Tag Archives: Micheál Martin

From top: Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin raised a report by Louise Byrne on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Rebuilding Ireland’s Home Loan Scheme this morning.

Ms Byrne reported that, according to documents she obtained under Freedom Of Information, the Department of Housing – in a briefing note dated January 31, 2019, to its press office – said further approvals are not currently being issued for these particular loans.

Specifically, the note said the department “has been advised that no further approvals should issue for now”.

These loans allow first-time buyers to borrow up to 90 per cent of a property’s value from their local authority.

Those wishing to secure one of these loans have to show they’ve been turned down for mortgage approval by two banks.

Gross earnings cannot exceed €50,000 for a single person or €75,000 for a couple.

In light of Ms Byrne’s report, Mr Martin said Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea was told in December 2018 by the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy that “he was progressing reforms to ensure the loan can work for more people and more quickly”.

Mr Martin said:

I don’t know what planet the minister is on? But the question I would ask Taoiseach is: Why wasn’t the scheme extended? Why hasn’t it been extended? Why was there no public announcement to the effect, in other words, if you tell your press office, surely deserve the public deserve to know?

“And why wasn’t the Dáil told: upfront and in an honest way?

“Why this kind of continuing lack of respect for the House? In terms of being open, upfront and honest in terms of what is going on? In terms of schemes of this kind?

“People are still applying but nobody has been approved, nobody has been told that no further approvals will issue except your press office according to a Freedom of Information on RTÉ this morning?”

“Why can’t the Minister and the Government just be honest with the people in terms of these issues? And could the Taoiseach bring clarity to this? When will this scheme be extended and to what degree will the scheme be extended?”

“The original limit was €200million; 1,000 houses were to be, allegedly by the minister, accommodated. We’ve had about 1,550, if not more, applications accepted. So will those people, who’ve been approved, will they be in a position to draw down their loans?”

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil 575 people have secured loans under the scheme to date while a further 1,000 applications have been approved but the money has yet to be withdrawn in respect of those.

He said the scheme was initially limited at €200m and that figure has been allocated.

He added:

“But as loans are not drawn down and loans do expire after six months, if they’re not drawn down, more finance does become available.

What we have to consider now is two things: is to whether we should increase the cap above €200m, and that’s currently under consideration of Government, and we also have to consult with the Central Bank as well because this is a mortgage, it is a loan, it’s a loan being offered to people being turned down by banks, building societies and it is a loan at a reduced interest rate.”

In response, Mr Martin asked Mr Varadkar when he discovered that the Department of Housing had to do these two things.

He said:

“Cause the minister said back, last year, that we’re not going to wait for the fund to run out, before we build up a second fund to allow a continuation of the scheme with whatever changes we might deem necessary. The minister said there was going to be no issue here.”

Mr Martin added:

It’s low-income people again being let down. Hopes raised and then dashed with fanfare by the Government in terms of raising the hope. The dashing of the hope is done silently, quietly. Why wasn’t this, what you just said to the House, said by the minister in parliamentary replies?”

“…Why all the secrecy? And the silence around it. Why can’t you guys just be up front with people?

Mr Varadkar told Mr Martin – after Mr Martin accused him of prancing about the place – “while you’re prancing about the place and wagging the finger and telling us off, we’re actually doing things, doing things in the real world that help people”.

He said the Government has helped 10,000 people buy their first home.

Watch Dáil proceedings live here


He doesn’t know what to do with them.

This afternoon.

Leinster House, Dublin 2

Fianna Fáil Party Leader Micheál Martin (centre) addressing the media with Deputy Leader Dara Calleary TD (right) and TD for Kildare South Fiona O’Loughlin, ahead of the Fianna Fail Ard Fhéis tomorrow.

Sam Boal/RollingNews

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions which were answered by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar…

Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin raised the nurses’ strike and claimed there was “absence of substantive and meaningful engagement from the Government’s side” in terms of resolving the issues.

It followed the issuing of a press release by the Government last night in which Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said they were willing to engage in talks “on the range of workplace-related issues other than pay to try to resolve the dispute”.

Mr Martin added:

“I put it to you Taoiseach that last night’s initiative, at the 11th hour, of the proposals that emanated from Minister [Paschal] Donohoe and Minister [Simon] Harris have only served to compound the problem, make it worse and escalate it.

“Because it concerns staff shortages, undergrad education, future nursing needs and so on. But it was sent out via press release, without any engagement with the INMO or the other unions.

The INMO has said and director described it as ‘the most cynical move I’ve seen in a long time’ and the unions have rejected it as Government spin. And that it was massively disrespectful to the nurses and to patients.

