Tag Archives: Debate

Former CEO of the FAI John Delaney

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

Earlier: Gauntlet Thrown

This afternoon.

In the Dáil, during Leaders’ Questions, which were taken by Tanáiste Simon Coveney.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett raised this afternoon’s debate and vote on Permanent Structured Co-operation – an EU security and defence agreement – otherwise known as PESCO.

The ultimate aim of PESCO is to “deepen” defence co-operation among EU members states.

Mr Barrett ended up asking Mr Coveney to publish the Attorney General’s advice on PESCO but Mr Coveney pointed out the AG’s advice is never published.

From their exchange…

Richard Boyd Barrett: “Tanaiste, minister, this is the week that Donald Trump has declared war on the people of Palestine and the wider Arab and Muslim world by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – threatening to inflame conflict right across the Middle East.

“Now, against that background of war mongering, increased militarism by Trump, it is more important than ever that Ireland holds on to its traditional position of military neutrality and opposing war mongering and militarism.

“And yet, it is precisely in this week, that the Government has rammed through and quite successfully, to this point, buried what is the biggest betrayal of Irish neutrality since the decision to allow US forces use Shannon Airport to bomb Iraq back into the Dark Ages.

“The vote that will take place today, for us to join permanent, structured cooperation on a new common defence project in the European Union is an absolute betrayal of Ireland’s neutrality.

“It is a step towards involvement in what is explicitly being touted by Donald Tusk, by Juncker, by Macron as a new European army and common defence pact.

And you have buried this. You misled the business committee because the decision to join PESCO was taken, we were informed by Minister Kehoe who didn’t know much else frankly about this, but the one thing he informed us last night, was this decision was taken on the 21st of November and yet, for two business committee meetings, afterwards, not a mention that you were planning to push this vote through this week.

“No doubt you’ve been briefing the media that there’s nothing to see here, it’s irrelevant, not significant, there’s no legal implications, but the truth is this is us joining up in a common defence which will require us regularly, I’m quoting, increased defence budgets in real terms, to meet the 2% GDP benchmark, that would mean a quadrupling of our Irish defence expenditure.

“These are binding..common commitments. It will involve bringing our defence apparatus in line with other member states.

“It will involve establishing permanent, inter-operability with NATO, it will involve increased expenditure on arms and weaponry to benefit the European military industrial complex and now my question is not only why have you mislead the country, and try to bury this significant betrayal of Irish neutrality but I want to ask you seriously: is this not unconstitutional?

“Apart from everything else, is it not unconstitutional? Article 29.4.9 of our constitution says the following: ‘the State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to establish a common defence pursuant to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union where that common defence would include the State’, our state.

“This is a common defence, it is explicit, anybody who wants to, who doubts that, should read the PESCO agreement. We are signing up for a common defence, in defiance of our own constitution and you’ve mislead the public, you’ve mislead the Dail, and played fast and loose with the business committee.”


Simon Coveney:What I don’t agree with you on, deputy, is the attempt by you, and others, in this House, to paint PESCO, Permanent Structured Cooperation, as something that it’s not.

“I’m a former Minister for Defence, I’m somebody who has listened to many debates in relation to this initiative. The truth is, deputy, that is simply a structured initiative that allows member states to opt in and opt out, depending on what they’re comfortable with, on different projects.

“We have other non-aligned countries, and usual countries like Sweden, Austria, Finland that have already signed up. And from an Irish perspective, this is an opportunity for us to essentially share resources and access other resources in areas where we are comfortable in co-operation and it’s no more or less than that, on a case-by-case basis.

I suspect we will want to use this in terms of counter-terrorism, in terms of peace-keeping and training, in areas potentially like marine surveillance, so that Ireland can be part of collective initiatives when it’s appropriate to be a part of those collective initiatives in the context of the European Union.

“As the Taoiseach said yesterday, other countries will see it differently. Other countries may want to get more involved in a more structured way in projects that will not have an involvement in.

“And so I would ask the deputy to actually call this what it is, as opposed to trying to create some kind of conspiracy that simply doesn’t exist.

