The bias NEVER ever stops….
Earlier: This Won’t Hurt A Bit.
Yesterday: Bryan Wall: Nursing A Militancy
The bias NEVER ever stops….
Earlier: This Won’t Hurt A Bit.
Yesterday: Bryan Wall: Nursing A Militancy
I see @rte removed Noel Edmonds mentioning the Irish Banking Crisis on the ‘Ray Darcy Show’ from the @RTEplayer ? Completely edited this section out. https://t.co/v7mB6c7Kug#RTEbias pic.twitter.com/TTc2xSfozQ
— Mick Caul (@caulmick) January 24, 2019
— Mick Caul (@caulmick) January 24, 2019
Watch back here
From top: Seán O’Rourke; Former Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald
On RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
The former Tánaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, along with the fellow former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, of Fianna Fáil, spoke to Mr O’Rourke ahead of Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May facing a leadership vote of confidence later today.
While speaking to Mr O’Rourke, Ms Fitzgerald spoke about the difficulties of confidence motions; how a minister usually knows their department “inside out”; how a Tánaite must be prepared for difficult questions; and how she was “vindicated” by the Disclosures Tribunal.
On her resignation as minister in November 2017 and her political future, Ms Fitzgerald had the following exchange with Mr O’Rourke:
Seán O’Rourke: “You saw the rough and the smooth, particularly the rough side of it.”
Frances Fitzgerald: “I certainly did, as Michael Noonan said to me ‘you were cut off in full flight’..”
Ms Fitzgerald laughs
Fitzgerald: “….which is very true.”
O’Rourke: “And you resigned amid that controversy over the treatment of Maurice McCabe and the handling of the tribunal, sorry, not the tribunal, but the inquiry presided over by Mr Justice whose name I can’t quite remember.”
Fitzgerald: “O’Higgins. It was the commission that there was a query about which turned out not to be a proper query at all.”
O’Rourke: “[Justice] Charleton then ultimately, he effectively vindicated the way you’d handled that. But do you think you’ll see the Tánaiste’s office again or what are your hopes…”
From top: A demonstration on North Frederick Street following the forced removal of housing activists from a vacant property on the street last week; Marian Finucane; Anthony Sheridan.
When RTÉ was a national broadcaster the station provided a reasonably balanced news output. In recent years, however, since the station began to serve government rather than citizens, news manipulation has taken precedence over factual reporting and professional analysis.
On yesterday’s Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio One, for example, listeners were subjected to an intelligence insulting, extremely short, cartoon-like discussion on the disturbing events that occurred on North Frederick street during the week involving Gardai and housing protesters:
Panelist: “In fairness, Josephine Feehily and Drew Harris came out and said, no, that shouldn’t have happened.”
Marian Finucane: “And yet and yet and yet..its tough on gardai. I thought it looked… I mean I was astonished at how it had come about.”
Panelist: “Look, there is an issue around social media , there’s no doubt about that, but look, we expect to see people in balaclavas in the Basque country or dealing with the Real IRA or whatever. We don’t expect to see gardai in balaclavas policing genuine protests about housing.”
Another panelist: “I think the public were very, very upset about it and I’m thinking of something Theo Dorgan said once ‘I thought I was born into a republic’ and you see these private balaclava-clad guards arriving in a van. But protesting has changed, I think the gardai are very measured in the way they handle the physical and verbal abuse they get.”
Then another panelist changed the subject by referring to a protest Ms Finucane had participated in 48 years ago. Ms Finucane, seemingly delighted at the diversion, went on to reminisce about another protest she attended in the last century – and that was it.
That was the sum total analysis of the disgraceful and disturbing events in North Frederick Street where the gardai behaved more like second-rate nightclub bouncers than a professional police force.
Possibly under pressure by her producer to keep discussion of this embarrassing Government/gardai scandal to an absolute minimum, Finucane, in a fluster, did as she was instructed.
“Mmm…well…ah…I mean..we’ll move on very quickly. I think that deserves more conversation but I’m just watching my clock here and…”
Watching her clock? The discussion was taking place just half way through a two-hour long show and this major public interest story gets a grand total of 1 minute 56 seconds coverage.
