Tag Archives: Oireachtas Committee

From top:  Carmel McDonnell-ByrneDr Mary Lodato, Eileen Molloy, Catriona Crowe, and Dr Fred Logue, from FP Logue Solicitors

Further to a post this morning about today’s meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills…

During which survivors, lawyers, historians and archivists spoke against a bill which proposes to seal millions of abuse records from survivors and the public for at least 75 years…

Lawyer Cassie Roddy Mullineaux, who followed the proceedings, noted:

Eileen Molloy’s powerful opening statement: “I don’t think our personal information can be used as history in the future, it’s our history now, and should be made available to us while we’re still alive”.

Mary Ledato: “If we don’t confront our past we are condemned to repeat it”

Mary Ledato: “Survivors still live with shame and secrecy imposed on them. They need a process of healing and reconciliation.”

Maeve O’Rourke: “Without records, accountability is denied.”

Fred Logue: One thing is certain – the Retention of Records Bill will delay access to personal data and this will have a significant effect on survivors!

Maeve O’Rourke: “Everyone has a right to their personal data – unredacted!”

Mary Harney: “When I first held my birth certificate in my hand, I jumped up and down and said ‘I am someone, I am.. !'”

Maeve O’Rourke: “Redress means accountability, ideally in court, but also truth telling at a national level. The Right to Truth is not just an individual right but also a societal right. There must be a guarantee of non-repetition!”

Eileen Molloy: “I’m going to die before the 75 years are up – so will my children and grandchildren. Just tell me why you are doing this to me?”

Carmel McDonnell-Byrne: “I get the feeling I’ve been heard for the first time in my life, but I hope this doesn’t fall on deaf ears.”

Earlier: “They Don’t Want The Files And Testimonies To Be Kept Secret”

UPDATE:

After the meeting, the committee released the following statement:

“The Joint Committee on Education and Skills heard evidence this morning from wide range of witnesses – including perspectives from legal, historical and human rights backgrounds – on a Bill that would seal records of redress bodies for 75 years.

However, particularly poignant evidence given was from survivors who outlined, in a deeply moving way, the impact this Bill would have on them personally.

The Select Committee on Education and Skills was due to consider the Retention of Records Bill (2019) at a meeting next week.

But Deputies have now agreed to defer consideration of the Bill and are now seeking a response from the Minister for Education and Skills on concerns raised by survivors of institutions and legal experts about the legislation.

Chair of the Committee on Education and Skills, Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin said: “We had excellent engagement with survivors and legal experts on the proposed legislation at a meeting of the Joint Committee earlier today.

“We will be forwarding the Minister a summary of what we heard and we will be seeking a response from him addressing a number of the key issues raised.”

The Bill provides for records from the work of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Cica), the Residential Institutions Redress Board, and the Residential Institutions Redress Review Committee to be in the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and sealed for a minimum of 75 years.

This morning.

At 10am on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour

The Irish government is proposing that important documents about industrial schools should be sealed for 75 years. But some women who stayed in them, like Rosemary [Adaser], pictured above when she was a baby, say they don’t want the files and testimonies to be kept secret.

They say they’re crucial, historical documents. The government disagrees, believing it’s about confidentiality and preservation. We hear from Rosemary and Elizabeth, women in their 60s and 70s, who describe what it was like living in these places.

Listen live here

Meanwhile at 11am…

This morning.

The Retention of Records Bill 2019 will be discussed at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills.

The draft of this bill proposes to seal millions of abuse records from survivors and the public for at least 75 years.

These records include every document gathered or made by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Residential Institutions Redress Board and Residential Institutions Redress Review Committee.

The Minister for Education Joe McHugh asked the committee to examine the issue.

Those attending today’s meeting include survivors, lawyers, historians and archivists including Carmel McDonnell-Byrne, Eileen Molloy, Dr Mary Lodato, Catriona Crowe, Dr Fred Logue, from FP Logue Solicitors; Dr Maeve O’Rourke, lecturer in human rights law at NUI Galway; and Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley, lecturer in history at NUI Galway.

The meeting will get under way at 11am (see link above).

