Tag Archives: Ken Foxe

July 8

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s guidance on its website for how to get the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

July 26

The Business Post reveals that Pandemic Unemployment Payments had been stopped following checks at airports by social welfare officers and gardai.

July 26; Lunchtime

Responding on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said checks were being made because to receive the pandemic payment “you have to be genuinely seeking work“.

 

July 27: 7.15am

A Department official contacts a webmaster to include under the website’s PUP eligibility criteria: ‘You must be genuinely seeking work‘.

 

 8.29am

The webmaster replies.

Later

The page is updated

There you go now.

Via Ken Foxe

Right To Know

How the Phoenix Park gates were re-opened to traffic

Phoenix Park drive through.

Closed for the rona.

Re-opened without consultation.

Freedom of Information warrior Ken Foxe writes:

Text exchange (above) between Minister of State for Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan’s private secretary and a senior Office of Public Works (OPW) official requesting the reopening of all gates in Phoenix Park.

OPW warns: “As directed, the gates will reopen from tomorrow morning. As advised … there will be a degree of opposition to this.”

The gates re-opened the next morning.

An email from OPW Chairman Maurice Buckley also shows Minister O’Donovan had asked at a meeting about whether it was realistic to keep gates closed when there was “no alternative for traffic” in the surrounding areas.

Fianna Fáil Minister and TD Jack Chambers had forwarded on six representations received from constituents who had complaints about the closure of the Phoenix Park gates. He looked for a response from the OPW…

Good times.

Name that jammer (top), anyone?

Right To Know

Ken Foxe

From top: Department of the Taoiseach; A schedule of meetings of the Senior Officials Group (SOG); Access to records denied

Who’s running the show?

Who’s really running the show?

Investigative journalist and lecturer Ken Foxe writes

One of the key parts of the state’s COVID19 strategy has been the creation of a Senior Officials Group (SOG) to assist the government.

I hoped to find out a bit more about what they’ve been doing through their agendas and minutes … the response will probably not surprise you.

The creation of the Senior Officials Group was announced as part of the national action plan on Covid-19 back in mid-March. Very little is known about it.

Its establishment and work has not been welcomed by all.

One government minister was quoted in May as saying there is “no scrutiny” of it and that even they could not get copies of the minutes.

From the schedule of records, we know that many meetings took place. But we cannot have any further information on the agenda, what was discussed, who attended, or what was decided.

This was then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil on April 16: “Transparency is really important here. If we want to keep the trust of the people, we need to be transparent …”

It’s difficult to square what has been said in public about transparency and then having a group like this, which operates entirely in secret.

The decision has today been appealed by @RightToKnowIE

Anyone?

Ken Foxe

Right to Know

Minister for Foreign Affairs with his own vehicle arrives for a cabinet meeting at Government Buildings in May

Yesterday

Via Independent,ie:

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has been given clearance to keep his State car and Garda driver.

The minister was expected to lose his car and driver after he was demoted from the Tánaiste’s Office after the new Government was formed.

A government source said Mr Coveney argued the ministry involves significant cross-border travel…

…However….

17 July 2012: Cabinet notes the review that has been carried out, the substantial savings involved, and small changes to the scheme. Note it will still only apply to Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and Minister for Justice … not the Minister for Foreign Affairs

Oh.

Documents here

Right To Know

Simon Coveney to keep Garda driver and State car (Independent.ie)

Rollingnews

From top: Former Minister for Health  Simon Harris outside a cabinet meeting last January; The first coronavirus briefings for Minister Simon Harris.

This afternoon.

Horribly optimistic.

Briefing documents in full here

Right To Know

Rollingnews

Thanks Ken

 

From top: Leinster House has extended a privacy decision by the Information Commissioner relating to pensions paid to former Taoisigh, Presidents, and Ministers to now include TDs and Senators: Ken Foxe

Do you want to know exactly how much was paid in lump sums, pensions, or termination pay to your former TD or Senator?