This is not news analysis, it’s blatant news manipulation. No doubt, Fine Gael and the gardai are delighted with RTÉ’s collaboration in this type of warped current affairs analysis.
But RTÉ cannot escape the fact that, day by day, its reputation as a professional and balanced current affairs outlet is reaching the same zero credibility rating as that of our police force.
When the special advisor to Ireland’s Finance Minister contacts you on a Sunday asking is it a “piss take” that you’re supporting #TakeBackTheCity you suddenly realise just how out of touch many in @FineGael have become. Their housing policies are destroying society + the economy https://t.co/Mr6E3g8RQF
— Paddy Cosgrave (@paddycosgrave) September 16, 2018
Previously: Garda Sources Say
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says he supports legislation to outlaw photographing gardai in the course of their duties #TodaySOR
— Hugh O’Connell (@oconnellhugh) September 17, 2018
There you go now.
On his RTÉ Radio One show this morning, Seán O’Rourke managed to not ask Irish Independent editor Fionnan Sheahan about yesterday’s High Court decision yesterday to allow inspectors from the Office of the Director Corporate Enforcement into the paper’s parent company.
#TodaySOR Could you ask the Editor of the Irish Independent seems to have a lot of opinions what’s his opinion on an inspector but being appointed to the organisation he works for
— Ash (@Elmoak1) September 5, 2018
— ConcernedCitizen (@scrahallia) September 5, 2018
It never stops.
Yesterday: An Inspector Calls
Are they having a laugh? This is their fupping lead? Where is the Disclosures Tribunal?
Further to yesterday’s bad bahaviour hoo ha.
How they changed the narrative before YOUR EYES.
Dr Nguyen Van Faulk writes:
Why has RTÉ News completely rewritten the headline and content of this article (link below) as if to allow for Merrion Street to have the final say on this ‘misunderstanding’? Disgraceful silencing of Fr McVerry’s frustrations.
I’m aware that a lot of the original content is pushed down the article, but these articles shouldn’t be treated as running diaries of an incident. The whole tone of the original article is removed. Any follow-up, add-on content or clarifications should be clearly declared.
Also, to be clear, only the cached search results show the original article headline. The newer, less incendiary headline is presented when you browse through the site’s news articles.
Yesterday: “Years Of Bad Behaviour”
Mary Lou McDonald on Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning.
Those who heard it will not soon forget it.
Mary Lou McDonald appeared on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning to discuss Sinn Fein’s think-in starting in County Meath today.
Or so she thought.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, but even some members of Broadsheet’s bias weary Transcription Department, responsible for typing thousands of hours of Irish radio and not known for any strong SF sympathies, dropped their shorthand pencils in disgust.
‘sheet head transcriber ‘Hot Ben’ (100wpm) remarked:
“I have transcribed them all but this was in a different league. Yes, worse than Duffy and the Brazilian cop. I’m doing myself out of a job but the words alone do not do it justice…”
Grab a tay.
Seán O’Rourke: ” Now, the Party think-in, for what many people regard as the real opposition party in the 32nd Dáil, Sinn Féin, takes place today and tomorrow. Lots to chew over for a party that had, in all fairness, a disappointing election outcome earlier this year, though they might dispute that, given that they gained a lot of seats, but relative to their expectations, they might have expected a lot more.
That was then followed by a Brexit vote that prompted calls for a united Ireland border poll, plus cross-border intrigue in the NAMA/Project Eagle Affair, and more questions about the party leader, is it time for Gerry Adams, after thirty-three years as President, to think about moving on to fresh pastures? Mary Lou McDonald, vice-president of Sinn Féin, good morning to you…”
Mary Lou McDonald: “Good morning, Seán.”
O’Rourke: “I suppose, story of the day, we better start with NAMA, again, it’s an issue where you have two very respected organs of the State just differing completely on whether the taxpayer should have lost out on up to €200 million on that Northern portfolio.”
