Tag Archives: Joan Collins

Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins

This afternoon.

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

Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins was speaking about workers’ rights when she said:

“Recently, I’ve been approached by workers in a new, very swanky and expensive Ivy restaurant where the company are taking the major proportion of tips paid to staff – using these tips to make up the difference in their wages.

“I’ll give you an example. One worker signed a contract, in October, for €14.90 an hour. They’re now being paid €9.80 an hour and the difference is being made up with the tips. So this company is robbing the workers of their money and we don’t know where the rest of the money is going…it seems to be pocketed by the company.”

[The Independent4Change TD’s office confirmed Ms Collins was referring to  the Ivy restaurant in Dawson Street, Dublin 2]

During his response, Mr Coveney said:

“Just on the tips issue, let me just be very clear: Any employer that calculates salary and includes tips in that figure is acting illegally. You can’t do it. Tips are separate to salary. And if there are issues the Government needs to act there: we will look at that closely.”

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

Report in The Irish Times on Wednesday, January 9; Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone; debate in the Dáil last Thursday

On Wednesday, January 9 last, the Religious Affairs Correspondent for The Irish Times Patsy McGarry reported that the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation was to seek an extension of a year before publishing its final report which was due in February.

The report took survivors, family members and supporters of people who lived in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home by surprise.

Following on from the report in The Irish Times, Broadsheet contacted the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on January 9 and asked a spokesman to confirm if The Irish Times article was correct; if it was, to set out the reasons for the seeking of an extension; to outline when the MBHCI made the request for an extension of Government; and to explain when the survivors/survivors’ groups were informed of the request.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone’s department responded at 5.45pm that evening, essentially confirming The Irish Times article, but without answering the other specific questions, stating:

“The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes has written to the Minister to seek an extension to the time frame for delivering its final reports. The Minister is considering the request and will meet the Commission next week to discuss it further.

“The Minister will then respond to the request in consultation with her cabinet colleagues.

“The Minister has given a commitment to interested parties to communicate any updates in relation to the Mother and Baby Home issue in as timely a manner as possible.

“The Minister will use existing channels to communicate
with interested parties, including survivors and their advocates in advance of any public statements on this matter.”

Yet, when the matter was raised with Minister Zappone in the Dáil last Thursday evening by Galway West Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Dublin Fingal Independent TD Clare Daly, and Dublin South Central Independent TD Joan Collins, Ms Zappone said “the coverage was misleading”.

She also eventually confirmed, after being asked several times, that she had received the request from the commission in December.

Ms Collins said:

“I ask the Minister to correct me if I am wrong, but my information is that the report was finalised in early December last and had been sent to the Attorney General pending transmission to the Minister and the Cabinet.

“I have also been informed that more files from the HSE have emerged which is why, potentially, a further delay is being sought by the commission.

Survivors have been waiting anxiously for this report, as the Minister knows, and have been physically and emotionally shattered by the announcement in last week’s newspaper. It was a cold and calculated way to inform survivors and their families.

Some survivors in their 70s and 80s were outside the gates of Leinster House yesterday. They were cold and they were angry. It was a disgraceful way to treat these ageing people. Their rights and justice are being denied. Will the Minister please explain exactly what is happening and set out why there was no early warning of the proposed delay? These people are losing confidence in the Minister and her Government and in the commission.”

Ms Daly said:

“The request for a second extension from the commission is the last straw for many of us here and certainly for many of the survivors. The request should be refused.

“I am very curious to hear what the Minister’s attitude is and what level of warning she was given by the commission that this bombshell would drop a year almost after the last extension was granted. Many felt it was a step too far even then yet a year on, here we are.

“It is jaw-dropping to have a scenario in which four years later, we have had three interim reports comprising fewer than 40 pages between them. Of those interim reports, two sought more time while another focused on process. There have been no details and no findings and we must ask what in God’s name is going on in this gathering.

“As Deputy Joan Collins said, a suspicious person might wonder if things were being done in this manner so the community dies off.

The fact that they had to hear this as they did via a newspaper leak has caused more insult to them. In many ways, the process is as important as the outcome. The process here has been an abysmal failure and it has retraumatised many of the survivors.

