Tag Archives: Claire Byrne Live

From top: Clodagh Hawe; From left: Jacqueline Connolly, Claire Byrne, and Mary Coll

‘Her Name is Clodagh’.

A Claire Byrne Live Special.

Laura Fitzgerald writes:

Clodagh Hawe (39) and her sons, Liam (13) Niall (11) and Ryan (6) were killed by their husband and father, Alan Hawe (40) on August 29th 2016 in Virgina, County Cavan. Alan Hawe subsequently took his own life.

Tonight in a RTÉ Claire Byrne Live special, Clodagh’s mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly speak for the first time in regard to the unanswered questions about the murderers and to protect other women who may be vulnerable and in danger.

Four weeks ago Mary and Jacqueline were officially refused their legal request for copies of the Garda files from the investigation into the murders of their daughter and sister, and grandchildren and nephews.

They are now calling for a new and full inquiry into the murders of Clodagh, Liam, Niall and Ryan Hawe.

Claire Byrne Live at 10.35pm on RTÉ One

Previously: Her Name Was Clodagh, She Mattered

Last night.

During the first live TV presidential debate on RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live.

Did you stay up?

Did you stay awake?

Bunty Twuntington-McFuff, real name Norma Burke, disrupted the debate as former Dragon’s Den star and millionaire Peter Casey was talking about how money really isn’t an issue for him – regardless of the cost of his presidential bid.

It wasn’t clear what was said by Ms Burke, who later tweeted:

President Michael D Higgins said he couldn’t attend the debate due to prior presidential engagements while former Dragon’s Den star Sean Gallagher didn’t attend because Mr Higgins didn’t attend.

Along with Mr Casey, former Dragon’s Den star Gavin Duffy, Sinn Fein MEP Liadh Ni Riada, and Senator Joan Freeman attended.

It can be watched in full here.

Last night.

On RTE’s One Claire Byrne Live.

Journalist Alison O’Connor noted the common thread running through the biggest health scandals in Ireland – namely that they involve the healthcare of women.

Previously:  HSE Boss ‘Dismissed My Concerns’ About Cervical Screening Results

Last night.

On RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live.

Nell McCafferty gave her thoughts on the the abortion debate in Ireland.

Last night: The End Of May

Kevin Myers

Last night.

Five months after his sacking by the Sunday Times, columnist Kevin Myers appeared on RTÉ 1’s Claire Byrne Live to discuss his removal and the fall out.

Mr Myers was told he will never work for the Sunday Times again after he used a crude Jewish stereotype in an article on BBC pay.

The paper’s move was supported by Taoiseach Leo Vardkar.

Kevin Myers; “…Nobody has the right to say this man will not be employed again. No one can do that. And then what happened next was even worse. The Taoiseach came out and said that The Sunday Times action was wholly justified and so did the Táaaiste [Frances Fitzgerald].

Now Claire, I’m not like you. Nor the people out there. Nor the people at home. I chose to be Irish. I had a British passport initially. I chose. That was going to be my nationality, my identity.

And never in the history of the Free State, or the Republic and the Free State before, has a government sided instantly with a multinational against the interests of a citizen of that state. it has never happened before, since 1923. There was no consultation, no discussion, nothing. My reputation was destroyed.”

Claire Byrne: “Have you had any support of people in the media, in public life, in politics since all of this happened?”

Myers: “A very small amount of support from the media, apart from David Norris more recently, he was abroad at the time [of the sacking], none that I could speak of in public. Privately they’ve said what’s happened is a great shame but nobody in public has spoken out…”


Byrne: “You write very challenging things about women? You write that men work harder than women, men are more charismatic, you write that men get sick less frequently than women, men seldom get pregnant.”

Myers: “That was a joke. Of course.”

Byrne: “What about the rest of the stuff? Do you believe that men work harder than women?”

Myers: “The issue is am I allowed to say that? The issue is not my beliefs. The issue of freedom of speech is the real issue here. Otherwise you’re going to have one set of beliefs, uniform and compulsory across the entire media…are we allowed to differ from the politically correct consensus norm which now dominates the media.”

