Tag Archives: Michael Martin

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

During Leaders’ Questions, which were taken by Fine Gael Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin raised the issue of medicinal cannabis.

Mr Martin said the Health Minister Simon Harris promised two years ago to introduce a “compassionate access scheme” to medicinal cannabis for people in certain circumstances.

He said now, two years later, as there is no such scheme, this represented the “absence of compassion itself” for people who are seeking to access medicinal cannabis legally.

He said “many” are accessing it illegally which presents its own “dangers”.

Mr Martin paid tribute to Cork mum Vera Twomey (top)who had to spend time in the Netherlands, but said there are other families “under stress and strain”.

He said 12 people in Ireland now have a licence to obtain CBT THC – for which they must travel, mainly to the Netherlands.

Mr Martin said he received a letter – which he said “a bit disingenuous towards the end” – from Minister Harris yesterday.

He said the letter suggested the Government has no control over commercial operators and it has no power to compel companies to get involved.

Mr Martin said nobody ever alleged this was the case but said what’s needed is proper engagement with the companies.

He also said, contrary to what the letter said, he knows that there has been engagement with a company/companies and that it would be possible for a company to supply medicinal cannabis in the first quarter of 2019 if “intensive engagement” between the HPRA, the Department of Health and companies took place.

Watch back in full here

Earlier: Cutting Out The ‘Dodgy Guy ON The Corner’

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

During Leaders’ Questions…

Fianna Fáil’s leader Michael Martin raised the alleged data breach at Independent News and Media and matters of editorial independence and independence of journalists.

He said the recent events were a “wake-up call” for the Oireachtas to “deal with these issues”.

Mr Martin mentioned a report published last year by Mr Justice John Murray about the protection of journalistic sources, called ‘Review of the law on the retention of an access to communications data’.

Mr Martin said this report hasn’t been acted upon since it was published in April 2017 and called for a national law to be established for source protection.

Mr Martin added:

“Will you reaffirm to the house because I think something happened yesterday, whereby an actor of the State – the Director of the Office Corporate Enforcement was essentially, received correspondence that in line of his duty, he may be peronsally held liable in respect of certain things.

“I think it’s very important that the messages goes out from the Oireachtas and form Government that any actor of the State is indemnified and will not lose out personally in any way for conducting his duty on behalf of the taxpayer and on behalf of the State.

“I think it’s very important that that affirmation should be given in respect of the ODCE director today.”

Mr Varadkar said:

“Thanks very much, deputy, for raising this important question and to answer yours, I think given recent revelations, yes we are going to have to give consideration to legislation in this area to protect sources.

“I’m not aware of any legislation being drafted currently by Government and I haven’t seen any legislation drafted by Opposition, in the form of private members’ bills in the past two years but perhaps, perhaps time has certainly come for Government to dust down those reports and give consideration to legislation in this area.

I think having an Independent News and Media is a cornerstone to our democracy, it is after all the fourth estate.

“I believe journalists must be free to pursue stories that they want to pursue. Their sources should be protected, free from any unjust interference, external or internal.

“We need to the plurality of voices in the media. We need to ensure that these voices are not drowned our or silenced and we also need diversity and ownership. So I commend journalists who work to report on this story, including journalists at Independent News and Media who haven’t allowed their independence to be compromised.

A report of the data breach represent a significant a very significant threat to the freedom of our press, however I think that the way that the media has responded to this threat to date should reassure us that our press will not be silenced.

“Obviously, any alleged breach of personal data is a matter of concern, heather it relates to journalists or public citizens and it’s important to say that although this is now a matter before the courts, we need to respect that and bear in mind that in terms of our contributions and I know the deputy has.

“The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the ODCE, which is a Government office at the Department of Business has now made an application to the high court under Section 748 of the Companiess Act 2014 to appoint inspectors to investigate the affairs of INM.

