Tag Archives: Drivetime

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan at a press conference in Government Buildings earlier today

This evening.

On RTÉ’s Drivetime.

Broadcaster Mary Wilson interviewed Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan.

Ms Wilson asked the Fine Gael TD about the “shame on you” comment she made in the Dáil yesterday, and her refusal to respond to any concerns raised by TDs – including a concern about 79 people testing positive for coronavirus in one nursing home.

Ms Madigan, who was opposed to yesterday’s Dáil sitting because of social distancing protocols, attended a press conference this afternoon in Government Buildings to announce a string of artistic initiatives.

Ms Wilson asked her what was the difference between attending Leinster House yesterday and the press conference today. She said there was a “big difference” between them.

They had this exchange.

Mary Wilson: You had no problem, minister, straying from home today to come and announce your support for the arts community. Yesterday it was about not straying…”

Talk over each other

Wilson: “….and attend a press conference and attend a press conference, presumably involving some officials and advisors on your side. We had the Arts Council and Creative Ireland represented, there was more of the media present. So what was the difference between that and Leinster House?”

Josepha Madigan: There’s a very big difference. There were only four of us there today, all of us coming in from Dublin. Everybody in the Dáil comes, as you know, we represent the entire country. It’s something that I really think, if we’re trying to give the message of the public health guidelines asking people to wash their hands, asking people to social distance, asking people to follow all those guidelines like, you know, using good cough and sneeze etiquette and all of these things.

“We need to demonstrate that ourselves. And I felt very much yesterday that the public representatives, who wanted the Dáil to sit were the public representatives that just want to grandstand.”

Wilson: “The questions were legitimate weren’t they, minister?”

Madigan: “Oh absolutely. All questions are legitimate…”

Wilson: “So was it fair to say ‘shame on you’?”

Madigan: “And all questions should be answered. Yes, I do think that. And Minister Harris took a note of all their concerns and he will be coming back, as I said, to Deputy [Stephen] Donnelly yesterday with that in relation to it.”

Listen back in full here.

Earlier: A Refusal To Hold Themselves Accountable [Updated]

The Shining


Minister for Finance and Junior Finance Minister Patrick O’Donovan

Last night.

On RTÉ’s Drivetime.

Limerick County Fine Gael TD and Junior Finance Minister with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment Patrick O’Donovan spoke to Mary Wilson.

He was on the show to talk about his proposed ‘opt-in’ eGovernment service – called the Digital Postbox – which will allow citizens to receive State correspondence electronically.

But they also discussed the National Broadband Plan – after Ms Wilson asked if there was enough broadband to make this service a reality.

From their discussion:

Patrick O’Donovan: “It’s regrettable and it seems a pity now that we have a kind of alliance building up that’s opposing the delivery of rural broadband…”

Mary Wilson: “I don’t think people are opposing the delivery of rural broadband, minister. They’re raising big questions about Government investment of €3billion which has to be, you know, up front Government investment. And is it €200million from Granahan McCourt?”

O’Donovan: “Well, I’m not going to get into what the specifics are in relation to it.”

Wilson: “Why not? Let’s get into it”

O’Donovan: “Because, as the minister for finance said, Mary, over the weekend and you know this as much as well as I do. There’s a commercial contract negotiations currently under way, the Government have said what are maximum liability is going to be.

“But it’s interesting, you know. While the opposition have given a whole plethora of reasons of why they’re against the roll-out of rural broadband to the people like the 22,000 people in Limerick that need it. They’ve provided no alternative.

“It reminds me a bit of the Brexit-type scenario. Some of the people from the Brexiteers who say ‘alternative technologies’. I mean I heard one person suggesting, you know, that we roll it out to the village. We’ll bring broadband to the village and God is good after that for the people who are living out in the hills around it.”

Wilson: “But at least, at least, at least your colleague, the Minister for Agriculture [Michael Creed] when he was asked a straight question: how much, he answered the question on Clare FM. He was asked ‘how much?’ and he said ‘something shy of €200million’. I’m asking you a straight question.”

O’Donovan: “I’ll give you a straight answer. I’m not a member of the Cabinet, I don’t know. And I don’t know because…”

Wilson: “Should you ask?”

O’Donovan: “No, I’ll tell you why I shouldn’t ask. Because it’s commercially sensitive between the Government which are the 15 members of the Cabinet and the consortium that has been put together to deliver a service that no, remember, no commercial company out there, after having dragged this around for years. No commercial company out there is prepared to deliver broadband to the 22,000-odd people in County Limerick…”

Wilson: “OK. Was Michael Creed, was Michael Creed wrong when he was asked a straight question to answer honestly?”