Watch the full interview here

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 11.18.45Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 11.12.04

Financial Consultant Eddie Hobbs, RTÉ presenter Claire Byrne and Liam Doran, of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INTO)

Last night.

On RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live show, financial consultant Eddie Hobbs and Liam Doran, of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, spoke about public pay.

It comes as it’s reported that the Public Service Pay Commission’s recommendations are to be presented to Cabinet by Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donoghue today, ahead of public pay talks in coming weeks.

Pat Leahy, in The Irish Times, reports:

“The report has not been distributed in advance by Mr Donohoe, and Ministers have not been made aware of its contents. However, sources told The Irish Times that the report will recommend the recession era pay cuts – the “Fempi” cuts (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) – should be unwound gradually as part of a wider pay agreement.

It is understood that the Department of Public Expenditure is prepared to offer public servants wage increases of about 6 per cent over three years. Additional pay rises could also emerge from local bargaining arrangements.”

Further to this..

From last night’s discussion on Claire Byrne Live.

Claire Byrne: “Eddie, you think that the public sector have it so good that, if you’re a young, private sector person, you should go and marry one of them. Is that right?”

Eddie Hobbs: “Well, I suppose I was just being funny to make the point that, you know, most people in the private sector don’t have a pension fund and less than, you know, one in six have anything like a guaranteed pension and nobody has the sort of Bugatti Veyron-type pensions that exist at the very top of the public sector, in the private sector. What we do know in the private sector is that, you know, the average rates of pay in the private sector pay, Claire, today, in 2017, just now are reaching the average in the public sector in the year 2000. That’s quite staggering. And it will probably be post-2030 by the time average rates of pay in the private sector match those currently in the public sector.”

Claire Byrne: “So what are you saying, they shouldn’t get any pay rises. And they shouldn’t get, their pension shouldn’t be tackled?”

Hobbs: “No, not at all. What I’m saying is that Ireland has, whether, you know, we’re all interconnected, just to get a few things out of the way, everybody’s interconnected – whether you’re in the private sector or the public sector because most of us contribute into the social insurance fund which funds the old-age pension. And if you look at the growth and the cost of pensions, it’s staggering. In or around the year 2000, the current year’s payout in pensions, for public sector pensions was around €870million. In 2006, it was €1.6billion. Today, it’s €3.3billion. So, roughly, it’s for every €5 paid in pay, there’s about €1 paying in pensions. Now, if you look, say the gardaí, the ratio of serving members to retired members is now almost one to one and the payout of the gardaí is about €1billion a year in Ireland but it’s about €400million in pensions.

“But I just want to make one final point and it’s this: the social insurance fund which funds all our old-age pensions has a projected deficit of €324billion over the next number of decades – that’s the gap that we are failing to fill with our own personal contributions and the debt to public sector pensions is €100billion. It started off before benchmarking at €20billion, it’s now €100billion. So it’s gone up…”

Byrne: “Benchmarking, you’re saying, is at fault for creating that big, black hole?”

Hobbs: “I think what’s needed is we need to, we need to decapitate public sector pensions at a level we can afford. I don’t mean hitting the middle and lower-end. I mean the Bugatti Veyron version. And we need to introduce…”

Byrne: “Will we get enough back though, from the people at the higher end?”

Hobbs: “Well, no we won’t because what we then need to do is, we need to have a substantial increase in all our contribution rates and employers and employees into a universal pension scheme that both public and private workers exist the same and there isn’t a wealth transfer from one to the other because it’s creating an underclass and an overclass in our society. And that’s very, very dangerous down the road.”

Byrne: “Liam Doran, representing nurses, we heard that industrial armageddon relations, armageddon was coming from nurses if you didn’t get what you’re asking for. You’re looking for 12% is it? Over a number of years?”

Liam Doran: “We’re looking for parity with other degree-level health professionals, yes.”

Byrne: “And you believe that you should be a special case?”