“This is now an enforcement matter for the ODCE. Section 949, subsection 3 of the Companies Act, provides that the Director of Corporate Enforcement shall be independent in the performance of its statutory functions.

“That case commenced as of yesterday.

In terms of indemnity, it is absolutely the case that any public servant that acts properly, and acts in accordance with their mandate, and doesn’t breach any law or ethical principles is of course indemnified by the State.”

Meanwhile…

After Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald also asked questions in light of the alleged data breach at INM, Tipperary’s Independent TD Michael Lowry asked his question of the Taoiseach…

He started:

“Sorry to trouble you with more mundane and practical matters but some of you city representatives and urban centres wouldn’t recognise or realise the huge problem, the massive problem we have in relation to rural and county roads…”

Watch live here

Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin

Concerning the ‘seismic shift’ of Micheál Martin coming out as in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment, I’m a little surprised  people aren’t seeing the stroke that’s being played here.

Discerning the flow of the tide – be it from opinion poll data, focus groups, a cold hard look at the marriage equality vote – Micheál Martin and the FF leadership have seen the writing on the wall and realised that all indicators say that repeal will carry in a referendum.

At its 2017 Árd Fheis, FF voted conclusively to take a pro-life stance on the issue of the 8th Amendment. That position has not changed.

Martin, in my opinion, is now working tactically in order to secure a least-worst-option salvage operation and continues to act in the interests of his party, his support base, and cumanns all of which have registered a majority interest in a pro-life stance.

One of the most cynical aspects of the play has been for the leader to claim that he is speaking in a personal capacity.

This is unfathomable in a party that adhere’s strongly to the power of the grassroots and the assertion of that power through decisions of the Árd Fheis.

Martin is playing the long game with a pro-life agenda and you can guarantee that the party faithful’s concerns are being assuaged in constituency clinics the country over this morning. ‘Trust Micheál, he knows what he’s doing…’

Accepting that they cannot win to ‘save the 8th’ in a referendum, FF are now trying to insert an option C into what had been until now a binary debate.

Their new play is that the legal vacuum created by the repeal of the 8th would cause legal uncertainty and thus, if we cannot save the 8th, we must amend it.

This concept has been floating around the discourse in pro-life circles for some time now; see certain moderate pro-lifers on twitter for examples of this kite having been flown. The underlying fallacy of the argument here is that the (de Valera authored) constitution operated perfectly well between 1937 and 1983 with no 8th amendment in it whatsoever.

The 1983 vote was one to provide for extraordinary restrictions on access to abortion services at home and abroad in the face of rapidly changing medical technologies and access to alternative jurisdictions.

The genius of Martin’s new gambit is that he does not have to win over the electorate, just the Oireachtas – and FF have a controlling stake in the Dáil at the moment – a fact they like to keep as quiet as possible about.

In all referenda, there can only be an A or B question put to the electorate. The Oireachtas, through the Cabinet, determine and sanction the wording of every referendum in consultation with the Attorney General.

One of those two options has to be, by definition, to retain the 8th Amendment in the Art. 40.3.3 of the Constitution. The second box will either be to remove the article entirely or to replace it. Micheál Martin’s position yesterday was not for repeal of the 8th but rather for option B on the ballot paper to be amendment of the 8th.

Such a move would guarantee that the people do not have the option of doing what the repeal campaign has advocated for all along; what the constitutional convention advocated for; and what a majority of cabinet (excepting our still silent Taoiseach) has indicated to be their preferred option.

If Micheál Martin’s gambit play’s off, FF can then work towards the drafting of an amendment which ensures that access to abortion in Ireland is as restrictive as they deem desirable while appearing to look liberal. Such compositional gymnastics are a Fianna Fáil speciality: viz Haughey’s ‘an Irish solution to an Irish problem’ on contraception back in 1979.