O’Donovan: “Well I don’t know. To be honest about it. I don’t know because I, what I can tell you, with my hand on my heart, I don’t know the answer to the question that you’re asking. What I do know…”

Wilson: “I know but Michael Creed did and he answered it. Was he wrong to answer it?”

O’Donovan: “Well I’ll tell you – we’re in the middle of commercially sensitive negotiations.”

Wilson: “But the figure is out there now. A man at the Cabinet table has given us the figure.”

O’Donovan: “But no one has, Mary, with the greatest of respect, no one has said that that’s the right figure or the wrong figure. What we know is that the maximum amount that the State’s liability will be, when you take out VAT, is €2.6billion and again, as I say, I have heard no one in the Opposition benches, or no one in the media, or nobody even in the commercial companies that are out there, who could possibly deliver this, saying ‘we could do that for a lot cheaper’.”

Listen back in full here


Thanks Bebe

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 18.14.42

Roisin Shortall, Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly at the launch of the Social Democrats in July 2015

Further to Stephen Donnelly’s announcement earlier today that he is leaving the Social Democrats.

The Wicklow/east Carlow TD spoke to Mary Wilson on RTÉ’s Drivetime this evening.

From the interview…

Mary Wilson: “Were you overwhelmed by the dedication it takes?”

Stephen Donnelly: “No, not at all, Mary. But can I start, I’ll come directly back to that, can I just say today’s decision is, is a very sad one for me personally. It’s one that I’ve thought about long and hard. Catherine [Murphy], Roisin [Shortall] and myself have been working on this for nearly two years. I consider it a great privilege to have worked with Catherine and Roisin. They’re two formidable parliamentarians. I feel, I consider it a great privilege to have worked with our candidates in the election and everyone who’s been involved in the Social Democrats. So, first and foremost, for me, I just want to say that this, this is a sad day – we’ve all invested a lot in it. To your question: look, I think it’s an unfortunate line that Catherine and Roisin are taking. Nobody can start a new political party work-shy. I’ve certainly been accused of all manner of things in my time. But nobody has ever accused me of being work-shy. Look, the reality is we all worked very, very hard on this and I have concluded, sadly, after nearly two years at it, the team, it’s not that it wasn’t working, I think we got some great things done together. It wasn’t working well enough and it just wasn’t working well enough for me. And Mary, anybody who’s listening to the show will understand. Will have been involved in a sports team or a business or whatever it may be. They come together with a good group of people, everybody tries to make it work and, after a reasonable period of time, in this case, for me, nearly two years, somebody on that team, or more people on the team say, ‘do you know what? Look, we’ve all been trying, it just isn’t working for me, this is no longer the right thing for me to be doing’. And so I’m stepping back. That’s what’s going on.”

Wilson: “Or, you could conclude, from the tone of the contributions from Roisin and Catherine, and now from yourself and your statement today, you’re not a team player.”

Donnelly: [Laughs] “Yeah, I don’t think anyone is kind of, who works with me in politics or outside of politics, would conclude that. You can suggest it, but I mean…”

Wilson: “Well I’m reading the line in your own statement, where you say, ‘despite the many obstacles new parties face, one critical component is that the leadership team must function very well together as a team, in spite of everyone’s best efforts, I have concluded our partnership didn’t have that’. You didn’t have that.”

Donnelly: “Maybe, maybe. Am I partly to blame for it? Absolutely I am. In any relationship, in this case, where I was in a relationship where I was in a three-way partnership, of course, there are things I could point to and say, you know, did I always preform at my best – of course not. None of us ever do. It’s a team effort. We all tried, we all did things right, we all made mistakes and, sadly, I have concluded, after a considerable period of time, and after a lot of conversation, and talking to Catherine and Roisin about this, for some time, it isn’t right for me, and it isn’t right for the party either, and that’s the decision I’ve taken.”

Wilson: “So will you continue on now, as an Independent? Or would you, at some stage, in the future, consider joining another party? Or founding another party?”

Donnelly: “Well, look, my head, for the last two years, has been in Social Democrats and my head, over the last few weeks, has been only in whether or not to stay and continue to make a try. I can concluded some time ago that it probably wasn’t right but I, you know, kept going, gave every chance and, by the way, as did Catherine and Roisin. We all tried.”

Wilson: “It must have been an awful blow to you, Stephen Donnelly, I mean you came close in a couple of constituencies in the election, but that you didn’t add value to the party. You’re still there with the three TDs that you entered the last election with.”