This is a conversation that’s been happening since the Lisbon Treaty and it is now something that is coming to finality, following a long debate that a lot of countries have been involved in, neutral states, NATO members and others.

“And Ireland insisted, as others did, on language in the context of the setting up of PESCO to ensure that it is constitutional, to ensure that it doesn’t undermine Irish neutrality, to ensure that the triple lock still applies if we’re going to send troops to any other part of the world.

“So, from that point of view, we have tested this in the context of some of the questions that you’ve asked and it does not undermine what is important to Irish people and what is important to me which is that Ireland remains non aligned militarily and a neutral state.”

Boyd Barrett: That is the most cynical rubbish I have ever heard.

“Right. And I really appeal, I really appeal to the public and the press to simply read the document. Notification on Permanent Structure Cooperation. OK?

“It includes, for example, binding commitments. First of all, it refers to 20 binding commitments, there’s no ambiguity about the language. One of those includes commitment to agree on a common technical and operation standards of forces, acknowledging that they need to ensure interoperability with NATO.

“That’s NATO that involves Donald Trump and the United States, right?

“That’s what we’re talking about. We are committing to the integration of Irish defence forces with NATO. It commits us and we still haven’t got answers on this, it commits us to real increases in defence budgets ok?

“Successive medium-term increase in defence investment. Increasing the share of expenditure allocated to defence research and technology which will be reviewed on an annual basis. A national implementation plan to meet these targets.

“This is the military equivalent of the Fiscal Treaty and we are signing up to it. And what, this is what, I’ll just conclude on this.

“This is Tusk said about PESCO, it’s purpose is to protect the bloc from the effects of the migrant crisis and hostile bordering states. Effects of the migrant crisis? 35,000 people drowned in the Mediterranean thanks to Fortress Europe.

And they want to militarise the wall that Donald Trump dreams of building to keep those desperate people out. This is what they’re about. And you have deceived the public. And I would just ask this simple question: Give us the legal advice that that doesn’t run counter to Article 29. Can you give us that advice before we have to take the vote today?

“From the Attorney General that that does not run counter to Article 29 of the constitution.”

Coveney: “Well I can tell you deputy that we wouldn’t be bringing a vote to this house if we hadn’t….sorry…you know only too well, that the AG’s legal advice is not published, ever. So, so. You know. Stop asking for things you know you can’t access…”

The AG’s responsibility is to get legal advice to the Government and the Government then brings proposals to the House that’s consistent with that, that’s the way this House works. That’s the way this House works.

“In relation to interoperability, deputy, there’s nothing new in that. The Irish Defence Forces have worked with NATO in the past. We’ve done it in Afghanistan and any time you send peacekeepers to any part of the world, are you seriously suggesting that our peacekeepers shouldn’t be interoperable with colleagues that they work with? In parts of the world where they put their lives at risk, deputy, to defend peace and stability of strangers that they’ve never met.

“The problem that you have is that you don’t seem to understand the risks that Irish troops put themselves in, in the pursuit of peace and stability

And my job is to make sure that we reduce those risks by making sure that they have the budgets and the equipment to do the job properly to ensure that we have enough people in terms of personnel in the Defence Forces to make sure that they’re well-equipped and well trained.

“And to make sure that when they’re working with others, when we make the voluntary decision and it’s confirmed by they triple lock, to send troops to parts of the world, that they have trained, and that they are interoperable in a professional sense with others that they will be working with.

“And that makes perfect sense to me. It is also absolutely consistent with the new White Paper on defence which was supported and passed in this House.”

Watch the Dail debate on PESCO live here

Related: Dáil hears claims Ireland ‘selling out’ neutrality for EU support on Brexit (The Irish Times)




On Fine Gael’s Facebook page.

At 8pm.

A debate between Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar (top) will be broadcast from the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin with Gavin Duffy acting as convenor.

Further debates will take place in Carlow tomorrow night; Ballinasloe, Co Galway on Saturday; and Cork on Sunday.