Confined to the safe and familiar territory of Leinster House and free from the rigours of real public debate, do not expect Micheál Martin’s ‘amend the 8th’ option to result in ‘free, safe, and legal’ abortion in Ireland. Expect instead applications to panels of medical experts, strict legal definitions on viability, and careful consideration and clauses on issues such as suicidal ideation.

Michaél Martin has rarely trumpeted the fact that he has had Fine Gael firmly in his grasp since the 2016 general election. All he has to do now is give a gentle tug on the rope and remind Dr Varadkar who is it that holds the power behind the throne.

If the wording of an amendment to the 8th amendment is not acceptable to FF, they can pull the plug on government in the morning – likely using some latent whistleblower scandal as a causus belli – and then we’ll be right back where we started from. Campaign funds squandered on a general election and little appetite for revisiting repeal any time soon.

Judging by the press reportage this master move in stroke politics has been swallowed hook line and sinker in many quarters with the media failing either to discern or to call out what has occurred.

It is particularly illuminating to see the Journal.ie’s article announcing Martin’s volte face where the video from Oireachtas TV cuts short of showing his clarification on amendment, instead cutting at the point where he says he favours repeal as if it was some sort of mic drop moment.

If, whenever this referendum is finally held, you find yourself staring at a ballot paper where the option for a clean and simple repeal of the 8th amendment does not appear, don’t say I didn’t warn you, and don’t forget about slippery Mick and his cunning trick.

Phryne Fisher is a Broadsheet reader.

Earlier: Ask A broadsheet Reader

Rollingnews

From the Dáil plinth this afternoon.

Fianna Fáil Mícheál Martin addresses journalists after he held a meeting with the new leader of Fine Gael Leo Varadkar.

Pic: Martina Fitzgerald

15/9/2009. FF Day 2. L to R. Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fail, Brian Cowen and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin are joined by Dr Michael Woods TD after the family photo, on the second day of the Summer 09 FF Think-In at the Hodson Bay Hotel outside Athlone. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Dr Michael Woods (Right) with Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen (left) and Micheál Martín at an FF Think-In in 2009

The June 2002 deal between Fianna Fáil and 18 religious orders, brokered by Michael Woods while serving as Minister for Education, awarded indemnity against all legal claims if the orders paid €128m in cash and property.

The agreement was made by Mr Woods, a devout Catholic, on behalf of Fianna Fail, before the 2002 General Election and cabinet approval was never sought. It was also never run past the Attorney General of the day [Michael McDowell].

At the time total liability to survivors was estimated at €300m even though no detailed analysis was carried out by any government department. Total liability is currently estimated at €1.5bn

On this morning’s Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martín was asked about the deal.

Seán O’Rourke: “Should the Government now, given what was revealed in Tuam, revisit the deal that was done in 2002 between the church and the then Fianna Fáil government? You were part of it. There was the minister [for justice], Michael Woods giving the religious orders a €128million or 128million pound/punt indemnity. And, since then, the State has paid €1.5billion in restitution for the abuse. I’m not sure if the €128million, such as it was, has actually ever been delivered?

Micheál Martín: “Well, first of all, there’s two elements of that. There’s the payments to victims of industrial schools at the time. And the redress board that was established – that would have had to be established irrespective of any deal with the church, Sean. The church would never had been coming up with €1.5billion and the legal advice at the time, and I remember speaking to the late Rory Brady who was the Attorney General [Editor’s note: Mr Brady was appointed Attorney General after the indemnity deal was struck], he was adamant that the State would always, because of its involvement, from the inspectorial regime at the time in industrial schools – it was culpable. And so the choice was: does one, would you leave the victims waiting and those who were in, the survivors, sorry, of industrial schools, would you leave them waiting or would you allow them have to go through the courts for years to get their justified compensation. Or would you do…”

O’Rourke: “Are you saying that was the best deal that could be done at the time?