Ken Foxe writes:

Well, some bad news – you can no longer find out using Ireland’s hopelessly broken Freedom of Information laws:

Leinster House has decided that a decision made by the Information Commissioner relating to pensions paid to former Taoisigh, Presidents, and Ministers should now apply to TDs and Senators:

This fundamentally reverses over a decade of transparency and is the latest salvo in the slow evisceration of our Freedom of Information Act by the State. Projects – like this one I did in 2015 – will no longer be feasible.

In their decision, Leinster House have said that the public interest in knowing how/where public money is spent does not outweigh the privacy rights of former public representatives – even though this has never caused an issue for over ten years.

The Oireachtas have said they will now only provide figures in aggregate. So we can know €838,710 was paid out in pensions in March but not to whom. We are allowed know €1.56 million in lump sums were paid out this year but not who received them.

Leinster House helpfully sent me a copy of the decision in the ultimately futile case I had already taken about the pensions of officeholders. If you want to depress yourself, you can read it in full here

Right To Know

Rollingnews

COVID-19 cases according to county

Meanwhile…

COVID -19 cases according to Dublin postcode

Ken Foxe writes:

The most detailed geographic breakdown of cases in Dublin that has been made available so far by health authorities.

In the breakdown of #COVID19 cases by Dublin postal district. Dublin 15 and Dublin 24 account for around one in six cases. Up until now, this level of detail has not been made available for the county…

Data is provided by postcode via HSE and published by Right To Known the public interest…

Right To Know

*Some patient addresses reflect the location of their residential care facility.
**This total does not include cases who had an address outside of Ireland and those who had an incomplete address recorded.

From top: Protest at The Skellig Star Hotel  on Monday evening; Ken Foxe

This afternoon.

In March, a confirmed Covid-19 case was recorded at the Travelodge in Swords, Dublin before a number of asylum seekers were moved out of the hotel to Direct Provision centres, including Skellig Star Hotel, Cahersiveen, County Kerry.

At least 25 residents of the Skellig Star Hotel have tested positive for Covid-19.

Journalist Ken Foxe has obtained – under FOI – a timeline of events contained in minutes of meetings of the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) revealing how the Department of Justice and Equality responded to the unfolding scandal…

Last Night: “I Have Verifiable Evidence”


At a Cabinet Subcommittee on Covid-19 are from left:  Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Chief Medical Officer of the HSE Dr Tony Holohan; Ken Foxe

The Department of Health has refused to release copies of briefings and submissions for Minister Simon Harris relating to the spread of coronavirus.

The Department has said “the public interest would be best served by refusal of these records at this time”.

Separately, the HSE is also refusing to release a copy of the “draft unsigned agreement” between themselves and the operators of private hospitals.

Ken Foxe writes:

Access to that record has been refused under five different sections of the FOI Act: Section 29 on deliberations, Section 30 on functions and negotiations, Section 31, Section 35 on information obtained in confidence, and Section 36 on commercial sensitivity:

Section 29 has been invoked on the basis that the agreement is still under deliberation. Release of it could “impact negatively on the integrity” of that:

Section 30 has been invoked because the record is the subject of ongoing negotiations. Release of the record could be expected to disclose negotiating positions:

Section 35 and 36 have been invoked because the record contains “confidential information” and because they consider it to be commercially sensitive:

The HSE said that the public interest would not be served by release of the record. They said it would place them at a disadvantage in “its efforts to maximise its use of public funds and its capacity in response to the Covid-19 public health emergency”

For good measure, they also invoked Section 31 saying agreement was subject of confidential communications for the purposes of obtaining legal advice. They believe the record is “subject to legal professional privilege”. No public interest test is required for this exemption:

We suggested that the Dept/HSE could simply publish these records to their websites and we would be happy to withdraw our requests. That hasn’t happened and both will now go for internal review.

Good times.

Right To Know

Ken Foxe

Do you want to make an FOI request?

Don’t know where to start.

Let a true expert show you how.

Journalist, academic and decorated Freedom of Information veteran Ken Foxe writes:

My new improved beginner’s guide to Freedom of Information is here (at link below)..

Now includes contact addresses for all government departments, county councils & various other public bodies.

If you use the guide & find it helpful, please support me in keeping it up to date.

The Absolute beginners Guide To Freedom Of Information (Ken Foxe)

FOI Beginner’s Guide (Gofundme)

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