After the meeting, there will be a press conference at 1pm in The Gandon Boardroom at The Davenport Hotel, 8 – 10 Merrion Street Lower, Dublin 2.

The written submissions made to the committee by those taking part can be read here

Among those written submissions are two from members A.P and E.A., of the Association of Mixed Race Irish.

A.P. wrote:

“I made a special trip to London to give my submission to the Committee in person. I did not do this for the State to lock my testimony away for 75 years. I am now left wondering what it was all for and what is the State trying to hide.

When such a Bill is put in place it is usually to protect the State. Locking away our records is most certainly not for benefit or the protection of survivors.

My submission was given in good faith. As my submission is my own “words” I do not give the Irish State permission to lock away my ‘words’ for 75 years or any records related to either to my submission or my time spent in institutional care.

This move will always leave the State open to criticism and conspiracy theories as to why the need for such a veil of secrecy that the State really shouldn’t be so comfortable with.”

E.A. wrote:

“I wrote two statements touching on some of my experiences in state institutions and enormous suffering and unhappiness.

Before submitting statements I was never informed that my testimonies would be kept secret for any number of years, or that by submitting I had given copyright of my testimonies away.

I am a victim of institutional abuse afforded to me by state institutes, a state initiative. Those experiences were endured and issued through religious silence.

Shame needs exposure, yet another blanket of silence is now being proposed.

I am present, living alongside those experiences. In order to heal, and heal I must, I need my experiences aired, shared, scrutinised and acknowledged in my lifetime!

Knowledge will help ensure those atrocities are never again repeated. Besides, I’m not history, yet.”

Report containing submissions from abuse survivors will not be made public (Ronan McGreevy, The Irish Times)

This afternoon.

Earlier…

Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy (left) and Chairman of the Irish Sports Council, Kieran Mulvey (first right) arrive at Leinster House this morning for a joint Committee meeting on Transport, Tourism & Sport to discuss governance, oversight and scrutiny of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI)

Today, at 12.30pm.

Senior members of Sport Ireland will go before the Oireachtas sports committee to discuss the Football Association of Ireland, its funding, and matters concerning its governance again.

Ahead of today’s meeting, last night the FAI sent a letter to the same committee in response to questions that the committee felt weren’t answered when FAI senior members went before it last week.

The letter was signed off by interim CEO Rea Walshe.

In relation to a question on the FAI’s auditing process and whether auditors have access to all books and records including records of cheques, the FAI said:

“As part of the audit process, we are obliged to provide and do provide access to all the books and records of the Association for the financial year.”

Asked if the FAI has an active Tax Clearance Certificate, the FAI said:

“The association holds an active tax clearance certificate, which confirms that all current and prior tax affairs are in order.”

In response to a question about the FAI’s overdraft and specifically: why there is a difference between the overdraft as per the 2016 financial statement and the current overdraft, the FAI said:

“In 2013 the Association moved its overdraft facility from Danske Bank to Bank of Ireland. In 2016 the Association successfully refinanced its bank loans from Corporate Capital Trust to Bank of Ireland. The amendments to the overdraft facility formed part of the restructuring.”

Asked why the €100,000 loan given by former CEO John Delaney to the FAI was not included in the Monthly Financial Accounts, the FAI said:

“The monthly accounts presented to the Board and Finance Committee contain the Profit and Loss account which would be the normal way to assess the up-to-date performance of the business in relation to variances to budget. The €100,000 loan was accounted for in the balance sheet. Balance sheet accounts are reviewed by the finance team on a monthly basis. The transaction did not affect the Profit and Loss account of the Association.”

Asked why were other bank accounts – the FAI told the committee it has 24 bank accounts – not utilised in the absence of the €100,000 loan issue, the FAI said:

“At the time the association was provided with the €100,000 loan, it had utilised all available funding across its bank accounts.”

Asked what was the category of payment and payment terms of the creditor [who sought payment just before the loan was given to the FAI], the FAI said:

“We confirm that this information is commercially sensitive.”

Asked what account the €100,000 was paid into, the FAI said:

“It was lodged into our deposit account, which is the account the majority of our receipts go into. This is the bank account listed on our invoices. An internal transfer from this account to our main current account, which holds the overdraft facility, was then performed.”

