Tag Archives: Dail

Health Minister Simon Harris

This afternoon.

A reduced number of Dáil members are meeting to hear statements on health and social protection matters concerning the coronavirus.

It followed calls for the members not to sit.

Meanwhile…

Yikes.

Anyone?

Watch live here

Earlier: Meanwhile Not In The Dáil

Fine Gael TD Patrick Donovan

This afternoon.

The Dáil’s Business Committee will meet at noon, while the Dáil will meet with a much reduced number of TDs at 2pm to discuss health and social protection matters concerning the coronavirus.

Further to this…

Meanwhile…

And on the plinth…

Rollingnews

This morning.

In the Dáil.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar begins the debate on the latest emergency legislation as a consequence of the coronavirus.

The Dáil sitting, involving a severely reduced number of TDs, is scheduled to sit for 12 hours.

The 40-page Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill can be read in full here.

Meanwhile…

In the Dáil this afternoon; Health Minister Simon Harris (above)

This afternoon.

A limited number of Dáil members observe “social distancing” as they congregate to debate and pass emergency legislation The Health Preservation and other Emergency Measures Bill introduced by Health Minister Simon Harris.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy does not appear to be in attendance.

However Mr Harris said:

“At a time like this, we often rely on our country’s greats to motivate and inspire us. One such great, Séamus Heaney, said ‘hope is not optimism which expects things to turn out well but is something rooted in the conviction that there is a good worth working for’.

“Let us all here, in this Oireachtas, and all of us across this country work day and night to achieve that common good. Ceann Comhairle, I move that the The Health Preservation and Protections and other Emergency Measures Bill in the Public Interests Bill now be read a second time.

“I want to say at the outset, I see the sense in the amendments deputies have proposed with regard to a sunset clause and I’ll work with deputies on this when we get to later stages in this bill.

“I also know a number of deputies have expressed concerns in relation  to protecting and supporting renters at this difficult time and I know my colleague Minister [Eoghan] Murphy intends to bring forward legislation in that regard next week.”

Watch live here

Meanwhile…

Earlier: “Emergency Measures”

UPDATE:

From the Department of Housing website:

The Government has today (Thursday, 19th March) approved a series of emergency measures to protect tenants who have been impacted by Covid 19.

Moratoriums on evictions and rent increases are being introduced for the duration of the Covid 19 emergency, to ensure people can stay in their homes during this period. The notice period for tenancies of less than six months is also being increased from 28 to 90 days.

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy TD, intends to publish legislation next week to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004-2019 to give effect to these changes.

The emergency measures being announced today complement those announced by the five main retail banks yesterday, in relation to the flexibility – such as 3 month mortgage breaks – which will be offered to those with buy-to-let mortgages whose tenants have been impacted by the virus.

It is the Government’s expectation that landlords will pass that flexibility on their tenants. Tenants are encouraged to engage with their landlords as quickly as possible if they are facing difficulties.

While tenants will be expected to pay rent during this period, income supports and Rent Supplement is available to those struggling to do so. These supports are provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Any rent arrears built up will be payable, but landlords have been asked to show forbearance and reach local arrangements in such circumstances.

Government approves series of emergency measures to protect tenants (Department of Housing)

UPDATE:

Um.

This afternoon.

Emergency legislation – The Health Preservation and other Emergency Measures Bill – will be passed in the Dáil.

The title of the bill states:

“An Act, to make exceptional provision, in the public interest and having regard to the manifest and grave risk to human life and public health posed by the spread of Covid-19 and in order to mitigate, where practicable, the effect of the spread of Covid-19, to amend the Health Act 1947 to make provision for the Minister for Health to make regulations prohibiting or restricting the holding of certain events, access to certain premises and to provide for enforcement measures; to provide for powers for certain medical officers of health to order, in certain circumstances, the detention of persons who are suspected to be possible sources of infection of Covid-19 and to provide for enforcement measures in that regard; and to confer on the Minister for Health the power to designate areas as areas of infection of Covid-19 and to provide for related matters; to amend and extend the Social Welfare Acts to provide for amendments in relation to entitlement to illness benefit for persons who have been diagnosed with, or are a probable source of infection of, Covid19; and to provide for amendments in relation to jobseeker’s benefit and jobseeker’s allowance to mitigate the economic effects of the spread of Covid-19; and to provide for related matters.”