“I do not necessarily blame the Minister and certainly not before we hear what she has to say. I assume she got the information. It is important for her to tell the House when she got it and whether it was flagged. If it was not flagged to her, why did the commission wait until the 11th hour? If it was flagged and everyone knew, why was it done like this? This is devastating and we need clarity around it. My attitude is that the request should be refused. It is too much.”

Ms Connolly said:

“Has the commission of investigation asked for an extension of time? If so, when was the request made, how was it made and how long has the Minister known?

“…From day one, there was confusion and delay. The third report asked for extension of time. While it caused real upset then, people accepted the assurance that the report would be published in February of this year.

“…Subsequent to what we found out in Patsy McGarry’s newspaper report earlier this month, it was claimed on the Department’s website that “reports in the media did not come from this Department and the speculation contained in these reports is inaccurate”.

“What specific inaccuracies are there? Has an extension been sought? If so, when and why was it sought? I will await the Minister’s answer before I give my opinion.”

In her response, Ms Zappone said:

“The scope of the investigation is broad. It was acknowledged at the outset that the timeframe was ambitious. I received the fourth interim report in December 2018. I met the chair of the commission, Judge Yvonne Murphy, last week to discuss the request for the extension of the timeframe for the delivery of the commission’s reports and to ensure I had a full understanding of the progress to date and the basis for the additional time being requested.

“I know it is important for the commission to complete this sensitive and complex work as soon as possible… There can be no shortcut to finding the truth.

“The interim report is short. Contrary to what the Deputies have suggested, it is not a proposal. It grounds the request for an extension of the timeframe to deliver the three reports from the commission by one year.

“As the request constitutes a change in the terms of reference of the commission, it is a matter for the Government to consider the request in reflection of its statutory provisions. Government approval is also required to publish the report. With this in mind, I intend to bring a memorandum to the Cabinet.

“I have already circulated a draft of the memorandum to Government Departments. I hope to have it on the agenda next week for discussion. Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, it would not be helpful to speculate on what the Government will decide.

I am conscious that the commentary on this issue in the media last week has caused distress and anxiety for those involved in this process. The coverage was misleading and did not originate from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, as one of the Deputies mentioned.

“I reiterate my commitment to use existing channels to inform stakeholders of any developments in this area in advance of a public notice. I intend to make a public announcement following the Cabinet meeting to clarify the position for them….I will engage with stakeholders ahead of any public announcements. I hope to announce the details of the interim report as soon as possible.”

Ms Collins told Ms Zappone that she still didn’t answer her questions, namely when the commission requested an extension, if it was made at the beginning of December and, if it was, why weren’t the survivors not informed of this request before reading about it in The Irish Times.

Ms Daly said the essence of what was in The Irish Times article was correct – in so far as the final report will be delayed by a year.

She called for a report to be published in February outlining exactly what the commission has done to date, what needs to be done and a timetable of when the work will be done.

Ms Connolly said:

I am afraid I am not so sympathetic. I am holding the Minister to account because her answer is not acceptable. When and how was she approached by the commission in relation to an extension? Why are the grounds for an extension not set out in the Minister’s reply? Why do we not have a copy of the report? The lines that should demarcate who is responsible for what are being blurred.

“An independent commission of inquiry was set up. It has a duty to report in a way that we can see, read and look at. It is not acceptable that the Minister is not telling us where the report is, why we do not have it and what the grounds for the request are. It is ridiculous and utterly unacceptable that she is telling us there are grounds for the request but not telling us what those grounds are or when they were set out.

“The Minister referred to a meeting that took place last week. If there is a shortage of staff, as has been mentioned, we should know about that. If there is a reason the work cannot be completed on time, it should be made known to us in an open and accountable manner. That is the least we deserve in this Dáil so we can represent the people outside who have suffered greatly.

“The Minister knows well that I have attended many of the meetings. The anger on the ground is palpable. There was an absence of trust from day one. I went out on a limb to give the system a chance. Looking back on that, it was rather foolish. Since 2015, we have had nothing but delay, obfuscation and blurring of boundaries. The very least the Minister should do is tell us precisely when the request came and how it came. Regardless of the nature of the report the Minister has, she should publish it.”

It was after this contribution from Ms Connolly that Ms Zappone said the request was made in December.

She said:

“It is an interim report.

“There are procedures in terms of the establishment of the independent commission and the commission has requested an extension for the completion of its work. That request must be presented to Government, which must agree or not to it. Once that has happened, there will be the publishing of the report.