The debates take place ahead of next week’s vote – almost 21,000 Fine Gael party members (25%) and 235 local representatives (10%) early in the week, and 73 parliamentary party members (65%) on Friday, June 2.

Mr Varadkar’s 12-page Taking Ireland ‘policy ideas paper’ can be read here, while Mr Coveney’s 16-page Positive Strong Leadership paper can be read here

Fine Gael (Facebook)

Previously: ‘They’re Loud And They’re Growing’

Earlier: ‘Those People Are As Important To Me As People Who Pay For Everything’



And so it begins.


Previously: Face Off

Derek Mooney writes:

Here are  some random, even disconnected, thoughts on tonight’s US Presidential Debate, posting at approx 5:30 am (Irish Time).

The first is just how shockingly poor Trump’s performance really was. While many pundits were predicting that he would do badly, especially as news emerged of how little debate prep he was doing, I hadn’t imagined it would be THAT bad.

Trump is a guy who should be most comfortable in front of the TV cameras. He has spent years as a reality TV star, surely he had learned some understanding of how the medium works. Yet, as we saw from his constant interruptions, his snorting and sniffling and his awful reaction shots in the split screen segments, he seemed the least comfortable of the two in that environment.

To be fair to Trump, he did have a moderately good opening segment. He made it clear from the outset that he was set not only to bring the fight to Hillary Clinton, but to paint her as the ultimate political insider, but he never developed his narrative beyond that opening twenty minutes.He fared best when he offered solutions, the problem is that he spent most of the debate just reciting the problems.

As the debate went on it was soon clear that he had not prepared and that he was just recycling his standard Trump Rally material. His strategy, in so much as he appeared to have one, seemed to be to just play to his own existing voter base and ignore swing voters.

That is not a winning strategy when the race seems to be so close – well, close in terms of national vote, not quite so close in terms of the electoral college – but especially so when the candidate seems so prepared to rise to Clinton’s bait each and every time.

Hillary’s attack lines were so obvious that he and his team must have anticipated them and devised key responses and arguments that would allow him to pivot the debate back to her obvious weaknesses – yet they never came.

The best he could come up with was a crude bait-and-switch, but for most of the time he not only accepted the premise of Hillary’s remarks – on his taxes, his attitude to race issues and his comments on women – he then repeated and expanded on them.

While Hillary helped him implode, most of the credit goes to him. He had too made unforced errors… such as he denial that stop and frisk had been declared unconstitutional – even contradicting the moderator when he stated clearly that it was… or his lethal throwaway “That’s because I’m smart” comment when Hillary wondered if he had paid no federal taxes.

He has made his temperament and his credibility, real election issues, in a way that the Clinton had failed to do before tonight.

While Clinton clearly had a good night and did win the debate, she did not say or do enough to deal with her big unfavourables.

She still lacked passion and never really addressed the accusation that she is a Washington insider, an establishment figure disconnected from the real America which feels disillusioned and ignored – something I explored here on Broadsheet.ie.

The question is whether her winning the debate will move the poll numbers for her. In the past the winner of the first debate has managed to secure a small post debate bounce . In all likelihood she will do so now, which begs the question can she secure that bounce and hold on to it.

I suspect, as the campaign progresses that she will gradually edge more swing voters to her cause, though they will probably go to her more to stop Trump that to push Clinton – but a win is a win, even when it is your opponent who secured it for you.

A win is a win, even when your opponent secures it for you (Derek Mooney)

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 12.05.35

This afternoon.

Labour’s Brendan Howlin in the Dáil during the debate on the Apple tax ruling.

“There seems to be a belief that Ireland, a small nation, should carry the reputational hit for correcting what is an issue – and that we’ve all agreed is an issue – we’re told this is an investigation under state aid rules yet the lion’s share of the commentary seems to be the announcement of the commission’s position has been about taxation levels.

“The same sort of commentary we heard for many, many years about corporation tax policy in Ireland.”

It’s a dishonest charge levelled against us and all it seeks is to do us harm. And those who would be complicit in it do Ireland harm and the prospect of continuing, to be the success we have in attracting investment into this country.”

