Tag Archives: Oireachtas Retort


Oireachtas Retort has takes  in-depth look at the relationship between legacy media such as RTÉ, and the Catholic hard-right, with a specific eye on marginalisation of women’s voices.

It’s a long read at the link below, but worth the prolonged grabbing of tay.

An excerpt:

When news of the Miss X broke in 1992, An Taoiseach Albert Reynolds stood in the chamber to make a statement on Ireland’s injunction of a fourteen year old girl. There were just eight women TDs at the time and the two who tried to speak were ruled out of order by the Cheann Comhairle.

After over 21 years, a government passed legislation in line with that Supreme Court judgement which had been upheld by the people not once but twice.

From that January through May, no law in our lifetime was ever given so much time in parliament but it was not until the final stage of the final night in 2013, after months of supposed debate, that someone read onto the Dáil record part of evidence given by a then teenage girl during the X Case.

She had been absent throughout. She was not alone, government also excluded the D Case from consideration. Deirdre Conroy was absent until waving her anonymity in 2013 stating that what happened to Savita Halappanavar “was the final straw”.

Ahead of the 2002 referendum she had previously published an pseudonymous open letter the Taoiseach asking to be listened to. Here she was again three Taoisigh later.

There is no reason why anyone in her circumstances or any other should have to forfeit so much to be heard in Leinster House.

In public houses where there is considerably less drinking and antisocial behaviour, places long considered and marketed as the heart of Irish social life, women were routinely banished to a snug if they were served at all.

One way or another, women were absent. Through the law and much more, women’s views, experience and decision making was kept out of sight where it was less likely to intrude or contribute….

On the Importance Absence And Nuisance Oireachtas Retort

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Oireachtas Retort’s latest podcast:

Abortion in Ireland and lack thereof.

OR writes:

This show begins with Fláiva Simas from Galway Prochoice reading a migrant’s perspective on Savita Halappanavar. A musical interlude from Sissy and then I am joined in conversation with Niamh Puirséil and Máiréad Enright. Topics covered include just about everything from law, politics, respectability and media ‘balance’.

Closing things out, Linda Kavanagh from the Abortion Rights Campaign and Goretti Horgan from Alliance For Choice give us an activist update from north and south.

Oireachtas Retort Podcast Episode Three (Oireachtas Retort)

Thanks Oireachtas Retort

0006f72d-64290289526Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 12.40.25

From top: A Magdalene Laundry in the 1950s; Nuala Ní Mhuircheartaigh (Department of Foreign Affairs), adviser to Martin McAleese in his role investigating State involvement with the Magdalene Laundries; Enda kenny during the leaders’ debate on Tuesday night

Also known as Opus Dei.

On Tuesday night, towards the end of the Prime Time Leaders’ Debate on RTÉ, presenter Miriam O’Callaghan asked the leaders what decision they regretted the most in their public life – political or otherwise.

When it came to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Fine Gael leader said:

“Well I regret a number but I would say that, maybe, to have been able to do things earlier but then that didn’t come my way. Like, that’s why I was happy to speak out about the sexual abuse in Cloyne, that’s why I was happy to do, to be moved by the tears of the Magdalene women, that’s why I was happy to deal with the people in Priory Hall, and that’s why I think it was important to be able to join the, join with the many hundreds of thousands who were able to provide freedom and relief for so many people in the marriage equality referendum. I had regrets about not being able to do things about those earlier but, when its come my way, we’ve been happy to work with others in delivering on that responsibility.”

Further to this.

Oireachtas Retort has dedicated their Election Day post to the survivors of the Magdalene laundries and symphysiotomy with pieces written by Claire McGettrick, of Justice For Magdalenes, and Marie O’Connor, of Survivors of Symphysiotomy.

Oireachtas Retort writes:

You will find no clearer example of how brute uncaring force, casually demeaning people over decades is hardwired into the DNA of this state.

The cold indignity visited upon these women is multi-layered. The complicity and indifference that fuelled these crimes is not confined to the past but persists in the decisions we make in the ballot box today.”

In the post, Ms McGettrick reminds readers that, as the UN found the McAleese Report’s investigation to be neither prompt, independent nor thorough, it called for the Irish government to set up an independent inquiry.

But the government rejected the UN’s claim stating that because McAleese didn’t find evidence to “support allegations of systematic torture or ill treatment of a criminal nature in these institutions”, there would be no independent inquiry.

