Tag Archives: Catherine Murphy

Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy and Social Democrat candidate for Dublin Fingal, Paul Mulvihill

This morning.

Round Room, Rotunda Hospital, Dublin

Social Democrats launch a policy document called Honest Politics – Restoring trust in politics and public life’. aiming to “tackle corruption in Irish political and public life”.

Policy proposals include:

A commitment to establishing an Independent Anti-Corruption unit with significant wide-ranging detection and prosecution powers

The establishment of an Electoral Commission, the introduction of an Oireachtas Commission vetting procedure for all senior appointments to public bodies,

Reform of the Ministers and Secretaries Act to make senior public servants accountable for their actions,

And a commitment to poverty-proof all legislative, policy, and budgetary decisions.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said:

“Too often there is little if any accountability when wrongdoing is uncovered and that is why we believe that an Independent Anti-Corruption unit – with wide-ranging powers to investigate and prosecute is a necessary step which can not only help restore much-needed trust but also to put an end to the need for expensive and lengthy tribunals and commissions of investigation.”

Rollingnews


From top: FAI; Deloitte; Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy raised Deloitte and how the company audited the debt-riddled Football Association of Ireland for 23 years.

Ms Murphy said the whole idea of having an external auditor is “that you have independent eyes on your accounts”.

But, she asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, “can that really be the case after 23 years of doing the same job for the same organisation?”

She went on to say:

“Financial information which was published recently during the unfolding of the FAI saga showed some startling adjustments to the FAI accounts for previous year.

In 2016, for example, an originally reported profit, it was adjusted from €2.344million to just €66,000.

In 2017, a profit in the accounts of €2.8million was adjusted to the point that it ended up being a loss of €2.9million in their accounts.

“This is in addition to the fact that the Revenue audit in 2019 revealed an underpayment of taxes and, together with interest and penalties, led to additional liability of €2.3million.

“It begs the question: Would the FAI have managed to secure the tax clearance certificate they needed to access Government grants?

“Taoiseach, you, yourself, were a Sports Minister, and you know that Government grants are paid on foot of a tax clearance certificate in addition to audited accounts but should we now be looking at a system whereby organisations are required to show evidence of audit rotation with in-built time limits for each audit period before a rotation is required. Good governance requires such a system.

“The UK, for example, have introduced a system of grading their audit firms which is also used to ensure rotation. They plan to publish the grades and past performance of the large audit companies and they’ve also introduced more powerful audit oversight.”

“…Taoiseach, my questions are: Do you accept that there is an issue with the same external audit firm, having an audit contract with the same organisation for 23 years or indeed anything near it?

The EU Statutory Audit Regulations in 2016 are supposed to introduce that but I don’t understand why that hasn’t happened and would you support making such a rotation system a pre-requisite for Government grant funding in addition to tax clearance certificates?

In response, Mr Varadkar said:

“Thanks deputy, I don’t want to cast aspersions on any particular audit firm, nor on the many thousands of very good people who work in that particular firm. But I do think the deputy asks good question and makes a very good point.

“And it is a principle of good corporate governance, that organisations shouldn’t be audited by the same people for ever and ever and ever again. So I think that’s something, certainly, that Sport Ireland, and other public bodies should examine as to whether it is made a condition of Government grant aid – that auditors are rotated after a period of time.

“And the same applies to board members as well. We often see a situation in a lot of organisations that we fund, whether its charities, whether its sporting bodies, whether its local task force and so on, where you have the same people on the board for 10, 20, you know, 25 years and that’s not good corporate governance either.

“You should have a rotation of board members too so I think they are definitely areas where I think Government can be more active in requiring turnovers of auditors and turnovers of board members as a condition of funding in the future.”

“In terms of the independent audit that’s been done, that was provided to Sport Ireland to the ministers, and is now being passed on to An Garda Síochána, and the Director of Corporate Enforcement is also being notified. The purpose of the audit was to get a clearer picture of the financial and governance issues within the FAI and to chart a course for the association to deal with the serious failings in order to restore confidence and public funding to football in Ireland.

