerable to you. None of them told you but you are the boss. You’re at the head of all of this.

None of them told you but none of them are fired, none of them are suspended. Go right down the line to where the information first came in. Nobody is in trouble for this.

I know a young worker, a young hospital worker who was suspended for two months because she criticised HSE spending and the trolley crisis on a Facebook post.

“You have to make heads roll in that department for failing to tell you, for failing to be accountable. If you don’t, you should go minister.

“Because somebody has to go here.

“And I don’t believe you that you didn’t know, I don’t believe Tony O’Brien and I don’t believe that your department isn’t full of people who are trying to cover up and if you believe that they aren’t trying to cover up, that they’re all innocent and they’re all OK, then you are failing to do your job.

That’s you at the head of the organisation, a fish rots from the head minister and you need to deal with it, or else you need to resign.”

Previously: Uncanny


This afternoon.

Bríd Smith of the Anti Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit wins the final seat in Dublin South Central after a marathon recount in the RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

It means AAA/PBP will have six TDs in a new dáil, on par with Labour (pending the final Longford Westmeath count).

Pic: Cllr John Lyons