Martin: “No I’m saying it was the most humane thing that could have been done in terms of the redress scheme. In terms of the Church in my view a better deal could be done. and, for example, I think all the hospitals in the state should be given over by the churches to the state. I think the state has invested hugely in them anyway but I think issues like that could occur but in terms of actual pure cash I don’t think you were ever going to get to a situation the where the church would be coming up with the  1.5 billion. I would respectfully suggest the state was culpable, we were told the state was culpable. Demonstrably so. The state inspected these schools.”

O Rourke: “Of course the church is not neatly identifiable entity. it has different if you like manifestations a lot of which are independent of one another. Dioceses are different from religious orders…so how do you actually tie it all down?”

Martin” Well I think you engage with all the various orders one by one, you engage with those who have particular responsibilities, some more than others it has to be said. And of course religious orders are very much in decline in terms of nuns and brothers and that who would have been running industrial schools way back then and indeed the mother and baby homes..there’s a limit to what actually can be achieved in this field if one is honest, But on the other hand, there’s properties and land. and so on like that which should be there for the common good. The orders have responded in that regard by the way in relation to the provision of some services in health and education…”

O’Rourke: “…and a plan for social housing has been provided aswell. This idea that you have with the hospitals. The ones that would be obvious and immediately come to mind would be some of the big ones in Dublin like St Vincent’s, The Mater are you saying they should be handed over effectively to the state?”

Martin: “I do actually.And given now the state is now funding all of these hospitals my own view is that it’s time if there any properties still retained by the church they should hand them over.”

O’Rourke:
“And without any religious if you will lingering influence in regard to ethical committees and things of that nature?”

Martin: “There are ethical committees that owe more to medicine than religious ethos and in my view that should always be the preeminent.”

O’Rourke: “And is this your alternative to re-opening the Michael Woods deal?”

Martin: “Well when you say re-open…I think we need to cut to chase fairly quickly here and that’s why I made that particular suggestion as an example of what could be done.”

Listen back here.

Previous: Indemnity And The Religious

Rollingnews

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From top: Leinster House first-floor interior; Micheál Martin

The extended summer holiday, the Leinster House refit and the Fianna Fáil leader.

What fresh slippery nonsense is this?

Steve White writes:

In October, Micheál Martin said in the Daíl that:

“The Dáil rose on 21 July and resumed on 27 September. In July, we were all told major works were to be undertaken to physically refurbish the Chamber, but that did not happen. Therefore, it transpired that there was no necessity for the longer than usual summer recess.”

I’ve been trying to find out if this statement is true or not as it’s an extraordinary claim considering the issue that has been made about the amount of work/legislation the Dáil has been able to do so far this term.

I’ve emailed Micheál Martin and Fianna Fail in the past few weeks with no replies.

I also emailed the Oireachtas and this is the reply I got:

Mr White,

As you’re probably aware, there were quite extensive works undertaken in the Dáil chamber during the summer recess (read more here and here). The quote may reference the wider restoration work to be completed in Leinster House but this would not have impacted on Dáil sitting dates. Perhaps Micheál Martin’s office may be able to clarify the quote, however.

Thanks,
Best regards,
Press Officer
Communications | Broadcasting | Web
Houses of the Oireachtas

I have also received a reply from the Ceann Comhairle’s office, which said the same thing, (LCC Pat Gallagher was actually in the chair at the time).

It similarly says that the works that were meant to take place did take place, but the CC says he will not comment further, even though tens of thousands of people may have been misinformed about Oireachtas business.

The Irish Times, the Irish Mirror, the Independent and the Sunday Times all quoted what Micheál Martin said without clarifying.

There are also the minutes of the Oireachtas Commission meeting on October 4th, 2016 which say:

7. TECHNOLOGY IN THE CHAMBERS PROJECT

The Commission was briefed on the ICT project underway to modernise the technical systems in the Chambers of both Houses and in the Committee Rooms.

The Commission noted that the Technology in the Chambers project is part of a significant programme of ICT investment to build an Enterprise Architecture for the Service and to develop the ICT systems in the Houses to make them more responsive to the needs of users.

