Yesterday. Somewhere in Dublin.
Breandán Ó Conchúir tweets:
A barbecue restaurant has to be one of the stranger venues for a political meeting.
Or does it?
There's a meeting in Oughterard, Galway, tonight regarding the potential opening of a direct provision centre in the area. Noel Grealish, an elected TD, just stood up and said that the majority of African people in Ireland are "economic migrants here to sponge off the system".
— ash (@aisghair) September 11, 2019
Cllr Thomas Welby at a meeting in Oughterard, Co Galway last night; Connemara Galway Hotel; Independent TD Noel Grealish; tweet about the meeting last night
A public meeting took place in Oughterard, Co Galway, amid rumours that Connemara Gateway Hotel – which has been closed for more than 10 years – is to be used as a direct provision centre.
The 60-room hotel is being refurbished while a tender process is under way to find locations for new direct provision centres in the west of Ireland.
According to Teresa Mannion’s early morning report on RTE today local councillor Thomas Welby called the meeting while, according to an The Irish Times report by Bernie Ní Fhlatharta, Cllr Welby told those present that neither he nor any of the other politicians present – including Minister of State Sean Kyne and Independent TDs Catherine Connolly or Noel Grealish – had any knowledge of any plans for the hotel.
Neither RTÉ nor The Irish Times reported this morning on comments that were allegedly made by Independent TD Noel Grealish at the meeting.
However, RTÉ has since reported that Mr Grealish told the meeting that the majority of Africans coming to Ireland are “economic migrants” in the country “to sponge off the system”.
According to a second lunchtime report by Ms Mannion, Mr Grealish also reportedly said they would not be Syrians from what he called “good Christian families”.
This morning, on RTE’s Today with Seán O’Rourke, Ms Ni Flatharta did report on the comments that she recorded as having been made by Mr Grealish and Galway TD Catherine Connolly confirmed Ms Ni Flatharta’s account of what was said.
Ms Connolly, who believes between 750 and 1,000 people were in attendance at the meeting, told Mr O’Rourke:
“It was overwhelming. I found it difficult to get up to the top table where we were sitting. I went to that meeting, as I do to all meetings really. But I inquired what it was about and I was told it was about an unauthorised development.
“I sat there and listened to it. I have to say, at various stages, it was very troubling – some of the comments made. Having said that, I understood the genuine anger of the people.
“And I sat there and listened. And comments were made exactly as the journalist has outlined. Including that ‘they weren’t Christians being persecuted’ which was, I took a note. ‘We’re not talking about the persecuted Christians’ amongst other comments.
“Now, I have to say, that did not reflect the conflict, the people that were there. But certainly the anger was palpable. I had to use all my energy to stand and get my thoughts together in relation to this matter.
“Now I sit on a Public Accounts Committee and I’m very familiar with it from the money point of view. And I gave out, I tried to correct some of the facts that were given out as facts and because wrong figures were being given.
“…I pointed out that I was totally opposed to Direct Provision as a way of dealing with asylum seekers, that it was inhumane and had caused problems. However, that I was worried about some of the matters that were being commented on as facts and some of the things that were being said.
“I was heckled myself at one or two points. And I reminded people that I was there as a TD in a very friendly town and I must say that the vast majority of people, almost all of them, listened.
“I think that, I’m 100% behind the people if it’s about an unauthorised development, I have no time for unauthorised developments. In relation to this direct provision, I can see where people are coming from, in the sense of the Department of Justice has simply never learned any lessons from debacle after debacle and they’re clouded in secrecy and there’s no openness and accountability.”
Mr Grealish has yet to comment on the matter.
Listen back here
In The Irish Times on Friday, September 13, Ms Ní Fhlatharta reported that Mr Grealish specifically told the meeting:
“We’re not talking of good Christian Syrian families who were persecuted and hounded out of their own country by Isis.
“More than likely it will be economic migrants from Africa who are coming here to sponge off us.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has no meeting scheduled with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to discuss Brexit, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said.
A report in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph said an offer to meet the Taoiseach to talk about the backstop had been accepted and dates were being discussed.
The spokesman also said Mr Johnson had been clear he still wanted to get a Brexit deal but hoped the European Union understood the British government’s determination to leave the bloc on 31 October, “no ifs or buts”.
Earlier: Bryan Wall: Madman Johnson
Lucia and Jim O’Farrell with their daughters outside Garda HQ this morning; Garda Commissioner Drew Harris
This morning, at 11.30am, the family of the late Shane O’Farrell will meet with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at Garda HQ in Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Shane was 23 and cycling home when he was killed in a hit-and-run in Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan by Zigimantus Gridziuska, from Lithuania, on August 2, 2011.
