Tag Archives: Morning Ireland

From top: The PSC card; Minister for Employment and Social Protect Regina Doherty

This morning.

Minister for Employment and Social Protect Regina Doherty spoke to Bryan Dobson on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

It followed the release of her joint statement with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe last night – stating that it would be “inappropriate, and potentially unlawful, to withdraw or modify the use of the Public Services Card or the data processes that underpin it”.

This is despite the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon’s findings on the card following a two-year investigation.

Contrary to the DPC’s report, the Government also said “the processing of personal data related to the PSC does in fact have a strong legal basis, the retention of data is lawful and that the information provided to users does satisfy the requirements of transparency”.

They said they came to this conclusion on foot of advice from the Attorney General’s Office.

Ms Doherty also said the PSC “has not seen any mission creep”.

In this morning’s interview, asked how much a legal challenge to Ms Dixon’s report would cost the State, Ms Doherty said “it would be in the Circuit Court so it probably wouldn’t be very expensive”.

At the outset of the interview, Mr Dobson asked Ms Doherty for her reaction to the DPC report.

Regina Doherty: “So Bryan, first of all, at the outset, I’d like to say that we, in the department and Government, have the highest respect for the office of the Data Protection Commission and the important work that they do.

“But, however, as a minister, I have to take my own responsibilities for Government policy with equal measure of respect and we have taken an awfully long time in the last two and a half weeks to really carefully and methodically consider and reflect on the final report from the commission and we’ve taken both our own legal advice from the Attorney General’s office and external counsel advice.

“And unfortunately, we don’t accept the findings in the report and will challenge them.

“And, to that affect, we wrote to the commission yesterday, seeking at the earliest opportunity, an opportunity to meet with the commission to discuss the findings and to outline exactly what it is that we find is the legal basis and it’s a very strong legal basis, as far back as 1998 when the conception of the idea of cross Government services, across any Government platform was conceived by that Government. But successive Governments since then have changed the legislation to allow and to anticipate the sharing of the data.

“So that Irish citizens can do their business and identify themselves just once and then be able to access services in an efficient manner.”

Bryan Dobson: “But just on a couple of specifics here. Her requirement that you stop processing data in those areas where she [Helen Dixon] says there’s no legal basis for the card, are you going to do that or are you going to continue processing data?”

Doherty: “What we’re going to do is to continue acting on the basis of the legislation as it would have passed in 2005….”

Dobson: “In defiance of her finding?”

Doherty: “In our basis, gives a very clear and legal underpinning of what it is that we’re doing and so at the very early…”

Dobson: “She says you don’t have that legal basis, it’s not there.”

Doherty: “Well, to be respectful, where we have a difference here is in the interpretation of the Social Welfare and Consolidation Act of 2005. My legal advice is incredibly strong, that we have a clear and unambiguous legal basis to do exactly what we intended to do from 2005 and what successive governments have done since and…”

Dobson: “Minister, she spent two years investigating this and her conclusion is that you don’t have the legal basis. She’s the person who’s charged. It’s her responsibility to protect the public interest, to protect all of our privacy and our data. And she says you don’t have the legal right to do this.”

Doherty: “And again, not to labour the point, Bryan, we believe that we do have the legal rights and the legislation to underpin exactly what we’ve anticipated from 2005 and the legislation and that’s why we’d like to sit down with the commission and discuss her concerns and to see if there’s any way we can overcome her concerns that she has with regard to the findings that she’s issued.”

Dobson: “Will you publish your legal advice so we can see what it is?”

Doherty: “I certainly won’t publish the legal advice but what I absolutely intend to publish is the commission’s report and our response to it. But, again, what I would rather do, rather than prejudice a meeting that I would really like to have with the commission, I would wait until the commissioner responds to me at some stage today or tomorrow before publishing. But I have absolutely intentions to publish the report and our response to it.”

Dobson: “Is it likely this will end up in court? Are you prepared to take it to court?”

Doherty: “Depending on where we go from here. At the moment, I don’t have a legal basis to take it because the report wasn’t issued under the legislation, the Data Protection Act…”

Dobson: “But if she takes enforcement proceedings – you’ll fight that? Will you?”

Doherty: “In my letter yesterday, I have given notice that, yes, we would intend to challenge within the courts, yeah.”

Dobson: “So you’re prepared to use public money to confront somebody who’s responsible for defending the public interest?”

Doherty: “I think the way the Oireachtas established the Data Protection Commission was exactly allowing for differences of views and differences of opinion and this certainly is not the first time that a regulator has been challenged by a Government body and I’m probably quite sure it won’t be the last.

“But what I absolutely have a responsibility to do is to make sure that I deliver public services to the people that we serve, that I serve, in the most efficient manner…”

Later

Doherty: “…we really believe that we have a very, very strong legal basis to do exactly what we have done and it would actually be illegal for us to change…”

Dobson: “And you’ll defend that all the way? In terms of legal action, you’d go all the way in defending that?”

Doherty: “I think that’s my role and responsibility…”

Dobson: “What would that cost Minister in legal fees?”

Doherty: “I don’t know but again it would be in the Circuit Court so it probably wouldn’t be very expensive. But what would be absolutely enormously expensive, Bryan, is that if we decided to act illegally and change Government policy and services delivery without having a serious conversation around the difference of opinion of the interoperation of the law.”

Listen back in full here

Rollingnews

Yesterday: Put It On The Card

Identity Crisis

UPDATE:

Elizabeth Farries, Information Rights Programme Manager for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, also spoke with Mr Dobson this morning.

During her interview, they had this exchange:

Bryan Dobson: “I’m wondering what’s your problem here? Do you have an objection in principle to this kind of card which can be applied across a whole range of Government services, it seems, on the face of it, something that might be very, might be welcomed, improve efficiency and productivity, in the provision of public services. Do you have an objection in principle or is it the way it’s being done?”

Elizabeth Farries: “ICCL and other experts have been opposed to the card from the start. We are opposed to it in principle and we’re opposed to it for good reasons. It’s illegal, the Data Protection Commissioner has said that and we’ve been saying that for years.

“It doesn’t respect privacy rights which are fundamental rights which we should all take extra care of in our technological age.