Asked what comprises the €430,000 contained in note 20 of the 2016 Financial Statements, the FAI said:

“The €430,000 related to the CEO’s salary and the honorarium to officers of the board.”

Previously: The Nation Holds Its Breath

Kicking Off

This morning.

Minister for Hashtags Health Simon Harris is before the Oireachtas health committee.

It follows the publication of the PwC review of the National Children’s Hospital yesterday – which warns the total cost of the hospital could breach the current estimate of €1.7 billion.

It also follows Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin yesterday asking Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to request that Mr Harris address the Dáil about the timeline of events which took place before he announced, via Twitter, free out-of-cycle smear tests for concerned women following the High Court case taken by Limerick’s Vicky Phelan.

Women are now waiting up to a record 33 weeks for results of the smear tests, while the backlog currently stands at just under 79,500.

Last week it emerged that the former clinical director of CervicalCheck Gráinne Flannelly had  written to the health committee – saying she advised against the State offering free repeat smear tests as she believed there were insufficient laboratory resources.

Ms Flannelly stepped down after the CervicalCheck scandal broke.

RTÉ News reports:

Mr [Stephen] Donnelly [Fianna Fáil TD] asked the minister to correct the Dáil record given the evidence the committee has received about the decision to offer the free retests.

Mr Harris accused Mr Donnelly of making “false political charges”.

He said: “I made the decision. I stand over the decision. I made the decision consistent with the advice of the chief medical officer and there has been no evidence produced to suggest that I didn’t.”

He cited a letter from the Department of Health to the Ceann Comhairle in response to comments made by Micheál Martin.

It said that the minister’s decision on 28 April 2018 was consistent with advice received from his officials.

Harris tells committee he stands over smear retest decision (RTE)

Children’s hospital to proceed despite ‘significant failings’ (The Irish Times)

UPDATE:

Last Friday.

The Irish Examiner (top) reported concerns raised by solicitor Cian O’Carroll – who represented Vicky Phelan and the late Emma Mhic Mhathúna (above).

Mr O’Carroll questioned if the halting of a smear test audit occurred in an attempt to “put a lid” on the number of women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal.

In respect of this story, Mr Harris told the committee this morning:

“One of Dr Scally’s key recommendations was that the audit should be paused. I think that was entirely appropriate. Audit is a good thing, a really good thing but this one was not executed in any way that was appropriate.

“So he did call for it to be paused. I did read in a newspaper, I think on the front page of a newspaper, I did read a medical negligence lawyer suggesting that the programme had been paused to stop future litigation, just to be clear: the audit has been paused for no reason other than to implement Dr Scally’s report and address the concerns…”

Watch live above.

Former CEO of the Football Association of Ireland John Delaney

Anyone?

Related: FAI told to confirm if Delaney will appear before Oireachtas (Jennifer Bray, The Irish Times)

Previously: Kicking Off

 ‘The FAI Letter Did Not Sufficiently Explain The Circumstances Of This Loan’

CEO of Sport Ireland John Treacy; former CEO of FAI John Delaney

Tomorrow.

Representatives of Sport Ireland, which is responsible for the investment of public money in sport, will appear before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport at 2.30pm, to answer questions about the Football Association of Ireland.

Chief executive of Sport Ireland John Treacy, in his opening statement to the committee, which Broadsheet has seen, will say that, of the €2.9m Sport Ireland gives annually to the FAI, it is satisfied that this funding is “fully accounted for and expended on the purpose for which it was intended”.

However, he will also say that Sport Ireland knew nothing about the €100,000 loan from the FAI’s former CEO John Delaney to the FAI.

That the FAI’s explanation to date has been “insufficient”.

And that the FAI has also failed to respond to a second letter from Sport Ireland in which the body sought clarification about the loan.

Mr Treacy will also say Sport Ireland knew nothing about the FAI paying €3,000 a month in rent for Mr Delaney over several years, while he was earning €360,000.

And it knew nothing about the apparent deterioration in the FAI’s finances in 2017.

