Tag Archives: Finian McGrath

Minutes ago.

Independent TD for Dublin Bay North and Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath released a statement (above) to say he will not run for a seat in the general election.

Via Fiach Kelly

UPDATE:

Anne-Marie McNally, of the Social Democrats

This afternoon.

Broadsheet columnist Anne-Marie McNally, of the Social Democrats, has announced that she will not be contesting the upcoming general election.

Instead, she will take on the role of the party’s Political Communications Director.

She has not ruled out running for a Dáil seat in the future.

Anne-Marie writes:

“After careful consideration, and in consultation with my family and campaign team, I have decided not to contest the upcoming General Election.

“2019 saw me contest both a local and a by-election within six months of each other whilst also working full-time in a political role which demands a significant amount of availability over and above normal working hours – all whilst trying to find time to spend with my family and on personal well-being.

“With a general election imminent, I find that contesting my third election in less than nine months whilst trying to maintain a healthy work/life balance would be very difficult knowing the toll and election campaign takes – physically, emotionally and financially.

“I am by no means ruling out the possibility of once again standing for election as I have a lifelong passion for public service, but for this particular election, coming so soon on the heels of the previous two, the timing is just not right for myself and my family.

“As a founding member of the Social Democrats I remain wholly committed to the party. I am delighted to move into the role of political communications director with the party and I am excited to now use my time to support our leaders and candidates through the upcoming general election and beyond.

“I am passionate about the change progressive politics can bring to people’s lives and am delighted that I can continue to help make a difference to Irish political life through my work with the Social Democrats.

“So many people in Ireland are hopefully that things can get better, this election is a chance for anyone who hopes for better to vote for better by voting for our Social Democrats’ candidate.”

Previously: Anne-Marie McNally on Broadsheet

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.20.27

Housing Minister Simon Coveney

This morning, newly appointed Housing Minister Simon Coveney spoke to Seán O’Rourke about housing on RTE Radio One this morning.

Towards the end of the interview, they discussed water charges – which will suspended for nine months, from the end of June, as a commission decides what to do.

The Fine Gael minister assured Mr O’Rourke, “I certainly agree that people who have paid already shouldn’t be disadvantaged financially in any way… People will not be allowed to get away without paying.”

Then Mr O’Rourke reminded Mr Coveney how Independent Alliance TD, who has been appointed a Super Junior Minister for Disability, Finian McGrath has not paid his water charges.

Being a ‘Super Junior’ minister means Mr McGrath can attend Cabinet meetings but cannot vote.

Grab a small tay…

Seán O’Rourke: “Meanwhile, sitting in the Cabinet room along with you and your colleagues, you have Finian McGrath who is proudly boasting that he has no intention of paying his water charges.”

Simon Coveney: “Well I haven’t seen him proudly boasting that and Finian will…”

O’Rourke: “Well stating as a matter of fact then, to put it maybe slightly less..”

Coveney: “Well now let’s not build this issue up into something it isn’t. I mean people should pay their water.”

O’Rourke: “It’s a minister flouting the law and he’s sitting in the same Cabinet room as you. Is that right?”

Coveney: “Well I think, you know,my view would be very similar to, to, you know,  people like Regina Doherty and others who’ve been asked to comment on this.”

O’Rourke: “How can you expect people to pay water charges up until their suspended when you’re sitting beside somebody who just makes a virtue of not paying?”

Coveney: “Government minister should lead by example, it is the law to pay your taxes and Government ministers should pay taxes, including water charges and that’s a decision for Finian.”

O’Rourke: “It’s also a decision for the Taoiseach actually. Is he prepared to keep him in the room?”

Coveney: “Look, I mean, I’m not going to get into the Taoiseach’s view of that. I suspect the Taoiseach’s view is the same as mine. If you’re in Cabinet, you need to lead by example. If you’re a law maker, you need to be a law keeper.”

Listen back here

Rollingnews

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[Independent TD Finian McGrath]

Independent TD Finian McGrath said the problem of dog litter “is under the radar” compared to the attention given to water and household charges. The Dublin North Central deputy said he had seen three types of dog owners, “responsible ones, the irresponsible ones and the ones who pretend to be responsible. “The responsible owners picked up the litter, the irresponsible owners do not care . . . and the ones who pretend to be responsible . . . let their dogs out at night, when everybody is gone to bed, to run around the green and destroy the greens in housing estates.