The bill can be read in full here

Reduced Dáil gathering to pass emergency legislation (RTÉ)

UPDATE:

UPDATE:

UPDATE:

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan outside Leinster House last month

This afternoon.

The Green Party released the following statement:

“The Green Party Parliamentary Party met this afternoon and agreed that, in light of the unfolding Coronavirus crisis, the party are calling on all parties to suspend discussions on forming a majority government and work towards forming a crisis national government to be reviewed in three months.”

Green Party call for a national government to be formed to tackle the Coronavirus (Green Party)

Meanwhile…

Yikes.

Earlier: “Coronavirus Is Not A Mandate For Long-Term Government” [Updated]

Yesterday: Never Let A Virus Go To Waste

Rollingnews

Minister for Health Simon Harris, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan at a press briefing in Government Buildings earlier today

This evening.

Ingrid Miley, of RTÉ, reports:

The Government is to introduce emergency legislation in the Dáil to amend the rules on sick pay, which will see Illness Benefit rise from €203 per week to €305.

It will be available from the first day of illness rather than after six days as at present, and conditionality will be waived to allow the self employed to receive it.

There will be no minimum number of PRSI contributions, but medical certification will be required.

Emergency legislation aims to amend rules on sick pay (RTÉ)

Rollingnews

Earlier: “We Can’t Sugarcoat This”

Mícheál Lehane, of RTÉ, reports

The Taoiseach has been unable to give an absolute guarantee that the Dáil will reconvene next Wednesday amid speculation that there could be a snap general election called next week.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting in Marino in Dublin, Leo Varadkar said that he would have to speak to Fianna Fáil, Independents and other parties over the next few days.

He said the return of the Dáil was planned for Wednesday, before adding that this is case unless something changes.

Varadkar: No guarantee Dáil will resume next week amid election speculation (RTÉ)

Pic: Cormac McQuinn

Earlier: Display Cabinet


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.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness speaking in the Dáil yesterday

Yesterday evening.

In the Dáil, during a debate about housing…

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said if a vote of no confidence in the Government was put forward, he would support it.

It follows Fianna Fáil members abstaining from voting in a motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy on Tuesday night.

He also referred to his party’s confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael “a farce”.

Mr McGuinness also spoke about Master of the High Court Edmund Honohan who, earlier this year, had debt cases removed from him under a direction by the President of the High Court Peter Kelly.

The Fianna Fáil recalled how he introduced an Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill in the Dáil, assisted by Mr Honohan, “which went nowhere”.

Mr McGuinness said:

“I have said many times in this House that the first obligation on any Government is to keep its people safe, and this Government has failed miserably to achieve that across many sectors.

“If I wanted to sum up the Government’s attitude and explain it to someone, I would give the example of the Government’s support for the banks when they evict people and for the vulture funds when they treat people badly. The Government turns its back on the people who are affected.

“This Government introduced vulture funds to this country. The citizens of this State, through the Government, own or have an interest in some of the banks.

“If the Government wants to solve part of the housing crisis, it must acknowledge that the policies of the banks are the source of some of the biggest issues that we now face, including homelessness, evictions, repossessions, people being put out of their homes and not having any security.

“In July of this year, one particular bank sold 2,100 loans to a vulture fund, according to its portfolio of sales. Those were people’s homes. They ranged in value up to €250,000, so they were not big, expensive properties. These were homes to which people who hoped to own a home aspired.

“The Government allowed that transaction to take place and left those people in a vulnerable position with no security whatsoever.

AIB is preparing a home loan sale that may result in 6,000 of those types of loans being transferred to a vulture fund. Other banks, aside from the one I have mentioned, will sell on family homes and AIB might be next.

“David Hall, the mortgage debtor advocate, called this situation a tsunami. Many commentators will try to undermine him and others by calling that a ridiculous suggestion, but the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach today discovered, as evidenced in the portfolio of sales of a particular bank in April 2019, that banks are now stockpiling for sale homes and mortgages with which they cannot deal.