“And it targets the poor.

“And so crucially now the DPC is saying these same things. There are significant data security risks attached to the card and we have a group of privacy experts from all over the world right now with the international network of civil liberties organisations and they’re dealing with very similar problems in their countries.

“And they’ve seen devastating consequences of cards like this. In India, we have someone from the Human Rights Law Network talking about the Aadhaar card and the massive breach that happened there – they’re exposing important information of a billion people. You’ve got…”

Dobson: “I’m just wondering if the legal safeguards, if the legal foundation was put in place, if the safeguards were put in place, if the transparency, which the data commissioner says isn’t there, if that was put in place. If those safeguards were put in place and people had assurances that their data would be treated properly and be protected, should the card have a future?”

Farries: “There are no legal safeguards, as it stands, to protect from the security risks attached to the card in its current form. It’s absolutely unnecessary to collect very sensitive data, including biometric data used through facial recognition.”

Dobson: “That wasn’t a finding of the data commissioner, I think.”

Farries: “This is certainly our position.”

Dobson: “Yes.”

Farries: “It has been a finding of the data commissioner that it’s unnecessary to collect the huge amount of information without adequately …”

Dobson: “But, biometric data, she didn’t rule on that question.”

Farries: “We understand that she’s going to follow up on that question. Because it’s such an individually important question that it requires and investigation of its own.”

Dobson: “Very good.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier today.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Journalist Dr Gavin Jennings interviewed Leonard Doyle, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration, after a boat bound for Italy capsized off Libya on Monday.

At least 40 people went missing and are presumed dead, while the Libyan Coastguard picked up around 60 people.

Most of the people on the boat were reportedly from Sudan.

A similar incident claimed the lives of about 100 people last week.

From the interview:

Dr Gavin Jennings: “And it was the Libyan Coastguard who came to their rescue, yes?”

Leonard Doyle: “I mean this is a contentious point but yes, the Libyan Coastguard has been intercepting or rescuing, depending on your point of view, for some considerable time now and then bringing them back to Libya where their fate is not always certain. I mean some have gone into detention, some not. In this case, probably not.”

Jennings: “Were there not Italian boats who were also supposed to be available to help as well?”

Doyle: “There is a big issue with search and rescue in Europe at the moment which is what I think you’re alluding to. The European Union has declined to provide the rescue services that were there for a long time, the search and rescue, in the belief that this is an attracting force, bringing, attracting smugglers to push migrants into sea and in flimsy vessels. And we’ve seen a lot of evidence of that.

“At the same time, the European Union has been supporting the Libyan Coastguard and are trying to get them to abide by international law, to follow human rights, etc. It’s not always been the case. As you know there were 150 people killed in an airstrike over a month ago. People had returned after being rescued at sea. So it’s a complicated, difficult issue. We’re going through a very bloody war at the moment. The worst in many years. So it’s complicated.”

Jennings: “And there were two planes that were being used by NGOs to search for migrant boats in the Mediterranean that were grounded this week?”

Doyle: “The political mood is very tough in Europe at the moment when it comes to migration. Even though those crossing the Mediterranean, mostly Africans, are a tiny number of people, the political mood has grown deeply hostile and deeply populist and one of the expressions of that is a crackdown, if you will, on NGOs who are doing very, very important life-saving work, search and rescue operations, SARs its called. It’s, it’s a terrible situation.

“Lives should not be part of politics. Saving people’s lives should not be part of politics. The impression one has from political and media sources is that there’s an invasion of people, it’s tiny. The numbers are tiny, as you mentioned. 54 people survived, that’s not a lot of people.”

Jennings: “Tell us about the scale of numbers, this summer, for example. I mean have recent moves by, for example, in Italy made any difference. Are there less people now trying to cross the Mediterranean as a result?”

Doyle: “I mean it’s hard to pinpoint one country’s actions for creating an effect. But undoubtedly the work, the really good work is being done by the European Union throughout West Africa, in particular, in helping people avoid make tragic journeys is having its own impact. There’s a lot of awareness raising going on, there’s a lot of informing people along the way – of the dangers ahead. And the dangers are terrible.

“The smugglers are the first people to blame, not the policymakers at the end of the day. The policymakers may get it wrong in our opinion, but they’re not the ones who are creating the havoc. So a lot of effort has taken place into investing in the so-called, you know, upstream routes that the migrants take into informing them of the dangers ahead if they go to Libya. That they will be incarcerated, they will be abused, they’ll be tortured and all that sort of thing.

What happens on European shores I think is probably marginal at the end of the day.”

Alternatively…

Listen back in full here

Related: EXCLUSIVE: UN probe finds Sudan staff member solicited bribes from refugees (Sally Hayden, The New Humanitarian, August 15, 2019)

Previously: Into Harm’s Way

‘Our Naval Service Is Part Of It’

Image: Al Jazeera


During a press conference in Wimbledon yesterday, after British tennis player Johanna Konta (top right) lost her quarter final match to Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova 7-6 6-1, Ms Konta asked a male journalist to stop patronising her (above at 3.30).

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland earlier, during a sports segment presented by John Murray (top left), in which the above clip was played, Mr Murray spoke with show presenter Maggie Doyle about the exchange…

Maggie Doyle: “It was a bit patronising, John.

John Murray: “Yes… it was… but he did point out that she had something like 33 unforced errors…”

Doyle: “Yeah but the way he said it like, I mean ‘do you not want to go on an win?’ Well, ‘yeah, here I am, sitting, you know, in Wimbledon, of course I want to win’ is what she was kind of saying I think.”

Murray: “So you’re with Johanna?”

Doyle: “Of course I am.”

Murray: “All right, OK. Anyway, the men’s quarter finals…”

New balls.

Johanna Konta angry at ‘patronising’ questions after crushing loss to Strycova (The Guardian)

Listen back here

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, from its proposal to regulate social media across Europe; solicitor Simon McGarr

Yesterday.

Samantha McCaughren, in the Sunday Independent, reported that the Government is considering proposals from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland that it be given the power to regulate content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in Ireland and across Europe.

