Tag Archives: Helen McEntee

Oh, you know.

Segregated the country based on medical status.

Not crazy busy.

This afternoon.

Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Minister for Justice and new mother Helen McEntee arriving at Leinster House for the first time since the beginning of her maternity leave in April on the birth of a son, Michael.

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Meanwhile…

This afternoon.

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns (above) launched a Bill that would extend maternity, adoptive and paternity leave to councillors.

Ms Cairns said:

“Just 24pc of councillors around the country are women. If we ever want to substantially increase this proportion, then we must make changes to make a career in politics a more attractive prospect for women. The bare minimum required, in this regard, is maternity leave.

“My Bill, which I have launched today, would extend maternity, adoptive and paternity leave to councillors.

“Many political careers are launched in the local politics arena – but the lack of maternity leave acts as a limiting factor for women and a barrier to their participation in public life. It also denies the country of the representation of strong female political candidates, many of whom feel unable to progress a career in politics because of structural barriers that are placed in their way.

“Currently, female councillors must obtain a resolution of a local authority in order to avail of leave when they give birth. In 2021, it is bizarre that a reformed system of maternity leave, and other family leave, is not yet available to councillors. My Bill would ensure that leave is an entitlement – which does not require a resolution to be passed.”

RollingNews

This afternoon.

Leinster House, Dublin 2.

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, about to speak to reporters the General Scheme of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill – a  remaining task before she begins six months of maternity leave tomorrow.

Meanwhile…

Government accepts NIAC recommendation on vaccine access for pregnant women (RTÉ)

Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee at the Convention Center, Dublin

This afternoon.

The Taoiseach has told the Dáil that Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will take six months of paid maternity leave from April 30.

Via RTÉ

Minister McEntee will remain a member of the Government without portfolio.

Micheál Martin said that Minister McEntee will be provided with the necessary administrative supports to carry out any limited duties that may arise.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys will be assigned responsibility for the Department of Justice from 1 May to 31 October, in addition to her current portfolio.

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton will be assigned as Minister of State at the Department of Justice for the same period, while continuing with her duties at the Department of Transport.

Minister Helen McEntee to take six months’ paid maternity leave (RTÉ)

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Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, outside Government Buildings today as she published the findings of the hate crime public consultation, which was carried out by the Department of Justice

This morning.

Leinster House, Dublin 2.

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee launched consultation document Legislating for Hate Speech and Hate Crime in Ireland Report. A new law will cover both incitement to hatred and hate crime

To wit:

‘…The new hate crime offences will be aggravated versions of existing crimes, for example offences against the person, criminal damage or public order offences, where they are carried out because of prejudice against a protected characteristic.

Creating these new offences will mean that a crime can be investigated as a potential hate crime by Gardaí, and evidence of the hate element can be presented in court.

Where the jury finds that the crime was a hate crime based on the evidence, and convicts the person of a hate crime, the enhanced penalty for the new offence will available to the judge at sentencing. Where the jury finds that the hate element is not proven, they will still be able to convict the person of the ordinary form of the offence…’

Minister McEntee said:

“Regarding the fundamental constitutional right of freedom of expression, I want to assure people that this legislation will be proportionate, specific, and clear, with offences capable of being proven beyond reasonable doubt. There will be no confusion as to what constitutes criminal hate speech.”

Hmm.

Legislating for Hate Speech and Hate Crime in Ireland Report

Sam Boal/RollingNews

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee this afternoon

This evening

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has told the Dáil that she did take on board that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had commented that Séamus Woulfe would “make a good judge”.

Via RTÉ

Paul Murphy of Solidarity-PBP asked if Taoiseach Micheál Martin was made aware that other names existed regarding an appointment to the Supreme Court.

Minister McEntee said that she had already made clear that she only recommended one name to Mr Martin.

She said she did take on board her party leader’s comment that Mr Justice Woulfe would make “a good judge”.

But it was her understanding that Mr Varadkar was not aware that there were other names put forward for the position.

McEntee tells Dáil she did ‘take on board’ Varadkar comment about Woulfe (RTÉ)

Earlier…

This afternoon.

Dáil at the Convention Centre.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is addressing the appointment of Séamus Woulfe as a Supreme Court justice.

She said that a draft memo was submitted to her office by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) in July with expressions of interests from serving judges.

The minister said the practice in relation to appointments is that only one judge’s name is brought to Cabinet by the Minister for Justice and she said that this practice is important in relation to judicial appointments.

She said an open debate would amount to a “complete politicisation” of the judicial appointments process.

She said it was the duty of the Minister for Justice to propose to Cabinet the best person for the particular judicial vacancy, and the Government then decides and she said that this is what happened in this case.