“But it is the mud that sticks, the mud that is thrown often enough. The truth is that this State collects higher than average revenue from corporation taxes.

It implements, at a national level, an effective tax rate higher than other countries with bigger systems of relief that don’t seem to be the focus of the commission’s overview. A point made I think, rather effectively, in the case of France, by Deputy [Michael] Martin.”

As Dan O’Brien and other commentators have pointed out, there’s a growing trend in the European Commission rulings to find against smaller countries but ignoring potential breaches elsewhere. That should give every member of this house pause for thought before automatically rushing to agree with the commission.”

Right so.

Watch proceedings live here

Previously: The Apple Deal Explained

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 00.11.46Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 22.03.29Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 22.52.04Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 22.20.41

From top: RTÉ2’s Facebook Election Special at the Facebook headquarters in Dublin last night; Cat O Broin and Shane Gillen; Vanessa O’Sullivan; and Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party

Last night, RTÉ 2 broadcast an Facebook Election Special from the headquarters of Facebook in Dublin, presented by Keelin Shanley.

There were seven politicians in attendance – Fine Gael’s Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Labour Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley, Independent Senator Averil Power and People Before Profit’s Adrienne Wallace.

The topics discussed were prompted by questions from members of the audience and the questions, in the main, related to mental health, education, and abortion.

In relation to mental health, Cat O Broin spoke about her late brother Caoilte O Broin. Readers may wish to note that Cat was scheduled to appear on the Late Late Show last Friday but her appearance was postponed until March 11.

On the subject of abortion, Vanessa O’Sullivan told how she had to seek an abortion abroad after she was raped and refused access to the morning after pill.

And during the discussion on education, Eamon Ryan, of the Green Party, raised the issue of corporation tax in Ireland – and Facebook.

Mental health

Cat O Broin: “It’s a very long story but I suppose it starts years and years ago but, mostly, about probably 14/15 months ago. My dad died and one my brothers, who was very, very ill for a long time became a lot worse. He was already self medicating for his mental illness with alcohol but it became an awful lot stronger after my dad passed away from his grief response. He became very, very violent.”

“He was screaming at all hours of the night. I’ve a little brother, he’s only 13 now, all of us were attacked by my brother who was unwell. We were living in fear of our lives, our home, everything was going wrong.”

“We had huge difficulty finding help for him, within our health services here. We were told because he was drinking, he couldn’t receive the proper care for mental health services but addiction services wouldn’t look after him because he was so mentally unwell. So he was hospitalised, I’ve lost count how many times.”

“In a two-week period emergency services were at our home eight times. He tried to commit suicide five or six times, it came to a point that we weren’t allowed to meet with his doctors or anything, because of doctor/patient confidentiality.”

“I wrote an article for Joe.ie going public with this, to try and find help because we could get help no other way. We did finally manage to get a meeting with his doctors but nothing really came of it and on January 2, he was pulled from the River Liffey.”

“Since we became public with our story, our brother Caoilte was missing for several days and we had a social media campaign to try and find him and, obviously, a lot of people got to know us through that.

“And the stories I’ve been hearing since then, every day there’s a new person contacting me, saying ‘we’re going through the same thing’, ‘this happened to us before’, ‘please help me’ and I can’t help people. But I know there are people in this country who can – ministers who are looking for reelection who can help us, to not be the problem that it is.”

“Right now, in Ireland, dual diagnosis is a problem, mostly depending on where you live. In Donegal mental illness and addiction are treated together and they’re such an entangled problem that I think that needs to be the case all over the country – they need to be treated one and the same. I think it’s 85% of people who have an addiction also have mental health problems so you can’t separate them out.”

“There also needs to be far more contact with families. My brother was discharged to us, every single time he left hospital, we had no way to care, we didn’t know how to care for him. I didn’t even know until after his death a lot of his diagnoses, I still don’t know everything that went on.

“But we were picking him up off the floor, calling ambulances, this that and the other. Constantly. When we had no training. We didn’t know what to do for him and, obviously, we couldn’t save him in the end. But we believe, you know, it could have been avoided.”