Solicitor and director at Data Compliance Europe Simon McGarr spoke to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about the proposal this morning and said he didn’t think BAI should be given those powers.

He said:

“I think that the proposal that they’ve [BAI] made today, and they’re publishing later this morning, is basically 98 pages intended to make that argument that they are [right group for the job] but demonstrating throughout exactly why they should not be the body to do that.”

“I think perhaps the best example would be to think of whether or not we thought that the 1950 Censorship Board of Ireland would be the correct body to be put in charge of a modern censorship organisation or a classification organisation.

“The argument that would be made is: ‘well, we have the most experience censoring things and therefore we should be put in charge of all these other censoring activities’.

“It’s precisely because of its institutional history, not because of the people on the board but because of the legislation that was created by the Broadcasting Act of 2009.

“While the institution of the BAI doesn’t have the right instincts, institutional instincts and experience for regulating a completely different form of communication because what has happened here in this body’s proposal is that they have taken the concept of regulating broadcast and applied it in certain areas to regulating areas between individuals.

“So we are now looking at a proposal for example in this, that they would be able to take down private messages, including encrypted messages, sent by things such as WhatsApp or IM message between individuals and they’d be able to censor those messages.”

He added:

“For example, we don’t open all the envelopes in An Post to check whether or not we think that the content is acceptable and deliver on the basis of somebody censoring that information.”

The interview can be listened to in full in the Soundcloud link above or here

Mr McGarr has also written a blog post about the matter here

Why the BAI is not the body to regulate the internet (Simon McGarr, Tuppenceworth.ie)

This morning.

Presidential hopeful Peter Casey spoke to Dr Gavin Jennings on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland in what became a somewhat challenging interview for the candidate.

Dr Jennings began asking Mr Casey why he believes people should vote for him on October 26…

Peter Casey: “Of all the candidates that are in the field, there isn’t a candidate that has got my international experience. I have a deep understanding of the whole Northern Ireland situation, obviously, been born in Northern Ireland.

“I was part of the Good Friday Peace Delegation to the White House that ended up with the team that, sorry, that discussed and ended up making the recommendations that essentially ended up with the Good Friday Peace Agreement.

“I’ve, more than any other candidate, I’ve lived a third of my life in Australia, a third in America, a third in Ireland. You know. I’ve got a deep understanding of what it means to actually be an Irish person who had to go abroad. You know, so. That’s what we need in the presidency.”

Dr Gavin Jennings: “You’ve been 38 years abroad, what makes you more qualified to be president than the other candidates?”

Casey: “As I said, I really, we have got, as a country, we’re just, there’s no other country like Ireland. We have got 10 times the number of people living outside of the country. A third of the people actually born in Ireland have now moved out of Ireland – 1.5million people have moved out of Ireland. And I was one of those people. I’m fortunate enough to be able to come back but as president, I’d be able to understand how to connect with them in a very meaningful way, for the benefit of people in Ireland.

“So , one of my platforms is to encourage the Irish abroad to send children over to Ireland for a month so they can understand really what it means…”

Jennings: “At their expense, yes?”

Casey: “Of course, of course, at their expense. And it would be to the benefit of Ireland. Cause there would be a lot of tourism, they’d spend a couple of weeks in the Gaeltacht, a week up in the North, up in Derry, up in Belfast, understanding the Troubles. And then a week down in Dublin, understanding the history of the Irish State. You know. So.”

Jennings: “You’ve spoken about connecting Ireland with its diaspora with technology. What are you proposing exactly?”

Casey: “Yeah, well I would go to tender and ask all the big social media companies to tender. And the bid would start at a billion dollars and I’d say, ‘look we’ve got about 80 million people, we want to really connect in a meaningful way’ and, you know, it would be a platform which would be managed and controlled by the Government, in a similar way to the Federal Reserve Bank. The Federal Reserve Bank is not owned by the US Government but it’s managed, controlled and regulated by it. This platform managed, controlled, regulated by the Irish Government…”

Jennings: “To do what?”

Casey: “To actually connect with the Irish but it would also…”

Jennings: “But I can contact my sister by FaceTime at the moment?”

Casey: “Of course…”

Jennings: “What are you talking about?”

Casey: “This would be a platform for the Irish small businesses to help marketing their products to the Irish abroad so they could actually monetise that, sell the products to the Irish abroad. Everyone abroad loves getting Irish presents, it’s lovely way to, if you’re giving a gift, you’ll go on and see, make it a personalised, Irish present for them.”

Jennings: “And as president you would lead this, yes?”

Casey: “A president is allowed, under the constitution, of course, he’s not allowed to get involved in Government policy but what he is allowed to do is to inspire and motivate other people to actually get involved and do these sorts of programmes. Yes.”

Jennings: “Just to come back to issues at home to get your views on what’s happening here. We’ve a homelessness crisis at the moment. Do you believe that Irish people should have a constitutional right to a home?”

Casey: “I believe that we’ve a right, as a wealthy country, we have a, we are relatively wealthy. We have the responsibility to look after those who are not able to look after themselves. I don’t think it should be a God-given right that the Government just gives you a home. Nobody actually gave me or my parents or any of my family members a home. But we have a responsibility to look after those who are not able to look after themselves.”

Jennings: “How?”

Casey: “By giving them accommodation if that’s what it takes. I think absolutely free education. I believe that healthcare, it should be paid for…”

Jennings: “The issue of housing, I mean, we’ve 10,000 homeless people at the moment. What would you suggest is the solution there?”

Casey: “The housing problem didn’t start overnight, it’s been building, and building and building and the reason for it is there has been an over concentration in the major areas such as Dublin, Cork and Galway and a complete lack of building out the infrastructure in rural Ireland.

“One of the things I suggested was that, you know, we should be investing and encouraging companies to set up in the periphery of Dublin. Everybody wants to be in Dublin but we’re now in a situation where people who were born in Dublin, brought up in Dublin, can’t afford to live in Dublin. But the answer is to invest in rural Ireland – to make it so that people can support their families in rural Ireland. One of the things I proposed was to give a €3,000-€4000 grant, sorry tax break for people who are doing the reverse commute.