“Now, Taoiseach, I would put it to you that we cannot solve, you  cannot solve industrial relation disputes by such cynical PR manoeuvres. That kind of ‘optics are more important that substance’ approach won’t cut it when it comes to an industrial dispute of this gravity and scale.

“What is required Taoiseach are meaningful steps to be taken. Substance must replace spin in relation to the resolution of this dispute.”

Mr Martin went on to suggest that well-known mediator Kieran Mulvey should be engaged to help with resolving the matters.

During his response, Mr Varadkar said:

I appreciate that the nursing union felt that the offer to engage in further talks at the WRC was discourteous as they heard it through a press release rather than through a letter or direct contact.

“And we’ll make sure that doesn’t recur.

At the same time though, we shouldn’t forget that tens of thousands of people found out through the media that their respite was being cancelled this week too. That their day care was being cancelled too. So I think we need to bear that in mind as well.”

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

Gulp.

This afternoon.

Leinster House, Dublin 2

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin shares his pleasure at extending his party’s Confidence and Supply Agreement with Fine Gael that could keep Leo Varadkar in power into 2020.

Impotent rage.

Can kill a man stone dead.

Any excuse

Rollingnews

Meanwhile…

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney (in red tie) speaks to the press this afternoon.

He’s screaming inside.

Fianna Fáil renews Confidence and Supply Agreement (RTÉ)

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin in the Dáil this afternoon and the minutes of a meeting between the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten and David McCourt in New York in July

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin raised questions with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about Minister for Communication Denis Naughten and the tendering process for the National Broadband Plan contract.

Mícheál Martin said to the Taoiseach:

“Minister Naughten met with the head of the remaining consortium David McCourt in July and discussed the tendering process with him. Relevant officials from the department handling the bid were not there and were not present – which is very significant.

“Someone on climate change was there, but not anybody dealing with the bid. The minutes are clear: Four issues relating to the bid and consortium were discussed. Taoiseach, decision makers such as Minister Naughten are properly and normally insulated from lobbying and any attempt to influence them during a tendering process.

“It is clear that Mr McCourt was trying to convince the minister that he had addressed the department official’s concerns. They were sorted and they were good to go.

“He was canvassing, he was lobbying and canvassing, Taoiseach, disqualifies. Remember Taoiseach that, at this stage, a decision still has to be taken by the minister. To either go with the bid or not go with the bid.

“The minister should be completely, completely at arm’s length from this process, from the tendering process. I find it extraordinary that I’m even in here, asking these questions and putting these points. Remember this is a massive contract. Which could be providing up to half a billion or more from State funds. From taxpayers’ money.

“It is quite extraordinary Taoiseach, and I’m going to put to you straight: the minister should not have met David McCourt, do you accept that? Has the tendering process, Taoiseach, been contaminated by the minister’s actions?

I mean people externally looking into this country – they might be tempted to say now, that the key to getting a lucrative contract in Ireland is face time with the minister.

“Now we’ve had tribunals about this kind of thing in the past. It is extraordinary Taoiseach that this has occurred. And in my view the minister has contaminated the process and you as Taoiseach need to reflect on that.

“And the Government does – before any further action is taken in relation to this.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke about how committed the Government is to the National Broadband Plan and about how it’s a huge an investment.

He went on to list Minister Naughten and his department’s responsibilities in relation to the plan.

He then said:

“In relation to the dinner to which you refer, while visiting New York in mid-July, to speak at the United Nations on Ireland’s progress towards achieving  the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Irish delegation, including Minister Naughten and his officials were invited to attend a dinner hosted by the McCourt family.

“It’s worth noting that he’s been a significant investor in the country for many years, employing hundreds of people. The exchange was of a ten-minute duration, as the minutes show, and Minister Naughten did not enter into any detailed discussions on the matters with Mr McCourt.

“Mr McCourt has also publicly confirmed this fact and the tender was not discussed. The minutes show that no official from the National Broadband Division was in attendance which is an important fact and that it was not a meeting arranged  to discuss the NBP.

The engagement in question took place in a social setting and the engagement of the NBP lasted no more than 10 minutes with Mr McCourt directing his comments to the officials of the department.

“The procurement department has confirmed that in no way whatsoever has the procurement process been compromised as has been alleged by some members of the Opposition, by the minister and his officials, meeting Mr McCourt in New York.

The short discussion was of an administrative nature. It is a single bidder so competition not a factor here and the meeting took place on July 16 when the evaluation stage had not yet commenced.