“The board of Sport Ireland considered the reports on the 27th of November, welcomed that the audit found that State funding given to FAI was expended for the purposes that it was given and I think that’s an important point that we should reassure taxpayers and the public, that the taxpayers’ money that was given to FAI was used for the purpose intended…”

Later

Murphy: “…there was a European Union statutory audit regulation introduced in 2016 and it does include mandatory reporting, or mandatory rotation over quite a long period of time. But why doesn’t that not apply here, given that was introduced in 2016?

“And that would have maybe changed the auditors and had  a fresh look at a much earlier stage?”

Varadkar: “Deputy I honestly don’t know why that doesn’t apply in this case but I will check it out and provide you with a more detailed reply. It may well be, and I’m only guessing here, that that directive applies to bodies that are majority, or majorly publicly funded, whereas this is abode that received only a small proportion of its funding from the Government. But that’s just my guess, that’s often the way European directives work.

“They apply to largely funded or majority funded bodies, not ones that receive a proportion of their funding from the State but, like I said, I’ll check out on that. And I will ask the Minister for Public Expenditure to examine the wider issueif public money is going to a third party, through to a voluntary body,  to charity, to an NGO, surely it is appropriate that they are properly audited and they rotate their auditors and a bit like the FAI, appropriate that they should rotate their leadership as well, their chairman, their board members, and not have the same people in charge for 10, 20, 30 years which is just bad corporate governance practice, I think we’ll all agree.”

Watch back in full here (from 34.30)

Previously: Vanessa Foran: Let’s See That Again In Slow Motion

UPDATE:

Fiachra Ó Cionnaith tweetz:

The FAI has declined to attend a meeting of the Oireachtas sports committee tomorrow which was due to discuss the ongoing financial issues at the organisation.

Public Accounts Committee, Dáil clerk Peter Finnegan, committee member and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy

This afternoon.

Dáil clerk Peter Finnegan is answering questions at the Public Accounts Committee in light of his report on the purchase of the controversial Japanese Komori printing press which, the committee heard, will likely be in use for 12 to 15 years.

In response to a question from Social Democrats TD, about what things should be learned from the event, Mr Finnegan said:

“All of the project teams must include specialist architectural expertise where a project could involve structural modifications and where appropriate, legal, external subject matter and health and safely expertise.

“And I think in reality if this project would have run as you would have expected it to run, we would have had an architect on the team, there would have been discussions that would have taken place at a very early stage.

“Those discussions I suppose would have been reflected in the nature of the business case because the business case that was received basically referred to the purchase of an asset. But it didn’t make reference whatsoever to ancillary works.

“And this was kind of looked at by a range of people within the Oireachtas – not just the project team because at the time we had a system where we had a committee that looked at kind of business cases of this nature.”

Later after listing the members of the business and strategy sub-committee by their title but not by their name*, Mr Finnegan added:

All of those people looked at it. In actual fact three or four of the members of that business and strategy sub-committee went over to the printing unit, went into the rooms where the printer was going to be installed and the issue of height never actually came up.”

“So I think the big thing was there was actually just no sense at all that height was an issue and I suppose the perspective I think, really, when you look back at the papers and the evidence was that the project involved the purchase of an asset.

“Like the complexities around the installation of that asset were not considered. At all.”

“It was just assumed that the asset that we were purchasing, the new printing press could replace the old Heidelberg printing presses. And that was how it was at the time.”

* Mr Finnegan said the committee was headed by the then Superintendent and included the Head of Communications at principle level, the Principal from Committees, the Principal from the Parliamentary Legal Advisers’ Office, the Principal from the Library and Research Service and the Principal who is Head of Finance and Commission of the Office of Secretary General. He said it also included the Chief Translator and Assistant Principle in the Office of the Commission, the Secretary General. 

Watch live here

Earlier: Free At 3pm?

UPDATE:

The latest increase follows reports last night that the total cost of the printer had reached around €1.8million, €200,000 more than the €1.6million outlined by the Oireachtas just two weeks ago.