Watch live here.

More when we get it.

Update:

From top: Martin Kenny, Sinn Féin TD

More as we get it.

Meanwhile…

Stop it, Brennan!

From top: Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald; Independent TD Mattie McGrath

This afternoon.

More as we get it.

Yesterday: Cooling Off

UPDATE:

 

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said she is being accountable to the Dáil, despite refusing Opposition demands that she make a statement in the chamber regarding the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Seamus Woulfe and then answer questions.

The minister said she is prepared to answer questions about the appointment through the long-standing process of written queries submitted by Opposition TDs several days in advance known as Ministerial Parliamentary Questions (PQs).

She told a news conference in Dublin that this process is standard practice, which happens every week and has been in place for many years.

Minister says she is being accountable to Dáil over Woulfe (RTÉ)

From top: Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, Supreme Court Justice Seámus Woulfe and Green Party deputy leader and Minister of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin
This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin told Audrey Carville that the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee should not answer questions in the Dáil about former Attorney General Seamus Woulfe’s appointment to the position of Supreme Court judge.

Asked why she shouldn’t, Ms Martin said there’s a process in place for judicial appointments and “that was adhered to”.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Taoiseach was not informed or involved in the process of putting Seámus Woulfe’s name to Cabinet and was not aware that at least three other candidates had expressed interest in the role.

Ms Martin said Ms McEntee explained to the Oireachtas Justice committee yesterday, when she gave a statement but didn’t take questions, that one name was brought before Government last July.

Ms Martin said “she [McEntee] considered expressions of interest and one name was brought before them”.

Ms Martin said it would be unprecedented for a minister to be brought before the Dáil to answer questions on a judicial appointment.

She added:

“I believe it would set a dangerous precedent to go into such detail on an individual appointment and I don’t believe that would serve the separation of powers well.”

Ms Carville then asked Ms Martin about the three judges who reportedly wrote to the Government seeking to be considered for the Supreme Court role but whose applications were not relayed to Cabinet before Mr Woulfe was selected.

They had this exchange:

Audrey Carville: “Do you know, though, Helen McEntee made a statement but she didn’t answer questions, For example, the three judges who wish to be considered for the Supreme Court vacancy, do you know how she became aware of their interest?”

Catherine Martin: “That’s something that I’ll be talking to Helen about. I believe, like any appointment, you know, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other applicants. So, as standard, the Minister for Justice considered expressions of interest from serving members of the judiciary, other judges eligible for the position and the recommendation of JAB (Judicial Appointments Board) and then brought one name forward…”

Carville: “But did those judges contact her directly do you know?”

Talk over each other

Martin: “There needs to be more consistency and transparency with this process and reform is needed and the Green Party would be seeking more transparency in relation to this. That is the process that is currently in place and that process would need to be reviewed and I think that the plan is now to move ahead with the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill to establish a single process. And that’s an acknowledgement that the change is needed.”

Carville: “The Taoiseach has said that he wasn’t aware that three actual judges were interested in the Supreme Court job. Did your party leader know?”

Martin: “My party leader, Minister [Eamon] Ryan said he wasn’t aware that it was one name. And that’s where the transparency and greater consulting of party leaders in any coalition needs to take place and that’s where reform is needed for greater transparency.”

Carville: “Do you know if Leo Varadkar knew?”

Martin: “I can’t speak for Leo Varadkar. I can only speak for the Government of which I am part of and, of course, there’s always room for improvement and for more transparency. One name came before Cabinet but maybe there should be greater consultation with the leaders? With the leaders. But Cabinet time itself is not best spent, asking the Cabinet to deliberate on three, or four, or five names. But in the current Government, where we have a three-party coalition, I believe there’s greater room for consultation and transparency around that process.”

Carville: “Yes, wouldn’t transparency be helped by the minister answering questions?”

Martin: “As I said, I don’t believe that that would serve the separation of powers well. I think there’s a risk it would descend into Opposition politics for the sake of Opposition politics and we have to remember the reality of the very adversarial nature of Dail Eireann. A one-and-a-half hour, two-hour questions and answers in this might actually prove counterproductive and I would be worried that damage would be done.”

Carville: “OK, just a final question on this. Are you satisfied it wasn’t a political appointment given, because Fianna Fáil were taking the Attorney General’s job in the new Cabinet?”