Donnelly: “Yeah, yeah, it is a blow, there’s no question about it. It’s been a tough week. I’ve been speaking during the week with people involved in the party, who I care a great deal for and, you know, any of us, with our work colleagues, we feel a sense of obligation, we feel a loyalty, we feel a debt of gratitude, so yes, it does come as a blow. However, if we move from the personal to the professional, I’m elected to do the best job I can do, to serve my constituents here in Wicklow, west Carlow and to serve the country as best I can. And I concluded that I was no longer doing that in the Social Democrats.”

Wilson: “I know but you concluded two years ago that your best way of serving your constituents was to be part of a political party, to move forward the changes that you wanted to bring forward. Now you’re concluding you’re better off as an Independent, or are you?”

Donnelly: “Well, no, all I’m doing today, Mary, is concluding, or announcing the decision I concluded a few days ago, is to say, I can’t serve my constituents and my country as best as I want to within the situation I was in. Like, Catherine, Roisin and myself, everyone who got involved in the Social Democrats, and by the way, I wish the party the very best, we tried to do something very, very difficult to do and if you try these things, you have to be prepared to fail. Now, let me be absolutely clear, I am not suggesting, in any way, that the party has failed, it hasn’t. But for me, my involvement has, had got to the point where I said, ‘no, look, this just isn’t the right place for you to be anymore’. But you have to take those risks. I mean politics needs to be shaken up, we need people in there who are willing to stick the head above the parapet and say ‘look, here’s a set of values we all believe in, let’s try and make this work, let’s try and work together and affect good, positive change in the country’. There is so much opportunity and, you know, other parliamentarians and myself, we’ve got to be able to take risks and that’s what this was.”

Wilson: “Would you take the risk again? Would you join an existing political party?

Donnelly: “Oh look, for two years, or nearly two years, I’ve been involved in the Social Democrats, the last few weeks, I’ve just been thinking about whether or not to do that, today, I’m just announcing, ‘look, I’m stepping back, it’s a hard decision’. I will be consulting with supporters in Wicklow, I started doing it today. There will be people coming into the office this evening and I’m going to be around the county over the next few days. So, that is a conversation that will have to be had. It will be had quickly and it will be had with my supporters.”

Wilson: :You must look though, at some of the Independent colleagues you had in the past, you see them in Government now: Shane Ross, Katherine Zappone, you see the opportunity they have, perhaps, to implement some of the policies that they want to implement. You’d like a slice of that.”

Donnelly: “I think anyone who has the great honour of being elected to the Dail, or the Seanad, or in this case, I guess, the Dail, should aspire to office, but like let’s not forget the vulture fund decision, let’s take that as an example. I think, Minister Ross, Minister Zappone, and I imagine other Independents involved there, would appear to have forced that over the line. But myself and Pearse Doherty and Michael McGrath and others, from outside of Government, have been raising these issues in the last few months and there’s been fantastic work done by RTE, by Prime Time, by journalists like Mark Paul, in the Irish Times, and others, so, it’s not that if you’re in Government, you have all the power and all the influence and, if you’re not, you don’t. You can influence the direction of the country from anywhere. From you, your colleagues in the media, me, my colleagues in the opposition benches, or indeed within Government. This vulture fund decision which was taken today, is an example of that. I wrote to the charity regulator before the [Dail] break and said, ‘Look, are you aware that this is going on with charities in the country? Would you take a look?’ and they got back to me, just about two days ago, and said, ‘you know what? we are going to take a look. So you can affect positive change from anywhere but, if you’re asking me straight, would I love to be in Government one day? Of course I would. I’d be astounded to hear any TD say that they wouldn’t.”

Wilson: “Say differently. Would you be open to an approach from another political party? Would you open to an approach from Fianna Fáil? Or would you immediately say, ‘no, ideologically, I could never join that party’?”

Donnelly: “No, I’m just not there, Mary. That’s exactly the kind of conversation I’m going to have with my supporters here in Wicklow over the next few days and next few weeks.”

Wilson: “But that in itself is interesting, that that is the conversation you’re having about where you go from here. Whether it’s into another political party or whether you’re not definite back to the road of the Independent.”

Donnelly: “No, look the objective, if you’re lucky enough to be elected to serve, in my case, to represent the people of Wicklow and east Carlow, you always want to do that to the best of your ability. I’ve done it as an Independent, I’ve done it as the founder of a party, so I’ll be going into conversations here in Wicklow with a very open mind, you know, I want to serve, I want to do the best job that I can. There’s a huge opportunity out there for the country, there’s a lot of people who were left behind in the recession, there’s a lot of important work to be done. And I want to be involved in doing it.”

Wilson: “Will you stay in politics long-term Stephen Donnelly? You never struck me as a lifer?”