Siteserv; Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy; Denis O’Brien

You may recall the Siteserv sale back in 2012.

Denis O’Brien owed Anglo Irish Bank hundreds of millions.

Siteserv owed Anglo Irish Bank €144 million.

Denis bought Siteserv debt-free for €45 million.

You will find a detailed background to the deal here.

Since then a Commission of Investigation, led by High Court judge Brian Cregan, has been tasked with investigating the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien, and other matters.

In 2017 Catherine Murphy, of the Soc Dems, submitted a 300-page statement to the Commission detailing her research into the sale.

The commission later wrote to Ms Murphy saying, if she doesn’t reveal her sources, “it may not be possible to advance some of the issues raised” by her.

Further to this…

This morning.

In The Irish Times.

Jack Horgan-Jones reports:

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy will not appear at the Siteserv inquiry as she fears she will be forced to reveal the sources of her information about businessman Denis O’Brien’s finances, The Irish Times has learned.

In a 10-page letter to the Cregan commission, parliamentary lawyers acting on Ms Murphy’s behalf argue that if she were to attend, she would be cross-examined by lawyers acting for other witnesses on “the source or sources of information” she relied upon when making statements about Mr O’Brien and the deal that saw him buy infrastructure company Siteserv.

“The commission is unable to afford any reassurance to Deputy Murphy that such cross-examination will not be permitted or that she will not be required to answer the questions put to her in the course of such cross-examination,” the letter, seen by The Irish Times, states.

Catherine Murphy will not appear at Siteserv inquiry (Jack Horgan-Jones, The Irish Times)

Previously: [REDACTED]’s 1.25% Interest Rate

What The Commenter Said

Cregan Commission on Broadsheet

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy; Fine Gael TD Jim Daly

Yesterday.

In the Dáil.

During the Topic Issue Debate, Social Democrats co-leader and Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy raised her concerns about delays facing people trying to access their Housing Assistance Payment and the implications of these delays.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy wasn’t able to be present for her contribution but Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly responded to Ms Murphy.

Ms Murphy claimed some people are facing a nine-week delay in getting their HAP application processed.

Mr Daly said applications are processed, on average, wait two days.

Ms Murphy said:

“I want to focus on is a serious problem that seems to have dramatically worsened in the past two or three months, namely, the delay in having a HAP application processed.

“This in addition to the lack of flexibility shown in cases where rents are very high and the HAP is not sufficient to cover them, meaning people have to try to source accommodation in a very limited sector.

In the past few months, the delay in processing an application has become dramatically worse and now averages nine weeks.

“One can find a situation where a family will find a landlord who will accept the HAP. However, when they get the contracts and present the application they are told the process will take nine weeks.

Several people have told me they have been told to pay the rent in the interim. Who, in his or her right mind, would say that? If people had several thousand euro in their bank account, they would not be looking for a housing assistance payment.

“It is absolutely mad. These people do not have money to pay rent in the interim. The delay has got dramatically worse.

Ms Murphy added:

“Another major concern I hear expressed all the time is that when people borrow the money they do not feel secure about getting the money back because they will have demonstrated an ability to pay it. This issue is adding to the stress.

“Landlords are also left in limbo because they do not know, if they have accommodated somebody with HAP, that the payment will be processed. It would be enormously helpful if a letter was sent out confirming that people are approved.

“I speak to a number of estate agents, and I had cause to speak to one particular letting agent, who I know is very good at sourcing accommodation and encouraging landlords to take HAP tenants.

“He spoke about having very good experiences and not having an issue. However, he feels he has been left with egg on face because he recommended HAP but it is taking so long to process it that landlords are coming back to him saying they are uncertain they will get paid.

“It is perfectly legitimate and legal for a landlord to evict somebody in that scenario.

The letting agent told me that once a property is advertised in the north Kildare-west Dublin area, he expects to receive 150 or 160 emails within 24 hours, of which 70% would be from HAP tenants.