Crikey.

FIGHT!

Dog owners sneaking out at night for pets to foul greens, TD claims (Marie O’Halloran, Irish Times)

Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

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[Brian Purcell, Secretary General at the Department of Justice]

You may recall the letter of March 10th that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan sent to the Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Brian Purcell, for the attention of Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Mr Callinan’s letter said that, during the process of discovery in the Ian Bailey’s civil action case, it emerged that telephone calls in Bandon Garda Station had been recorded, between gardaí and key witness Marie Farrell – who claimed in 2012 that gardai forced her to perjure herself in order to incriminate Mr Bailey – and journalists.

It also explains how Mr Callinan ordered for the widespread recording of calls – bar 999 calls – to be stopped on November 27, 2013.

Minister Shatter told the Dáil he never received the letter until March 25 – hours after Mr Callinan stood down from his role.

It should also be noted that Taoiseach Enda Kenny Kenny had sent Mr Purcell to Mr Callinan’s home to convey Mr Kenny’s concerns about the phone recordings on the night before Callinan stepped down, March 24.

Finian McGrath, who is a member of the Oireachtas Justice Committee, wanted Mr Purcell to come before the committee to explain what happened.

But last night the committee decided to hold off on bringing Mr Purcell in until Judge Nial Fennelly’s Commission of Inquiry set up to study the garda station tapes has its terms of reference in order.

Mr McGrath spoke to Ivan Yates on Newstalk this morning.

Finian McGrath: “Well, I have to accept first of all that I was fully surprised myself. I went went into The Justice Committee yesterday with three objectives. First of all, to get Brian Purcell in, The Secretary General and his senior civil servant. Secondly, was to get the former Garda Commissioner in. And the third, I asked the question, was, ‘Would it be in order to invite The Attorney General in?’. So at the meeting, legal advice was given that we were not allowed to call The Attorney General – and I accepted that advice. But on the other two issues, the legal advice given at The Committee was that we could go ahead, that we had the power, we had the authority, and let’s get on with it. So I proposed that we bring in those two. But the vast majority – I was the only one – everyone in The Committee said, ‘No, we’re going to park this for a week and we’re going to try and make a few decisions on the terms of reference for The Commission of Inquiry and then maybe next week. But my position was, I just wanted simple answers, I didn’t want a commission of inquiry or a justice committee, I didn’t want any additional costs – all I wanted was simple questions answered by The Secretary General – and by the way, it’s not personalising the guy, or demonising him, and there’s still issues there – the bereavement in the family over a few days – but there’s Asssistant Secretary Generals, there are other senior civil servants – just answer the question, ‘What the Hell went on and why didn’t they deal with the letter on the 10th of March?’. These are simple questions that the public are asking me to ask – and I was just blown away with what happened yesterday with the kind of …. I suspect a rat, by the way, Ivan. I was a bit concerned that they were trying to drag it out over the terms of references. I hope that this discussion over terms of references doesn’t go on for another two weeks.”

Ivan Yates:  “Why was this meeting held in private?”

McGrath:  “It was held in private just to see what we’d do.  We wanted to make a collective decision on the way that we would approach the issue.  Because some people were saying that we should… that they should completely stand back and proceed with…{interrupted}

Yates:  “Finian, I don’t want to do this , but, a  few months ago when we were covering the Penalty Points issue with The Public Accounts Committee, there was an attempt by Government Back Benchers to stop that entire process…” Continue reading

LuciaHusband

(Top: Lucia and Jim O’Farrell hold a picture of their late son, Shane)

Shane O’Farrell, 23, died in a hit-and-run just outside Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan on August 2, 2011. The man who struck Shane, Zigimantas Gridzuiska, 39, from Lithuania, had 42 previous convictions in three different jurisdictions and was out on bail at the time.

After he hit Shane, he drove to his friend’s house, left the car he was driving there and walked to his home where he told his wife he knocked someone down. Neither of them contacted the gardaí or emergency services, and they went to bed.