Doran: “Well, it’s not a question of I believing it. It’s a question of the market confirming to Ireland that if it wants a workforce of nurses and midwives, it’s going to have to address the pay issue because, quite currently, Ireland is not competitive. Nurses who qualify here, midwives who qualify here are emigrating in their thousands – 7,500 to the UK in the last six years, about 14,000 overall in the last nine years. Those people have left our shores. We need them. But, currently, other jurisdictions, and they’re highly mobile, are paying them much better rates, less hours of work, more access to continued professional development, so we’re not competitive in that private sector sense that Eddie lauds so much. I love Eddie’s comparison about everything within the year 2000 and so on, but he’s conveniently forgotten the cuts that were imposed on all public servants in 2008/9, that have left many of them unable to pay their bills and so on, and struggle. But yet people want essential public services and they want those people at work.”

Byrne: “Liam, in order to get that 12% pay rise, are you willing to put pensions on the table, for discussion?”

Doran: “No, no, the issue about. There’s two things going into these pay talks, and I’m quite blunt about these things. One is, the people that I represent, and public sector people at large, want pay restoration, the money that was cut, as this economy grows, we want to get our money back. But, secondly, in relation to nurses and midwives, yes, absolutely, if we are to apply the norms of the market, the things that govern, the ins and outs, the ebb and flow, we are not competitive and we’re going to have to address it. And we can’t afford to wait around for the length of this agreement, whether it’ll be one, two, three or whatever it is, for the day to come to sort it out. We have to sort it out now and the INMO is quite clear: the Government has said, repeatedly, you do these things through process, we’re going into a process and we expect the Government to come to that table. They will have their own agenda and we’ll have to deal with it but our agenda is quite clear: and one of them is parity with other allied health professionals.”


Hobbs: “We have an underclass and overclass of workers. The private sector is an underclass at the moment, when you look, the fact that, if you look at the private sector. Only 16% are in guaranteed pensions, half have no pensions at all and the rest have underfunded pensions. So, with a huge deficit in the social insurance fund, as I said, €324billion, we’re heading for a huge problem within the next 10 or 15 years in retirement and this…may I finish the point… the problem is the same with public, a lot of public sector pensions are dependent for support from the social insurance fund aswell, so it’s a problem common to them. As well as the fact…”

Byrne: “So if they get the 12%, do they have to give it back on the pension side?”

Hobbs:They want to replace FEMPI [Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2015] with SEMPI, which is Somebody Else Must Pay It doctrine.”

Doran: “Ah well, Eddie, that’s more…”

Hobbs: “That’s the case…”

Doran: “No, that’s more of the soundbite. The problem in pensions in this country, the problem with pensions in this country, it’s not that public servants, on very ordinary income, have one. Right? Cause the vast majority of nurses, for example, retire on the max staff nurse scale of about €47,000/€48,000, after 20 years’ service. They have about 20-30 years’ service, which gives them a pension of about €16,000 that they’ve paid for throughout their working lives. There’s not a problem with that. They deserve that, they’ve earned it and they’re going to hold onto it, as far as I’m concerned.”

The problem with pensions in this country is, is that every private sector employer that can has walked away from their social and other obligations to contribute to a pension scheme for their workers. Even profitable companies.”

Applause from audience

Doran: “Even profitable companies in this country have ran like hares down holes to avoid any moral or social responsibility. Very profitable companies who, in the media business and so on, have all done that. And then, the whole of the commentary come along and says ‘public sector, wrong to have a pension because the private sector don’t have it’.”

Hobbs: “Well, that’s not…”

Doran: “Everybody, everybody needs a pension to protect them as they reach their older age…”


Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 12.25.30Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 12.25.36

The results of a survey taken by Amárach Research/Claire Byrne Live, presented during the show.

Pay commission to say public pay cuts should by unwound gradually (Pat Leahy, The Irish Times)

Watch Claire Byrne Live in full here

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.19.39Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.20.08Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.40.38 Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.04.10

From top: The results of a poll on last night’s Claire Byrne Live which was attended by Colm O’Gorman and David Quinn (third pic) and Michael O’Brien, above

Last night.

On RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live.

Colm O’Gorman, of Amnesty Ireland, and Irish Independent columnist David Quinn, of Iona Institute, joined Claire Byrne for a debate on the Catholic Church and the State.