The remaining 30% of applicants have the best chance of securing that accommodation if the landlord knows he or she will have to wait nine or ten weeks to have the HAP payment processed.

“I have come across several cases where people who have been told to leave accommodation subsequently find other accommodation and then have to reapply for HAP.

When we ring the office in Limerick we are told the reason for the delay is that a large number of additional applications have been received.

Is there a large number of additional applications? Is the problem a shortage of money or a staffing issue? What is causing the problem because the situation is chaotic at the moment?

Mr Daly responded to Ms Murphy by explaining how the HAP system works before saying:

“Limerick City and County Council provide a highly effective transactional shared service on behalf of all HAP local authorities and manages all HAP related rental transactions for the tenant, local authority and landlord.

On average, HAP applications are processed by the HAP Shared Services Centre within two working days of receipt.

“Any rental payment arising for a given month will then be made to a landlord on the last Wednesday of that month.”

Ms Murphy told Mr Daly to ring the Limerick office and warned him that she believes his information is “wrong”.

She said:

“What is in his [Mr Daly’s] reply does not match in any way the experience of the applicants. That information must be out of date.

“It is not fair on applicants to put them in this situation. If their applications were being processed within two days I would not be on my feet raising this issue.

I would not have queues of people coming into my office in tears totally stressed out by this. This is also not fair on landlords who are being left in a precarious position. It is not fair all round.

“Regarding the timelines the Minister of State mentioned, it can take up to two months, and mostly it does, to process a housing application.

“It can take another eight or nine weeks to process a HAP application. What is happening is potentially adding to the homeless crisis.

“The way HAP is being applied is problematic. In some local authorities the uplift of the 20% for a person who is in a homeless situation is not being applied. From my experience of its application in Kildare, it has been very patchy.

The delays in HAP payments are sending the message to landlords that they should stay away from this scheme.

“That is not the message that needs to be delivered when we know people are already in a precarious position in terms of security of accommodation.

“I ask the Minister of State to check the facts he has put on the record because they do not align with the experience of people with whom I have been dealing and the situation has dramatically disimproved during the past few months.

“I believe the information in the reply is wrong.”

Mr Daly said he would relay Ms Murphy’s contribution to Mr Murphy.

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

This afternoon.

On RTÉ’s News At One

RTÉ Online’s Motoring Editor Donal Byrne told broadcaster Áine Lawlor that motorists can expect a “double whammy” in next week’s budget in terms of the carbon tax.

He said it’s likely the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will announce tax increases on new diesel and petrol-run cars.

And he said a €6 per tonne carbon tax increase is also on the cards.

Ireland’s carbon tax – which hasn’t been increased since 2014 – currently stands at €20 per tonne.

Mr Byrne explained:

“When you go to fill your car at the pumps, it’s going to cost you somewhere between €1.20 and €1.60 extra to fill your car.”

But you get to save the world from imminent EXTINCTION.

Which is nice.

Earlier: A Modest Proposal

Rollingnews

Meanwhile…

Catherine Murphy

Yesterday.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy asked Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe  for the following:

‘The amount collected to date in carbon tax; the methods of dispersing the revenue generated from the tax; the purposes for which the revenue collected from the tax has been used for the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter?”

In a written answer, Minister Donohoe responded:

‘The total annual net receipts from carbon tax are set out in the following table:

Total Net Receipts:

2010; €223,084,537

2011: €298,231,058

2012: €353,954,210

2013: €388,376,990

2014: €385,361,885

2015: €418,996,237

2016: €430,247,558

2017: €419,603,362

2018: €431,131,923

Total: 3,348,987,760

Carbon tax receipts to end August 2019 were approximately €281,800,000, some €20 million (6.8%) behind forecast. To date the revenue from carbon tax has been remitted to the central fund and therefore used to fund public services.’

Carbon Tax Yield (Oireachtas,ie)

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy raised the National Broadband Plan – for which there is one bidder – during Leaders’ Questions.