“The banks are saving the costs that would have been associated with legal fees, administration and finding a solution to the problems within the bank and will cast the people affected to the discretion of the market and what the vulture funds might do with those houses.

“That is the kernel of the problem for a considerable number of people. The Minister of State and his Government do absolutely nothing about it. The Government gives tax breaks to those funds. In fact, it does not tax them at all.

The Government allows the banks that it owns to do this to its people and will not change direction regardless of who tells it to. All of that is being piled on top of the housing crisis.

“Local authorities simply cannot deal with these issues. I have seen how planning applications and suggestions from local authorities are treated by the Department.

“It is heavily bureaucratic and some of the loops and hoops through which people have to go to deliver houses in an emergency situation are almost nonsensical. These are not normal times. We are in an emergency.

“That notwithstanding, the Department continues to put people through hoops and put obstacles in the way of the real delivery of houses.

“I agree that there should be a construction programme directed by local authorities with real solutions because they have the information. Local authorities and councillors know their housing lists inside out and do not have to be told anything.

“They are being stopped in the street and asked when a son or daughter will get a house or by a couple hoping to get a house who want to know when their case will be resolved.

“I do not know who the speaker was but the Minister of State said that they were to pay for bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels. The implementation of that as a policy does not work, and it is not the case that councils will do it immediately for people who are in desperate straits. That is simply not right.

“There is a policy that the Minister of State may have set down but it is not being adhered to across each and every county. As a result, we get different approaches to his different policies.

“Deputy Doherty has a Bill before the finance committee because the Minister of State is looking for solutions. It is the No Consent, No Sale Bill 2019. I will support him on that Bill because it was brought forward in the absence of any understanding of any real policy by this Government.

“I introduced the Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill here, assisted by the Master of the High Court, Ed Honohan, which went nowhere.

“The Government did nothing about it. As a result of ignoring all the Bills before the House that have passed Second Stage and are waiting to be debated in committee, the Government has introduced money messages and further obstacles of bureaucracy. It simply will not listen to anybody.

“Fr Peter McVerry was on a television programme the other night. He has no political interest, but by God did he lay it on the line for the Government and tell it where it is going wrong.

“The courts are dealing with cases where houses are going to be repossessed. That will mean that families will be put on the street.

“I know of a landlord in Dublin who is trying desperately to hold on to his house. There are at least six people living in that house who will be on the street.

“I know a lady and her children in Bray who have been before and humiliated in the courts. She has been dragged by security officers out of the bank as she tried to present her case directly to it.

“She has been threatened by the sheriff in the most appalling of ways. She is trying to hold on to her home for herself and her children and this State stands idly by and allows the thuggery that is involved in removing people from their homes.

“The Government should be ashamed that it has allowed this to happen.

“I point the Minister of State to the Glenbeigh sale where those who are trying to seek legal representation because of the manner in which that sale was conducted cannot get the Abhaile scheme.

“Even some of the schemes Ministers have in place are not able to be accessed by the people who need them most.

The one man who stood in the gap and stopped some of the vultures and the banks behaving the way that they did, which I thought I would never see happen in this country, including thuggery and corruption – one can throw all the names one likes at it – is Ed Honohan.

“He gave everybody who came before him a chance. He held the banks to account and the President of the High Court, with a nod, I am sure, from the Government, took all those cases away from him. That is a shame in itself.

“It is administration that is not right and should not be accepted. I ask the Government to start in the courts with the banks it owns and stop these terrible evictions and repossessions and do something concrete about this issue.

“On the vote of confidence, I agree Fianna Fáil sat on its hands. It did the same with the motion on the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris.

“The fact of the matter is that a Minister is acting at one with the Cabinet. If a Member tables a motion of no confidence in the Government, I will vote for it because that is the way it should be.

I honestly hope that this supply and confidence arrangement, which is a farce and is accommodating all this stuff, comes to an end quickly in the new year so that at least the electorate can have its say.”

Watch the debate back in full here

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie