Tag Archives: Dail

From top: Justioce Peter Charelton: Clare Daly in the Dáil last night

Yesterday evening.

In the Dáil.

Independents 4 Change TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace – who have championed Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe’s cause for years – spoke about Judge Peter Charleton’s report into the Disclosures Tribunal.

Judge Charleton found former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and former Garda Press Officer worked “cheek by jowl” in a “campaign of calumny” against Sgt McCabe.

He couldn’t determine how a document outlining a false rape allegation against Sgt McCabe – which was never made – was circulated from TUSLA to gardai in May 2014.

And he found it “inappropriate and extraordinary” that former Chief Supt Jim Sheridan forwarded the false rape referral to Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny in the knowledge it was false.

Judge Charleton also found it “disturbing” that Mr Kenny then forwarded it to Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and, after he was definitively told it was incorrect, never corrected the matter – with the false rape referral remaining in Garda HQ until February 2017.

Judge Charleton heavily criticised members of An Garda Síochána and the “incompetence” of TUSLA but he did not find they colluded with each other against Sgt McCabe.

Giving her statement on the matter to the Dáil last night, Ms Daly said:

“I do not have enough time to do justice to Mr Justice Charleton and his team, who have done a great public service. I had the good fortune to attend the tribunal on several occasions. I was struck by Mr. Justice Charleton’s patience, sharp intellect and wit.

Some people have said he has indulged himself a little in this report. He was perfectly entitled to do so given some of the nonsense he had to sit through and listen to.

“The Charleton report is a searing indictment of several State institutions, in particular, An Garda Síochána and Tusla, and the media. Mr Justice Charleton castigated a number of journalists for frustrating the work of the tribunal and the public will.

He castigated the public relations companies, which he has characterised, correctly as far as I am concerned, as a hideous development in Irish public life given the domination of spin.

“In some ways, we could say Mr Justice Charleton has probably been a little polite in his language regarding some of the individuals who appeared before him. The implications are clear, however.

Many of those who gave evidence at the tribunal need what Mr Justice Charleton referred to as a cultural shift that requires respect for the truth. In other words, he was told a whopping amount of lies.

“The Disclosures Tribunal was established publicly to find the truth and Mr Justice Charleton has laid bare a vast amount. This report is a real education for the people in that regard.

First and most important is the total vindication Mr Justice Charleton has given to Maurice McCabe. This cannot be understated.

“Sergeant McCabe is a fine policeman and a man of integrity who was repulsively denigrated. The best thing about how Mr Justice Charleton handled Maurice McCabe is that there are no ifs or buts.

“This was crucial for Maurice and his family, for his wife Lorraine and his father, the two rocks who stood behind him on this very difficult road.

“I am delighted that everybody is patting Maurice on the back now and that he is the people’s hero, but it was not always so.

“Mr Justice Charleton pinpointed that “The facts do not amount to an exoneration of the gardaí in their treatment of Maurice McCabe”.

“He said that his complaints generated considerable animosity, which continued over years. The station was divided. People did not want to get involved.

A total of 430 former and current senior gardaí were written to by the tribunal. Only two replied [with relevant information], and not one of them ever heard anything derogatory about Maurice McCabe.

That is improbable, to use Mr Justice Charleton’s words. He said that when Maurice was “seeking a better level of policing standards, there were plenty of people who said there was nothing wrong”. I absolutely know that is the case.

Arguing that was a long and lonely place in the early years, and while the terms of reference concentrated on particular aspects, it was never supposed to be a definitive account of policing in Ireland.

In many ways, Mr Justice Charleton picked up on this at the Committee of Public Accounts [in January 2014], which was the culmination in some ways of the first round. It was not the start of this issue but came on the back of approximately two years of raising issues in this House.

“Mr Justice Charleton has dealt with the issues very well. We do not have the time to go through all of them but, in terms of the former Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, I note the Taoiseach tweeted that we should apologise to Deputy Frances Fitzgerald.

Neither I nor Deputy Wallace joined the baying hyenas here this time last year who were looking for the head of the then Minister.

We made many points over the years about her handling of issues in the Department of Justice and Equality but not about people coming up in 2017 supposedly criticising her for knowledge she had in 2015 of the Commissioner’s dealings at the O’Higgins commission, knowledge they all had in 2016 and did not do anything about.

I do not believe I need to give an apology in that respect.

“What those emails did show, however, is that what was going on at the O’Higgins tribunal was not normal. It was a big deal. There were emails, calls and frantic efforts to contact the Commissioner, and while Mr Justice Charleton did not find that Nóirín O’Sullivan relied on false sex abuse allegations to discredit Maurice at the O’Higgins commission, we never said that she did or believed that she did.

What was being said, however, and what was shown was that evidence was being produced at the O’Higgins commission to question his motivation.

We had the words of Colm Smyth and, critically, the letter of 18 May and the complaint against Superintendent Michael Clancy.

While Mr Justice Charleton said that the letter “went off the rails” and that it was strange, he put it down to a mistake.

Ultimately for him, the only issue was whether that had anything to do with Nóirín O’Sullivan, and as other people said it had not, he did not want to go there, but it still happened.

For me, it is convenient to put it down to a mistake. What would have happened if Maurice had not had the tape?

“People talk about poor Nóirín O’Sullivan, and I note the Taoiseach referred to people who precipitated her early demise. We are a long time on the record as saying that Nóirín O’Sullivan did not go quickly enough. That is nothing personal.

“She should never have been appointed in the first place but did she hear about Templemore? Did she hear anything about false breath tests, the treatment of other whistleblowers or any of that good stuff, all of which was going on in the background?

“While Mr Justice Charleton accurately stated that she had no hand, act or part to play in the campaign of the then Commissioner, Martin Callinan, and Dave Taylor, that is not the same as saying that she had no case to answer. In fact, he did not accept her evidence on the lack of engagement with her legal counsel or on her dealings with Noel Waters, whose evidence he did not accept either.

He went on to make many comments contrary to her evidence, that her evidence was disappointing and so on. He also talked about it being improbable that she could not but have known what was being said about Maurice McCabe and, in essence, did nothing in that regard.

“The report accurately condemns the then Commissioner, Martin Callinan, and Dave Taylor. That has been well aired, but they were not the only ones involved.

“A number of retired gardaí were criticised as being inappropriate and extraordinary in their behaviour, including Assistant Commissioner Kenny, Superintendent McGinn and Chief Superintendent Sheridan, but what about serving members?

Detective Superintendent O’Reilly was promoted since the tribunal started, but Mr. Justice Charleton is quite critical that his decision to introduce Paul Williams to the D family caused further and completely unjustified pain. What will be done to him?

“What will be done to John Barrett, the head of human resources, whose evidence was described by Mr. Justice Charleton as preposterous?

He said he was not satisfied that the conversations alluded to by John Barrett, allegedly with Cyril Dunne, ever took place. He did not believe his evidence in terms of Maurice McCabe either. That is very serious stuff.

“I refer to the false rape case being an unbelievable coincidence. I accept fully the judgment of Mr Justice Charleton on that.

“Rian counselling service came out well in the report but, my God, what an indictment of Tusla. The report refers to error upon error, complete misinformation, and files being randomly selected.

Mr. Justice Charleton said it was not a coincidence that Tusla opened Maurice McCabe’s file. They filleted a file that went to the historical sex abuse team and replaced the file when it came back. Those are points we do not have time to deal with.

“Mr Justice Charleton said he had a dreadful struggle to uncover the truth. I believe he uncovered an incredible amount of it. He said it is a cultural and an attitude problem and that reform of An Garda Síochána and coming up with new structures will not deal with it. I agree with him on that.”

Mick Wallace said:

“I have read the report. I would like to have an hour to make my contribution but I have only a few minutes.

On 8 June, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said “I know that an awful lot of people haven’t been telling me the truth”. I welcome Mr Justice Charleton’s report. He had a very difficult job. He said it was a dreadful struggle, but he has done incredibly well.

“We attended more than 25 of the 102 days of the tribunal hearings. Chris Noonan, my parliamentary assistant, attended most days. At times, it was a depressing experience.

It was hard to listen to public servants, in some cases retired Secretaries General, and Garda Commissioners, take the stand and be so economical with the truth.

“I have no intention of being critical of Mr Justice Charleton’s report. It is excellent.

While he was merciless in much of his report, and rightly so – he certainly did not spare Tusla or the Garda Síochána organisation – there were times when I thought his kind nature got the better of him.

With any tribunal or commission of investigation, before one looks at the final report, one must look at the terms of reference and analyse how these may confine what the judge can examine.

Aside from being limited by the terms of reference, things were made immensely more difficult for him on this occasion due to the fact that so many people refused to tell the truth.

“Former press officer David Taylor was not spared, and rightly so. Mr Justice Charleton is someone we have come to admire very much, and one of his more admirable features is his intolerance for those blatantly lying to him. David Taylor was one of them.

Both I and Deputy Clare Daly met David Taylor in his living room shortly after he made his protected disclosure.

Just why he decided to go into the tribunal and give a different version of events from that which he had given us is beyond us. It was a serious mistake on his part, and he has paid a high price for it.

“When the former Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality, Noel Waters, stated that he could not remember a 14-minute phone call between himself and Nóirín O’Sullivan during the O’Higgins commission, Mr Justice Charleton referred to it as improbable.

It was more than improbable.

“Mr Justice Charleton lambasted David Taylor with his ridiculous excuses regarding the two phones he did not cough up, so to speak.

I would have liked him to grill Nóirín O’Sullivan about the five phones she refused to cough up.

“Maurice McCabe requested a tribunal so that events would be examined in public rather than in private. He was right to do so.

“Mr Justice Cooke is investigating NAMA’s sale of Project Eagle. I can only imagine the lies he is being told.

Obviously, Mr Justice Charleton was told buckets of lies too, but it was in public, and the difference is that the public got the opportunity to see it. The Charleton tribunal has lifted the lid on how the establishment has no problem with lying.

“He has been slightly written out of history but people forget that Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill was originally tasked with examining the disclosures of David Taylor and Maurice McCabe.

“He recommended that a commission of investigation be set up and drafted the terms of reference, the majority of which were used by the tribunal.

The ones he did not draft caused the most trouble, in particular, term of reference (e), which tasked Mr. Justice Charleton with examining the O’Higgins commission and whether false allegations of sexual abuse or any other unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by Nóirín O’Sullivan to discredit Sergeant McCabe.

“That was too narrow, and it did not allow Mr Justice Charleton to examine some of the other critical issues that played out during the O’Higgins commission.

He was only allowed assess Nóirín O’Sullivan’s role in regard to the O’Higgins commission, specifically whether she used a false allegation of rape to discredit Maurice.

We never alleged that or believed Nóirín O’Sullivan to be guilty of it. We did allege many other things, and with good reason.

“The famous letter of 18 May handed to the commission setting out the motivations of Maurice McCabe has fallen through the cracks.

“Mr Justice Charleton said it was accurate to a point and then it went off the rails. It is much worse than that; it is a pure work of fiction.

“In respect of the letter of 18 May, Mr Justice Charleton found that there was no deliberate attempt to write a series of quite silly mistakes by way of a submission undermining Maurice McCabe to the O’Higgins commission. I beg to differ. If mistakes were made and accepted, why did they always go against Maurice McCabe?

“If Chief Superintendent Rooney and Superintendent Cunningham had nothing to hide with regard to their input into the letter, why did they claim privilege in respect of it when they were before the tribunal?

“With regard to the role of Nóirín O’Sullivan in the smear campaign, Mr Justice Charleton found that she had no role in it, but also found that it was improbable that she did not know it was happening.

I would have liked him to build on that finding. A deputy commissioner of An Garda Síochána has a duty of care to all of its officers, and Nóirín O’Sullivan knew what Commissioner Callinan was doing, yet she failed to act.

“As I said, there was much that Mr Justice Charleton could not comment on due to the terms of reference, and that is a pity.

There has been a rewriting of history by both the media and the political establishment with regard to the story of Garda malpractice and how the issues came to light.

This Chamber was a lonely place in 2012 and 2013 when we were highlighting the penalty points issues and other Garda wrongdoings.

“Mr Justice Charleton referred to the O’Mahoney report and stated that the report found no evidence of crime, corruption, deception or falsification. Obviously, he could not make findings on that report. Although it is now completely discredited, when the report was published, it was heralded.

“The former Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, went onto the plinth of Leinster House and abused the whistleblowers, and Martin Callinan told the Oireachtas committee that Assistant Commissioner O’Mahoney’s report was credible and factually correct and that it was based on fact. That is not true.

Those lines were accepted by the media at the time without any scrutiny and our protestations were rubbished.

Mr Justice Charleton also touched upon a letter Chief Superintendent Rooney passed around to local gardaí in the Cavan-Monaghan division in 2011, congratulating everyone involved in the Byrne-McGinn inquiry on their good work.

