Tag Archives: Phil Hogan

This afternoon.

Brussels, Belgium.

Agricultural Committee, The European Parliament.

More as we get it.

Mercosur?

Ireland’s EU Commissioner Phil Hogan with Leo Varadkar in 2012

There had been some speculation in recent days that the former Fine Gael minister and election organiser might lose out due to the anger of Irish farmers over the EU-Mercosur draft deal allowing large quantities of South American meat into European markets.

But today the Cabinet is expected to give the former Kilkenny TD the nod for another five years in the post, which has a salary package of €300,000 per year.

Phil Hogan left Irish politics during recessionary times in 2014, as his name was associated with two new taxes, the ill-starred domestic water charges and the local property tax.

Hogan set to be renominated as EU commissioner (John Downing, Independent.ie)

Rollingnews

This afternoon.

At the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, Co Wexford.

EU Commissioner and former Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan delivered a speech touching on the topics of Brexit, populism in the EU, America and US President Donald Trump.

He concluded by quoting the late former US president John F Kennedy, saying:

“Courage — not complacency — is our need today. Leadership — not salesmanship. And the only valid test of leadership is the ability to lead, and lead vigorously.”

Good times.

Mr Hogan’s speech can be read in full here

Pic via Eimear McAuliffe

Previously: Phil Hogan on Broadsheet

From top: Stephen Rea, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan

Yesterday.

In the Seanad.

Former Fine Gael Minister for the Environment and Carlow/Kilkenny TD Phil Hogan – who became the European Commissioner for Agriculture in September 2014 amid a string of controversies at the time – addressed the Seanad.

Readers may recall how one of these controversies concerned an Irish Daily Mail front page story in 2012 about how the then Environment Minister had written to some of his constituents in Kilkenny, telling them a Traveller family – Patrick and Brigid Carthy and their seven children – would not be moved to a house near them.

Phoenix magazine later reported that former Irish Independent journalist Eimear Ni Bhraonain had the story for 10 days before the rival paper but her editors held off from printing it and only did so when the Irish Daily Mail was on the verge of publishing it.

Further to this…

Yesterday.

During his address to the Seanad, Mr Hogan spoke about “fake news” and praised the Group Editor-in-Chief of Independent News and Media Stephen Rae who was recently appointed to the European Commission High Level Expert Group on Fake News.

Mr Hogan was speaking about Brexit when he praised Mr Rae.

He said:

“The EU institutions have been shaken from their slumber. It is noticeable that there is a new energy and a new desire to get things done. In a world of rising nationalism and retrenchment, the EU is occupying the space that has been vacated by others to lead from the front across multiple policy areas.

“The EU is now the unquestioned global leader in promoting open and fair trade that is based on rules. As the Cathaoirleach mentioned, in the past two years we have signed important new deals with Canada, Japan and Singapore. Earlier this week, I was delighted to announce an agreement with Mexico.

“Many of these deals are immensely positive for our agrifood producers and our pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors. This is very good news for Ireland. Size matters in trade. As the world’s leading trading bloc, the EU is in a position of strength to build mutually beneficial agreements with our global partners.

“We are driving the global agenda on climate and sustainability, which remains the single greatest challenge of our time. This country urgently needs to step up its contribution to meeting this challenge. We are trying to relight the flame of Europe’s enlightenment values by making truth and reason relevant again in a world of mistruths and fake news.

“Again, Brexit is important in this context. EU membership was a successful policy in the UK and was accepted as such by the majority of politicians and commentators. That did not stop a majority of people voting to scrap it. That is strange because one thing the Brexit story has shown is that the UK does not – by a long shot – have an alternative policy to EU membership.

“Even Brexiteers are happy to keep one foot in the EU, for example by continuing to participate in security and transport agreements and certain EU agencies. The fact remains that people in the UK voted to leave. As politicians, we might think successful policies always commend themselves, but that is not always the case.

“Successful policies need to be defended, articulated and communicated. Brexit has taught us all a sharp lesson in this regard. We need to understand this and incorporate it into our political lives as part of our stocktaking. We cannot take it for granted that people will vote for the EU, or like the EU, just because it happens to work.

“As I mentioned earlier, this has been a wake-up call for the European institutions. We have to look at how we can do things better in this regard. That is what we are discussing with member states and, through them, public representatives and people. Perhaps we can go a stage further by asking how everyone failed to spot that a disconnect was arising between citizens and their representatives.

“This disconnect dominates so much of our politics today. How did we allow our public discourse to be dominated by fake news and half-truths? How can we begin to remedy things and stop it happening here? Here again, Brexit should be a lesson, because another thing the Brexit story has shown us is a brand of politics in which concern for people’s real well-being has gone out the window, the soundbite has become more important than the truth and people can groom a majority to act against its own welfare. In short, we now have a brand of politics and commentary that, all too frequently, misleads rather than leads.

“It is remarkable that a successful UK economy is determined to be divergent rather than convergent with its neighbouring countries in Europe. If we look a little more widely, we see it is not only Brexit. Our political arguments are becoming coarsened and are having knock-on effects on our behaviour. One sign is the trigger-finger readiness of so many people to play the immigration card, even the race card.

Much of this is the result of fake news and the way in which what we used to call tall stories and gossip no longer goes from mouth to mouth but from one set of fingers to a million sets of eyes, with a tap on the keyboard.

“Brexit shows us how vulnerable we are in that regard. That is why the Commission is alerting member states to the dangers and advising them to set up an infrastructure that can counter what is happening.

The respected Irish Independent editor-in-chief, Mr [Stephen] Rea, is making a sterling contribution to this work, having been appointed to the European Commission’s high level expert group examining the issue of fake news. Next year’s elections to the European Parliament gives this added significance and urgency. We must be on our guard.