The Commission welcomed the project and noted the enhancements to the technical systems in the Dáil Chamber following completion of the necessary work within the agreed timeframe and budget over the summer recess period.

8. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

(i) Refurbishment works to Georgian Leinster House

The Secretary General updated the Commission on the progress on the refurbishment works to Georgian Leinster House. He noted that discussions on the relocation of the Seanad Chamber to the National Museum for the duration of the works were ongoing and had escalated to political level at this point.

I found articles, by Fiach Kelly in the Irish Times in May 2016 here and herewhich describe the plans and state that Mr Kelly spoke to Micheál Martin about this.

But did Mr Martin get the distinction between the chamber refit over the summer and wider Leinster House works that are to take much longer confused? Even after they were explained to him?

Mr Martin said himself:

“The clerk did explain about the structural problems with Leinster House, the old part of Leinster House from his perspective, required urgent remedial works, in terms of securing it and so on.”

Anyone?

Micheál Martin Claimed Extra Long Dáil (Steve White, Lost Expectations)

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Yesterday.

In the Dáil.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, under Standing Order 46 (1), made a personal explanation to the Dáil in relation to the shooting of Brian Stack.

Father-of-three Mr Stack was aged 48 and the chief prison officer in Portlaoise prison when he was shot in the neck on March 25th, 1983, after attending a boxing match in the National Stadium.

He died 18 months after the shooting which left him paralysed and with severe brain damage.

During this address in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Adams said:

“For the record, I will again set out the sequence of events and my efforts to assist the family of Brian Stack. Austin Stack approached me in 2013 seeking acknowledgment for what happened to his father.

I met Austin on a number of occasions over the course of the following months, mostly on my own. Austin and his brother Oliver made it clear to me, personally and said publicly, that they were not looking for people to go to jail. They wanted acknowledgement and they wanted closure.

There is a note of that initial meeting, and I am releasing that today.

The computer stamp shows that this note was typed into the computer on 16 May, seven days after the first meeting with the family. Austin Stack speaks of his commitment to restorative justice processes. I believe him.

I told the Stack brothers that I could help only on the basis of confidentiality. This was the same basis on which I have tried to help other families. Both Austin and Oliver agreed to respect the confidential nature of the process we were going to try to put in place.

Without that commitment, I could never have pursued the meeting they were seeking, which took place later that summer.

The brothers were given a statement at that meeting by a former IRA leader. That statement was made available publicly by the Stack family. The statement acknowledged that the IRA was responsible for their father’s death, that it regretted it took so long to clarify this for them, that the shooting of Brian Stack was not authorised by the IRA leadership, and that the person who gave the instruction was disciplined.

The statement expressed sorrow for the pain and hurt the Stack family suffered.

Following the meeting, the family acknowledged that the process “has provided us with some answers that three separate Garda investigations failed to deliver. We would like to thank Deputy Adams for the role he has played in facilitating this outcome”.

Since then, the position of Austin Stack has changed.

In 2013, Austin gave me the names of four people whom he believed might have information on the case. He told me that he had been given these names by journalistic and Garda sources.

Austin denies giving me names. Why on earth would I say that I received the names from him if I did not? Continue reading

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He’s so slippery.

This afternoon

Fianna Fáil leader Michaél Martin and poster of same (top left) pursued by a TV3 news crew outside Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Fianna Fail bid to seize power from Fine Gael (Sunday Business Post)

Meanwhile…

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This afternoon

From top: Newly elected Sinn Féin TD for Carlow/Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion and newly elected Dublin Bay North Sinn Féin TD, Denise Mitchell.

They’re old enough to remember the St Andrew’s Agreement.

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

Meanwhile…

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Independent Alliance members Sean Canney, Finian McGrath TD, Shane Ross TD John Halligan TD andv Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran after meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny regarding the formation of a coalition.

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews