Tag Archives: Regina Doherty

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty

Last night.

On RTÉ One’s Drivetime.

Philip Boucher-Hayes interviewed the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty.

They discussed bogus self-employment – where a worker is forced by an employer to declare themselves as self-employed rather than employees and the employer doesn’t have to pay PRSI.

And they spoke about how the deputy secretary of the Department of Social Protection told an Oireachtas committee in November that the department does not prosecute employers hiring people under bogus self-employment conditions.

During the interview Ms Doherty admitted that her department doesn’t prosecute employers for the practice “for a variety of reasons”.

She later told Mr Boucher-Hayes that she disagreed with him when he said it appears employers are being given a “free pass”.

From the interview…

Philip Boucher-Hayes: “The Deputy Secretary of your department appeared before an Oireachtas committee back in November and said that it was departmental policy not to prosecute employers who were engaging people on bogus self-employment terms. Let’s just play it. It’s only 10-seconds long.”

Regina Doherty: “Sure.”

[plays clip]

“We have not been keeping specific stats on bogus self-employment.”

Boucher-Hayes: “The other clip there is Patricia Murphy saying that it is department policy not to prosecute.”

[plays clip]

“The department itself has not taken a criminal prosecution against employers because we have, in fact, used, in our joint operations, the powers available under the tax acts to attach and apply administrative policies and we consider to be, at this time, more effective, and timely.”

Boucher-Hayes: “You’re not prosecuting employers who break the law but you will pursue benefit fraudsters through the courts. This sounds like one law for white collar criminals and another for blue collar criminals?”

Doherty: “No, it’s certainly not. What we do with regard to the scope environment is that if you presented yourself and I use you as an example because we’re talking: If you presented yourself to ask us to do an investigation into your employment status, we would do it.

“If we determined that you were incorrectly categorised, we would go to your employer and say Philip Boucher-Hayes started working for you on the 1st of January, 19-0-flat – you owe us and him and the Revenue Commissioners X amount of money and we would penalise them.”

Boucher-Hayes: “But what about where I work for somebody who has employed 100 or more people on bogus terms and you can prove that and see that they are systematically breaking the law? Why wouldn’t you prosecute them?”

Doherty: “And again, what we do is we bring everybody in line, in the category that they should be paying. We backdate all of the proceeds that the PRSI claims both the employer and the employee should be making to the Revenue Commissioner and to myself and to my own department…”

Boucher-Hayes: “But Regina Doherty, it is a criminal offence to employ people on these terms, why are you not prosecuting them? Why are you giving them a free pass?”

Doherty: “We’re not giving them a free pass. And we conduct thousands, tens of thousands investigations…”

Boucher-Hayes:No you are giving them a free pass because the Deputy Secretary General of the department admitted that there had only been one prosecution, in spite of the fact that this is a criminal law, under the statute books but your policy is: not to enforce it.”

Doherty: “Yeah, I think the main determination and the main ambition from the department is to get people correctly classified – that’s the way the department has always worked. We changed our inspection regime in the last year to actively go out and pro-actively conduct uncalled or unannounced inspections in particular industries which we have never done beforehand. And what we’re doing now today is changing two things this year: we’re going to introduce anti-penalisation legislation to make sure that nobody that is in that status of maybe being coerced into being self-employed should be afraid to take a case…”

Boucher-Hayes: “Ok, that’s great. But up until now, you have been…”

Doherty: “Let me finish, for one second…if you just let me finish for one second…I’m also going to take away the attractiveness of employers using people as contract staff at some point, with legislation, in the next 12 months. So if I can tackle this in a number of ways, ultimately, what I want is: I don’t want to penalise anybody. I don’t want to make employers the bad guy…”

Boucher-Hayes: “What do you mean? Hang on a second. You penalise people who are committing benefit fraud. You prosecute them but you don’t do the same for white collar criminals. Why not?

Doherty: “Well, we actually do.”