Donnelly: “I’m certainly an accidental politician. There’ no question about that. Before 2011, I don’t know if I’d ever met a politician to be honest, I’d certainly never been in a political party and I’d been out of the country for ten years. I got involved, Mary, I think actually your show was one of the first ones I went on, I remember my hand shaking…”

Wilson: “I remember that too.”

Donnelly: “…for the first time, I was so nervous. And I read out a statement and tried to sound confident. I got in, in response to the crisis, I just wanted to help. My mum spent a long career in public service as a teacher and in a girls’ reformatory, as with the hundreds of thousands of public servants around the country. I like working for my country. I’d no idea how I’d find politics, it’s been bizarre and rewarding and difficult and an incredible honour. I really had no idea…”

Wilson: “Will you stay in politics?”

Donnelly: “That’s a question for the people of Wicklow and east Carlow. My answer is I would very much like to continue to represent them but it is their seat and they get to decide that, not me.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: Stephen Gonnelly

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

[Frank Buttimer, the solicitor for Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas in their civil action against the State, at the High Court this morning]

In the High Court today, Martin Giblin, SC, for Ian Bailey and Jule Thomas, told the court that there had been “an extraordinary level of communication between the gardaí and the media of which we were unaware”.

“It is in the statement of claim that the media was used against the plaintiffs. The level of contact is beyond belief, we have a list involving hundreds of communications with journalists and we weren’t aware the communication was of that nature. It seems the operation to retrieve that material is ongoing.”

Further to this, Mr Buttimer spoke to Mary Wilson on RTÉ’s Drivetime this evening about the phone call conversations that were recorded at Bandon Garda Station in relation to the investigation into the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, for which Ian Bailey was arrested twice and released without charge on both occasions.

Specifically, they discussed the high level of contact between gardaí and journalists. They later talked about Mr Bailey’s legal team’s efforts to obtain the names of three senior gardaí pertaining to the investigation.

Mary Wilson: “But isn’t that just what you’d expect to happen at a time, this was a hugely high-profile murder that took place in December of 1996. Journalists, not just from Ireland but from France as well, had come to West Cork, they were pursuing the case. So you would, in the course of events, you’d expect a lot of contact?”

Frank Buttimer: “You would of course, absolutely, that applies to any criminal event or of any event of general interest to the media, the media has to make its contacts to put out the news, there’s no issue about that.”

Wilson: “So what makes this different?”

Buttimer: “Well we allege, in our proceedings, that there was a strategic interest on the part of An Garda Síochána in utilising the media and there are two specific purposes which we maintain in our pleadings that they had in mind when they were using the media. Purpose No.1 was an evidential matter and I’m under some constraint here in relation to the directions to the High Court, so I’ll be very, very careful about that. But the second, and it’s quite an obvious one, which we have alleged, is that the fact that Mr Bailey’s arrest and indeed matters leading up to his arrest were strategically leaked to the media for the purpose of portraying Mr Bailey as the likely party responsible in relation to this matter, to create an image in the minds of the public that this was the person who must have committed this heinous crime so as that there would be an image of him in that respect, which we say strategically was used by An Garda Síochána for purposes which we would say were improper.”

Wilson: “So the journalists were used by gardaí to spin a particular line? Is that what you’re saying?”

Buttimer: “We have said it, it’s in our public pleadings, we have said it, yes.”

Wilson: “Now something else you asked for today as well, was access to information involving the identity of three senior gardaí named in a document, I think, before the Supreme Court?”

Buttimer: “Yeah, this has been in the public domain again, for some period of time. We received in an unsolicited fashion, from the Department of Justice, in the appeal against the extradition, certain material which we had not known existed. In that material are certain memoranda prepared by the Office of the DPP, and the local State solicitor in West Cork, tending to show, what we would allege, and which is stated in the memoranda, to be improper approaches by senior members of An Garda Síochána, whose purpose was to influence a decision on the part of the DPP. We have sought the identities of those senior members of An Garda Síóchána by way of a discovery application to the State. The defendants in the proceedings have maintained that it’s not a matter for them because the material in fact is the property of, or is in the possession of the DPP’s office. We have confirmed to the court today that we have applied to the DPP’s office to receive redacted memoranda in relation to that matter so that we can identify those parties formally so that we can see whether this whole information that we’re looking for fits into the strategy which we believe was applied to generate the, what we would call, false image, false intention, proper intention to prosecute and matters of that nature. We expect or we would hope that the DPP will respond to our request in the relatively near future in that regard.”