Mr Treacy will also tell the committee that in relation to the stepping down of Mr Delaney as the FAI’s CEO, only to take up a new role as executive vice-president – just days after news of the €100,000 cheque broke in The Sunday Times – Sport Ireland were not consulted about this decision which the FAI say resulted from recommendations made in a review of the FAI by Jonathan Hall & Associates.

Mr Treacy will say although the FAI put out a press release to that effect on the evening of Saturday, March 23 – the evening before The Sunday Times reported on the FAI’s rental payments – Sport Ireland wasn’t informed of the decision until it received a letter from the FAI on March 25.

Mr Treacy will say Sport Ireland was neither consulted on the commissioning or preparation of the Jonathan Hall & Associates report and has not received a copy of it.

Mr Treacy’s opening statement partly reads:

“Following media reports concerning a loan of €100,000 to the organisation by its now former Chief Executive, and at the request of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD, Sport Ireland wrote to the President of the FAI on 19th March seeking urgent clarification from the Board of the FAI on the circumstances of the loan and its repayment.

Sport Ireland also sought an explanation on why we were not notified at any stage in 2017 about any apparent deterioration in the FAI’s financial position, which is a requirement of the Terms and Conditions of Grant Approval.

“Sport Ireland received a response from the President of the FAI, which acknowledged the loan of €100,000 to the FAI by its then Chief Executive.

“However, the contents of the FAI letter did not sufficiently explain the circumstances of this loan and its repayment, nor fully address the matter of compliance with Sport Ireland’s Terms and Conditions of Grant Approval.”

On Monday 25th March, Sport Ireland again wrote to the President of the FAI re-seeking clarification on the circumstances of this loan.

“More detail was also requested by Sport Ireland in order to assess compliance with the Terms and Conditions of Grant Approval.

“Sport Ireland also sought re-confirmation that all state funding provided to the FAI has been spent for the purposes intended and in accordance with approved submissions. At the time of submission, no reply to the second letter has been received from the FAI.

“Sport Ireland is also aware of media reports relating to rental payments made by the FAI on behalf of its former Chief Executive. Sport Ireland has no knowledge of any rental payments which may have been made. As with any NGB for Sport, staffing and contractual arrangements are entirely a matter for the Board of the FAI.”

In his opening statement, Mr Treacy will also recall a query raised about the FAI’s finances and liquidity in 2017:

“The committee should note that, as part of the mid-year financial review of the FAI’s 2017 Financial Statements and in advance of the final tranche of 2018 funding being released to the FAI, Sport Ireland’s Financial Controller raised a query with the FAI in relation to their 2017 liquidity position (specifically the introduction of a bank overdraft facility of €1.3m and the increased net debt position in 2017).

“The query was responded to by the FAI’s Director of Finance, who stated ‘the Net Current Liabilities position is a common annual position mainly driven by Deferred Income balances where advance funds from grants, sponsorship & commercial agreements are being released over the life of the respective agreement. The overdraft position at Dec 2017 was within our Overdraft Facility with our Banking partners and was a matter of timing rather than a liquidity concern – the balance has been in credit for the majority of 2018 to date. The Balance Sheet position was reviewed by the audit team as part of going concern procedures, including reviewing future budgets, and no concerns were raised’.

The Committee should also note that the €100,000 loan from the Chief Executive to the FAI was not disclosed as a separate note in the 2017 Financial Statements and this information was not made available to Sport Ireland at any stage.”

Mr Treacy will also tell the committee that, over the past ten years, the FAI has been audited by Sport Ireland’s independent auditors on more occasions than any other sporting organisation.

These Independent audits took place in 2010, 2014 and 2016, with all findings reported to Sport Ireland’s Audit & Risk Committee.

Mr Treacy will also tell the committee that in 2017, its investment in the FAI represented about 5% of the FAI’s total annual income, with the other 95% coming from the FAI’s commercial activity including sponsorship deals, broadcasting and gate receipts.

Yesterday: “I’m Surprised That You All Resent This Word Family”

CEO of the FAI John Delaney

The CEO of the FAI John Delaney and other senior members of the FAI are to appear before the Oireachtas sport committee on April 10.