Boucher-Hayes: “No, you don’t. You’ve done it on one occasion and that’s the figure of the Deputy Secretary General of the Department.”

Doherty:The reason that we don’t prosecute is that there are a variety of reasons. You’re making the assumption that everybody is put on a self-employment status without the knowledge, without the co-operation, without the consent. There are reasons why people find themselves classified in incorrect classifications and when they come to us we’ll investigate, we find those reasons and we correct and impose fines…”

Boucher-Hayes:You’re not naive to the fact that one of the main reasons is so that employers can duck their PRSI contributions, it’s a money-saving…

Doherty: “Well. That’s exactly what I just told you is that if I can manage to take away the attractiveness – I think that will fix an awful lot of our problems but what I’m more concerned about…”

Boucher-Hayes:You might fix an awful lot of your problems by making an example of the kind of people who are doing it and prosecute them through the courts…”

Doherty: “But what I’m more concerned about…what I’m more concerned about Philip is ensuring that those people who are out there, and we ran a campaign this year to let people know that we even exist, because, to be honest with you, a lot of people were not even aware of the scope, the section within my department on what it does: to let the people know that if they need any assistance or investigation into the classification of their status, from a PRSI perspective, we are here, we will make the investigation and we will make the correction.”

Boucher-Hayes: “Ok.”

Doherty: “And anybody that’s found wanting will be penalised financially. I know you’d probably like to see people hung up by their feet. What I want to do is make sure that we take away the attractiveness...”

Boucher-Hayes:No I think people would like to see everyone being treated equally before the law. That’s the reason that I raised the question because at the moment they’re not being, employers are being given a free pass on this one. Let’s just set that aside…”

Doherty: “I tell you what, let’s just agree to disagree cause I certainly don’t agree with you.”

Boucher-Hayes: “The scope decisions that you have referred to there: People bring their claims and very often, as our investigations established, the scope will find in their favour – that they are indeed bogus self-employed. But when that decision is appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office, by the employer, those decisions are routinely overturned our investigations found out.

“Is the system rigged in favour of the employers?”

Doherty: “Again, if I was to give you an example of the amount of people who apply for carers’ allowance that are refused that then have a mechanism to appeal, that are then overturned and found in their favour, would you think that the system is rigged towards people who are getting carers’ allowance or invalid benefits?”

Boucher-Hayes: “We’re talking specifically about bogus self-employment.”

Doherty: “No, no. You’re talking about a culture which you’re trying to assign to the department which is grossly unfair. We have in our department…”

Boucher-Hayes: “I’m not talking about…I’m talking about facts. I don’t know what the culture is. I’m just talking bout the numbers that have exposed themselves – every case that we looked at where the scope decision had gone against an employer was overturned in favour of the employer. The system would appear rigged would it not?

Doherty: “Well, no, it wouldn’t appear. In so far as when anybody makes an application and there’s an adjudication, everybody – whether you’re an employer or an employee, in this particular section – has the ability to appeal it. If they don’t like that decision they have the ability to appeal it again. And if they don’t like that decision they have the ability to take it to the actual courts of this land.

“The cases that you may have looked at might have been one way or the other particularly, but there is no sign or trend in our department with regard to people being categorised one way or the other.

“What there is in our department is an investigation section so that anybody who thinks that they are misclassified from a social insurance perspective to make a complaint and we will investigate.”

“And if they don’t like the outcome of the investigation, they have the opinion, or the ability, to be able to appeal it, appeal it and review it and there is no trend.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Bogus Self Employment Cheats Us All

Rollingnews

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and letters sent in relation to press queries about former Government chief whip Regina Doherty’s €16,000 super junior allowance

Yesterday.

In the Sunday Business Post.

Hugh O’Connell reported on the €16,000 allowance that the Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty was paid when she was government whip but subsequently told to pay back to the State.

She was paid it as she was one of the three so-called super junior ministers at Cabinet.

But, as readers will recall, legislation only allows for two politicians to receive the sum.

She told The Irish Times last Monday that she was told to pay it back following a report by the Attorney General.