Martin: “I’m satisfied that Minister McEntee, as she outlined yesterday, adhered and complied with a process that is in place. But having said that, I believe, and the opinion of the Green Party is, that there’s reform needed here…”

Listen back here in full

Meanwhile, earlier, Morning Ireland presenter Mary Wilson spoke to Dr David Kenny, Assistant Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin and they had this exchange:

Mary Wilson: “Is there any reason, constitutionally or within this separation of powers, why the Justice Minister couldn’t now take questions and clarify the process that she mentioned in the statement yesterday around the appointment of Mr Justice Woulfe?”

David Kenny: “No, I don’t think there is. It doesn’t seem to me that the separation of powers concern that’s been voiced by the Government is a valid one. The Government has a function in appointing judges and the Government is accountable to the Oireachtas for the performance of its functions. And in terms of explaining considerations that might have been at play, or factors that might have been under consideration, in making a decision that’s now somewhat controversial, it would be seem to me to be entirely appropriate that the minister would be willing to answer questions on that point.

“I think that relying on the fact that judicial appointments advisory board recommended Judge Woulfe as suitable for appointment is also not really an answer to that question. The advisory board performs quite a minimal role in ensuring that people are suitable for appointment. It doesn’t make final recommendations, it doesn’t recommend particular candidates and judicial candidates seeking promotion don’t go through that process. So I think simply saying that the appointments advisory board recommended Judge Woulfe for the role doesn’t really answer questions that the Opposition might have.”

Listen back in full here

Meanwhile…

This morning

Bjorn Janson (above), Deputy Executive Secretary of GRECO – the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body – spoke to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about GRECO’s concern about the manner in which judges are appointed in Ireland.

He said:

“We welcome the establishment of the judicial council in Ireland, this was a major achievement and we now wait for this council to start working.

“…and developing a code of ethics for judges, for institutionalising training for judges, etc. Another thing that remains is about the appointment of judges in Ireland.

“When GRECO was in Ireland, doing this assessment visit back in 2014, we assessed how the system worked and we found out that the judicial appointments board, the JAB, was a good pre-selecting body as such, but it selected a large number of judges and just passed them on, passed on the list to the Government for the decision. Which made this system look a bit political.

“And the objective of GRECO is to establish independence of the judiciary as a preventive tool against conflicts of interest and corruption.

Later he said:

“What was stated in the report by GRECO very clearly was that the selection should lead to a priority of the most suitable candidates and that the whole process should also be transparent so that the Government, it would minimise political appointments in the system.”

Listen back here

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty (left) this afternoon calling for Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to come before the Dáil to answer questions about the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Seámus Woulfe

This afternoon.

The Dáil responds to revelations the Taoiseach was not informed or involved in the process of putting Seámus Woulfe’s name to Cabinet and was not aware that at least three other candidates had expressed interest in the role.

More as we get it.

Sinn Féin demand Helen McEntee faces Dáil over Woulfe appointment (irish Examiner)

Earlier: Drinks Cabinet

From top: Tánaiste Leo Varadkar; former head of the National Association of General Practitioners Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail; Minister for Justice Helen McEntee

This morning.

Minister for Justice and Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee spoke to Mary Wilson on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about The Village reporting over the weekend that, back in April 2019, the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar leaked a confidential agreement reached with the Irish Medical Organisation to his friend and then head of the National Association of General Practitioners Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail.

Mr Varadkar has since admitted that he shared the document with Dr Ó Tuathail on a date between April 11 and 16, 2019. He has denied that he acted unlawfully but admitted that his actions were not best practice.

In a statement released last night, Dr Ó Tuathail said:

“We received a copy of the finalised, agreed and announced programme for chronic disease management from the then Taoiseach in mid-April. This was seen as a continuation of the decision by the Government to consult with the NAGP and its GP members and keep them informed throughout.”

“We could not adopt a position on the programme for chronic disease management as a union, without full access to the details that it contained.”

During this morning’s interview, Ms McEntee told Ms Wilson that the agreement was reached on April 3, 2019, and that it had been widely circulated by the time Mr Varadkar shared it with Dr Ó Tuathail.

But she conceded it was not actually published in its entirety at that point.

Mary Wilson: “Minister, for clarity, was the agreement published?

Helen McEntee: “So the entire document itself was not…”

Wilson:Was not published…it was not in the public domain?

McEntee:It was not. However, what I do need to stress is that the deal had been reached, that the majority, if not all of the sensitive information, the information that the IMO themselves were then essentially campaigning with their GPs on had been agreed. It had been signed off by Cabinet, so any suggestion, and there seems to be a suggestion that this document was given for some sort of a) personal gain but also that there could be changes made, this did not come back to Cabinet. And everything that was agreed, the detailed information was already being campaigned on…”

Wilson: “Ok. But why, if as you say,…

McEntee: “To try and bring GPs on board.”