McDonald: “As well Seán, what the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report does is bring to almost to a crescendo all the noise that there has been around Project Eagle and NAMA now, for a very, very long time. I’d have to take issue with you when you refer to NAMA as a respected organ of the State…”
O’Rourke: .”..well, led by a very respected individual in Frank Daly…
Mary Lou: “…albeit because of the conflicts and the controversies and the processes surrounding the sale of this property portfolio, which bear in mind at the time was the single largest transaction undertaken by NAMA, and all the circumstances around it, not least the valuation issue, and so on that the C&AG has reiterated, place a very, very serious question mark over NAMA, place a serious question mark over Frank Daly, and his judgement and his actions, or his inactions, and raise the most serious questions for Minister Michael Noonan.”
O’Rourke: “Well, what would the questions for Michael Noonan be?”
McDonald: “The fundamental question is this: when it was brought to his attention that the initial bid had been corrupted, that there was to be fixers’ fees, that a portion of those fixers’ fees were to go to someone that had been appointed by the Dublin government to the Northern committee. When all of that was called to his attention, he should have called a halt, he should have called a stop and Richard…”
O’Rourke: “But again, what does “calling a halt” mean, because again, the Pimco thing was stood down, that was the original arrangement.”
McDonald: “Pimco, NAMA says they were told to get out of town, Pimco says they withdrew, in any event they were off the pitch, but it didn’t resolve the problem that the process had been corrupted, entirely corrupted. That an individual that had been appointed by the government in Dublin, not by anybody in the North, who sat on a committee which was not a talking shop, it had four NAMA board members, Frank Daly himself chaired this committee, it had the head of asset management and recovery on it, that that individual had been implicated in an arrangement with a bidder that was about to succeed…”
O’Rourke: “…yes, and he declared that, they stood down, Pimco, he proposed…
McDonald: “He, he… sorry,”
O’Rourke: “He did not declare it, Pimco brought this to the attention of NAMA, because Pimco were obliged to, because of anti-corruption legislation and regulations in the United States, that’s how all of this came to light.”
O’Rourke: “Yes, but Cushnahan had declared his involvement in an advisory role with some of NAMA’s debtors.”
McDonald: “He did, and doesn’t that beg the question, and just take a common-sense view of this, you are on a committee that is there to give strategic advice to the NAMA board in respect to a very, very large, very valuable property portfolio, an individual recommended in the North, but appointed by the government in Dublin, states that they have an active relationship with seven debtors making up more than 50% of that board…”
McDonald: “…why was he on the committee?”
O’Rourke: “ Why, equally, in view of what you say, did the C&AG say, under the heading of “management of conflicts of interest”, make no findings against the actions of individuals or third-parties?”
McDonald: “Because it is not the role or the function of the C&AG to do that, the C&AG is very clear about what they can and cannot do. Make no mistake about it, this is not a story that happened in the murky, tribal underworld of Northern Ireland, this story comes right back to the doorstep of Dublin, right back to the doorstep of government, NAMA is a creature of Fianna Fáil initially, and of subsequent governments, NAMA is accountable to the Minister of Finance here…
O’Rourke: “Yeah, but…”
McDonald: .”..and most crucially, it is the taxpayers in this jurisdiction that pick up the tab.”
O’Rourke: “One of the things we heard from Richard Curran, was his view, his sense, that NAMA saw Northern Ireland as somewhat of a hornet’s nest to do with politics, also a small area in which to do business, the construction industry, the legal profession, all a very small world, and perhaps against a backdrop of being told to do their business quickly, as a chance to get a reasonable deal, very quickly. Now, that may not be the case, but if it is the case, surely they were vindicated by the actions of your party members in that Committee in Northern Ireland…”
McDonald: “Listen. You could say for the whole island of Ireland, that it is a small community, that the business establishment, that the movers and shakers are small in number, that the professional experts that support and give advice are small in number, so I don’t think that argument holds any water.”
(talk over each other)
O’Rourke: “You had to say goodbye, you had to throw a guy under a bus, in Mr. McKay, chair of that finance committee, who it turned out, was coaching a witness before it, in a way that was designed to shaft the then-First Minister of Northern Ireland. What could be more of a hornet’s nest than that?”
McDonald: “Firstly, Daithí MacCaithigh was not thrown under a bus…”
O’Rourke: “…well, he’s out of the [Northern Ireland] Assembly.”