Further to this…

Yesterday Mr O’Connell reported:

It was only confirmed last Monday that Doherty, who is now the Minister for Employment and Social Protection, would be repaying the allowance despite her department being informed this would need to happen at the end of July following a review by the Attorney General.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show that a letter from the Department of Public Expenditure (DPER) was issued to Regina Doherty’s new department on 26 July last asking officials to make arrangements for the money to be repaid.

…The documents reveal a number of journalists made inquiries to the Department of Public Expenditure’s press office about the allowances situation with officials seeking out Stephen Lynam, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe’s special adviser, for advice on how to proceed.

On August 14, Lynam told the DPER press office to “sit tight on this for now” after being alerted to a journalist’s inquiring if the AG’s review of salary arrangements had concluded and what the outcome was.

The following day, Lynam drafted a response to be issued to the journalist which said the AG’s report had been received, that it was being “considered” and that it would be “dealt with in due course”. Lynam said in the email: “If he [the journalist] comes back looking for anything else, you can say we are not going to comment further for now.”

Further to this…

An email sent to journalist Ken Fox on August 15

In respect of the SBP article, Ken Foxe has tweeted the email above from August 15, saying:

Been in journalism a long time but kind of staggered to have a government department bare face lie to you about Regina Doherty allowance.

Previously: Meanwhile In The Dáil

Ken Foxe

Letters via Hugh O’Connell

Regina O’Doherty

Further to a post last week concerning Tyrone-born, US-based academic Catherine Kelly and Fine Gael TD and Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty…

Yesterday.

In response to a question from Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald…

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil…

In respect of the Minister, Deputy Regina Doherty, I had a brief conversation with her about it. I understand that she made a complaint to the Garda with regard to harassment, and the Garda thought it sufficient to caution the individual against whom the complaint was made.

Obviously, if Deputy McDonald has any further questions, she should put them to her directly. This is clearly a private matter. It is not one of public policy.

It is one involving two individuals – one individual who felt that she was being harassed by another. The Garda, based on the evidence it saw, decided to take the action that it did.

Meanwhile…

Michael O’Regan, in The Irish Times, reports:

The Minister made a criminal complaint of harassment under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 over online and social-media comments by Ms Kelly relating to the collapse of a company run by Ms Doherty and her husband eight years ago.

… Ms Kelly, whose partner, Jim Cullen, is the head of Friends of Sinn Féin in New York, is considering legal action against the Garda.

She has hired the Irish solicitor Michael Finucane and written to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to allege that she was falsely imprisoned.

Mr Finucane has also asked Pearse Street Garda station for an explanation and written to Dublin Airport, seeking CCTV footage of the incident.

Regina Doherty blogger controversy private, Taoiseach says (The Irish Times)

Full Dail transcript here

Update:

FIGHT!

Minister for Employment Regina Doherty

This morning.

On Today with Sean O’Rourke, presented by Cormac Ó hEadhra.

Fine Gael TD and Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty spoke about the story on the front page in today’s Irish Times in which it’s reported that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will not name and shame “welfare fraudsters”.

And that, under a compromise deal with Fianna Fáil, only people found guilty of defrauding the State of welfare payments in excess of €5,000 will be named in a public register.

From Ms Doherty’s interview with Cormac Ó hEadhra…

Regina Doherty: “Let me be very clear, lest you think that we’re going soft on anybody that’s defrauding the State of money and taking money out of other peoples’ pockets is acceptable. There’s no defrauding of the State that’s acceptable and we will pursue people in the courts that has not changed one jot.

“What has changed here is that a piece of legislation that we were hoping to introduce has been reached a compromise so the piece of legislation can be passed. And the Fianna Fail party, on foot of the proposal to me, to make an amendment so that instead of starting at zero, we will start at six months of somebody defrauding the State even though that person, at five and a half months, three and a half months, whatever length of time that has been taken, the department has saw fit to take a criminal case against somebody, the police has saw fit to take a criminal case against somebody, that will still pursue. The only thing that changed…”

Cormac Ó hEadhra: Where did that €5,000 figure come from? Is it based on any research whatsoever? Or is it something that yourself and Fianna Fail cooked up?