“You know, everybody is now coming from Wexford, Drogheda, Dundalk, into Dublin. And Dublin is overheated. If we were to give people an incentive to go and find employment in the rural, peripheral areas, that would encourage companies to set up there because they know they’ll be able to get the talent.

“At the moment, there’s a huge shortage of talent in Dublin.”

“You know, actually, one of the more extreme suggestions was that we put a ban on hiring in Dublin, in the technology centre, except for replacement. In other words, Microsoft announced that they were creating, and the minister announced it, 250 new jobs. They’re not new jobs. What they’re going to do is they’re going to borrow the people from the 250 people will come from other companies in Dublin.

“And I’ll be sitting over at Microsoft trying to find these people. I’ll go and I’ll offer a job to somebody from Accenture and they’ll go ‘Oh no, I’m quite happy here’. ‘Ok, well we’ll give you 20 per cent more if you move to Microsoft’. They go to Microsoft, then there’s a gap over in Accenture. Accenture go over and say ‘Ok, we need to fill this’. They come to me, I’m over, working over at Google. They say ‘over here’ and ‘no, I’m very happy at Google’. They say ‘we’ll give you 20 per cent extra’. What’s happening is, it’s musical chairs going upwards and upwards and that’s what’s causing, the landlords look around and say ‘we can charge more rent. And then what happens is that pushes people off the bottom of the rental ladder.”

Jennings: “I heard you quoted recently saying that you couldn’t understand why people who were homeless, who were being put up in hotels would complain about being put up in hotels.”

Casey: “Yeah, I mean, the ridiculous situation down in Cork where the Travellers were refusing four-bedroomed houses because they weren’t being given stables with them. I mean you’ve got to step back and ask yourself. I mean when did…”

Jennings: “Where was that? Sorry?”

Casey: “I think it was in Cork wasn’t it? They had built these four-bedroomed houses and they were saying….”

Jennings: “I think it was in County Tipperary.”

Casey: “Tipperary? I’ve been on the road a lot and I’ve been getting soundbites but they turned down houses because they didn’t have stables. I mean, that’s, where, where are we going to with this? It’s just nonsense.”

Jennings: “‘I’m still trying to work my mind around why people complain about being put up in a hotel’ – I think is the quote attributed to you.”

Casey: “I may have said something along, I mean, there’s people being put up in hotels and I think that’s sad when we’re at the situation where we can’t…that’s just a symptom of the problem though. The problem is lack of investment in rural Ireland. And Dublin is overheated and we haven’t got the ability…You we’re obviously starting now to build high-rise buildings, we’re starting to get involved in lower cost houses. In, for example, in America, they’ve timber frame houses in a matter of months. Whereas over here, they’re all brick and concrete houses…takes far too much time.”

Jennings: “Let’s move on. Are you a feminist?”

Casey: “I’m very much. I’ve got three amazing, very strong-willed daughters. An amazing strong-willed wife. So I’m a big supporter of obviously. And my CEO of my company of 20 of the last 23 years were women. So.”

Jennings: “What’s the biggest impression of women currently do you believe?”

Casey: “I think it’s amazing now that there’s no bar whatsoever to what women can achieve. And there will be a woman president of the United States, you know, in the next probably ten years. I’ve absolutely no doubt. So I think, you know…”

Jennings: “Do you support the #MeToo movement?”

Casey: “You know absolutely. I think that anything that highlights sexual discrimination in the workplace or in society should be supported.”

Jennings: “How much are you worth?”

Casey: “Lots, lots. [laughs]. I’ve no idea. How much is a private company worth? It’s worth what somebody will pay for it you know? I own one home up in Donegal and I’ve got some business interests there but, you know, I’m comfortable. I’m able to pay my children’s school fees. And we’re financially fine.”

More to follow.

Listen back in full here

Previously: Peter’s Pitch

From top: A sit-in on O’Connell Bridge in Dublin city during the Take Back The City national day of action on  Saturday; RTÉ’s Audrey Carville; Paddy Cosgrave

This morning.

On RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

Audrey Carville spoke to co-founder of the Web Summit Paddy Cosgrave in light of the Take Back The City protests which took place across Ireland on Saturday.

Mr Cosgrave was critical of Fine Gael for castigating the protesters as “criminals” while seemingly never speaking out about Irish farmers who’ve occupied farms to prevent them from being compulsorily purchased to provide factories or offices for foreign companies.

He was also critical of RTÉ’s coverage of the matter.

Audrey Carville: “Large crowds of people protested across the country on Saturday over the housing crisis. It was organised by the Take Back The City group as part of a national day of action over the shortage of housing. Rallies were also held in Sligo, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Derry, Belfast, Drogheda, Maynooth, Bray and in Wexford.

“Speeches called for an end to evictions, increased provision of social housing and affordable rents. Well with us in studio this morning, one man who was at the Dublin city protest on Saturday, entrepreneur, co-founder and chief executive of the Web Summit Paddy Cosgrave. You’re welcome and good morning.”

“Will you tell us why you were there?”

Paddy Cosgrave: “I think one of the motivating factors was captured by the lead story on the front page of the Sunday Business Post yesterday which is this crisis is not just one affecting society, it’s having a very negative impact on the economy at large. And it’s impacting small businesses, that’s very obvious but perhaps what’s not so obvious is that multi-nationals are also being impacted and dramatically so, to the point that they’re prepared to raise this issue consistently over the last year with ministers of this country.

“On the march, I met, I walked with somebody who worked with Google, others from Indeed, Facebook, LinkedIn, and I think that Fine Gael may have underestimated what type, the nature of this crisis.”

Carville: “The Government has said protests don’t build houses and they question their impact. They’ve also said previously that homelessness here is no worse than anywhere else.”

Cosgrave: “Well I grew up on a farm. And when my next-door neighbour occupied a building that was in use in Dublin last summer for seven full days with the IFA [Irish Farmers’ Association] grain committee – that was the Department of Agriculture. It wasn’t stormed by heavy police officers, dressed in riot gear. They were left, peacefully there, to protest for seven days. Fine Gael never came out and spoke out against members of the IFA, farmers in this country as “criminals”, as “disgraceful”, words used by ministers over the last week. And I think that should tell you something about Fine Gael.