Members of the audience also spoke, including Michael O’Brien, who, in 2009, spoke on Questions and Answers about the abuse he suffered at an industrial school and how he was told he was telling lies at the Laffoy/Ryan Commission.

Last night, Mr O’Brien accused Mr Quinn of telling him, in a Dáil committee room, that ‘it didn’t happen as bad as you’re saying’. Mr Quinn said he never met Mr O’Brien in a Dáil committee room.

Donald Clarke, of The Irish Times, also spoke from the audience recalling a column he wrote on June 7, 2014, headlined: ‘If you don’t approve of the church then don’t take part in its rituals’.

Readers may wish to note that the latest Census figures for religion won’t be available until October 12.

From last night’s debate.

Michael O’Brien:All we have is denial, denial, denial. And the one thing that I will propose: that the assets of the Catholic Church be frozen and frozen now. Until the mother and babies, the institutional abuse, the clerical abuse and the magdalene laundries – all that is sorted out for once and for all so that this country can move, as it did years ago, as a peaceful country. And not for us to be listening, day after day, day after day. Because when you talk about abuse, I feel, as if it only happened to me a few minutes ago. And this is the problem we have.”

“The Catholic Church has denied and denied and covered up, from the first day. And not one Bishop, not one who covered it up has been brought into one of our courts.”

Claire Byrne: “Michael, do you not feel that things are moving? When we have the Taoiseach saying, only yesterday, that the church must measure up to the responsibilities that they accepted. Do you not feel that that’s a fundamental shift?

O’Brien:I can’t believe the Taoiseach any more because I remember when they removed the ambassador from the Vatican – a big hullaballoo. What did he do? He sent him back again. He put an ambassador back in there again. And went soft on the church. And because the mother and babies [story] came, this disgrace upon all of us, a shame upon all of us, that this thing happened, he now, again, is battering, shouting at the church.”

“I’m shouting at the church because I know what the church done to me and what two or three individuals of the church done to me. It’s easy to stand there, you, David [Quinn]. You know nothing about being raped and buggered. You know nothing about it. I do. I do. And four of my brothers and three of my little sisters – the same thing happened to them. Eight of us from the one family.”

Byrne: “Ok, Michael, I just…”

O’Brien: “So don’t…”

Byrne: “I just don’t want to put David in a position where he’s seen as a denier because he is not.”

Gorman: “It might be useful for me to say something and I completely understand where Michael’s anger and upset and I think it’s quite righteous where it’s coming from. But I do just want to say David [Quinn] and I were talking earlier on about the first time we were in a  television studio and on that occasion David was advocating for the church to sell off every asset the church possessed until it properly compensated and dealt with these issues. So…”

David Quinn: “Thank you.”

Gorman: “So, to be fair, David’s been clear. David and I don’t agree on a very significant number of things but, to be fair, he’s also looked for, he’s generally looked for accountability on these issues.”

Byrne: “And I’m glad you made that point. We did ask out Claire Byrne Live/Amarach research panel: should the Government seize church land and property to compensate victims of clerical or institutional abuse – 69% said yes and 17% said no, 14% don’t know. Which is interesting. Because only in the last couple of hours, Minister Leo Varadkar says that property cannot be seized and that, if we ran a referendum on it, that that referendum would be lost. I know that Simon Harris suggested that, over the weekend, that perhaps we could do that. I don’t know, David, if you have a view of that.”

Quinn: “I mean it’s extremely likely it would be lost because you, you’d have to change the constitution in such a way that you make it easy for the State to seize property and, you know, it wouldn’t just be the church that would be affected. Basically, you’d give the State incredibly sweeping powers to seize property. Obviously, in terms of the compensation scheme,  the 18 orders around the institutions must contribute their fair share and so the Comptroller and Auditor General released a report and so, if they’re not paying their fair share. Mind you, it also showed, of the 18 orders, most have paid what they said they’d pay and it’s important to put that on the record. The two, which are the biggest ones, which are the Christian Brothers the Mercy sisters, who ran most of the country’s institutions, they have yet to meet their obligations. I hope that happens in time. It ought to happen in time.”