“My final thought on this issue is to underline the difference between bad publicity, contrary opinion and fake news. As politicians we all know about bad publicity and contrary opinion. It comes with the turf and we deal with it, but we do it in the world of truth. We have been slow to recognise that fake news is something else. It is not bad publicity, it is not contrary opinion, it is not in the world of truth. It is a fiction – a harmful fantasy.

“It is urgent that we find the way to reveal it for what it is, namely, political mischief and a wrecking ball.”

Read his address in full here

Previously: ‘Friendly Towards Hogan’

Had Your Phil Yet?

Phil In The Gaps

He looks well.

UK must accept it is decision time on Brexit – Hogan (RTE)

Yesterday.

Spotted at The Angler’s Rest in Castleknock, Dublin 20.

Fine Gael’s new leader and Taoiseach-elect Leo Varadkar walking with EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and former Fine Gael Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

Good times.

Previously: Denis O’Brien, Fine Gael And The Water Meter Deal

They’re Loud And They’re Growing

Had Your Phil Yet?

Earlier: Defeat Leoliberalism? Yes We Khan

Thanks Revolution

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From top: Former environment minister Phil Hogan; uncollected rubbish in Dublin’s north inner city.

He didn’t just give us water.

Seán McCárthaigh, in The Times (Ireland edition), reports:

The last government chose to maintain a fully privatised waste collection system, despite an internal report outlining the benefits of an alternative that could have involved less cost for homeowners.

Documents from the Department of the Environment, which have been seen by The Times, show that a system involving franchises for each local authority area was found to be more likely to deliver savings to customers four years ago and could have been introduced.

The model, known as “franchise bidding” would still have involved private companies, but they would have had to compete to win fixed tenders for each area in a policy change that would have given the state significant control over the process.

Despite the report’s conclusion the Fine Gael-Labour coalition ultimately backed the recommendation of the Department of Environment that it should maintain the existing structure when moving to the new pay-by-weight system, due to be introduced on July 1.

The decision, ultimately signed off by Phil Hogan, the then environment minister, allows private waste collection firms to continue competing for services in the same areas and included plans for stronger regulation.

The new pay-by-weight system has provoked controversy as private companies signalled price hikes for customers ahead of the launch date.

The decision not to opt for franchise bidding was made following outright opposition by members of the Irish Waste Management Association, which includes companies like Greenstar, Thorntons and Panda, to the franchise bidding model.

The analysis said the non-franchise Irish system of waste collection, which lets private firms compete for business, was “somewhat unique”, noting that its continuation with some extra regulation would “create a unique system of waste management in which the role of the private sector is central.”

“The near wholesale withdrawal of local authorities and the corresponding growth in the role of the private sector was not a policy goal and was not fully anticipated,” it said.

Private firms now collect 98 per cent of all household waste in a market estimated to be worth at least €250 million annually.

Government ignored report to cut waste cost (Seán McCárthaigh, The Times)

Thanks Richie

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abtranlogo

 

“Tánaiste, over the lifetime of this Government, there have been a number of serious concerns, regarding probity and accountability and today I want to discuss another one that I believe merits scrutiny and that is the awarding of the call centre work for Irish Water to the Cork-based company Abtran. I know you’ll recall that Abtran was the company that got the contract for the SUSI grant system and it came under serious criticism, and rightly so, for its failing and it cost an additional almost €6million. And despite that, it went on to get, it was awarded the property tax contract. And then Revenue had to step in because it failed to cope initially.”

“Yet, after both of those high-profile failings, it was awarded the call centre work for Irish Water. We also know that Abtran has at least 10 other Government and public contracts. Now one of the criteria for the tendering process for the Irish Water contract was that the company had to have a turnover of €20million for the preceding three years. And given that it had a number of lucrative State contracts, prior to the Irish Water contract, the State certainly improved Abtran’s ability to meet the criteria laid down in the process. What’s interesting here is the way it was awarded, the way the contract was awarded and the obvious questions it raises about probity and the awarding of the contract.”

“Now Tánaiste, through Freedom of Information, I’ve established that on the 15th of February, 2012, the then minister [for the Environment] Phil Hogan’s private secretary received a fairly informal email seeking a meeting with Phil in order to lobby on behalf of Abtran. On the same day, at 5pm, an email was sent saying that the minister had agreed to meet the company. On the 27th of February, on the same year, we know that, through the work from Gavin Sheridan’s minister’s diary, that they met, that the minister met both the person who sent the original lobbying email, Mr O’Byrne – the co-owner of Abtran. In March, 2013, that company was then awarded the metering [sic] contract.”

“The Irish Water call centre contract, Tanaiste, as you know, is a very lucrative contract. It’s worth in the region of €50million over four years. And we know through the Freedom of Information that one of the key criteria was that the awarding of the contract, the firm that the contract was awarded to, had to have a proven track record. Now I presume that means a good track record – so the questions I want to ask you are: Are you satisfied that despite a very public failings of Abtran in relation to the SUSI scheme and the property tax scheme that they were still awarded an extremely lucrative contract by the State? Given the criteria? Are you aware that in 2015, late 2015, a State investment vehicle, also invested an undisclosed sum of money into Abtran? Do you know what that money is for? Do you know how much that was? And are you concerned about what appears to be the favouring of Abtran for Government funds?”

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy for Kildare North speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions in the last few minutes.

More to follow.

Previously: Contains Impurities

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European Union Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan speaking at the AGM of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association in Limerick this afternoon.

Related: Phil Hogan to address ICMSA on milk prices (Irish Examiner)

Phil Hogan: EU civil liberties to be restricted after Paris attacks (Juno McEnroe, Irish Examiner)

Previously: ‘Mr President, Remove This Incompetent Commissioner’

Pic: Phil Hogan