“That is the process and those are the procedures.

“I intend to do that at the next Cabinet meeting. When I have provided my Cabinet colleagues with the rationale for this, in addition to advising them of the discussions I had with Judge Murphy, which I sought as soon as I could subsequent to the presentation of that interim report taking account of the Christmas period, I will engage with my Cabinet colleagues and we will make a decision.

We will let the survivors and those primary stakeholders know. I will publish the report and we will publish our decision. Those are the proper procedures. The Deputies will know then what is the rationale in that regard. I am happy to come back to the House and discuss those issues with them.

“Second, as the Deputies well know, this is an independent commission and therefore there are certain things I can and cannot do. The commission has made this request and laid out its rationale. I am able to talk and have talked to it about that – I have spoken of that – to more deeply understand its rationale in this regard.

“Third, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, I know the Deputies – who represent the people concerned very well – would acknowledge I also am aware of how awful and difficult this news is for these people to receive. I understand that. I will be able to provide the Deputies with the rationale with regard to the response, and my own response specifically to what they have said, next week after I have given that to my Cabinet colleagues.”

Transcript via KildareStreet.com

Previously: ‘A Dishonest Exercise’

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From top: Protesters outside South Dublin County Council in Tallaght yesterday and Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins

Joan Collins writes:

How have we, as a society, reached the point where nine of the country’s largest waste firms have re-registered their Irish companies as unlimited, meaning they no longer have to file their public accounts?

Seven of those have also created ownership structures involving offshore locations that hide their financial affairs behind an impenetrable veil of secrecy.

So when these companies and their apologists come on the airwaves and say they are losing money, how do we know? Will they open their real books to the public?

If (highly unlikely) they are losing money and they cannot provide the most basic service a country needs, the Government should take back the control of our waste collection and disposal in its entirety using best practice in other European countries where, in many cases, people receive financial incentives to re-use and recycle.

When Alan Kelly introduced the statutory instrument (secondary legislation) of the waste service legislation and set a mandatory minimum price of 11c per kilo black bin lift and 6c per kilo brown bin lift, under the “polluter pays” principle (the less landfill a household disposes of the less a household pays), surely he knew the waste companies would use the opportunity to ensure their profits (if we knew what they were) would be protected.

Enda Kenny, in his reply to me during Leaders’ Questions last week, stated that 87% of households would be paying less under the new charges and that, in the “spirit” of recycling, companies would compete and bring down their prices.

You would wonder what planet Mr Kenny lives on, these private monopolies do not have a good reputation in providing cheap and cheerful waste collection services.

Myself, Cllr Pat Dunne and other activists supported the locked out Greyhound workers in June 2014.

Over 80 men, many who carried their pay and conditions under TUPE, were locked out of their jobs when they would not accept the draconian cuts in their pay and conditions. We ended up in the courts because we disrupted the Buckley brothers’ collection service.

They had no problem in spending big money in seeking injunctions in the courts and bringing activists to the courts as well.

Many of these workers were replaced by agency workers on much lower wages and conditions.

The Buckley brothers, at the time, said they had to bring their costs down. When myself and Clare Daly raised the issue of health and safety and working conditions at the time the then Minister for jobs, Richard Bruton stated that he would request the labour court to investigate it.

We will continue to pursue this.

Competition has increased the waste charges exorbitantly. 11c per kilo for the black bin has turned into 35c with Greyhound, 35c with Thornton’s and 27c plus a pick-up charge of €3.20 with Panda. 6c per kilo for the brown bin has turned into 23c with Greyhound, 20c with Thornton’s and 16c plus a pick-up charge of €2.56 with Panda.

These companies have hiked up their annual service charge from €59.95 to €169 with Greyhound, from €50 to €104 with Thornton’s and Panda has increased it up to €86. There is also a charge of €40 to switch your collector from Greyhound to Thornton’s.

For low income families, people who are ill, those who need to use incontinent nappies and the elderly will see hikes of 75% to 200%. For example, a woman, who is a carer for her 89-year-old Mum who has Alzheimer’s calculated that her annual bin charges will soar from €274.80 to €497.50 for the same number of lifts: she stated the new system “is an absolute disaster, Mum used to get the waiver, our black bin is largely full of Mum’s pull-ups (diapers) and they weigh a lot”.