Donald Clarke: “…People who do not believe in the Catholic doctrine, do not believe in all the things that are being said, should not take part in its rituals. These seems a very, very modest proposal to me…”

Previously: Did Your Nan Leave Money To The Nuns?

“These Are Just Tactics”

Watch back in full here


HSE officials holding a press conference in Kilkenny this morning

This morning.

Following the seven-year efforts of social worker whistleblowers, the HSE is publishing two reports into serious failures at a foster home in Waterford.

A press conference on the matter is currently under way in Kilkenny.

The reports, the Conal Devine and the Resilience Ireland reports, were commissioned by the HSE and both looked at the services provided by this particular foster family – who had looked after 47 children intermittingly over a 20-year period, up to 2013.

One of these children was Grace, a non-verbal, intellectually disabled woman who is now in her 40s and who lived with the family for 20 years, until 2009.

Grace lived in the home for almost 13 years after the local health board decided to stop placing children at the home.

The 148-page Conal Devine report was completed in 2012, while the 92-page Resilience Ireland report was finished in 2015. Copies of both reports were issued to service users and families of service users yesterday and some journalists have had sight of them.

In this morning’s Irish Examiner, Daniel McConnell and Fiachra Ó Cionnaith report:

The 2012 Conal Devine Report and the Resilience Ireland Report into the foster abuse scandal reveal Grace suffered significant physical injuries before being removed from the home in 2009. The two reports are due to be published today.

The injuries include black eyes, bruises to limbs, and carpet burns on her back, while she also suffered horrendous neglect in terms of her physical condition.

The Devine Report details how an original 1996 decision to remove Grace from the home, amid allegations of sexual abuse, was overturned following representations to the then health minister Michael Noonan.

It shows that a seperate allegation of “sexual molestation” against a second child in 1995 was not properly investigated because of the absence of a formal complaint to gardaí.

20 years of horror: Grace returned to foster home after hospital saw her for bruising on thighs and breasts (Daniel McConnell and Fiachra O Cionnaith, Irish Examiner)


Last night, on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live…

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 10.07.03

One of the social workers who blew the whistle on the Waterford home spoke to Claire Byrne last night.

Her identity was protected during the interview (above).

While speaking with Ms Byrne, the woman told how, after raising concerns with the HSE, the Department of Health, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the gardaí, she felt she had to go to the Public Accounts Committee – to highlight the wastage of taxpayers’ money – in an effort to get answers.

The move resembled that of Garda whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and former Garda John Wilson, who also approached the Public Accounts Committee – to highlight the loss of money for the State – when they were trying to highlight the quashing of penalty points.

From last night’s interview:

Claire Byrne: “Grace is currently a client of yours and, before we begin, it’s important for me to ask: is she in a safe place now?”

Social worker: “She is.”

Byrne: “Allegations of sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect. When did the extent of the allegations, regarding the foster care facility become known to you?”

Social worker: “It really started in 2009 that my colleague and I began to become aware of some concerns that we were, I suppose, unaware of, up to that point. But, really, over the last seven to eight years, we’ve become aware of more and more, a litany of failures I suppose to address these concerns, more concerns about different types of abuse, the number of people involved. And right up to today with the publication of these reports, it’s the first time that we’ve become fully aware of what was known to the health board and the HSE at various times.”

Byrne: “And it’s estimated that 40 individuals would have passed through this care home?”

Social worker: “Yes, what we know from today’s reports is that, in total, there were 47 children and vulnerable adults with disabilities, some of them for long-term placement, some of them for short-term respite care breaks.”

Byrne: “Now, when Grace was living at the home, the local authorities became aware of serious allegations by a previous resident and steps were taken, at that time, to remove the resident still living there, but Grace went on to live in that home for a further 13 years. Isn’t that the case?”

Social worker: “That’s correct.”

Byrne: “Now, seven years ago, you began a process of uncovering why Grace had remained in that care home, despite the complaints that had been made and the concerns that had been raised. You blew the whistle on what you believed had happened. To whom and which organisations did you speak to?”