Chief Superintendent Rooney apologised for this letter at the tribunal and Mr Justice Charleton stated that the apology was belated. It was more than belated; it was a disgrace of a letter.

“On the media, the Charleton report stated that the tribunal had the greatest difficulty in getting any information from journalists and that journalistic privilege has two parts, the entitlement to assert it and the right of society to override it in the interest of a pressing national concern. I have not noticed many journalists quoting Mr. Justice Charleton on that.

“…In his conclusion, Mr Justice Charleton states that a tribunal, having completed its work, might hope that thereby some improvement could occur.

He states that a tribunal should speak freely and should in no way be trapped by the temptation of cynicism that nothing may change. I

believe that this tribunal was worthwhile. I believe things will change for the better.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton has done the State a great service, unlike so many who went up to Dublin Castle to tell him lies.”

Yesterday: The Tribunal Wrote To More Than 430 Officers. Two Replied With Relevant Information

The Media And Maurice

Meanwhile…

“In terms of the media coverage of the events at Dublin Castle, Olga Cronin from broadsheet.ie, Sean Murray of thejournal.ie, and Mick Clifford [Irish Examiner] deserve to be singled out for praise. Some of what was written would certainly have prevented Mr. Justice Charleton from enjoying his breakfast if he had the misfortune to have read it.”

Mick Wallce in the Dáil last night.

G’wan the Olga.

Previously: Legal Coffee Drinker: Charelton Report Conclusions

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan in the Dáil this morning; Sgt Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine McCabe

This morning.

In the Dáil.

“Sergeant Maurice McCabe deserves the gratitude of all of us for bringing serious shortcomings to public attention.

He also deserves an apology for what he had to endure, both himself and his family, for over a decade.

Since the report was published, I have spoken with Sgt McCabe.

I have apologised on behalf of the state to him and his family for the manner in which he was treated over a number of years and I am arranging to meet the sergeant in the near future.

I want to re-iterate this apology to him personally.

I also understand the Garda Commissioner [Drew Harris]  has also been in touch with him and I welcome that.”

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan

Watch back here (from 57.30).

Minister apologises to garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe on behalf of State (RTE)

Previously: Legal Coffee Drinker: The Charelton Report – Conclusions

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

The People Before Profit/Solidarity’s motion passed 83 to 43 with one abstention.

The motion called for

A declaration of a housing and homeless emergency.
A dramatic increase in the capital spending on housing to €2.3bn in budget 2019.
End evictions into homelessness.
More aggressive measures to bring empty properties and unused building land into use for housing.
Real rent controls to achieve affordable rents.
Increase the proportion of public and affordable housing in private developments.

There you go now.

UPDATE:

Government loses vote on Dáil housing motion (RTÉ)

Yesterday: Rising Slowly

‘I Could Speak For Hours’

Revolting

This morning.

Students, including Sophie Gibbons from University College Dublin (top), prepare for the Raise The Roof protest taking place outside Leinster House today over the housing and accommodation crisis.

The protest will take place from 12.30pm until 2pm.

Raise The Roof

Previously: All Rise

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

UPDATE:

Sinn Féin TD John Brady tweetz:

So Leinster House is under lockdown as the people mobilise to demand government action on housing & homelessness.

Last night.

In the Dáil.

During the debate on Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.

Following Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris’ contribution, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl called on the next speaker.

A male voice can be heard intoning the words: “Fucking bastards” [At 8.13.33].

Mr Ó Fearghaíl subsequently asked for “order please”.

Name that potty mouth, anyone?

Oireachtas.ie

 

From top: Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke about homelessness and raised her party’s pending motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy which will be debated at 8pm.

Ms McDonald called Taoiseach Leo Varadkar “delusional”.

She said:

“Taoiseach, I can only surmise that you’re delusional…you seem to believe that everything is ok, that you’re on track…despite the facts, not opinions, not speculation, the facts – that homelessness has risen. That houses prices rise, that rents are out of control and beyond the reach of even people at work.

“You seem to be entirely immune to the fact that people are now taking to the streets and taking direct action, to give voice to the anger and, in fact, the desperation that they feel.

You’re plans are not working, your minister has failed and is failing in his duty to the tens of thousands of people on housing lists to the ten thousand people who are homeless, to the children that I referred to earlier, who will sleep tonight and the next night, and the night after, and the night after that, in emergency accommodation.