“The evaluation stage commenced on September 18, 2018, when the final tender document was submitted to the department. The minutes of this meeting have been published.”

Mr Martin said what the Taoiseach said wasn’t credible and read out the minutes (above).

He then said:

“This is the meat, this is the God damn meat of the bid. This was Mr McCourt saying ‘I’ve answered the case’. Do you not find it’s quite extraordinary Taoiseach, that we are where we are in even discussing this?

“So I think, Taoiseach, erecting Chinese walls, saying ‘I’m at the lunch, there’s an official at the lunch, or around the same table, but the minister becomes deaf and hear’s nothing. Hears nothing of the conversation. That’s not credible Taoiseach.

Mr Varadkar went on to say that he thinks it’s “OK” for Minister Naughten to have met with Mr McCourt, “provided it conferred no advantage on him”.

He added:

“And Minister Naughten is the Minister for Communications and are we really saying that over a two or three year period, as minister, it wouldn’t be possible for him to meet the CEO of Eircom, to meet the CEO of SSE, to meet the CEO of SIRO? That the Minister over a two or three year period would not have any engagement with anyone involved in the sector?”

“Perhaps he shouldn’t meet the CEO of RTE either, or the chair of RTE when issues around their funding couldn’t be discussed. Perhaps he shouldn’t meet the CEO of TG4 when decisions are made about funding of those bodies?

“Perhaps he shouldn’t meet the CEO of anybody in the entire industry?”

Watch back here

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin raised the housing crisis and asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar if he could explain “the absence of delivery [of housing] across the board” and if he accepted Ireland was in an “emergency”.

Mr Varadkar said he’s already on record as saying there’s an emergency and said he knows people across Ireland are frustrated with the pace of delivery of houses and that he’s frustrated, too.

He said he could “speak for hours” about all the things the Government is doing to fix the crisis but he said he’d mentioned the five main strands of the Government’s response to the crisis.

He said Ireland will undergo the “biggest social housing programme in decades in Ireland” with “over 100,000” social houses to be provided over the next ten years  and “8,000 this year alone”.

He said the Government is also “accelerating the supply of homes for people to buy” with 20,000 new houses and apartments to be built in Ireland this year and 25,000 next year.

Mr Varadkar also mentioned how the Government brought in rent caps in urban areas to “put a stop to the spiralling double digit rent increases”.

And he said “rough sleeping” is down by 40 per cent and “that didn’t happen by accident”.

He said: “It happened because we worked with NGOs and charities to get people off the streets.”

And, finally, he spoke about the recent launch of the Land Development Agency.

Further to this…

Dáil proceedings can be watched live here

Earlier: Rising Slowly

This afternoon.

Screggan, Tullamore, County Offaly

Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin tries on a cowboy hat in the Aldi tent at the National Ploughing Championship joined by, from left John Curtin from Aldi, Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill and Finbar McCarthy from Ald.

Yee.

Haw.

Earlier: And We’re Back

Rollingnews

Meanwhile…

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin will appear on The Late Late Show tomorrow night.

Gareth Naughton writes:

In a wide ranging interview, the leader of the opposition will chat with host Ryan Tubridy about his time leading Fianna Fáil, rebuilding the party in the past decade and his vision for the future.

He’ll be discussing the decision to support the current Fine Gael-led Government through a confidence and supply motion, how he thinks that has impacted on Fianna Fáil’s popularity with the electorate and how long more that agreement might last.

And we’ll be asking what he really thinks of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald.

Fight!

 

The Late Late Show on RTE One at 9.30pm tomorrow, Friday.

This afternoon.

Supply and FIGHT!

Update:

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has rebuffed a request from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to open talks seeking to extend the Confindence and Supply Agreement between the parties to summer 2020, with an election to be held then.

Mr Martin said Fianna Fáil will discuss the review process around the Confidence and Supply Agreement once the Budget is announced next month.

Ooh.

Martin reiterates position on no talks before Budget (RTÉ)


This afternoon.

The Davenport Hotel, Dublin 2

An address by Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin to a Lawyers 4 yes meeting.

There are just over two weeks left before polling in this referendum. By the time it is over this will have been one of the broadest and most detailed referendum debates we have ever held.

In many ways the campaign began in January when it became clear that the Oireachtas would support the proposal adopted by the all-party committee.

I believe that the logic and core humanity of the all-party recommendations have absolutely withstood scrutiny.

These recommendations involve a regulated regime which reflects medical reality and address the clear failure of the present law to provide even basic care and compassion for many women at what is one of the toughest moments of their lives.