Social worker:We made a protected disclosure to the Department of Health, in the first instance, we then went to the Office of Protected Disclosures, within the HSE. At various times, I’ve been to the Office of Ombudsman, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, several different departments within the HSE itself, right up to the very top echelons of the HSE. I’ve been to An Garda Siochana, we’ve had numerous inquiries, reviews and investigations out of those processes and, still, I suppose, in 2014, late 2014, I was in a position where I still didn’t know what had happened. I still had no answers… I hadn’t achieved anything other than endless inquiries, reviews, significant amount of taxpayers’ money – over half a million on inquiries at this stage, plus I would say, an equal amount on legal fees and management consultant fees. And so I decided to investigate the procurement processes in relation to those and that gave me, I suppose, a circuitous route to the Public Accounts Committee. And I was quite fortunate there that, upon meeting John McGuinness, and explaining to him my concerns around wastage of taxpayers’ money on unpublished reports, you know, answers we weren’t getting, learning that wasn’t happening, that we weren’t protecting vulnerable adults or learning from these failures. And John McGuinness, very quickly, took on board that there were more substantive issues, really than procurement. And it really is because of the work of the Public Accounts Committee that we are where we are today – waiting on a proposed Commission of Investigation.”

Byrne: “And where we are today, the HSE-commissioned reports, two of them will be published tomorrow [Tuesday]. Now there was one that was published back in 2012, that was the Conal Devine report. Another report was completed in 2015 by Resilience Ireland but neither report was published, as we know. They will be published tomorrow [Tuesday]. You have seen them, what do you make of the findings?”

Social worker:While I was prepared for the lack of answers, we still don’t really know what happened. There seems to be, by and large, a failure to establish the facts, a failure to establish why certain things went wrong. We know that it went wrong, we just don’t know why yet. What I really wasn’t prepared for is the litany of failures. The word ‘failure’ it just seems to appear over and over again. Reading those reports today and seeing 47 individuals who were put at risk, there’s no other way around it. Their lives, these are people’s lives, they’re not just cases. They were put at risk. And I wasn’t prepared for how stark the reports would be in outlining 30 years of repeated failures. We know that the terms of reference for the Conal Devine report and the Resilience Ireland report were far too narrow to ever investigate what happened fully.”

Byrne: “Well, the Government has committed now to a Commission of Investigation into this foster home scandal and the minister in charge, Minister Finian McGrath will publish those terms of reference shortly. But what you’re saying is, the end result here, the one that you would hope for, is accountability in these cases?

Social worker: “That has to happen. I think, at this stage, that, if the taxpayer sits back and doesn’t demand accountability on this, if they say, ‘well, I’m happy to pay for repeated inquiries and reviews and reports for a system that never holds anybody accountable’ – the same system, without any change, can’t affect different results in the future. That’s my concern. That, really, how can that system protect people if failures and a duty of care to the most vulnerable in our society – if we let that system become a risk to the very people it’s there to protect, how can that system ever protect vulnerable people?”

Byrne: “All of this, and given what you’ve just said. It must be hugely concerning for the families with those people with intellectual disabilities who are relying on the State to provide care facilities for them. I mean can we be sure that this isn’t happening now? Are the checks and balances in place now, do you believe?”

Social worker: “Oh I don’t think so. I think if I believed that, I wouldn’t be sitting here tonight, for a start. I wouldn’t have spent the last seven years, intend to spend the next couple of years working towards the Commission of Investigation’s findings to affect that kind of change. But, at the moment, I don’t think the system can adequately protect people. I think what we’ve seen, even around policy direction, what we have is people leaving foster care with an intellectual disability and there is no system for them to go into. They’re discharged from the care of Tusla. The HSE has a duty of care to them but doesn’t actually have a system of monitoring, vetting, oversight, training of the placements where they stay, if they’re in family-based placements. What we need is that for every child with a disability leaving foster care, if we learn anything from this, we need now for those placements to be regulated, for them to have oversight, to ensure that their needs are being met, to ensure if there are concerns, that action is taken and that there is a structure in place and that there is a system of regulation in place.”

Byrne: “Finally, we’ve heard an awful lot about whistleblowers and how they’re treated in this country. How was your experience, as a whistleblower?