Fine Gael have essentially decided that they think the protesters in the city are of working class background, that they’re from poor, disadvantaged areas and, as a consequence, they’ll kind of castigate them as criminals. But when farmers do it, when farmers occupy farms – all over this country, which they’ve been doing for years now – there’s not a word out of Fine Gael.”

“And I think that should tell you something about the operating basis of Fine Gael as a party in modern Ireland.”

Carville: “In relation to Fine Gael, they’re the main party in Government, it’s their job to put together a policy which will deliver housing for people here and they say they’re doing that, they tell us about the figures of house completions, they tell us about the money being invested. They’ve announced this Land Development Agency which they believe will be a big factor in solving this. You’re not convinced?”

Cosgrave: “Well I think if you want to understand Fine Gael’s priorities, you should look at the first act of business of this year, 2018. Heather Humphreys proposed a bill, called the Industrial Development Bill that, you know, there are people that desperately need places to live but the Government decided that the number one priority was to grant extraordinary powers to the IDA to compulsorily purchase farms around this country that foreign companies had identified as areas that they would like to build – factories or offices. That’s contained in the Industrial Development bill 2018, that was the first act of Fine Gael.

“And they prioritised that legislation in the interest of foreign companies to compulsory purchase farmers’ land in this country. It had to do with the case of Thomas Reid – a farmer, very close to the Leixlip plant, or Intel’s Leixlip plant. And I think, again, that’s very, very revealing. There’s land all over this country that can be compulsorily purchased for houses but that hasn’t been a priority for this Government.”

Carville: “But have you raised this with Leo Varadkar. He was a speaker at your MoneyConf conference this year.”

Cosgrave: “Have I raised it? I think thousands, tens of thousands of people have been raising it, the Central Bank has…”

Carville: “No, but have you raised it?”

Cosgrave: “…been raising it. The European Commission has been raising it…”

Carville: “Yeah but you’re here…”

Cosgrave: “The Economist…”

Carville: “Have you raised it?”

Cosgrave: “…has been raising it. Have I raised it? Yes, I took part in a protest on Saturday.”

Carville: “I know that. But you had personal access to Leo Varadkar – he was one of your keynote speakers at your MoneyConf event this year. Did you have a meeting with him…”

Cosgrave: “Absolutely. Have I tweeted about it? Have I tweeted him directly, yeah…”

Carville: “No that’s not what I’m asking…”

Cosgrave: “Absolutely.”

Carville: “…and you know. Have you had a face-to-face meeting. At that opportunity to raise it with the most senior politician in the country?”

Cosgrave:I find this reprehensible. Have RTE covered the fact that this government has never said so much as a word about farmers in this country who’ve occupied farm after farm after farm – halting the for sale of those farms for years now.

Carville: “Hmmm. But have you…”

Cosgrave:Have you pointed out the hypocrisy of that? That a group of people from west, believed to be from west Dublin, are castigated as criminals and disgraceful. Why? Because Fine Gael knows they don’t vote for them.”

Carville: “But I’m asking you a simple question Paddy Cosgrave. No, no…”

Cosgrave: “…when farmers occupy properties illegally by the way, illegally, illegally…”

Carville: “I’m asking you a question, you’re in here this morning, making these points, raising your concerns on the back of what has been taking place over the past number of weeks. I’m asking you – as someone in your position, with direct access to the Taoiseach, at an event that you organised this year. Did you talk to him about this…face-to-face?”

Cosgrave: “Oh sure for years, for more than a year, I’ve been raising, for more than two years, I’ve been raising these issues directly with government, with special advisors to a number of ministers…”

Carville: “But not to Leo Varadkar.”

Cosgrave:I’ve met in my house with the Minister for Housing – because these issues are not just mauling society, they’re affecting the entire economy, they’re shuttering small businesses, they’re forcing multi-nationals, for the first time, in almost the history of this state, to publicly and openly criticise a sitting government. That’s unprecedented.”

Carville: “And yet…”

Cosgrave: “Are there other examples of that? Can you cite another example of a multi-national in this country, publicly criticising a sitting Government?”

Carville: “And yet, I’m reading a report from yesterday’s Sunday Times where figures compiled by property group Green Reit, and a number of commercial property agents, show that eight tech companies, including some of those you mentioned – Amazon, Facebook, Google – who are here and well established here. And they’re looking to create space for an additional 20,000 workers and they’re well aware of the housing crisis.”

Cosgrave: “Sure and the…”

Carville: “So the impact on them is not questionable…”

Cosgrave: “You cite Amazon, this is essentially propaganda. Amazon themselves have, at a ministerial level, raised this issue. The question is, you know, 200,000 jobs. How many jobs is the country losing? How many jobs is the country losing? How many offices are Google and Amazon opening up across Europe – and they’re doing it and I know well that they’re doing it because of the difficulties in finding accommodation.”

Carville: “So how would you solve it? Have you any solutions?”

Cosgrave: “Absolutely, I think there are huge numbers of solutions. There’s nothing radical that’s needed. I think there are perfect examples, all across Europe, that have followed all sorts of policies for years – but those policies aren’t even discussed, they’re not even discussed in the national media, they’re not even discussed by this broadcaster.”

Carville: “Name one.”

Cosgrave: “I think that’s incredibly worrying. Let’s take Germany just as an example, just take tenants’ rights as an example, indefinite lifespan for tenancy contracts, what about the immediate ban of Airbnb? That’s being done in cities across Europe. Three years ago at this point, five years ago, Berlin initiated and indicated that they would start to regulate Airbnb and three years ago they instigated bans and heavy restrictions on Airbnb. That hasn’t happened here. It’s very easy to implement those.”

Carville: “Ok. Well thank you very much for coming in to talk to us this morning…”

Listen back here

Saturday: Sit Down Next To Me

Rollingnews

This morning.

On RTE’s Morning Ireland.

It had an item on older people losing their homes because they cannot afford to pay their rent.

Charity Alone has said the number of people, aged over 60 and on the social housing list, seeking help from Alone has grown nationally by 11.4% each year between 2013 and 2016.