“And by the way, we make no claim to have a monopoly on empathy but we certainly on these benches have plenty of exposure to those families and those very real, despite experiences and yet you are immune to them and delusional. Because you stand up as head of Government and you claim that you’re plan is working and that Fianna Fail assists you in that regard.

“You have failed, your minister is failing and on behalf of the people at the weekend who came out, desperate people, desperate people, with real stories, they want an answer from you and they want someone held to account and I suggest to you again Taoiseach that the person to be held to account in the first instance is Minister Eoghan Murphy.”

Mr Varadkar responded:

“We all know what this is about. The Dáil is back, Sinn Féin is looking to score political points so they put down a motion, a motion that is just pure politics. A motion that is just pure politics, tactical, cynical, personalised and ineffective. And there’s one thing that’s absolutely certain.

“There’s one thing that’s absolutely certain. The Sinn Féin motion put down tonight, if passed, will not house a single person. Nor will it help us to build houses any quicker than we are already. And this is all we have from Sinn Féin – oppositional politics, cynical politics, personal politics. They don’t really care about people who are homeless. They don’t really care about people on the housing list.

“They don’t really care about young couples who are struggling to buy for the first time. That’s why they put forward no solutions. When they put forward solutions, they’re solutions that don’t work. All over the country, all over the country, when they can help, all over  the country, when they can help, their councillors vote down social housing.

“Whether it’s in South Dublin or whether it’s in the North Inner City…This is the truth of Sinn Féin.”

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

UPDATE:

From top: Frederick Street removal: Mick Wallace; Joan Collins; Claire Daly and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan in the Dáil today.

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Further to the eviction of housing activists from a vacant property at North Frederick Street last week…

Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan who authorised members of An Garda Síochána – who wore fire retardant hoods – to attend the eviction.

Joan Collins, also an Independents 4 Change TD, asked Mr Flanagan on what basis were the gardai asked to attend.

Ms Collins referred to the mater as “very, very sinister”.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly then said:

I think we have to be very conscious that this incident has set back public confidence in An Garda Síochána considerably. That’s actually my starting point on this issue.

We have, at the backdrop, an unprecedented housing crisis. Where people are homeless, families are homeless. And that the Garda organisation, whose motto is supposed to be ‘to protect and serve’, rallies around to carry out an eviction – resonates really badly with the Irish public and you can call it politically with a small ‘p’.

It was lunacy whoever made the call.

“And, like Deputy Wallace, I don’t believe it was the Commissioner [Drew Harris].

“The minister says the gardai were only upholding the law. Well my neighbour’s house was broken into and they called the guards and they didn’t’ see one for love nor money. That’s their job, as well.

“They chose to take sides in this incident. There was no signal that they were going to be public order problems of the scale that merited masks and balaclavas and all this type of carry-on and palaver which was really intimidatory.

“And it does deserve an investigation. It particularly deserves and investigation, given that concrete evidence has been produced that shows that the security firm were breaching the law and yet the perception was that the gardai were there to protect them and not actually the public.”

Mr Flanagan, in his response, said:

“I would reiterate again, that the gardai present faced a most difficult task, managing protest, in enforcing the law. There was a matter of abuse, including racial abuse, online threats and intimidation, came to light at the weekend.

“Such threats are utterly unacceptable, rightly being investigated. Gardai work on our behalf. They need support from the public, not intimidation, not abuse. As I’ve said Commissioner Harris has made a statement in relation to the protest. I understand he’s requested a report from Assistant Commissioner DMR, to see what lessons can be learned from the event.

“I can assure the house my department continues to work closely with all stakeholders including An Garda Síochána, to further enhance the safety of the public at such events, while safeguarding the fundamental right of people to protest.

“Of course if people have concerns about the way the garda behave, which I’ve just heard, if people have those concerns, in relation to this or, indeed, any other matter, there are established procedures for pursuing such matters. Deputies are aware of the role of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission [GSOC] in this regard…”

Previously: What’s Going On Here?

Noreen O’Neill and her son Michael

Noreen O’Neill, from Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, has been campaigning to get a licence to treat her son Michael with CBD oil.

Michael has a brain condition called bilateral frontal polymicrogyria which causes him to suffer up to 20 seizures a day.