Further to this, Ms McGettrick writes:

“Are we to believe that the Taoiseach’s tearful apology [on February 19, 2013] was as a result of a ‘road to Damascus’ moment, or was it a political decision, designed to make the Magdalene problem go away? The experiences of survivors in contact with our organisation since the apology would suggest that unfortunately, it was the latter.”

“In June 2013, Mr Justice Quirke published The Magdalen Commission Report and while the financial element of the ex gratia scheme fell far short of what survivors deserve, we nonetheless welcomed it, in recognition of the other recommended benefits and services, particularly the establishment of a Dedicated Unit and the provision of an enhanced medical card which would provide access to ‘the full range of services currently enjoyed’ by HAA Card holders. We were pleased when the government announced that it would accept all of Judge Quirke’s recommendations.”

“...It is now three years since the apology, and the trust of Magdalene survivors has been seriously undermined, as the government has tried to cut corner after corner on its implementation of the ex gratia scheme. Survivors are still awaiting the establishment of a Dedicated Unit, a measure that should have been put in place immediately and not after the women have had to navigate the Ex Gratia Scheme alone. Some survivors have difficulty in proving lengths of stay because of the religious orders’ poor record keeping, yet incredibly, the government affords greater weight to the religious orders’ contentions than survivor testimony.”

“The healthcare provisions as outlined in the RWRCI Guide do not provide Magdalene survivors with the same range of drugs and services made available to HAA cardholders.”

“…Earlier this week a vulnerable Magdalene survivor phoned to say she had spent 17 hours on a drip in a chair in a crowded A&E. This same woman shed tears of happiness in the Dáil on the night of the apology. She phoned me the next day, concerned about the Taoiseach – ‘the poor man was very upset’ she said. Three years later however, she feels completely hoodwinked.”

She read Appendix G of Judge Quirke’s report and signed away her right to sue the State based on the legitimate expectation that she would receive a comprehensive healthcare suite. She certainly expected better than 17 hours in A&E.”

Election Day 2016 (Oireachtas Retort)

Previously: Three Years Ago Today


The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion

He Did The State Some Service

Watch the debate in full here


A Red C poll in The Sunday Business Post last November

The managing director of Red C, Richard Colwell, told RTÉ’s Liveline this afternoon that there will be a Red C poll in this weekend’s Sunday Business Post while it’s his understanding there will be a poll by other companies carried in The Sunday Times and The Sunday Independent.

Mr Colwell also said he believes the Irish Times will have a poll next week – ahead of Friday’s election.

Further to this…

Oireachtas Retort has a new post… on polls.

From the post:

Take the bemusement and sensationalism that greeted water protests in the latter part of 2014. Opinion pages and airwaves were full of amateur anthropologists scratching their heads as if they had stumbled upon a lost Amazonian tribe. ‘What is it these people want?’ the media wondered.

The anger and motivations were incomprehensible and this is the result when “politics” is ring-fenced as a game of swings and arrhythmic. Just think how opinion polls feed a narrative about ‘stable government’ for example. This is bread and butter on which journalists and politicians can expound at length. Polls put them in safe and comfortable territory. Now take the other media narratives polls have produced over the last five years.

– Fianna Fáil support static and the pressure this put on that party’s leadership
– Horror and bewilderment that Sinn Féin support, while reaching a ceiling, had not went into decline on foot of continuous real and entirely contrived outrages.
– The slow demise of the Labour Party
– The seemingly unshakable rise of Independents/Other

Acres of coverage was devoted to these stories based on little more than fluctuations within the margin of error. The water protests demonstrated that not only had all this polling left journalists completely unaware of public sentiment, but that the media by and large are unequipped to discuss and contextualise equally valid political activity that occurs outside the gates of Leinster House.

Opinion Polls (Oireachtas Retort)

Previously: A Local Look For Local People

Nothing To C Here

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Oireachtas Retort’s new election website is live.

From their first despatch…

During this past government term Galway merits special distinction for making headlines around the world after Savita Halappanavar, a local dentist, was left to die. When the news broke that November morning I brought coffee to a solitary protester who made a dignified and defiant stand at the entrance throughout the day. We exchanged few words having few of comprehension but understood well enough. We will never forget Savita in Galway.

Another woman was buried just this week, having been found in Merlin Woods after a seven day search. This follows a young woman who was recovered from the docks two weeks ago having met the river the night before. The sound of the RNLI helicopter has become grimly familiar to everyone. Its drone heard all hours of the night and day.