Doherty: “Well, first of all, I take offence at the fact that. Politicians don’t cook things up, Cormac, when we’re putting legislation together for the good of the people….

Later

Doherty: “Can I be very clear? Customer fraud is defined in statute from €1 to whatever it happens to be, some of the recent cases you can see of €60,000, €160,000, €7,000. There is nobody who is defrauding the State in any shape or form or size of money that is acceptable. Because what it does, Cormac, is it takes the capacity of the department and me as the minister remove money from being able to distribute that money to vulnerable people who actually need it. So there is no level of acceptable fraud.”

Meanwhile…

The Meath Chronicle reported last night:

The National Union of Journalists has called on the Minister for Employment and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, to clarify her role in the decision of members of An Garda Síochána to interview a freelance blogger and academic about comments written by the blogger about Ms Doherty.

Acting General Secretary of the NUJ in UK and Ireland, Séamus Dooley, also called on the Garda Commissioner to urgently clarify the circumstances in which Catherine Kelly was approached by Gardai from Pearse Street Garda Station and interviewed about tweets which it is understood referred to Ms Doherty.

NUJ asks Minister Doherty to clarify role in Tweet investigation (Meath Chronicle)

Previously: Chilling

Listen back here

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Government chief whip Regina Doherty

On The Ray D’Arcy Show..

Sinead Harrington , of RTÉ, writes:

Ray will chat to broadcaster Des Cahill about his decision to make the brave move of joining Dancing with the Stars, how he feels about his new ‘Dancing Dessie’ persona, that ‘Dessie Swim’ move which had the nation talking and what viewers can expect from his upcoming Tango routine. And you never know…he might even teach Ray a few moves as well…!

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty will join Ray on the couch to reveal her thoughts on the current coalition Government, her role as Government Chief Whip, her own priorities as a TD and her hopes for the future.

Also on the show Rory Gleeson will discuss publishing his debut novel ‘Rockadoon Shore’ – which has received significant acclaim – and what it’s like growing up in Gleeson household.

Theresa Lowe will join Ray to chat about what she has been up to since leaving broadcasting and her memories of one of Ireland’s most popular quiz show Where in the World. Viewers will also be able to step back in time with Theresa and two families as they recreate the iconic quiz show.

*donates telly to the local hospital*

The Ray D’Arcy Show this Saturday night on RTÉ One at 9:50pm.

Rollingnews

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Fine Gael TD Regina O’Doherty and Labour Minister Alex White at ‘it’.

Aha.

What did the communications minister just say?

Anyone?

Previously: Eircode on Broadsheet

Transcript via Kildare Street

Via Joe Leogue

90312603fgseanadFine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections Regina Doherty, top, and FG’s anti Seanad campaign, above.

 

oirOh.

Discussion with Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (January 2012)

Previously: That Sinking Phelan

Sam Boal/ Photocall Ireland

pipA professional said so.

Further to the Jim Stafford ‘unequal insolvency’ brouhaha

“I think in fairness – and I didn’t hear this story yesterday, I’ve only seen what was written about it since then. I don’t think he meant exactly what he said, and even if he did, irregardless – the PIP [Personal Insolvency Practitioner] process is based on equal treatment for all people who have debt. It doesn’t matter whether… [interrupted by panelists]..You know what? your answer to everything is to be negative. It is a solution for people who have been waiting on it for a number of years, who find themselves in debt caused by the crisis your Government completely ignored [continued interruption by panellists] The practice in the UK of Insolvency Legislation and the PIP process equivalent in the UK has an 85% success rate.”

 

Regina Doherty, Fine Gael TD on Tonight with Vincent Browne on TV3 last night.

Previously: “A Solicitor Should Have A House That Accords With His Status In Society”