That is an increase of €4.28 per week. From many examples that I have received from households using Greyhound and Panda, when you do the maths, it works out more.

So, competition is increasing the charges. The “recovery” means more of the same austerity for the majority of people while wealthy families continue to protect their wealth.

It was announced this morning that private waste companies have agreed to a 12-month freeze on current bin charge rates. 

But how did we get here?

Between 1995 and 2001 many of the TDs currently in the Dáil were on councils all over the country and implemented the FF/Green policy of privatising their waste services. They handed over the most fundamental and necessary service in society, the collection and disposal of waste, to private companies.

When the four councils in Dublin, in 2001, brought in a charge for the collection of waste, the Campaign Against the Bin Tax was initiated. The greater Dublin area, DCC, Cork and Galway were the last of the councils to bring the charges in.

The councils brought in waivers for households who received social welfare payments, Local Authority flat complexes were excluded (a year after the collection was privatised these exemptions were gone). A divide and conquer strategy by the councils ensued.

Many households refused to pay and joined the boycott campaign, in the knowledge that if/when the councils had a compliant level of payment the service would become lucrative to tender to private companies.

There wasn’t a mass resistance but there was a sizeable boycott campaign, particularly in working class areas. A membership card was produced and households paid an annual membership fee (to represent people in court cases).

The councils pursued non-payers through the courts, the campaign challenged the waste legislation, one of the campaign members from Crumlin went to the Supreme Court.

We lost, not on the principle, but on the basis that the legislation should have been challenged through the courts within a specific period from the introduction of the legislation but we were outside of that time period.

When the council stopped collecting waste from non-payers, a campaign of householders throwing their own waste into the trucks began, appeals were made to the workers, many who were not paying either, but their unions SIPTU and IMPACT did not support the boycott.

I took a half day every day, from my holidays, for two weeks to head out at 6.30am with the trucks and demonstrated that we could throw our waste into the trucks.

The councils went to the courts and got an injunction that non-workers could not interfere with the trucks. We could walk beside them but not “interfere” with them. The councils did not implement the injunction unilaterally but strategically picked areas to impose it to break the campaign. People began blocking the trucks demanding they pick up bins.

Hundreds of names were taken by the guards and 24 people were jailed from all over the city. Mass demonstrations took place supporting the jailed activists.

In the Dublin 12 area householders took the decision to meet on Saturday mornings to bring their waste down to Davitt Road waste depot and leave it at the gates in protest.

Again the guards were called to stop “illegal dumping” as the council claimed. Again people, including myself, were done under the Litter Act.

As a testament to the deep and strong objection to the non-collection of our waste, 10 years on, people still meet every Saturday at 11am to dispose of their waste in an organised fashion at the depot. I attend these protests every week.

Today we see the outcome of the Government’s action against the huge resistance to the privatisation of our waste services. Many of these companies moved their accounts to the Isle of Man, the British Virgin Islands and New Zealand just before or just after they won the tenders from the local authorities.

That is why I made the point in the Dáil that a cartel was being run by the waste companies. I listened intently to Michael Kilcoyne, a representative from the Consumer Association of Ireland on the radio last Friday.

His words were bang on when he made clear that the same parties and TDs, now so vocal on the issue, were the same who voted and supported our services being privatised. His position is that this day was inevitable.

I warned Enda Kenny that the last time practically every household was visited by an austerity charge, it was the water charges and that his Government will be met with the same resistance if his Government does not, for the moment:

  • Set the minimum charge as a maximum charge.
  • Set annual charges to stay in line with the consumer price index
  • Set waivers for social welfare recipients and low income families
  • In the meantime set up a commission of investigation into the waste industry and for local authorities to get back into waste collection and disposal

Joan Collins is an Independents 4 Change TD for Dublin South-Central.

Earlier: Resolving The Bin Charges Debacle

Rollingnews

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The idea of this meeting is to inform people of the secretly negotiated TTIP agreement between the USA and Europe. It is open to all.

We hope to be able to help launch an automonous local Anti TTIP group that can work with unions, political groupings and others to defeat TTIP, by being separate from but co-operative with others. This model has worked with the water charges movement in the area and we hope it can be as strong on TTIP.

FIGHT!