Vanessa O’Sullivan: “Where I’m coming from, well I’ve been a Choice activist since I was 16 but about four years ago now nearly, I was raped by a friend. I was denied the morning after pill because of the conscientious objection clause that’s in the legislation with the pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals have the ability, if it goes against their conscience, to give emergency contraception to women which is outrageous in the 21st century.”

“And one of the issues I take with the Labour proposal and I’ve brought it up with Aodhan O Riordan before is that it looks at this conscientious objection clause for, if the 8th amendment is removed, to give the option for doctors to refuse to actually serve their patients. They put their own personal view before their patients.”

“…What happened with me was, and there’s no guarantee the morning after pill would have worked, but what happened to me, as a result of the rape, I ended up pregnant, I had to leave my own country, which I pay taxes in, for my healthcare. I was denied my healthcare, I was denied my choices. I was made to feel like a criminal.”

“The issue with the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is that it criminalises women up to 14 years imprisonment if they’re seen to go against the morals of the Government of the time. So, if I had had the, if I had bought the abortion pill online which is on the World Health Organisation’s list of basic, basic and essential medicines, I could have been jailed for up to 14 years. If my rapist had been prosecuted, he could have been imprisoned for up to 7 years. So that’s the disparity.”

“So, as has been said before, women have abortions in this country so let’s trust the people of this country to  actually have a say on the referendum or on the 8th amendment. It is no use to us having a nicely nice conversation about it and kicking it on further down the road. Women’s lives are at stake, women’s healths are at stake,  and I think now is the time to deal with instead of constantly, constantly kicking it down the road.”

“We need to deal with it now.”


Eamon Ryan: “Where do we get half a billion is the question. The Financial Transaction Tax, I’d be all for that but I’m not sure we can get it in the next year or two. And I meet a lot of companies like Facebook and Google and others, and they say the same thing, we need better graduates, we’re not getting high enough quality out of our colleges. Well I think one of the ways we could raise the money is getting the money from corporations like Facebook and Google and all the other large corporations here.

There’s a one trillion gap in unpaid tax due to the tax avoidance measures across Europe…I’m not picking against any company, I’ve a lot of time for Facebook and Google but Google just put 27.5 billion in the last two years through Holland and off to the Cayman Islands or Bermuda somewhere and didn’t pay proper tax on it.”

“Facebook in the UK aren’t paying any proper, real tax and we need to start having fair, proper rules, transparent and simple rules so that if we say it’s 12.5% or if we say, on the intellectual property rights, we’re saying it’s 6.5%. But we all know the way it works is that there’ll be some complication, money hidden going this way and the other that it doesn’t actually turn out to be the 6.5%.

“So I would say to the companies here, if I could and I don’t mean to be rude about it,  is that’s one of the ways we could raise the money and we should put it into education cause these companies would benefit from graduates coming from high quality colleges.”


Watch the debate in full here


Supporters at the March for Choice in Dublin in September 2012

It wasn’t discussed last night.


Tonight at 7pm.

At the Michael O’Donnell theatre in the Dublin Institute of Technology Bolton Street.

DIT’s Law Society will host a debate on repealing the 8th amendment

Those speaking in favour will include Dr Peadar O’Grady, of Doctors for Choice; Vanessa O’Sullivan, of Abortion Rights Campaign; Gerry Edwards, of Terminations for Medical Reasons; and Ailbhe Smyth, of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Those speaking against will include Cora Sherlock, Deputy Chair of the Pro Life Campaign; Áine O’Connell, of Youth Defence; Helena O’Callaghan, of One Day More; and Sinead Slattery, of the Pro Life Campaign.

*There’ll be free pizza afterwards*


Abortion debate (Facebook)

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 16.15.22

The Woodcreek Faction does for the Democratic hopefuls what they already did for the Republicans. To wit:

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee and Martin O’Malley face off at the Democratic presidential debate, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper minus the debate. Recut with no dialogue.

Previously: Debateless Wonder