Social worker:It’s been appalling. You know, it’s been a very difficult seven years and I think that, all through that, I was very lucky because I work for a very small agency that, when I came to that agency in 2009 – I was only a newly qualified social worker – this was actually the first case I ever had in disability social work. And, when I started raising those concerns, I had the support of the management team within the organisation I work, I had the support of the board of directors and the voluntary agency I work for. And that allowed me to go to all of the various departments I went to. To go to the Office of the Ombudsman, to go to the Public Accounts Committee. At no stage, did anybody – I suppose despite the impact that that had on a small agency – at no stage did anybody attempt to discourage me from that within the organisation.”

The difficulties I faced within the HSE were significant and my concern is that for any other social worker now, who might be out there, who might know of another Grace today, that’s not a system that would entice anybody to make a protected disclosure, to blow the whistle on it.”

Byrne: “Thank you very much for your time.”

Watch back in full here

Previously: Grace, Monageer And Noonan

Top pic: Gavan Reilly




Members of the anti-eviction group Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) in Spain; Niamh McDonald, of the Irish Housing Network, and Dr Padraic Kenna of NUI Galway

Last night.

RTÉ One broadcast a documentary by Sunday Business Post editor Ian Kehoe, called The Great Irish Sell Off.

It examined how vulture funds have bought close to €200 billion in distressed Irish debt  – while paying minuscule amounts of tax on the profits – and looked at the on-going consequences of these purchases, given that vulture funds have bought almost 90,000 mortgages in Ireland.

For the documentary, Mr Kehoe travelled to both the US and Spain to see how the same vulture funds operate there.

In Barcelona, Spain – which has seen Blackstone buy 40,000 mortgages from a bailed-out bank while vulture funds Goldman Sachs, Cerberus and Oaktree manage around 150,000 mortgages – Mr Kehoe met with members of the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH).

PAH is a grassroots organisation that is campaigning for housing rights and attempting to prevent evictions by occupying homes that are in the process of being repossessed.

Mr Kehoe reported that PAH has prevented thousands of evictions.

As he sat in on one meeting, Mr Kehoe realised 14 Irish people were there, including Niamh McDonald, of the Irish Housing Network, who has also been involved in the recent Home Sweet Home campaign, and Dr Padraic Kenna, a lecturer in property and housing law at NUI Galway.

Ms McDonald told Mr Kehoe:

“In Ireland, people seem to be embarrassed to turn around and say that they can’t afford to pay their mortgage or they can’t afford to pay heir rent and I think that helps the banks in many ways. But if we had a movement that would kind of encourage people not to feel ashamed, then I think people will start to fight back.”

Dr Kenna said:

“People, in fact, are leading the politicians with the solutions here [in Spain]. For instance, they have a law where a family or the administration can buy a property at the same price as a vulture fund. Now that’s something that we could seriously consider.”


Following the documentary, RTE’s Claire Byrne Live held a discussion about the programme with panelists Fine Gael TD and Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement Eoghan Murphy, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty and Ross Maguire, a senior counsel and chairman of New Beginning.

Members of the audience also contributed, including James Treacy, the chief executive of Stubbs Gazette.


Mr Treacy, above, said:

“I was very surprised that, in 2016,  there were actually only 4 registered judgements awarded in favour of the vulture funds. Now, at Stubbs Gazette, we believe that that figure is going to explode in the next 12 months and there’s a number of reasons for that.”

“The first reason would be that I think that there’s currently about 250 cases currently with the courts that have not been adjudicated on so a significant proportion of those will end up with judgements and secondly, and more importantly, is that the Central Bank have brought out figures that show that 38% of all of the mortgages that are owned by the regulated bodies are over 720 days are in arrears.”

“Now, depending on who you believe, or what you read, there are between 45,000 and 90,000 mortgages that are currently owned by the [vulture] funds. So, whichever way you look at it, there are tens of thousands of these mortgages in serious arrears.”

Watch The Great Irish Sell Off here

Watch Claire Byrne Live here

Previously: Selling Ireland By The Pound