Listen back in full here

Level of contact between gardaí and media in Toscan du Plantier case ‘beyond belief’ (RTÉ)

Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

0008aec6-642Professor David Farrell, UCD School of Politics and International Relations

[Enda Kenny, top and David Farrell, professor of politics at University College Dublin,above]

Mr Farrell spoke to Mary Wilson on Drivetime earlier in relation to the ongoing refusal of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to withdraw his ‘disgusting’ remark concerning Garda whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and John Wilson.

It followed comments made earlier today by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that criticisms of Mr Callinan by senior ministers – namely Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and Labour’s Eamon Gilmore, Joan Burton and Pat Rabbitte – should be made within the Cabinet and not in public.

Mr Farrell spoke to Ms Wilson about the current legislation to protect whistleblowers that is going through the Dáil.

Mary Wilson: “You can put a piece of legislation on the statute books but changing a culture has to start at the top?”

David Farrell: “It does. It has to start from the top and it doesn’t require, however tired he may be, the Taoiseach of the day to reveal his irritation on a radio interview. I mean for the Taoiseach downwards we should have a clear understanding that this legislation has to be taken seriously. A whistleblower is doing something that’s going to annoy his or her colleagues because you’re upsetting the, you know, an organisation that’s up and running and operating for, the most part, properly. But, unfortunately, from time to time, the rules are broken, the procedures aren’t followed. And a whistleblower has to be allowed the space to be able to, as I said, blow their whistle. And it requires the senior management from line management and above to accept that, unfortunately, now and again, truths have to be told that may not be terribly convenient.”

Wilson: “You were writing in the Irish Times, at the weekend, you were writing about the Government’s much trumpeted democratic revolution. You said it requires change on three fronts. Outline them for us.”

Farrell: “The big agenda here is openness and transparency. A government that is in a 21st century mode and is trying to show itself as, you know, a government that is up there with the best international practice has to follow an agenda of openness and transparency. And that requires three pillars of which we’ve just discussed. One, the whistleblower legislation, the second of those is the register of lobbyists and the third of those is freedom of information. And, in fairness, this government is bringing forward legislation in all three of those areas, not always perfect but it’s taking a very, very long time for far too long. Until those pieces of legislation are up on the statute books and those implemented properly we will not have the sort of revolution that we were being promised three years ago.”

Wilson: “Do you feel let down?”

Farrell: “Yes.”

Wilson: “You feel that this goverment came to power promising that openness, that transparency and let down, why? Maybe because we’re waiting too long or because they’re not leading from the front on this?”

Farrell: “It’s all of that but they’re certainly not leading from the front. It’s hard to believe the scenario that this government was presented with. The Opposition decimated, the biggest majority in the history of the State, a manifesto that had the economic mess, number one priority, but the democratic revolution, number two priority. All the parties in the Opposition agreeing with the governing parties that we need to make dramatic changes to how politics is being run. You could not have had the better seed ground for serious change that this government has been presented with and this is an historic opportunity that they are seriously missing right now.”

Wilson: “Brendan Howlin, the minister for public expenditure, he said this new legislation will be world class. Do you accept that?”

Farrell: “I’m prepared to accept that.”

Wilson: “OK. But you know we’ve just been saying, you know, employers and society needs to be prepared then for whatever comes out in the wash, once you’ve got legislation like this in place and people have to stand by the legislation.”

Farrell: “That’s right and what we need is you know good practice from the top down, so we certainly need a Garda Commissioner..”

Wilson: “The top down of corporate Ireland or the top of Government Ireland.”

Farrell: “Top of Government Ireland, we need to start with the top of Government Ireland, so we need all the ministers of our Government to be speaking from the same page and they’re currently not.”

Wilson: “But just come back then, just before we finish, we’ve had Leo Varadkar, joined now by the Tánaiste and by Pat Rabbitte and by Joan Burton saying that ‘the Garda Commissioner should walk back and withdraw those comments on the whistleblowers’ and then we have the Taoiseach saying ‘we should keep this in the family, keep it in private around the cabinet table’. Is the Taoiseach wrong on this one?”

Farrell: “I can understand, I mean the Taoiseach is thinking, you know, about cabinet collectivity. A decision was taken in cabinet and that’s the end of it, and that’s the way cabinet government runs in our country, like in other countries but, as I said earlier on, we don’t need an irritated Taoiseach right now. We need a Taoiseach who’s going to actually say ‘Ok, folks, we weren’t at our best here, we need to reflect on errors that have been made in this situation’. The Garda Inspectorate report has shown this, that there have been serious errors and the Garda Commissioner should now be told: you need to withdraw your remark, that’s an inappropriate remark to have made.”

Listen back here

The Government’s lost opportunity (David Farrell, March 15, 2014, Irish Times)

Pic: UCD