McDonald: “Daithí admitted that what he did was a catastrophic error of judgement, it was wrong, and he did the correct thing and resigned. That should not have happened under any set of circumstances, it’s most unfortunate that he did, but Daithí took the rap for that…”
O’Rourke: “…the man he was coaching said knowledge of this in Sinn Féin went to the top.”
McDonald: “The man who says that is entirely wrong. Entirely wrong, and let’s…”
O’Rourke: “And let’s just come across something that the Irish News had reported, it was one of these contacts between McKay and the blogger, Bryson, was brought in. “A wee suggestion for your closing paragraph, when talking about Robinson, refer to him as Person A, so say all you have to say about him referring to him as Person A. Then in your final line, say ‘Person A is Peter Robinson MLA’. Means that the committee cannot interrupt, and means you don’t have to say Robbo’s name until the last second.””
McDonald: “Yes, that communication and that level of instruction should never have happened…”
O’Rourke: “…doesn’t it prove, doesn’t it prove, that if NAMA’s stated reason for selling it all in one fell swoop was the hornet’s nest theory, as put forward by Richard Curran, that they were absolutely on the money?”
McDonald: “Absolutely not, absolutely not, let’s not be naive, now, or silly, are you trying to suggest to me that there haven’t been other instances in this fine, upstanding jurisdiction, where people, chairs of committees, have been talking to people in circumstances that were inappropriate? I’m not defending, neither does Daithí MacCaithaigh, his actions and to extrapolate from that that NAMA therefore acted correctly is frankly off the wall…”
O’Rourke: “It was most certainly not! It proves, it proves certainly that Northern Ireland was a different place for doing business. I know it’s part of a small, all-island, and I know you have a particular view, but it was a matter of the quicker they got out of Dodge, the better for the portfolio?”
McDonald: “It’s not just that I have a different view, if you look at a succession of scandals that have beset this state, and have cost its taxpayer very, very greatly, one of the things about the Public Account Committee and the banking inquiry is, time and time again, the very same characters, the very same legal firms, the very same accountancy firms, auditing firms, feature strongly, so the networks right across that country are small, we shouldn’t suffer from delusions of scale. We live on a very small island.”
O’Rourke: “No, no, what I’m saying is, in all of this stuff, Sinn Féin is just the same as the rest of men and women.”
McDonald: “We are of course, we are made up of just ordinary men and women like any other political party…”
O’Rourke) “…and you’re perfectly capable of conniving and setting out to shaft people, and that was a classic example.”
McDonald: “What we are not, is a political party that is driven and craven by power at any cost, and we are not driven by self-interest self-aggrandisement, and personal & political corruption.”
O’Rourke:: “And who are you talking about there in that particular context, are you talking about Michael Noonan, are you talking about Enda Kenny, who are you referring to when you make that kind of sweeping statement? Power at any cost?”
McDonald: “Go back, go back and look at any of the various tribunals or the inquiry if you have any of the patience, or the heart, to do all of that…”
(talk over each other)
McDonald: “…then tell me that we haven’t had a political culture in this State that is deeply corrupted, deeply compromised, and I think for people looking on now, whether it’s the issues around Apple, the issues around NAMA…”
O’Rourke: “Yeah, but we don’t have time to get into…”
O’Rourke: “…a lot of whataboutery that would involve a lot of people losing their lives, a lot of bloodshed on this island, and people involved in your own party.”
McDonald: “I don’t think… it’s a worthy discussion that I’m more than happy to have, I have to say I don’t see its connection with NAMA, I don’t see its connection with the failures of government in this particular instance, and the need now, very smartly, for the PAC to do our work, which we will do, for a commission of inquiry to be established, and the government needn’t imagine that they can dodge that particular bullet in reality at this stage of the game.”
O’Rourke: “What kind of terms of reference do you want to give this commission of inquiry?”
McDonald: “As powerful as possible in terms of compelability, not just of witnesses but of papers, of documents, we do have to have an eye on things like confidentiality that have beset other efforts, we’re very sensible about this of course and we need to take and we need to have access to good legal advice, to get the terms of reference right. It is complicated by the fact that we have two jurisdictions on the island, there’s no point pretending otherwise. I would say that the Finance Minister in the North has written to Michael Noonan and made it clear that his department will collaborate fully with any Commission established here.