Noreen recently joined Vera Twomey on a climb of Croagh Patrick to raise awareness about medicinal cannabis.

Noreen writes:

On Wednesday [July 11] at 3pm, parents of children, and individuals, in need of medicinal cannabis are invited to meet TDs in the Dáil, to express their need for this medicine.

The more people who attend to show how real and widespread the issue, the better it will be for the cause.

I know, as well as any carer, it is not easy to get away for a day like this, but this is a rare opportunity to meet the people who can make a change to our legislation.

The Dáil will sit on Thursday before it begins its summer recess.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, barrister and legal academic Niall Neligan will be giving a lecture on Cannabis Regulation in the AV room of the Oireachtas between 12 -1pm  to help launch (Irish cannabis advocate group) Fweed’s Public policy document entitled A 21st Century Approach to Regulating Cannabis.

Related: Vera Twomey and Noreen O’Neill climb Croagh Patrick to raise awareness of medicinal cannabis campaign (Irish Examiner, July 1, 2018)

2,500 sign mothers’ petition seeking legalisation of medicinal cannabis (Irish Examiner, May 3, 2018)

Meanwhile…

Cu Cullan writes:

That looks like a [useless] male leaf

Everyday sexism?

YOU must decide.

From top: Minister for Communications Denis Naughten and Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley and Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley

Earlier today.

In the Dáil.

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten was asked again about his contact with lobbyist for Independent News and Media Eoghan O’Neachtain in November 2016, in relation to INM’s proposed takeover of the regional newspaper group Celtic Media.

At the time, the minister told Mr O’Neachtain that he planned to refer the proposed takeover to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

This discussion was then relayed to Denis O’Brien in an email of November 12, 2016.

This was two months before the minister’s plans were made public.

In addition, on December 6, 2016, Minister Naughten told Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy and Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley he had not yet decided if he was going to refer the proposed takeover to the BAI.

Minister Naughten never took a note of his mobile phone call with Mr Ó Neachtáin, he didn’t tell his officials and Mr Ó Neachtáin didn’t register the approach with the Lobbying Register.

Further to this…

In the Dáil this morning:

Brian Stanley: “Are there two types of meetings with your department? And two types of contacts? Both official and unofficial? And how many of these do occur?”

Denis Naughten: “We do comply with all of the standards and the legislation, as set out, as I’ve said. I’ve discussed this with my secretary general and he is reviewing the situation to consider if there are further changes. I, for one, won’t be taking any phone calls from lobbyists in the future, I can tell you that for nothing. But the reality is that we do comply with it, and as you know, if you look at the register I think, there are, I think 951 occasions in which my own name is mentioned in relation to various interest groups that have lobbied me since I was appointed minister. I think that’s an average of about 50 a month, covering a wide range – right from the environmental sector, right through to communications, energy, broadcasting media, right across the spectrum. So it is a very busy department, a very complex department – many aspects that are very technical and, as I said, I have discussed this with my secretary general.”

Timmy Dooley: “Look, if we could try and bring this thing to a conclusion, rather than having it, dragging it on, it doesn’t suit any of us. But I think we all have a responsibility to this House to try and get it tidied up. So, for me, there’s a couple of straight questions that you need to answer.

“And if you first accept that you provided confidential information, in other words, an insight into what you were, what you were ultimate intentions might be or your future intentions, and let’s not dance around the head of a pin and that, three weeks later, you came in here and misled the Dáil, albeit inadvertently, I would suspect, but nonetheless, you mislead the Dáil. There’s potential for all of us to do it. It’s just a matter of addressing it and getting beyond it. And that your actions amounted to wrongdoing.

“I don’t  bear you any ill will whatsoever. I have considerable sympathy for you, to be honest in this instance. The way you wandered into such a firestorm, but nonetheless minister, you’re responsible to the House. So there’s three things I think you need to do.

You need to accept that there was confidential information, because you did give insight into where you were, where you might ultimately go, you can put the caveat on it. The issue of misleading the Dáil and accepting it was wrongdoing.

“It doesn’t require you to resign, minister. Nobody has been really demanding that. But it requires you to be answerable to the House. And then I think, you know, this issue gets off your desk and gets off everybody’s desks.”

Naughten: “No, I did not give confidential information and I’m quite categoric in relation to that. The conversation that I had, and I sincerely regret that conversation, and I acknowledge that it was a political mistake to have that conversation and I’ve learned form my experience and I apologise for that. And I sincerely apologise for that.