“Tragic circumstances” have become so routine as to soften traditionally austere hearts. We have reached the point when burly pub security men sincerely bid you “safe home” as you pass their door into the night. They are very often the last ones to see people alive. The back of a bouncer’s head now a regular cameo on desperate grainy CCTV footage.

The decent generosity and cooperation of community in these agonising moments is unrecognisable from a world that leaves people feeling so isolated to begin with. It is difficult for me to reconcile the two.

Galway has always been a town of blow-ins and transients but behind the statistics we are familiar with, it is frightening to see how the place has been hollowed out.

…Welcome to the new Oireachtas Retort site. A gloomy start perhaps but we might find something to cheer about soon.

All Politics Is Local (Oireachtas Retort)

Previously: ‘I Have Six Years Of Extensive Notes’

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You may have seen Oireachtas Retort tweet to his/her 12,000-plus followers last week to ask if they would like to contribute to a fund – to allow him/her to run an election website.


She/he writes…

Later this week will see the launch of the new all-singing, all-dancing Oireachtas Retort website. I have plans and hope see to as many through as possible. To be honest I feel like a prick asking for money but I intend to earn it.

…I have six years worth of extensive notes, all the minutiae you wanted to forget, that will be launched into virtual fire pit and finally out of my life thereafter

What Oireachtas Retort will be looking at…

– Each political party and their record

– How the Oireachtas “has been used and abused since Enda Kenny’s ‘democratic revolution'”

– The meaning of opinion polls

– Who profits from the housing and health crises

– Planning and the environment

– Church and state

– The Irish media


– An Garda Síochána

– What’s facing today’s under 30s

– Irish Water

– Podcasts


Those who wish to contribute to Oireachtas Retort’s project can do so here

A lot done, more to do. The Oireachtas Retort Election (Oireachtas Retort)

90305467(The shell of the Anglo HQ soon to be the new home of the Central Bank)

The members of  PoliticalWorld.org site are currently compiling a timeline of the banking collapse and back to back loan scandal from 2007-2009.

This is how it’s shaping up:

January 2007: Sean Quinn is reported to have secretly built up a 5% stake in Anglo Irish Bank using CFDs.

February 2007: Banking shares hit record highs, trebling in value since 2000. March 2007: Residential property prices fall for the first time.

January 2008: Legal advice taken on Sean FitzPatrick ‘s hidden loans. He is given the all clear.

May 7 2008: Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm states that Anglo Irish bank is in a “robust funding position”.

July 2008: 10% of Anglo Irish Bank is placed with 10 of its clients in a move not disclosed to the Irish Stock Exchange.

July 15, 2008: Sean Quinn states his family controls 15% of Anglo Irish Bank.

September 5, 2008: Anglo Irish sold its Austrian Division to Valartis.

September 9, 2008: Alan Gray met Lenihan at 11.30 in the Department.

September 11, 2008: The Anglo Board “first” realised that the bank was massively threatened by Quinn’s “gambling on its share price”.

September 15, 2008: Collapse of Lehmans.

Anglo begins to haemorrhage deposits. FitzPatrick and Drumm meet to discuss a possible merger with IL&P with directors, Gillian Bowler and Denis Casey

When this falls through, Anglo approach EBS

Haemorrhaging of deposits means Anglo has breached its regulatory liquidity ratios. Turns to Central Bank.

September 18, 2008:  That leaked phone conversation between Bowe & Fitzgerald on how Anglo Irish was trying to get the Government on the hook for €7billion.

September 19, 2008: Anglo makes a presentation to the Dept of Finance, saying it will be “highly profitable” in 2009, with bad debts of just €300million.

Later, Government and regulatory officials meet Brian Lenihan to discuss the “great strain” on the liquidity of the Irish banks.

They decide to increase the State deposit guarantee scheme from €20,000 to €100,000.

Central Bank governor John Hurley suggests a €10 billion emergency fund and the possibility of nationalising or supporting Anglo.

September 20, 2008: The regulator meets the banks and building societies to gather further intelligence on how much they are losing in deposits.

They are told the Government will announce the increase on the deposit guarantee that day and that the announcement will contain “generous  wording” signalling that the Government stands behind the banking  system.

The Government says publicly that it wants to “protect the whole financial system, secure its stability”.