Gridzuiska pleaded guilty to failing to stop his car at the scene of the accident, failing to failing to report the accident as soon as possible to gardai, and driving a vehicle in a dangerously defective condition. Judge Pat McCartan acquitted him of dangerous driving causing death. Gridzuiska was then given the choice of eight months in prison or to leave the country within 21 days. He chose to leave.

This morning the Dáil heard a debate on the Road Traffic Bill 2013. During the debate Fianna Fáil TD Timothy Dooley proposed that the maximum jail sentence for fleeing the scene of an accident causing injury would be up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to €5,000 instead of the current six months. He also proposed that the length of time a garda can test a hit-and-run suspect for alcohol and drugs be extended from three hours to 24 hours after the incident. Mr Dooley was approached by Shane O’Farrell’s family last summer about these legislation changes. Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said he looked forward to working with Mr Dooley on the bill.

Independent TD Finian McGrath also took part in the debate and brought up the case of Shane O’Farrell. He told the Dáil how the man who knocked down Shane was stopped by gardaí just an hour before the hit-and-run.

He started off by telling how Shane’s mother Lucia came to Dublin to meet Mr McGrath a few weeks ago.

Finian McGrath: “Her beautiful son, Shane, was killed on the 2nd of August, 2011. He was a young student here in college, in Dublin, and he was hit by a hit-and-run person and killed on the side of the road, while that person was out on bail. Now (Lucia) had written to everybody, she had made her case. She had written to the Attorney General, she had written to the Minister for Justice. I actually raised their case in the Dáil and everyone basically said, ‘there was nothing that could be done about it’. And there was an example of a case. And the reason I raise this case, Cathaoirleach, and it’s because it’s very relevant. Because the family themselves feel they’re being let down by the justice system because there was a number of incidences that happened prior to Shane’s death in this hit-and-run killing. And she describes it very, very clearly, a hit-and-run murder. An hour before her son, Shane, was killed, the particular individuals were pulled up an hour earlier at a Garda checkpoint and there was no alcohol on the driver. The driver was asked to switch as he was also uninsured.This implied that an hour earlier he was alcohol free when he murdered her son, Shane. This was not a Garda checkpoint. This was an unmarked drug squad car, sitting in a ditch, that had pulled up this car as the registration was flagged on their system. No breathalyser was used, no drink test at the side of the road. They were asked then to switch the drivers and they were searched. They were waved on. [Reads letter] ‘Our family want to stand up and tell the truth but we knew that that was not allowed. Unfortunately we are law-abiding people and we expected the State to do what they are expected to do: do their job.’ This is a letter from Mrs Lucia O’Farrell, the mother of the victim of this particular case. And there are serious questions to answer in relation to this issue: what was going on in relation to these people and these people involved in her son. And she quotes in her letter as well, and I think it’s appropriate that I mention it. She says “Her lovely son Shane would frequently say ‘you’re guilty of all the wrong you do but you are guilty of all the good you don’t do as well’. And how right he is Cathaoirleach, when I listen to this debate. So what I’m saying is, you’ve the minister in the house today. I’d ask him to look at the Shane O’Farrell case, the 2nd of August, 2011, and find out what’s going on there. I’d also like, and I’ll be contacting the Minister for Justice again on this particular issue. But I’d like to ask what about Shane’s human rights? What about Shane’s constitutional rights? This case should have been about Shane, not about hiding the truth so that some people don’t get into trouble. And the particular individual in this case got off scot-free in relation to this issue.”

Meanwhile, earlier this morning Shane’s sister Gemma O’Farrell spoke with Seán O’Rourke about her brother’s case.

Gemma O’Farrell: “Shane was my only brother. He was 23. He has just finished his Masters in Law in Trinity College, and had just handed in his dissertation, it was the 2nd of August. And he was coming home, he was training for a triathlon which was to take place in a few days time. And he went out for a cycle and he didn’t come home.”

Sean O’Rourke: “A young man, with the world at his feet, clearly a bright guy academically, interested in sport if he was doing a triathlon. What happened him?”