So, perhaps if there’s goodwill and if there’s a genuine appetite, on the part of Dublin particularly, and right across the country to get at the truth, I do think it can be done, it does have to be legally proofed and tested, but when the meeting happens today with the Taoiseach, we will be leaving him in no doubt that he doesn’t have a get-out clause now. He’s blocked this, he’s turned his face away from it when I’ve read the C&AG’s report I sort of smiled to myself and said perhaps now we understand why there’s been such a strong resistance to establishing a Commission…”
O’Rourke: “In the event of them taking a u-turn on that, it wouldn’t be the first time a u-turn was ever performed by a politician, it’s like the ones you performed yourselves, you’re accusing Fianna Fáil of performing a u-turn in calling for the abolition of water charges, but again, it took the Paul Murphy by-election win in Dublin South West to get Sinn Féin to concentrate on where it stood regards water charges.”
McDonald: “Well, I’m not, and don’t get me wrong, I wish we had won that by-election, fair play to Paul, he carried the day, but in fact our track record on water charges goes way back before any of that and in fact reaches into the North, where Conor Murphy was in ministerial office and in fact, we put a stop to a very strong Tory attempt to impose water charges in the North.”
O’Rourke: “…prior to that by-election loss, you were telling the Week in Politics that you were going to pay your water charges because you’d a good income, but it’s something you changed your mind on, Gerry Adams was going to pay them on his holiday home.”
McDonald: “I did, and let me tell you, I’m the kind of person that believes that you pay your way, and I pay my taxes, you know the way people say ‘people don’t like paying taxes’, I believe in paying my fair share. And in the case of the water charges, I accepted all along, and accept the reality, is, it’s double taxation. The reality is we took a position for their absolute abolition from the get-go, but in certain circumstances where the charge was being made, and given that I have an income, I don’t, I’m not rich, but I represent the people that struggle, many of them a lot harder than me, my instinct is to pay.
I changed my mind, and I’ll tell you why, nothing to do with a by-election, the constituency I represent is mixed to an extent, we would certainly not be the rich belt of Dublin, and I was struck again and again in particular older people that would rely on me, and rely on us to represent their interests, and to a woman and to a man, not only could not meet these charges but were absolutely petrified at the fact they weren’t in the position to meet them. It wasn’t “won’t pay”, it was “can’t pay”, and what was going to happen to them. So my decision was an absolute act of solidarity with those individuals and our position…”
O’Rourke: “Yes, well…”
McDonald: “…Seán, has been for abolition, for funding of water services and infrastructure through general taxation. That is the correct position. And Fianna Fáil must be dizzy at this stage, the number of u-turns that they’ve taken. It is, however, welcome, that they’ve come around, belatedly, to the common-sense, obvious position, and we’ll be bringing forward a motion to the Dáil to seek the abolition of those charges.”
O’Rourke: “Okay, now. I mentioned Gerry Adams, your party leader. Thirty-three years, coming up on that in a week’s time. How long more should he continue?”
McDonald: “Gerry is the leader of the party, because he is the party’s choice to be the leader. Often on the airwaves, when you hear people rehearsing this minor obsession, you’d be forgiven for thinking he somehow imposed himself on a resistant membership, that’s not the case. Every year, we elect our leadership at the Ard Fheis, Gerry is the preferred and absolutely supported leader of the party. That’s the size of it. Yes he is, he’s in that position a long time, but I think rather than criticising…”
O’Rourke: “…oh, it is, his resilience is extraordinary, surpassed by very few people, Robert Mugabe, or other undesirables, maybe, not suggesting they should necessarily be compared, I’m just wondering is there any bit of succession planning happening in Sinn Féin.”