The statement contained what officials called ‘constructive ambiguity’.

It was never quite clear what the Government was saying, but it was so ambiguous it could be seen constructively by the market.

September 21, 2008: Goldman Sachs advisers to Irish Nationwide tell Government the building society is in danger of running out of funds in 11 days.

September 22, 2008: Mergers and liquidity borrowing from the Central Bank discussed.

September 25, 2008: With impeccable timing – Ireland becomes the first country in the eurozone to declare it is in recession.

Merrill Lynch brought into advice Department of Finance. Range of options presented.

“At this stage, things were getting worse and worse – it was dire,” says one insider. (Simon Carswell reports)

September 26, 2008: Merrill Lynch tells Brian Lenihan a blanket guarantee “could be a mistake” that would damage the country’s credit rating.

However.. Lenihan, Cowen & the Dept decide a blanket guarantee would be “best, most decisive, most impactful” from the market’s perspective.

Anglo formally requests a short-term liquidity loan of €1.7 billion from Central Bank to tide it over the end of the month.

The same day, Irish Life Permanent begins providing up to €3.45 billion in cash deposits to Anglo over the next four days.

September 27, 2008: PricewaterhouseCoopers says Anglo has lost €10 billion in deposits over the crisis period.

They warn that Anglo is heading towards a cash shortfall of €12 billion. Deposits are now being monitored five times a day.

September 28, 2008: Merrill Lynch warns Anglo is close to collapse, has exhausted all sources of liquidity, and faces deficit of €100 million by Tuesday.

Merrill Lynch recommends the Central Bank provide €5bn in overnight liquidity in addition to a €20bn State-backed emergency lending scheme.

Government advisers say, as an alternative to overnight liquidity, the Government could guarantee the six banks, but that this could raise credibility issues given its scale – involving covering bank liabilities of about €500 billion.

Government Meeting: Gormley says that a Bank Guarantee was discussed and agreed. (Meeting recorded in Lenihan’s diary).

September 29, 2008: Crisis meeting at Department of Finance after Anglo loses another €4 billion. AIB and BoI push for nationalisation of Anglo.

Merrill Lynch draws attention to Quinn’s position.

The back-to-back transfers involving €7.5 billion between ILP & Anglo took place over these last few days of September.

Just before 30 September 2008: IL&P sent €4billion to Anglo “in line with the previous discussions on the green jersey agenda”.

September 29: Night of the Bank Guarantee:

Director of Central Bank Alan Gray rings Cowen. Meets Lenihan

Brian Cowen apparently thumps table at meeting and says “No way are we effing nationalising Anglo Irish”.

Both AIB and BOI were asked by Government for €5billion each to loan to Anglo.

September 30, 2008: The Government announces a €400billion guarantee of the liabilities of all six Irish banks.

Department of Finance sends Letter of Comfort to Anglo Irish Bank.

October 2008: PricewaterhouseCooper completes its report on the Irish banking system.

October 14, 2008: Lenihan calls an emergency budget.

December 3, 2008: David Drumm describes Anglo as “performing strongly” and describes profits as “robust”.

December 18, 2008: Sean FitzPatrick resigns after shareholders find out about his €87m hidden loans.

December 19, 2008: David Drumm resigns.

December 21, 2008: Government announces a €1.5 billion bail-out for Anglo.

December 29, 2008: Anglo shares hit 12c.

January 15, 2009: Anglo Irish Bank Nationalised, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan finds out about €7 billion in loans from IL&P to Anglo.

January 16, 2009: Angry shareholders call for Anglo’s board to be sacked. Five Anglo non-executive directors resign.

January 25, 2009: The existence of a group of investors who secretly took on 10% of Anglo is revealed by The Sunday Times.

January 30, 2009: The financial regulator Patrick Neary resigns on a €143,000 a year pension. “Fair play to ya Willie”.

February 10, 2009: IL&P’s €7 billion transfer to Anglo is reported publicly for the first time.

Opposition parties call for Lenihan to resign.

February 12, 2009: Two directors of IL&P resign.

CEO Brian Goggin admits Bank of Ireland made “mistakes”, and “lending decisions in the past are now coming home to roost”.

February 13, 2009: Denis Casey resigns from Irish Life & Permanent.. Poll shows support for Fianna Fáil has fallen to a record low of 22.

To be continued….

Thanks Oireachtas Retort

(Eamon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)