She raised concerns that while the plan was initially set to cost €500million, “the Government, and indeed, departmental officials have now conceded that the ultimate cost will be multiples of that”.

She asked Tánaiste Simon Coveney if certain projects from the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 plan will have to removed on account of the higher-than-envisaged costs of the NBP.

She added:

Are we likely to be bounced into something that will cost billions rather than hundreds of millions, purely because we’ve supposedly gone too far into a flawed process? It smacks of not learning lessons from the National Children’s Hosptial shambles.”

Ms Murphy then went on to ask – based on the Taoiseach saying the NBP may not go ahead in the event of a on-deal Brexit – if the NBP is a “casualty”, could this mean Project Ireland 2040 “requires a complete revision?”

She asked how much has been set aside by Project Ireland for the NBP.

And she asked, given it’s going to cost multiples of €500m, where the money will come from and what other projects will suffer as a result of the extra funding required.

Mr Coveney responded and said it’s clear the cost of the NBP is “not going to be cheap”.

“We now have to make a decision on whether we want to go ahead with it or not. The cost is high due to the significant ambition of the project and the scale of the build.”

Ms Murphy told Mr Coveney he didn’t answer any of her questions.

Mr Coveney said:

“With respect, it’s a bit unreasonable to ask what are the implications of the cost of this without knowing what the cost is. I don’t know what the cost is going to be. It hasn’t come before Cabinet yet. So I’m not able to give you that answer and without that answer I can’t give you an indication as to the implications of that cost for the 2040 plan. I would have thought that was self-evident.”

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

This afternoon.

Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy welcomes Vladimir Putin-critic Bill Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign and author of Red Notice.

Mr Browder was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005, when he was declared “a threat to national security” for exposing corruption in Russian state-owned companies. His lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky testified against state officials and was subsequently arrested, jailed without trial, tortured and died in prison.

The subsequent American bi-partisan Magnitsky Act authorises the US government to sanction those who it sees as human rights offenders, freezing their assets, and ban them from entering the US.

Mr Browder made a presentation to Senators and TDS regarding a possible Irish/EU Magnitsky Act.

Rollingnews

Last night.

On TV3’s Tonight Show.

Social Democrats co-founder and TD Catherine Murphy – who is a member of the Oireachtas sports committee which will question members of the Football Association of Ireland in April – recalls how she previously raised concerns about governance at the FAI.

Earlier: Ask A Broadsheet Reader

New Balls, Please

Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy and Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty TD on the plinth of Leinster House following yesterday’s Supreme Court victory.

Further to Denis O’Brien’s loss in the Supreme Court yesterday.

Michael Clifford in The Irish Examiner writes:

‘Mr O’Brien was looking to assert what he saw as his rights as a citizen in a democracy. His action was based on asserting a principle.

The 19 individuals [who had their private data removed from email servers in Independent News And Media and taken to the Isle of Man where the data was “interrogated” and costs covered by a company controlled by Mr O’Brien, Blaydon Ltd,] all of whom are undoubtedly people of high principle, will more likely be interested in receiving monetary compensation rather than a legal declaration.

If they can prove their case, they will be entitled to be well-compensated for a breach of their privacy. In such an eventuality, the money will have to be paid out by INM.

It would be something of a bitter irony for Mr O’Brien if, as the main shareholder, he had to stump up for a privacy breach on a court ruling, having experienced, in his own case, a ruling that his privacy was legitimately breached in parliament.’

Bitter irony for O’Brien if INM has to stump up over privacy breach (Michael Clifford, Irish Examiner)

Listen: Kildare TD Says Supreme Court Decision Puts Any Questions On The Strength Of Parliamentary Privilege Beyond Doubt. (KFM)

Yesterday: Dismissing Denis

Previously: We Shall Fight Them On The Breaches

Meanwhile…

Flashbackageddon!

The first in a bowel-loosening series of emails from Denis O’Brien’s solicitors after the posting of Ms Murphy’s speech in the Dáil, May 26, 2015.

Good times.

Previously: [REDACTED]’s 1.25% Interest Rate