Mr Delaney is expected to be asked about his €100,000 “bridging loan” to the FAI in 2017.

Last night the State’s sports funding body Sport Ireland said it was seeking urgent clarification from Mr Delaney about the loan and the FAI announced it had responded in full to Sport Ireland.

In addition, journalist Barry Lenihan – speaking to Katie Hannon on RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime yesterday evening – reported:

“Just this morning, members of the Oireachtas sport committee received a gentle reminder from the FAI for an event coming up on Thursday, the 4th of April, just six days before TDs and Senators are due to grill Mr [John] Delaney and co.

“Committee members are invited by the FAI to the UEFA U17 Championship 2019 draw in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

The invite tells TDs and the Senators how, before the draw, they can enjoy ‘a pre-drinks reception’, whilst afterwards the FAI invites members to the official draw dinner.

“This, less than a week before the same TDs and Senators are due to question the same FAI about that controversial loan.

I spoke to the majority of the committee today who questioned the appropriateness and the timing of this gentle reminder – all said they wouldn’t attend the event.”

In addition, Fine Gael TD Noel Rock told Mr Lenihan that invitations from the FAI, such as the one referenced above, are not “common practice”.

Mr Rock also said the committee’s members were not invited to a similar draw in Dublin’s Convention Centre last December for the qualifying of Euro 2020.

The members of the committee are Solidarity/People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger; Sinn Fein TD Imelda Munster; Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy; Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd; Fianna Fail TD Kevin O’Keeffe; Fine Gael TD Noel Rock; Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy; Fianna Fail Senator Mark Daly; Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan; Fine Gael Senator John O’Mahony and Independent Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh.

Listen back to Drivetime in full here

Yesterday: Sweet FAI

Rollingnews

This afternoon.

At a meeting of the Oireachtas health committee.

Minister for Health Simon Harris mentions those posters outside his constituency office..

After which, Senator Ronán Mullen asked the minister:

“What I’m asking you is, is there a disconnect between disapproving of the posters and being in favour of the killing of children in that way?”

Mr Harris responded that he “disassociated”himself from the language of Senator Mullen and that he will campaign for a Yes vote.

Earlier: Still Here

Via RTE Politics

Vicky Phelan, her husband Jim and her solicitor Cian O’Carroll (in background)

Tomorrow.

At 2.30pm.

In committee room 3 of Leinster House.

The Joint Committee on Health will review the CervicalCheck programme and hear from the Minister for Health Simon Harris, representatives from the HSE, officials from the Department of Health; and representatives from CervicalCheck and the National Cancer Control Programme.

Those interested will be able to watch it live from here or on the Oireachtas TV channel which is on Virgin Media 207 and Sky 574.

It follows confirmation that some 208 women in Ireland had a false negative smear test before being diagnosed with cervical cancer and  that 162 of these women – 17 of whom are now dead – were not told of their earlier incorrect test.

The figures emerged after terminally-ill Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan settled her action against a US laboratory, subcontracted by the CervicalCheck to assess the tests, without admission of liability for €2.5million last week.

Ms Phelan was only told last year that a 2011 smear test assessed by the US lab returned a false negative.

She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 – leading to the 2011 test being reviewed.

During her court action, Ms Phelan refused to sign a confidentiality agreement – giving rise to the information about the 208 women becoming public knowledge.

Previously: Cover Up And Confidentiality

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 14.44.04

Michael McNicholas, CEO of Irish Water’s parent company Ervia at a meeting of the Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services

Right now.

The Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services is under way with representatives of the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Irish Water, and the Commission for Energy Regulation in attendance.

The chief executive of Irish Water’s parent company Ervia, Michael McNicholas just gave his opening statement.

Readers may recall how the Irish Mail on Sunday, on November 23, 2104, reported that Mr McNicholas, the former CEO of NTR, had shares worth €1million in NTR, which made €2million a year from Irish Water contracts.

It also reported that NTR owned 50% of Celtic Anglian Water Ltd (CAW) which had contracts with Irish Water for meter installation and waste water worth €4million a year.

Good times.

Watch live here.

Earlier: Stop That

Previously: Murky, Murky, Murky