In Dublin, it went up by 18% in 2015 and in 2016.

Journalist Cian McCormack spoke to a 71-year-old man called Frank who is likely to be homeless next week as the landlord of the house he has been renting for seven years wants him to leave.

Frank has been paying rent of €1,250 a month.

He gets a pension of €150 a week and does odd jobs to make up the difference to make his rent, his bills and to eat.

Frank told Mr McCormack:

“I’m running to stand still. I’m out there and like there’s some weeks, I don’t have work and sometimes the weather is against me.

“But, I mean look, for the last 10 years or so, 12 years, I’ve been lucky. There’s other people there worse than I am.

“At least I can get out of bed in the morning. But what I fear is the day I can’t get out, that I can’t make money…to pay.”

He added:

“I’ve been approved for HAP [Housing Assistance Payment] so HAP, I mean I’ve gone to a few places and looked in and the landlords just look at me and say, like, hang on, they don’t ask me personal questions because they just look at me, my age, and say, ‘what’s wrong?’, to themselves.

“There’s no feedback from them…they have my number. I just don’t get a phone call from them.”

I have been looking around…seeing if I can get somewhere for maybe €600. They’re just laughing at me.”

Meanwhile…

Also this morning, in the Dail…

‘How could any landlord put a 71-year-old man out on the street’ (The Irish Times)

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy at the launch of 63-house build in Carlow last month

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

RTÉ’s Education Correspondent Emma O’Kelly spoke to a homeless family who is living in a hotel.

One person Ms O’Kelly spoke to from the family was a young female student.

The girl told Ms O’Kelly:

“Definitely, the past year, it’s been a very huge eye-opener. It’s a huge culture shock and a huge change to how it was for us.

“It’s hard to fit in and to find someone who will accept you and your troubles and, if you get to the stage where you can open up about this situation and the homeless, it’s still the sense will they still be your friend? Or will they find you scum?

“It’s hard to pick the good people from the bad people and then finding it hard to come out to teachers you’ve never met before… It took me about five or 10 minutes there earlier on to say that I was homeless to my deputy principal. She kept saying to me, ‘take your time’, ‘take your time’ and I just couldn’t say it.

“I could barely say it to her when I did say it so it’s very hard.”

Asked what she would like for her and her family, she said:

“To get our home, to get our space back. Even if it’s, I don’t know, if it was just our privacy back, it’d be ten times better than what we have now because there is no privacy here.

There’s no time, peaceful time.”

Asked what she would say to either a Government minister or the Taoiseach if she had the opportunity, she said:

“Give us our home, please. We need it. We need it as soon as possible.”

Listen back in full here

Further to this.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy spoke to Áine Lawlor during News At One.

From the interview…

Aine Lawlor: “You can’t give her a home, can you? Right now?”

Eoghan Murphy: “I think, Aine, the piece that was broadcast this morning, on Morning Ireland, which we just heard a clip from there, it’s probably one of the most important contributions to this debate that we’ve heard in the past number of months. 

“We have a crisis in homelessness and we’ve known that for quite some time and we’re putting in a huge amount of effort and resources to try and help these families who are in this absolutely appalling situation.

“Now those people who’ve been working on the frontline, in a voluntary sector or in local authorities or with me in my department, to try and find these solutions, they’ve heard these stories. I’ve had the opportunity myself to meet with some of these families.

“But the bravery they had this morning to come out and tell the country about their particular circumstances, I think was very brave but very important that people understand what these families are facing because…”

Lawlor:The problem is not understanding, Minister. The problem is we have a bright, capable young woman living in these circumstances, who believes other people see her as scum because Government can’t deliver on housing and we have, you know, you can say we’re making all kinds of improvements, but are you not just drowning a little bit more slowly, is that not the case?”

Murphy: “With respect Aine, I don’t think everyone does understand what these families are going through, who are living in hotels, and who are going to school, their first day back and actually said, coming out to her deputy principal about the difficult circumstances she is facing, because the amount of feedback is generated already this morning, into the department.”

“We have a particular problem here that has been growing over the course of the year, as more and more families have presented with homelessness. ”

Lawlor:It’s up by 30% in one year. No matter what you do, the problem seems to be getting worse, not better.”

Murphy: “Well, thankfully, we’ve been able to put in resources to at least make sure they’re not out rough on the streets, we’re able to put them into hotels and put the wraparound services around those hotels. What we’re trying to do is move these families then into permanent sustainable, long-term accommodation. So, if you look at the 12 months, up until the end of May, 1,200 families were removed from hotels, or prevented from entering them. At the end of May though, we still had 650 families still in hotels.

“We have a pathway for those families out of those hotels into social housing homes, into the private rental sector and into hubs.

“But people continue to present and that’s the purpose, I suppose of the summit that was organised over the summer, is to bring the local authorities together, to make sure we are going to be able to deal with this problem.”

Later

Murphy: “We have build more social housing homes and we’re doing that. And at the moment, I’m in negotiations with Paschal Donoghue about how we’re going to, hopefully, scale up our ambition in that regard but there’s not much I can say about that at the moment because we’re at that sensitive stage of those negotiations but in a few weeks time I’ll be announcing my review of Rebuilding Ireland which is a plan which is working. But to see how we can improve it.”

Later

Murphy: “Earlier this summer, when I talked about enhanced CPO [Compulsory Purchase Orders] powers, another broadcaster compared me to Adolf Hitler. I mean we have a crisis here, we need to look at things that maybe we haven’t looked at before to make sure we can properly house families like those that were on the radio this morning.”

Later

Murphy: There are a lot of vested interests in this area. If I was to start flagging things to you now, that we’re going to do in the next three or four weeks, they would rally against, potentially try and stop the things that we want to do so I have to be careful…”

Listen back to News At One in full here

Earlier: The Good News Unit

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews

 

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From top: Joan Burton and Enda Kenny at a JobBridge announcement in 2013; Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar at the launch of the Indecon review of JobBridge yesterday at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin

Long live the new scam!

This morning.