At the time of Shane’s death, Gridziuska had 42 previous convictions and he was in breach of multiple bail orders and suspended sentences.
In addition, about an hour before Shane was killed, the Garda Drugs Squad pulled over the car Gridziuska was travelling in, along with Paulius Paplauskas/Petrosas and Edgars Zelenousy, on suspicion that they had drugs in their possession.
Zelenousy was driving the car when it was pulled over. The O’Farrell family understand the gardaí asked the men to get out of the car, searched them and then got Zelenousy to switch with Gridziuska, thus resulting in Gridziuska being behind the wheel. Zelenousy had no insurance.
The car was then waved on.
Following Shane’s death, Gridziuska was arrested and the car he was driving was found concealed in bushes.
He was eventually acquitted of dangerous driving causing death.
He pleaded guilty to failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of the crash and he received an eight-month suspended sentence on February 28, 2013, on condition that he leave the country within 21 days.
Judge Pat McCartan, at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin, gave Gridziuska the choice of serving the eight months or leaving the country and he chose the latter.
During the sentencing of Gridzisuka, Shane’s mum Lucia O’Farrell claims Judge McCartan asked if there was anything coming up in the pipeline for Gridziuska and that the State solicitor failed to notify the judge that – over the five months before Gridziuska’s trial – a file had been prepared in relation to insurance fraud charges against Gridziuska.
Ms O’Farrell repeatedly requested for this file to be compiled and completed so that it could be included in the proceedings of the case of dangerous driving causing death.
But it wasn’t.
On March 1, 2013 – one day after Gridziuska dangerous driving trial finished – the file on Gridziuska’s insurance fraud was submitted to the DPP.
Then on March 6, 2013 – just days after he was ordered to leave the State within 21 days – Gridziuska appeared in Carrickmacross District Court for insurance fraud and he was jailed for five months by Judge Sean MacBride in relation to three policies of insurance fraud, one of which covered the day on which Shane was killed.
Judge MacBride also banned him from driving for ten years.
On June 14 last, a motion was accepted in the Dail calling on the Government to establish a public inquiry into Shane’s death but such an inquiry has yet to be established.
“It is clear there are a number of troubling matters surrounding the circumstances leading up to the road traffic incident in which Shane O’Farrell’s life was cut tragically short. The GSOC report clearly identifies those matters.
“They were, in fact, failures. In the debate in the other House last Tuesday, I was emphatic that I accepted that they were failures. A man, who had numerous previous convictions, including for theft, drugs and road traffic offences, and who was on bail at the time of the incident, had also been arrested for other offences while on bail.
“We all know there are laws related to the obligations on those who obtain release on bail and there are sanctions if those bail conditions are breached. Unfortunately in this particular case those sanctions were not implemented and there was a failing.
“…The failings in the follow-up following a breach of a bail condition is unacceptable.”
Ahead of her meeting with the Garda Commissioner this morning, Lucia writes:
“Gridziuska would have been in jail if the gardai had done their basic duty, in accordance of the orders of various courts. Bail had no legal meaning for Gridziuska or the gardai. We are seven years with no answers and no accountability.”
Previously: Shane O’Farrell on Broadsheet
Pic: Conor Hunt
The passports of three members of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) [Dermot Henihan, Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin] have been seized following the search of a hotel in Brazil in relation to the Rio ticketing controversy.
No arrests were made during the search.
“Early this morning in Rio, Brazilian police arrived at the OCI offices in the Olympic village and at OCI accommodation outside of the village,” said the OCI in a statement.
Civil Police removed mobile phones and Olympics tickets from the hotel rooms of members of the OCI.
The passports of three Irish citizens were also confiscated by police officers, as part of their ongoing investigation.
“The OCI personnel were asked to present for questioning at a local police station on Tuesday (23 August) next. They agreed to do so,” said the OCI.
“The OCI had an allocation of unused official tickets in their offices which had been made available for athletes’ families and friends. The police also took possession of these tickets,” added the OCI.
— Owen Conlon (@ConlonOwen) August 21, 2016
Thanks Postman Pat
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney
Also as part of the court order dated yesterday, RTÉ News understands that the Brazilian police are seeking to acquire the passports of three other individuals connected to the OCI.
…Those three people named on court documents are acting president Willie O’Brien, executive member of the OCI and chief executive of the FAI John Delaney and personal assistant to the president Linda O’Reilly.///