Since I made my personal statement in the Dáil I have visited many parts of the country and have talked to hundreds of people about the referendum. For those who have disagreed with me I have met a very open and respectful tone.

However the most common reaction I have had is from women of all ages telling me of their own experiences and how important it is for them that Irish society hears their voice.

All of the evidence is that the public is becoming very well informed on the issues at hand.

It can be very difficult to see through a passionate debate – particularly when faceless groups are appearing and spreading dishonest and offensive material.

However I believe that people are intelligent enough to see through this – and I would encourage everyone to focus on the materials provided by reputable and officially registered groups as well as the Referendum Commission.

I believe that people increasingly understand that abortion is an everyday reality in Ireland. There is no option available to make Ireland abortion-free.

What we are being asked to do is to remove a 35 year-old provision in the constitution which has not only failed to make Ireland abortion-free it has inflicted considerable harm.

There have been many attempts to change the tone and outreach of support services. There have been many court cases and attempts to slightly alter the impact of the amendment.

But what has become clearer and clearer is that 8th amendment hasn’t worked because it cannot work.

In fact it has quite obviously increased the likelihood of difficult circumstances becoming a crisis for pregnant women. At the very core of the 8th amendment is a judgement and a completely inflexible one at that.

The 8th amendment hasn’t made abortion the last resort, in fact it has made abortion the only option for many women.

Faced with a deep crisis the first consultation the woman has is often with the internet, to find flights and addresses rather than with a medical professional here who can outline different options and ensure proper and safe care.

There is persuasive evidence that the liberalisation of abortion laws in some countries has actually led to a decline in abortion rates.

This makes complete sense because reduced pressure and an increased engagement with support services creates choices which are simply not there otherwise. There is no reason why this could not be the case in Ireland as well.

The specific proposals of the all party committee provide for a new approach where we can help women in Ireland faced with terrible situations which simply cannot be addressed while the 8th amendment remains in the constitution.

The law as it stands demands that we try to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term irrespective of the impact on her health, or if she was raped, or if she has received a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.

And it is essential people understand that there is no possible way for this to change if the amendment remains.

The Supreme Court has held, and left no room for doubt, that a constitutional prohibition must be reflected in the policy of the state, in its primary law and in its criminal code.

There is no discretion and there is no way of thinking that we can address these cases without removing the 8th amendment.

It has also been suggested that the limits and regulation proposed in the legislation can’t be trusted and that effectively there will be no limits. This is entirely wrong.

We should all remember that five years ago many people claimed that abortion on demand was being introduced because limits in that legislation wouldn’t be respected.

Those claims turned out to be false.

Women and their doctors have fully respected the strict limits in that law – and they will respect whatever law is introduced.

I deeply understand how uneasy many people are with the choice to be made on Friday May 25th. For a lot of people, including me, coming to a conclusion has been a long and challenging process.

Each of us has a personal responsibility as a citizen to decide where we stand.

This doesn’t have to be without reservations, but it does have to involve a frank and honest look at the reality of Ireland today and in the future.

A No vote on the 25th will mean that nothing will change. There will continue to be a long stream of cases through our courts taken by women facing extreme situations and identified only by a letter of the alphabet.

There will continue to be thousands of Irish abortions every year with no engagement with medical professionals.

There will continue to be a rising number of unsupervised and unregulated abortions taking place here with the use of abortion pills.

A No vote will mean that Ireland will continue to be a cold place for women in the most terrible circumstances – and we will continue to be confronted by case after case of cruel insensitivity.

A Yes vote will enable a system where the first consultation a woman facing a crisis has is with a medical professional who can support her and outline different choices.

It will enable a system which is regulated, safe and humane.

It will bring to an end the failures of the 8th amendment.

As a citizen I have made my decision. I will be voting Yes and I will continue to talk about the need for the change which can only be secured by voting Yes.

Lawyers For Choice (Facebook)

Former Ministers for Health Micheál Martin and Brian Cowen in 2000

From ‘Without Consent ‘ by Sheila O’Connor (Poolbeg)

Mags writes:

Before we get too excited by Micheál Martin ‘s tough stance on the CervicalCheck scandal this (above) is just some of the lengths the victims of Dr [Michael] Neary and patient activist Dr Tony O’Sullivan went to get a hearing from him…

…Martin eventually met the women, promised a lot, delivered only disappointment and moved on to his next ministerial portfolio. Dr Neary’s victims would finally left with a whitewash of a report….

Without Consent by Sheila O’Connor (Poolbeg)

Rollingnews