Further to the announcement by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar yesterday that JobBridge is to be wound down and that it will be replaced with another scheme next year – the details of which have yet to be released…

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, presenter Cathal MacCoille spoke to Alan Gray, economist and managing director of Indecon Consultants – which carried out a review of JobBridge and recommended it be changed.

From their discussion:

Cathal MacCoille: “First of all, JobBridge, how good was it for how many?”

Alan Gray: “It’s a very interesting evidence-based survey, Cathal, it was done by a team of Irish and international experts… and what it showed was very high levels of progression to employment. Now, those people previously unemployed, who were on JobBridge, have now found jobs.”

MacCoille:64%

Gray: “64%.”

MacCoille: And that’s high is it?”

Gray:It’s extremely high.”

MacCoille: “How many of those, that’s good for them, but can you figure out how much of that was due to the pick up of the economy anyway, or because of them being on JobBridge?

Gray:That’s a critical issue and, as part of the analysis, a very detailed econometric research was done to compare how that group did, compared with a counterfactual of what would have happened anyway. And the result…”

MacCoille: “Let’s stop for a moment. You compared a controlled group who were on JobBridge, with a controlled group who weren’t?”

Gray: “Exactly.”

MacCoille: “And found what?”

Gray: “And it showed that JobBridge enhanced the probability of getting a job by 32%. That’s probably the highest impact on employment of any labour market programme.”

MacCoille: “How do you get to that conclusion?”

Gray: “Basically, what you do is you control for all other factors, it’s like a scientific experiment, Cathal, it’s like medical research. Where you get an exactly similar group on the labour market, who were unemployed, you track their employment outcomes and you compare it with those on JobBridge and you make sure its statistically robust and it showed that JobBridge had really a quite surprisingly positive impact on employment progression.”

MacCoille: “And yet, you’re, this study comes down for a replacement. Why?”

Gray: “It does, I think the merits of giving the levels of subsidy that the State gave for JobBridge – in a labour market where unemployment is much different than when this scheme was introduced has changed. There was also a number of very positive aspects of JobBridge but some areas of dissatisfaction…”

MacCoille: “With the money particularly?”

Gray: “Particularly.”

MacCoille: “No surprise.”

Gray: “No surprise on that, yeah.”

MacCoille: “Now, so, because there is going to be consultation before this, the precise terms and conditions, as I said, of this are announced for the new year. What, from what you’ve, this study, what would you recommend?”

Gray: “So the Indecon economists have recommended a much more targeted scheme. One where employers enhance skills – most employers already enhance skills as part of JobBridge but we want to ensure that a greater proportion of interns are learning new skills. We also want to ensure a lower level of State subsidy and contributions from employers, who are also benefiting…”

MacCoille:Because there was none on this scheme...”

Gray:There was none at all.”

MacCoille: “And you’re saying it should be what?”

Gray: We’re saying that employers should at least pay the top-up level which was €52 and that, after three months, all interns must receive at least the minimum wage.”

MacCoille: “Which is €9.25 an hour.”

Gray: “Exactly.”

MacCoille:What about, because this came up with JobBridge constantly and you can guess it will come up with whatever replaces it – regulation, investigation, ensuring that the spirit of the thing is actually the reality for everyone?”

Gray: “I think that was important, particularly in a scheme that was so large and was almost an emergency measure to the level of unemployment. It was hard to ensure adequate monitoring.”

MacCoille: “And was there enough?”

Gray: “I don’t think so, Cathal. It was understandable because the scheme was being introduced in a crisis period, it had a lot of benefits and interns but we’re recommending a more targeted scheme, probably a lower number of participants but more active monitoring and control.”

MacCoille: “The new scheme, as I understand it, would be the medium and long-term unemployed?”

Gray: “That hasn’t been decided yet. One of the benefits of the existing scheme is it was early intervention so that people, as soon as they became unemployed, once they were unemployed for a short period, they got the benefits of JobBridge – that kept them close to the labour market and probably enhanced the employment market.”

MacCoille: “Just coming back to the regulation issue…”

Gray: “Yeah.”

MacCoille: “…which is key. In terms of the way the, even the way the thing is regarded by everybody – quite apart from people who may have, you know, are losing out because they’re getting a hard time, they’re not getting what they should get out of the scheme – so, how should the regulation be better?

Gray: “I think case officers from the Department of Social Protection should monitor it at a number of points during the internship at the start, during the internship and at the end. But I think the regulation aspect has got more media attention than it actually deserves, Cathal. While there were problems, it wasn’t the major issue and 70% of interns experienced that they had quality work experience and that’s different than some anecdotal evidence that was reported in the media. And one thing to say on that is our research surveyed over 10,000 interns. So it wasn’t just a random bits of feedback and most interns were very satisfied/.”

MacCoille: “Sure, I suppose though, the problem is, if you’re one of the dissatisfied ones – and you’ve good reason to be dissatisfied, well then, that’s for you. That’s a real personal setback. And therefore, we need to ensure that that doesn’t happen, in so far as we can.”

Gray: “I fully accept that, Cathal. And that’s why we’ve recommended a tightening of eligibility criteria. A contribution from employers which will minimise the possibility of rogue employers using it and also enhanced monitoring.”

MacCoille: “And give them a greater investment in the thing – if they’re putting some of their own money into it.”

Gray: “Exactly.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: JobBridge on Broadsheet

Rollingnews

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RTÉ’s Southern Correspondent Paschal Sheehy (left) with Apple CEO Tim Cook

This morning.

On RTÉ One’s Morning Ireland.

A pre-recorded interview between Apple CEO Tim Cook and RTÉ’s Paschal Sheehy was broadcast.

At the beginning of the interview Mr Cook talked about how Apple first set up in Ireland in 1980, how its workforce grew from 60 to 6,000 – before describing Apple’s relationship with Ireland as a “37-year-old marriage”.

He said:

“Like any marriage, you go through a pothole here, there, but we stuck together and we stuck together because we’ve always felt so close to the community there and to the people there. And every time I go, it’s just like a, it’s getting a shot of joy being there.”

Hmm.

From the rest of the interview:

Tim Cook: “Apple has always been about doing the right thing; never the easy thing. You know we had a very difficult thing in the beginning of this year with fighting the US Government over the privacy and security of our customer – that wasn’t easy to do but it was the right thing to do..”