O’Farrell: “Shane went out for a cycle. He was hit from behind by a Lithuanian national who was driving without insurance, without tax, without NCT, who was on bail at the time, who was serving a suspended sentence  both sides of the Border and had 40 convictions the night he killed Shane. He was driving at 100km per hour and hit him from behind and didn’t break. He returned back to Carrickmacross. This happened just a couple of miles outside of Carrickmacross and left his car in his friend’s house and walked back 20 minutes to where he lived, where he told his wife that he had knocked someone down and neither of them called the guards or an ambulance and they both went to bed.”

Sean O’Rourke: “How was he traced, that individual?”

O’Farrell: “The gardaí located the car the next morning and I think things unravelled a little bit from there. This gentleman was known to the guards so things kind of unravelled from there.”

O’Rourke: “And how long was Shane left there before he was found? Was he dead when he was found?”

O’Farrell: “He was. He was found a few minutes later, we believe a few minutes later. It was on the N2, outside of Carrickmacross which is a busy road so it was two or three minutes later we believe.”

O’Rourke: “And what time of the day or night was this?”

O’Farrell: “It was about 10 past 10 at night. It was the middle of the summer, it was the 2nd of August so..”

O’Rourke: “So it was bright and..”

O’Farrell: “Well it was between the lights at that stage.”

O’Rourke: “Right. And what happened then, when the matter went to court?”

O’Farrell: “When the matter went to court, this man pleaded guilty to the offences of leaving the scene of an accident. So these are the summary offences, district court offences which carry a maximum of six months, so he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene and failing to call the emergency services. And he also pleaded guilty to driving a defective vehicle on the night.”

O’Rourke: “And the question of dangerous driving was thrown out by the judge, was it?”

O’Farrell: “He was charged with dangerous driving causing death which he was acquitted of by Judge McCartan. The difficulty for my experience, now going through dangerous driving causing death is it’s, as I see it, it’s impossible to show that someone was driving dangerously and prove that beyond a reasonable doubt in the case of a hit-and-run because the vast majority of the time with hit-and-runs there are no witnesses to an accident. So you’re never going to be able to show that the individual was driving dangerously. So there was a lack of evidence and on that basis, the judge acquitted this man.”

O’Rourke: “So, on that particular charge, so what was the maximum sentence that could be imposed then, for leaving the scene of the accident?”

O’Farrell: “The maximum sentence is six months that can be imposed.”

O’Rourke: “But, instead of which, he was given another option?”

O’Farrell: “Yes. So the judge imposed a sentence of eight months, four months for leaving the scene and four months for failing to call the emergency services. So he gave him the option of either serving an eight-month sentence or returning to Lithuania and he chose the latter.”

O’Rourke: “And this was someone who was an acknowledged heroin user, there was no question of him being tested for alcohol or being above the limit because, of what, a time-lapse?”

O’Farrell: “The law, as it stands at the moment, the gardaí only have a three-hour window in which to test someone for alcohol or drugs and this individual wasn’t, didn’t present to the garda station for over 18 hours later so he wasn’t able to be tested for anything when he was in the garda station.”

O’Rourke: “Clearly you weren’t happy with the outcome of this. You lost your only brother, a young man of 23. What prompted you then to take action and say right this isn’t good enough, we need to have a change of the law?”

O’Farrell: “So, last August 2012, so before the case actually came to trial, I approached Fianna Fáil and I raised a number of issues with them. This was one of them. And they really took it on board that this was a loophole in the law and that this was something that could be addressed and a bill was drafted to which was then launched last May by Deputy Timmy Dooley, addressing the law as it stands at the moment. So, while at then moment, it’s a six-month sentence it’s dealt with in the District Court so whether it’s property damage or you cause a fatality, six months, there’s no distinction between the two. The Bill proposes to introduce a maximum sentence of 10 years which is in line with other jurisdictions, so where you cause a fatality, a maximum sentence of 10 years may be imposed.”

Full interview here.

Previously: Meanwhile, At INM

Related: Grieving mum of hit-and-run victim claims system of justice failed son (Allison Bray, Irish Independent)

Pic: Independent.ie