Wilson: “…it was all agreed, i’s dotted, t’s crossed, why was it then that the Tánaiste, who was the Taoiseach at the time, and the Minister for Health, why were they not calling in the NAGP, in a formal setting, walking into Leinster House, to have a look at this document. Why was it going, a document marked ‘confidential, restricted circulation, going by courier, to the head of the NAGP’s home?

McEntee: “So, again, and I go back to what you said at the very beginning and the Tánaiste himself has said the manner in which this was delivered could have been done better, it was not best practice, however, what he was doing and it’s important to say, that, you know, this wasn’t the first contact, there had been engagement with the NAGP throughout these negotiations but, as I said, the IMO, as the main representative organisation, the decision was taken to negotiate with them and, as I said, I do think a great deal was done by the IMO for their member. But this represented all GPs, it wasn’t just those who were represented by the IMO…”

Wilson: “Minister, in that case…”

McEntee: “That would have to understand this, that would have sign up. And so the commitment that was given to the NAGP, to keep them informed, again and I do accept and the Tánaiste accepts this, and I’m sure that he’ll say this again tomorrow when he answers questions, when he makes his statement and he was very clear that he would do that. The manner in which it was delivered could have been better. It was not best practice but the intention was clear.”

Wilson: “And yet Minister by the end of April, the NAGP members, it wouldn’t appear they had sight of this agreement?

McEntee: “Well, I suppose I can’t, I can’t say what happened after the document was given. The intention was that this was to ensure that GPs understood what they potentially were or were not signed up to so I can’t…”

Wilson: “A confidential, restricted circulation document.”

McEntee: “So, all of the information that was being, so to speak, decided upon. All of the sensitive information, the financial information, the nub of the details as I’ve said, the most sensitive of information was already out there. This was already signed off by Cabinet, this was already been campaigned on by the IMO, for the members to try and bring GPs on board.”

Wilson: “But we still come back, minister, we still come back to that fundamental question: Why then was this being put in an envelope, confidential, restricted circulation, sent by courier, by the Taoiseach, and he says now it was not best practice, to the head of the NAGP.”

McEntee: I can’t answer that for you. I…”

Wilson: “Isn’t that a question that needs answering though?”

McEntee: “And I think the Tánaiste will answer that and I have to say he was very quick to say that he had no problem in making a statement in answering these questions. He has said that that manner in which it was delivered could have been done better and I have no doubt that if he is asked that question that you’ve just asked me, he will explain it. But I cannot answer that. But I do know that he will answer any question that he is asked tomorrow in the Dáil when he makes his statement.”

Wilson: “He is the leader of your party, he is the Tánaiste, he was the Taoiseach at the time. Is trust a casualty here?

McEntee:On my part, no. And I say that on the basis of a) that I have worked with him for many years and find him to be an honourable person in every element of work that he does….”

Later

McEntee: “…a very clear commitment was given to the NAGP to keep them informed. There had been engagement with them throughout the negotiations and yes, the manner in which it was delivered could have been done better but the motivation here was a) to fulfil a commitment made by Government. And b) to ensure that as many GPs signed up to this as possible.

“The detail on which and, you know, I have to point even to a tweet I saw yesterday from an IMO council member who said that they were submitting articles on deep details to medical newspapers, they were presenting this deal to GP groups, they were phoning dozens of GPs, hundreds of GPs had the information that was in this document.

“The intention here was to try and get more people on board to sign this contact.”

Later

McEntee: “…the fine details had been published, it had been welcomed, Cabinet had agreed it, so you know, at this stage, hundreds of GPs had this information and the only intention and motivation here was to ensure that a very good deal…”

Wilson: “Briefly minister…”

McEntee: “…had been negotiated by the IMO…”

Talk over each other

Wilson: You are the Minister for Justice, would you leak a document in this way?

McEntee: Well I haven’t, you know, is the answer. Again I have to say this is information that was widely known by hundreds of GPs and hundreds of…”

Wilson: “But you still wouldn’t?”

McEntee: “…people…”

Wilson: “You still wouldn’t, even a document that you say was widely known, you wouldn’t do that?”

McEntee: “But, again, you have to ask what has actually happened here…”

Wilson: “No, no, it’s a simple, it is a simple question. A document, you say it was widely circulated, but it was still a confidential document, would you have leaked it in this way?

McEntee: Well, I think the manner in which it was done could have been done better so if I was in that position, whether I would have done it differently, in terms of how it was delivered but this was a commitment, this was a commitment made to the NAGP. You’ve asked if I’ve ever leaked a document. That’s separate. This was a commitment to the NAGP to try and make sure that they understood what their members were potentially voting on.”

Listen back in full here

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