Tag Archives: Fine Gael

Fine Gael’s Kate O’Connell and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during the presidential election campaign in 2018

This morning.

Fine Gael’s Kate O’Connell, who lost her seat in the last general election, spoke to KFm about the recent Seanad election, during which no female Fine Gael candidate won a seat.

Eleven senators will eventually be nominated by the incoming Taoiseach.

Speaking about a resistance to the progress of women, Ms O’Connell said:

“This stems down, it’s a domino effect from the local elections. But also there was a massive pushback from certain sectors and I’m speaking about my own party because that’s what I have knowledge of.

“When there is progress from women there is pushback from some elements within the party usually the younger, Young Fine Gael wing.”

Anyone?

Listen: O’Connell Says There Is Push-Back From Some In Fine Gael, Against Female Candidates. (KFm, Ciara Plunkett)

Previously: Bay Of Tears

Rollingnews

Director of Creative Ireland Tania Banotti, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan in Government Buildings today

This afternoon.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan attended a press conference to announce a range of artistic initiatives.

During the briefing, Harry McGee, of The Irish Times, asked Mr Donohoe about a nursing home which has seen a considerable number of positive Covid-9 cases. Mr McGee also asked the minister about the number of people who have recovered from the virus.

Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly raised concerns about the home with Ms Madigan in the Dáil yesterday, telling her that that 70 out of 200 members of staff at one nursing home had tested positive for Covid-19 and that 19 of the home’s 100 residents had also tested positive.

However, Ms Madigan did not respond to Mr Donnelly’s concerns as the Minister for Health Simon Harris was not present. Instead she took notes and said Mr Harris would respond accordingly.

From this morning’s briefing.

Harry McGee: “To Minister Donohoe, in relation to some of the detail that has been given out in relation to the Covid-19 crisis, the nursing home issue, in particular, there’s quite a lot of clusters. And there’s been a bit of a lack of clarity in relation to the information being given.

“Stephen Donnelly, from Fianna Fáil yesterday, was talking about a cluster of 79 at least in one nursing home. We know there’s quite a lot of nursing homes affected but there’s been very little information in relation to the detail about that.

“And also there’s a great sparsity in relation to the detail about those who’ve recovered from Covid-19 in Ireland, compared to other countries and perhaps you could address those issues if you would?”

Paschal Donohoe: [after giving a response to nursing homes in general] “In relation to the question that you put to me about a particular nursing home, that Deputy Donnelly raised yesterday, I’m afraid I don’t have information in relation to that nursing home. Maybe that’s something that our colleagues in NPHET [National Public Health Emergency Team] can deal with across today on one of the press briefings that might take place later on today.

“In relation to your second question about data in relation to citizens who thankfully have recovered from Covid-19. Again, from being involved in discussion on that issue across yesterday, I think an important consideration from our public health officials is to have a wide enough data set, of enough citizens who have recovered from Covid-19 to allow them then to issue conclusions in relation to it.

“And the sense I got yesterday from a discussion on this issue is that we are looking to have a wide enough cohort of citizens who have recovered from Covid-19, who have exited, for example, our ICU facilities. To have that cohort wide enough to then allow us to draw conclusions from it.

“An my understanding, Harry, is that we’re a little bit off, being able to form conclusions that we think are reliable enough to be able to talk to you, and therefore the country, about.”

Watch back in full here.

EARLIER:

From top: Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan; Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly; tweet from Socialist TD Mick Barry

Yesterday afternoon.

Minister for Finance and Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohoe only answered pre-submitted questions from journalists at a press briefing in Government Buildings.

The journalists weren’t allowed to ask follow-up questions.

Also yesterday afternoon, in the Dáil, Fine Gael TD and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan refused to answer a single question that TDs raised about health matters concerning Covid-19, after castigating the TDs who called for the Dáil to sit with reduced numbers.

Among the contributions from TDs was that of Fianna Fáil Stephen Donnelly who told the Dáil that he was told that out of 200 members of staff at one nursing home, 70 had tested positive for Covid-19 and that 19 of the home’s 100 residents had also tested positive.

After the TDs raised their concerns, acting chairman John Lahart told the Dáil: “The Minister for Health departed the chamber to attend a briefing of all party and group leaders on Covid-19. The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will conclude the debate for the Government.”

However, instead of answering any of the questions, Ms Madigan told those present that she had taken notes and that Mr Harris would get back to them.

Of the press briefing with Mr Donohoe, Miriam Lord, in The Irish Times, reports:

“Having asked them [journalists] to attend (a small number, in accordance with the necessary restrictions), they were then asked to pre-submit their questions. These were read out by Paschal Donohoe’s press aide, who then replied as the mute hacks looked on.

“Disgracefully, they were not allowed to ask follow-up questions, so Paschal could effectively say what he liked without being challenged. Microphones were not provided because of hygiene issues. The reporters could have been heard without them, but they weren’t given the chance. This doesn’t even happen in the White House. But it happens here, in Government Buildings. And Hungary.

“A trivial thing to worry about in the current, terrible scheme of things. Or is it?”

Meanwhile, in the Dáil, the Heath Minister Simon Harris addressed those present after which Ms Madigan listened to questions from other TDs.

Apart from Mr Donnelly’s questions, other contributions included concerns about coronavirus test numbers, GP concerns, social welfare payments for people over the age of 66, concerns about people in direct provision, personal protective equipment, student nurses, people in receipt of medicinal cannabis, domestic violence issues and mental health services.

After hearing the contributions, this is what the Dáil heard:

Joespha Madigan: “I thank the deputies for their contributions. However, the members here today who have insisted on this Dáil sitting have shown a complete disregard for our national fight to contain Covid-19. Shame on you.

They have forced us to stray from home rather than stay at home, which is completely contrary to public health guidelines and nothing to do with any public representative shirking his or her responsibilities.

“As the Minister, Deputy Harris, said, there is no reason we could not have done this remotely. We have already seen the European Parliament achieve that. As he said, with a little ingenuity, it could be achieved. I just wanted to say that at the outset.

“We are learning more about Covid-19 but there is much we do not know. In particular, we do not know how long this public health emergency is going to last. As the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, said earlier, many lives have already been cruelly taken by this virus. I would like to express my condolences to all of those who have been bereaved.”

Later.

Ms Madigan had this exchange with Mr Donnelly:

Stephen Donnelly: “My understanding was that the wrap-up would include answers to questions raised by the House. In the time left, will the Minister actually address any of the questions we have come here to ask?”

Madigan: “I think the Chairman made very clear that the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, is with the Taoiseach at present…”

Donnelly: “Deputy Madigan has been here.”

Madigan: “…and with all the leaders of Opposition parties and groups. He has been giving them a briefing on Covid-19 since about 3.30pm.”

Donnelly: “Is Deputy Madigan going to answer anything that has been raised?”

John Lahart: “One speaker, please.”

Madigan: “As Deputy Donnelly knows, the Minister, Deputy Harris, was here. He was here when Deputy Donnelly spoke and he was here for every other speaker except for a few. I have taken notes of those concerns for him. He has taken detailed notes of all the Members’ concerns and I am satisfied that he will get back to them with comprehensive responses on everything.”

Donnelly: “Is Deputy Madigan going to address them?”

Madigan: “It is a bit opportunistic, when the Minister is in a very important meeting…”

Donnelly: “I am not having a go at the Minister for Health. I am asking if a Government Minister is going to answer any of the questions raised by the Parliament.”

Madigan: “He will come back with answers to all the Members’ concerns.”

Donnelly: “Is Deputy Madigan going to answer any of them?”

Madigan: “I can only go that far. With respect, I am not the Minister for Health and he cannot bilocate. Deputy Donnelly can appreciate that.

Donnelly: “Deputy Madigan is not answering anything that has been raised.”

Ms Madigan then went on to acknowledge “the incredible response” of the frontline staff across departments and agencies, in the health sector and in social welfare and other sectors.

Read the debate in full here or watch in back in full here

Yesterday: Coronafurious

UPDATE:

Meanwhile…

Today’s Irish Times

In today’s Irish Times.

Susie O’Connor writes:

“If we were to look at new ministers joining the Cabinet, who will leave? I would argue to change our Ministers for Health and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs would be unhelpful to say the least. Even if they remain under the D’Hondt system, replacing the Minister for Finance with his experience of leading through financial recovery is a poor move.

“Moving further through the Cabinet, is it appropriate to change the Ministers for Business and Social Protection who are at the rapidly evolving frontline? And if the crisis deepens in relation to social order, will inexperienced ministers for justice and defence add value?

“Yes, there are constitutional questions relating to this, but if Covid-19 had hit six weeks earlier they would not arise. Extraordinary times need exceptional measures.”

The newspaper describes Ms O’Connor as “a business adviser with Genesis Management Consulting and a former government special adviser to Charlie Flanagan”.

According to her LinkedIn page, Ms O’Connor was a special advisor at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for two years, from 2014 to 2016; was a policy and communications advisor at Fine Gael for a year, from 2011 to 2012; involved in the operations and logistics of former Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s “winning General Election tour” in February 2011; and CEO of Young Fine Gael and a Fine Gael National Youth Officer for eight years, from 2003 to 2011.