Joan Collins and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan. Public meeting on TTIP (Facebook)

Previously: ‘The Details Of TTIP Need TO Be Discussed Openly, Honestly And Fairly’

Luke’s TTIP

 

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CEO OF Irish Mortgage Holders David Hall, Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins, and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy outside the Four Courts in Dublin this morning

Further to Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins’ Supreme Court appeal against the constitutionality of the €31 billion promissory note [to pay Anglo, Irish Nationwide Building Society and Educational Building Society over 15 years from 2010]….

A reserved judgement means the court will review the details of the case and provide a written verdict at an unspecified future date.

Pic: Fiona Fitzpatrick

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Joan Collins TD and supporters outside the High Court

RTÉ reports:

Dublin District Court has dismissed the prosecutions against eight of the 11 people charged with a public order offence arising out of water protests in Dublin 8 on 20 April last year.

Outgoing independent TD, Joan Collins and ten others were charged with failing to comply with the direction of a garda to leave the vicinity of a protest on Parnell Road.

The court refused to dismiss the prosecutions in relation to two of the co-defendants who were also charged with obstructing a garda.

Judge Aeneas McCarthy said there was conflicting evidence from gardaí as to the section of the Public Order Act under which the direction was given by the Sergeant David Lynch.

He said there was a Constitutional right to peaceful protest. He said the State had to negate that right by proving that there was a common design to engage in a protest that was not peaceful.

Court dismisses case against outgoing TD Joan Collins (RTE)

Earlier: Turning The Tide Of Irish Politics

Pic Tom Tuite

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TD Joan Collins arrested at Dublin water meter protest (RTE)

Update:

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This afternoon.

Joan Collins (right) and supporters returns to Crumlin.

(Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)<

00139255Repeal of Article 40.3.3 from the Constitution

The what?

Article 40.3.3, inserted following the Eighth Amendment referendum in 1983, provides that: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Haven’t we just cleared that up?

NO.

Oh. When do we want it?

“In the 30 years since the passing of the 8th Amendment at least 150,000 women have gone overseas for abortions; at least three women have died because they were denied abortions here; and we now have the most restrictive abortion legislation imaginable – which does not even allow abortion on grounds of rape or incest, fatal foetal abnormality, or inevitable miscarriage. Women whose lives are threatened by the risk of suicide due to unwanted pregnancy face so many obstacles that they will probably not even ask for an abortion here.

The perverse logic of Art. 40.3.3, interpreted by the Supreme Court in 1992 and now enshrined in James Reilly’s Act [Protection of Life During Pregnancy], means medical conditions due to pregnancy that are not in themselves life-threatening (eg inevitable miscarriage – like Savita Halappanavar) must be allowed become life-threatening before it is legal to terminate a pregnancy.

Reilly’s Act also says that ‘unborn human life’ should be protected by law from the moment of implantation until delivery, supposedly because 40.3.3 requires it. This effectively rules out fatal foetal abnormality, and inevitable miscarriage, as grounds for abortion. We disagree with Reilly, as do a range of legal experts. Alan Shatter and Alex White claim to support legislation to allow abortion on such grounds: they should put a Bill through the Dáil and see if the Supreme Court says it’s unconstitutional under 40.3.3. Must we have another death before the Dáil acts to protect women’s lives?”

 

Joan Collins TD

 

“Even if [Minister for Health James Reilly] Reilly’s Act was less restrictive, 40.3.3 and the X Case ruling would only allow abortion if a woman’s life is at risk due to pregnancy. It is unacceptable that the Constitution should make a distinction between a woman’s health and her life, or ban abortion on other grounds – including a woman’s choice – and force women overseas for abortions. Art. 40.3.3 must be repealed. We call on Alan Shatter and Alex White to also call for the repeal of 40.3.3.

There are many in Ireland who think that it should be left to a woman to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, without legal or medical interference. We agree with that. But we also recognise that many others think abortion should only be available if pregnancy puts a woman’s health at risk, or in cases of rape, incest, or fatal foetal abnormality. None of these changes can be made while 40.3.3 is in the Constitution. We think that people with different views can all work together by making repeal of 40.3.3 the focus of our campaigning over the coming months and years.

 

Clare Daly TD

 

Long-term FIGHT!

Thanks Brendan Young

(Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)