Paschal Sheehy: “So, to you mind, has Apple done anything wrong here? Does Apple have anything to apologise for?”

Cook: “No. We haven’t done anything wrong and the Irish Government hasn’t done anything wrong. What we have done together is, you know, built a great relationship that is great for the community and, by the way, let me be very clear on this because I think there’s been a lot of misinformation and false information out there. We’re subject to the statutory rate in Ireland, of 12.5% – we paid $400million in taxes to Ireland in 2014 which is one of the years that is getting a lot of discussion. That, from our understanding, is about 1 out of every $15 of corporate taxes that were paid in the entire country and I understand there’s around 40,000 or so companies there and so we believe we’re the largest taxpayer there. And we’re proud to be. We very much want a great citizen in the communities that we live and work in.”

Sheehy: “Ok.”

Cook: “Go ahead.”

Sheehy: “Can I ask you so, some direct questions? Were you given deals that were only available to Apple and weren’t available to any other companies?”

Cook: “No, not a single time.”

Sheehy: “Were you treated differently to everyone else? Were you given special treatment? Or sweetheart deals?”

Cook: “No. Never.”

Sheehy: “And the European Commission yesterday [Wednesday] said, Commissioner Vestager said that, in 2014, Apple paid an effective corporate tax rate of 0.005% – that’s €50 out of every €1million profit you made at one of your subsidiaries, Apple Sales International which is based here in Cork. Do you accept this?”

Cook: “No, it’s a false number. I have no idea where the number came from, it is not true. Here is the truth: In that year, we paid $400million to Ireland and that amount of money was based on the statutory Irish income tax rate, of 12.5%. In addition to that, because our folks there, our 6,000 employees, do various functions for all of Europe, if we sold a product in another country, there was also, in addition to that $400million, income tax paid in that specific country, you know, dependent on what rate they charge.

And what’s even larger, in terms of the actual dollar value is, as you probably know, our worldwide profits are subject to additional US income taxes and the current US federal rate, which your viewers may be interested in, is 35% and we provisioned several billion dollars for US and so, when you sort of zoom out and look at this, I know there’s a lot of numbers and so forth, but here’s the way I would kind of describe it, at a summary level. In 2014, our worldwide income tax rate was 26.1%.

I recognise some people would hear that number and think it should be higher. I also recognise that some people hear it and think it should be lower. Others look at it and say, ‘hey that sounds about right. But I would like it to be paid to different countries or allocated to countries in a different manner to the way it is. I think, actually, discussions on all of those are fair discussions and reasonable people could agree and disagree on those. But I think we could all agree: that that conversations should be about future taxes, not retrospective taxes. The EU Commission’s overreach, in this regard, is unbelievable to us. We’ve never heard anything like it. It’s sort of like playing a sports game, winning a championship and then, later, finding out that the goals count differently than you thought they did.”

Sheehy: “OK, so…”

Cook: “You know, it lacks any level of fairness.”

Sheehy: “That comes to the crux of your difference with the European Commission and we’re probably not going to be able to resolve that there. So just, for a moment, leaving aside the legality of your tax arrangements, can we address the moral issue. You said there that, in 2014, you paid $400million in tax in Ireland, another $400million in the US, a total of $800million but given the billions of dollars in profits your company makes every year, do you regard this as Apple paying its fair share?”

Cook: “Let me correct something Paschal that you said that I think is very important. We paid the $400m to Ireland and we paid $400m to the US and we provisioned several billion dollars for the US, for payment as soon as we repatriated and, right now, I would forecast that repatriation to occur next year and so it’s not true that we paid just $400m or even just $800m. The number is materially larger…”

Later

Cook: “The tax system itself is so complex. You could stack up paper from your floor to your ceiling and the tax code, you’d have to carve out, you’d have to blow out the ceiling to stack the tax rules up. This is not a system that we think is good and I think the bulk of the people in the world – even some of the people that wrote it – also don’t think it is. And so, the good news is there’s actually work going on that I now worry about, going forward. But there’s work going on that many countries have participated in to make this system simpler and more straight forward and I hope that that work goes forward.”

Sheehy:Several politicians here in Ireland have said that there should be no appeal, that this is money which Apple owes to Ireland and this is money which is badly needed for public services like hospital beds and new schools or perhaps even paying the national debt here which is huge. What do you say to those people?

Cook: “Well I think all those things, they’re very, very important for people. But  I think it’s very  important. First of all, it’s Ireland’s decision, it’s not mine but, from my point of view, if I were sitting there, here are things that I would think about: It’s clear, I believe to the Irish Government, because they’ve been very clear, it’s clear to us and it’s clear to the US officials as well, that have looked at this, that what was done was very consistent, that there were no special deals and so I think it’s important that, you know the Government stand strong on that because the future investment for business really depends on a level of certainty, a level of, you know, not where there’s floating laws, people need to know that the rule of law will be upheld. And so, where it might feel good for the moment, if you think about the long-term for the country or, broadly, the union, I think it’s very important to uphold these principles and not retroactively change them.”

Sheehy: “And what if the Government here decides that it’s not going to appeal the decision? For whatever reason, I’m not sure how up-to-date you are with developments here but we had a special meeting of the Cabinet today to discuss this issue. That Cabinet decided to defer the decision and will meet again on Friday [tomorrow]. And even prior to that Cabinet meeting, there were certainly hints that this decision and a decision on whether to appeal or not, may expose fault lines within the Irish Government here. And it’s not guaranteed that there will be a decision by the Irish Government to appeal this decision.”

Cook: “Yeah I look at it, much like I said before, is that: we’re very committed to Ireland. We’ve been committed for 37 years, we have a long-term romance together and I’m pretty confident that the Government will do the right thing. And I think the right thing here is to stand up and fight against this overreach and clearly the sovereignty of the country is at stake and the rule of law and the certainty of law is at stake and I think when those large values, those principles are at stake, we all have to stand up and fight for what’s right.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: A Tax On Our Sovereignty

Anything Good In The New Yorker?

Previously:  This Is Not Complicated

Pic: Paschal Sheehy