Ms O’Connor was also the campaign manager of RTÉ journalist George Lee when he won a seat in the Dublin South by-election in June 2009.

She might be a little biased.

Coronavirus crisis is no time for rookie ministers (Susie O’Connor, The Irish Times)

From top: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin  and Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald  on the plinth at Leinster House this afternoon; Heber Rowan

The quote familiar to us all right now is the classic “Events, dear boy, events!”. The concern over, and response to, the Covid19 pandemic has become a proverbial cat among the pigeons of Irish political discourse.

Here’s why it may shift the balance of power.

Before the response to the virus became unavoidable by Leo Varadkar’s caretaker government, it was largely expected that government formation talks between the dead heat of Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would continue for months.

Yet the recent passing of emergency legislation to bolster quarantine powers and approve a financial aid package in response to the Covid19 crisis was an indication of the need to have a working government in place as soon as possible.

There are bound to be more challenges faced by the Irish government over the coming months that will determine the efficacy of the mitigation efforts in place.

Though the Seanad clock is ticking.

The Irish constitution sets out a time limit for the Seanad elections to take place within 90 days after the dissolution of the Dáil. While the election of the senators continues at present, the Taoiseach’s 11 nominated senators are a big question mark hanging over the 33rd Dáil.

Constitutionally, the current Taoiseach and his cabinet remain in office with full powers until the election of a new Taoiseach who would then go on to select his or her ministers and thus appoint the 11 new senators to the Seanad. New laws and a new government simply can’t happen without a Taoiseach.

This could be a problem.

Despite the calls for the creation of a ‘national government’, or more technically a consensus government with a rotating Taoiseach, it is not a workable solution.

Particularly given the prerogative of the Taoiseach to request the dissolution of the Dáil at any time provided he/she gets the consent of the President. The Taoiseach holds considerable sway on national discourse and authority of government. If that authority isn’t there, the Taoiseach isn’t a Taoiseach.

Moreover, if there is fear about using cash at present from the risk of spreading the Coronavirus, there certainly will be fear about handling paper ballot papers if a new election is called. So it just won’t happen.

What may happen is that the Supreme Court might issue a writ to force the appointment of the Taoiseach’s nominees after the conclusion of the Seanad elections. In the same way that the six-month time limit was imposed on bye-elections after the high court case by Pearse Doherty a number of years ago.

New senators could be appointed in a D’hondt method allocating seats to different parties based on their share of the national first preference vote.

However, given the collapse of the ‘Independent Alliance’ there would be many non-party politicians up in arms and threatening to stymy or block such a proposal. Wearing the ‘Green jersey’ may only go so far.

What could happen is the continuation of Leo Vardakar’s caretaker minority government for the next two months until there appears to be a perceivable drop in new Covid19 cases. On the back of widespread political praise of his address to the nation, it is still a possibility that he is not yet politically finished.

Realistically though, Sinn Féin is on 35% in the opinion polls and have a lot to gain by entering government with Fianna Fáil.

Micheál Martin, the stubborn leader, won’t and claims he can’t break his promise to the electorate that he would never enter government with Sinn Féin. Extraordinary times may make for extraordinary politics.

The political wind is out of the sails of Sinn Féin, who have little to add to the national conversation at present. Health is the bigger priority now and housing appears to be improving as thousands of empty Airbnbs enter the now affordable rental market as the prices for rents plummet with thousands becoming unemployed at the same time and the collapse of the tourist industry.

How this crisis gets used to tackle the persistent problems of housing, social welfare and an under-resourced health service, are the main things people will be wondering about beyond the short term. Not who is the Taoiseach, just what gets action done.

The proposals for a rotating Taoiseach, in my opinion, are moot. To reiterate, once appointed by the President, there is no one but the President, who has the power to stop a Taoiseach from calling a new election.

The idea of three-month shifts shared between Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is laughable against the political opportunity that taking off the ‘green jersey’ presents and claiming a ‘need’ to call an immediate election once the worst of the Covid19 crisis is over.

Recent proposals by Leo Vardakar to limit a ‘unity government’ to not include Sinn Féin are indicative of how unworkable a rotating Taoiseach would be and the limited extent that the Covid19 crisis has actually shifted power. As for instance at the time of writing, there are three deaths in Ireland compared to over 4,000 in Italy.

The Supreme Court could hold out the creation of a new working Dáil on the basis of a lack of a Taoiseach (thus risking public ire) or they could expedite a quick interpretation on the nature of the Taoiseach’s nominees and have the 11 appointed proportionally.

While the Irish constitution has many provisions for the continuation of government during a national emergency, it doesn’t provide many options for persistent political deadlock like the one we face now.

A national government could be appointed temporarily but the junior partners of any government would bear the risk with little potential political gain.

It is arguable that if the crisis gets severe enough, that the hand off all political leaders may be forced for the short term, but they all know that eventually, this crisis will be over and that there will be a political and economic cost to account for at the end.

Brexit is still happening and funds, which were set aside to deal with it, are being used for the Covid19 response. Though that is a problem to face in nine months time.

Tragically the refrain of economist JM Keynes comes to mind that “in the long run we are dead”. Unfortunately for many in the short term that is not an abstract concept of economic management anymore.

As a positive note, unlike the ‘Great Recession’ of 2010, there is not an underlying problem of excess credit within the Irish economy like then and the economy has diversified significantly from an over reliance on construction.

This means that while the costs of Covid19 will be colossal, they could be short-lived. Ireland as a globalised economy traditionally recovers faster on the basis of the diversity of its industries that rely on global trade.

The swift market interventions by governments internationally may result in (merely) a short and sharp recession. There is much hope to have.

For Leo and indeed Micheál, they’re perhaps hoping that the response will be good enough to earn the trust of the electorate again. Meaning that when the cards are up, people will trust those who they know already.

Extraordinary times do call for extraordinary politics indeed.

An Extraordinary Virus For Extraordinary Times In Irish Politics (Heber Rowan, Medium)

Heber Rowan is a Sligo native with a passion for politics. He works in public affairs and enjoys listening to and narrating audiobooks. He can be found on Twitter and occasionally blogs on Medium.com.

Rollingnews

Minister for Rural & Community Development Michael Ring TD at the launch of the COVID-19 Government Action Plan To Support The Community Response this morning in government buildings

That’s their job.

Earlier: Don’t Believe A Word

I’m No Expert, But…

Rollngnews

You may have seen this one coming.

This evening.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael released a joint statement saying the two parties have held “constructive discussions” and now they’ll begin “in-depth, detailed talks” particularly with “the onset of Covid-19′.

More as we get it.

.Via Fianna Fáil

Rollingnews

This morning.

Trinity College Dublin

Acting Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar speaking at the Institute of International & European Affairs (IIEA) half-day conference on ‘Europe and the Future’.

Boo.

Hist.

Meanwhile

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will hold talks later today in Dublin – the first time the two parties will sit down for discussions since the General Election was held on 8 February.

However, Fine Gael sources continue to stress that these talks are not about government formation, but rather exchanges of policy positions.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to hold first post-election talks (RTÉ)

Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Middle pic,from left:  Minister for Education Joe McHugh with Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar with Minister for Health Simon Harris

This afternoon.

Government Buildings

A Post Cabinet meeting press briefing about the Covid-19 coronavirus virus.

“There is no room for complacency or panic,”  assured Minister for Health Simon Harris.

There is still a double room with balcony for ‘abject terror’ available.

Earlier: And The Band Played On

RollingNews

Last night.

Leinster House, Dublin 2

Taoiseach and Leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar, speaks to the media after the PP’s meeting in Leinster House, to discuss the results of the recent General Election and their poor performance in which they came in third behind SF. He stated FG were preparing to go into Opposition.

However…..

Fine Gael has left open the possibility of a grand coalition with Fianna Fáil despite its TDs being unanimous in their desire to spend the next five years on the opposition benches.

But Taoiseach Leo Varadkar did not seek – and was not given – a mandate to open negotiations with any party on the formation of a new government for the moment.

Senior party figures told the Irish Independent that they intend to push Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil as far as they possibly can before “entering the game”.

Meanwhile…

…even if Micheál Martin convinced the Greens, Labour and Social Democrats to support him for Taoiseach he would still be dramatically short of a Dáil majority.

At this point Fine Gael is likely to mandate an intervention from Mr Varadkar in a move that will be portrayed as saving the country from going back to the polls

Varadkar refuses to shut door on FF deal despite TDs’ anger (Irish Independent)

Rollingnews

Meanwhile…

“In light of Leo Varadkar’s statement yesterday evening, the Social Democrats have taken the decision to cancel today’s proposed meeting with Fine Gael.

“It is clear to all that FG are now engaged in a game-playing exercise & we refuse to participate in what is essentially theatrics by FG.

“While it was always the case that we were unlikely to find much common ground with FG, we intended to honour our commitment of engaging openly with all parties. Clearly FIne Gael’s intention is to engage in shadow-boxing for the coming weeks & we’ve no interest in participating in such a charade.”

Statement from the Social Democrats this morning.

Soc Dems cancel Fine Gael meeting over ‘game-playing’ (RTÉ)