“But I did not give confidential information, because I did not have any information available to me at that stage. The information that I had was the information that everyone else in this House had or was available on Google and yes, I do regret giving my opinion in relation to it at that point and the reality was that three weeks later, when I was here in the House, I had an active file in front of me at that stage, and it was a very different situation at that point.

“And I’ve been at pains to try and point out that. And I do sincerely regret it.”

Stanley: “Minister, just in relation to your reply. The problem arises that I asked you in October of 2016 about this and I asked you again on the 6th [of December] in a Priority Question here, in this seat, and you sitting over there in relation to what was your intentions regarding that merger and what you intended to do and you told me, and the transcript is there from that debate in the Dáil between you and I, that you had absolutely no idea, I remember you, I think you shook your head, as to what you were going to do with it. And you can say that in relation to, that you didn’t have the file in front of you at that point, that you hadn’t entered the process, and I know how that works, I’ve looked at all of that in detail.

“And I was following that very carefully at that time because we had huge concerns about that and I was raising it with you for months before that. But the problem, that’s where the problem arises.

“I accept the fact that you have apologised, what we wish to do now is to make sure that we tighten up all of this area…Would you agree that unofficial contacts with lobbyists, for ministers, has to stop?”

Naughten: “Look. Deputy Stanley, in my initial reply to you, to your supplementary, I said, look, I won’t be taking calls for lobbyists. I’ve said to you that I have discussed it with my secretary general and he will be reviewing the situation to see if there are other changes that, in procedures. But procedures are set out very clearly in relation to this and as I say, look, I have apologised for it. I do sincerely regret it. And look, I just want to get on, focus on the job and work that’s in front of me, the very demanding job, it’s a very demanding department and I know that all of you here want to do the same thing. And look, there’s nothing more that I can say in relation to this.”

Dooley: “I want to let you on with your job, I want to get on with mine. But I’m still at a loss as to understand, why you regret taking the call? Why you’ve apologised for taking the call? Why you’ve asserted that you’ll never take a call again – if you did nothing wrong in the first instance?

The facts remain, minister, that you fail to understand, by providing an insight into your thinking, a personal opinion, whatever it might be, that was confidential information. It’s the confidence of your own personal information that’s at play here – not access to some information in relation to your officials.

Because you had a hunch as to where this thing was going. And you gave that information to the lobbyist and he passed it on. Which is now the result, or is now forming part of evidence which the Director of Corporate Enforcement is using as part of his campaign to appoint investigators [into INM]. So it was confidential information, minister. That’s what you need to accept. That’s what you’ve identified as being regrettable for taking the call, that’s what you’ve apologised for. You need to start at the beginning and just accept that you provided confidential information, that it was wrong, it was on  a relatively low scale and it can be addressed within this House.

“Will you just please, just bring this to a conclusion, minister?”

Naughten:One, I did not give any confidential information. Two, I made it crystal clear that I would be guided by whatever advice that I got from my officials and the file shows clearly that’s exactly what I did. And the reason that I regret and apologise is this is the fourth day in a row, in this House, that we’ve been discussing this issue here regarding a 30-second conversation that I had giving an opinion that I sincerely regret giving and that’s why I’m apologising to this House and to the public out there. That his House has been preoccupied about this for four days in a row.”

Previously: ‘He Didn’t Do Any Favours For Denis O’Brien’

Naughten To See Here

Denis Denis

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger raised the taking down of artist Maser’s Repeal the 8th mural from the Project Arts Centre yesterday.

It was removed after the Charities Regulator informed the centre the artwork is “political activity” and that, as a consequence, the centre is in breach of the Charities Act 2009.

Ms Coppinger, and fellow TD Paul Murphy, held up copies of the mural, as she said:

“I would just like to know what the Taoiseach and others think is so offensive about this – that it should be banned by a State body. And would you agree with me, that we should challenge that… and we should say ‘no, there’s nothing wrong with a heart that calls for repeal’ and there’s nothing… we should not allow political censorship.”

Before Taoiseach Leo Varadkar could respond, Tánaiste Simon Coveney could be heard saying across the chamber:

“Stupid stunts like that do nothing to inform…”

UPDATE:

Watch the Dáil proceedings live here

Yesterday: Once More With Emulsion