Tag Archives: Maire Whelan

Right now.

In the Dáil.

In his first Leaders’ Questions.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar responds to questions about the appointment of former Attorney General Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal.

Watch live here

Previously: Faster!


During Leaders’ Questions.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin claimed a payment made to Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty was in breach of legislation.

Brendan Howlin said:

“Taoiseach, last week, you unveiled your new Cabinet. It included  an unprecedented number of ministers of state with the right to attend at Cabinet. Within 24 hours, it emerged that one of these four ministers could not receive the corresponding allowance without a change in the law….

“Over the weekend, the situation got worse. It has now emerged that a payment of a a third such allowance to the Government chief whip [Regina Doherty] from last year was also unlawful.

The whip was paid an allowance of €15,829 for her role as Government whip. No such position exists under law. It is clear from documents released under Freedom of Information that the allowance was paid to the Government whip on the understanding that the Government whip was actually being paid for her responsibilities as Fine Gael whip. This might seem like a technical and minor matter however,r under the law, no allowance can be paid to a party whip, if that person is a minister or a minister for state.

“This means that you cannot pay such an allowance to the new Government chief whip. It also means that an illegal overpayment has been made to Minster Doherty.

Related: Doherty faces repaying €16k to the State (Irish Independent)

Former Attorney General Máire Whelan becomes a Court of Appeal judge defying Fianna Fail’s request to consider her position.

There you go now.

Good times.

Via Páiric Gallagher

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Fine Gael TD and Minister for Health Simon Harris

You may recall how last year Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly proposed a bill which would have allowed abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

It was voted down 104 to 20 with Government TDs at the time claiming it was unconstitutional, following advice from Attorney General Máire Whelan.

You may also recall Legal Coffee Drinker’s take on the matter.

At the time, LCD said:

“…it is not possible to say with certainty, or even as a matter of probability, that the Bill is unconstitutional. Many Bills, including those put forward by governments, have constitutional question marks hanging over them. That this will happen is expressly recognised by the Constitution itself, Article 26 of which provides that the President, before signing a Bill, may refer it to the Supreme Court to have a decision taken as to its constitutionality.”

To regard possible unconstitutionality, falling short of certainty, or even probability, as a ground for not voting for legislation would have ruled out much of the most important legislation passed in this jurisdiction. Constitutional rights – even the right to life of the unborn – are not absolute; nor, in this case, is the question of unconstitutionality. Indeed, it could be argued that, if anything, it is in the public interest that we get the opportunity to hear more, from the Supreme Court, on the meaning and scope of Article 40.3.3.”

Further to this, fellow Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace is planning to propose an identical bill in the Dáil next Thursday, June 30.

There have been reports that three Independent Alliance ministers – Shane Ross, Finian McGrath and John Halligan – have been planning to support Mr Wallace.

But today, on RTÉ’s News At One, Health Minister Simon Harris told presenter Richard Crowley that Mr Wallace’s bill is… unconstitutional.

Richard Crowley: “The 8th amendment. What’s happening with the Mick Wallace bill which was to come into the Dáil next Thursday?”

Simon Harris: “Well I fully understand what Deputy Wallace is trying to do and I’ve said very clearly, on the record, that I find the current situation facing parents experiencing fatal foetal abnormalities in this country to be utterly unacceptable. But I am duty-bound, as Minister for Health, to make sure that any actions we take are constitutional, that they’re legal and that they’ll actually have an impact.”

“I’ve been consulting the Attorney General, in relation to Deputy Wallace’s bill. This bill is pretty identical to a previous bill tabled in the Oireachtas last year and the advice available to me, and the advice available I will be making available to Government colleagues is that the bill is not constitutional and that arises from the fact that there is a very explicit protection of the right to life of the unborn in our constitution.”

“So, really, these issues need to be addressed through a Citizens’ Assembly whereby they can be discussed,  a proper debate can take place, expert views can be heard and ultimately that is the right forum. So as I very much respect what Deputy Wallace is trying to do, I won’t be in a position to accept the bill because, quite frankly, it won’t make the meaningful impact that he thinks it will because it’s not constitutional.”

Listen back here


Attorney General Máire Whelan and Taoiseach Enda Kenny

We know from repeated experience that unaccountable power makes for bad governance. We see bad governance at work in the Fennelly report and we see it again in the fiasco of the Siteserv inquiry. A common thread is the pompous pretence that the AG is a special creature, above politics and above accountability. This new debacle must be a catalyst for legislation to make the AG answerable for her actions. Or would that have trouble getting past the AG as well?

Time to make Attorney General answerable for actions (Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times)

More serious by far is the failure of the Government’s legal adviser to spot a heretofore untouched issue. Surely that is the meat and drink of advising government of its legal duties. Unfortunately for the office holder, Máire Whelan, this is not the first controversy into which she has walked. Her role in the run-up to the departure of then Garda commissioner Martin Callinan last year came in for serious criticism on publication of the Fennelly commission report.

The commission did finally get around last week to concluding that the matters of privilege and confidentiality would impede a proper investigation. Why, it might well be asked, did it take so long? Surely it should have been obvious before now.

IBRC flaw should have been blindingly obvious to commission of investigation (Michael Clifford, irish Examiner)

In a clear assessment in a 77- page determination seen by The Irish Times, Mr Justice Cregan says that the 2004 Act does not give him any express power to rule that the public interest can overrule the right to confidentiality.

He also argues that as a “creature of statute” the Commission has inherent power to engage in such a “balancing exercise of whether the private duty of confidentiality should be outweighed by a public interest in disclosure,” adding that in his view these were matters “ for the courts” to decide.

200,000 pages of IBRC evidence that cannot be used (Cliff Taylor, irish Times)



[Attorney general Maire Whelan]

In January 2013 Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe wrote to the Attorney General Maire Whelan to relay his concerns about the penalty points issue.

 “I am a public servant. I need to forward an email to your office but I need to be sure that it will remain private and confidential before I can send it.”

He was assured that his correspondence would be “handled in strict confidence” and he forwarded his allegations.

The Attorney-General’s office did not inform Sgt McCabe that they had earlier provided legal advice to the Gardai over the penalty points issue.

They then forwarded Sgt McCabe’s letter  – despite his protests – to then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and justice minister Alan Shatter because the claims were “of such a serious nature”.

Good times

A-G’s office forwarded letter sent in confidence (Colum Kenny, Sunday Independent, May 13, 2013)

(Mark Stedman/Photocall ireland)