McDonald: “Well, look at our teams, North and South, you made reference to our last Dáil election, look at the team we now have in the Dáil. Not that I’m throwing roses at us, but I regard our team in the Dáil as very vibrant, talented and committed. There is an abundance of talent, and that’s reflected in the North, it’s reflected in our membership base, we have no shortage of young people coming through…”
O’Rourke: “At the same time, at the same time, an increase in the number of seats, 24, up from 14, but shouldn’t you have got more, especially considering the bad odour that Fianna Fáil are still in, just one Dáil term after they were catastrophically reduced to 20 seats in 2011, and also, the way things have gone for the government in the last five years. Sinn Féin was never going to get a better opportunity and will never get a better opportunity…”
McDonald: “I disagree with you, the political scene is still replete with opportunity for us. Would I have preferred 24 to be 34? You bet I would.”
O’Rourke: “So, why wasn’t it? By common consent, and sometimes common consent is a dangerous basis on which to make any kind of argument, Gerry Adams did not have a good election. He’s just unsure of himself on economic questions, and I suppose there’s that distrust as to whether he can be believed by the electorate.”
McDonald: “Listen, just on the numbers issue, first, just so you know, internally, in the party, we never had any notion that we were going to sweep the boards and come back with thirty or forty seats. Sometimes the polling date is suggested, and that’s possible. When the campaign kicks in, in our case sometimes you face some fairly robust media criticism and hostility from certain quarters, not far from all, things can change. Caoimhín O’Caoláin, he’s still a serving member of the Dáil, an elder lemon, I hope he doesn’t take offence to that, if he’s listening, but bear in mind. Caoimhín was there on his own, then we were five, then we were four, and we have incrementally built. For us, and for me, that’s more important, we have to have something that is durable, we have to have a vehicle that is genuinely a voice for working people…”
O’Rourke (interrupting): “Yes, but here’s the point – why would somebody lead, he’s longer the leader of Sinn Féin than Pat Hickey is in the Olympic Council of Ireland! Surely there’s a question of people losing their touch when they’re in a job for so long.”
McDonald: “Well, I don’t think Gerry has lost his touch…”
O’Rourke: “You don’t (inaudible) signs of that in the election, do you not?”
McDonald: “His political record is there for all to see, and perhaps this differentiates him from other party leaders. Perhaps it’s that we’ve set about a course of social and economic justice and prosperity, it’s also about peace, and it’s also about Irish unity. So, Gerry’s commitments to seeing those objectives become a reality…”
O’Rourke (feigning exasperation): “But how long more are you going to…”
McDonald: “Hold on. It’s about more than a career calculation, this is who Gerry is.”
O’Rourke: “But how long more is this burden going to have to be carried by him?”
McDonald: “I think he has made clear that he is going to continue for as long as the party wish him to lead, and as long as he is in a position to lead. I’ll tell you this much Seán, Sinn Féin will decide who leads Sinn Féin. That’s a matter for us as members.”
O’Rourke: “Well, I’m not aware of any other parties that allow outsiders to decide…”
McDonald: “No, but there can be a tendency, very foolishly in my opinion, for parties to take fright, to take a wobble, to imagine it’s good politics, or that it’s wise to respond to a media agenda.”
O’Rourke: “There may be reasons why he has to go on, and he may look forward to a time when he doesn’t have to go on. He’s needed, he’s the guy the keeps the whole show together, North and South, which means that neither you nor Pearse Doherty are in the position to take up that mantle.”
McDonald: “You think that, do you?”
O’Rourke: “I’m just putting it to you as a question.”
McDonald: “Gerry is undoubtedly the glue that has held this party together, he has led magnificently…”
O’Rourke: “That having been said, when will the torch be passed to a new generation?”
McDonald: “When the time is right.”
O’Rourke: “When will that be?”
McDonald: “When the time is right.”
O’Rourke: “When will that be?”
McDonald (annoyed): “When the time is right. That’s when it will be.”
O’Rourke (mockingly): “Is the time not right now?”
O’Rourke: “Why isn’t it?”
McDonald: “Seán, we had our Ard Fheis, Gerry was returned as the leader, he enjoys our full support as leader. And when the time is right, don’t worry, don’t lose any sleep…”
O’Rourke: “Why is the time not right?”
McDonald: “…I fear you tossing and turning at night about this, Seán, with worries, we will know, Gerry will know when the time is right, you’ll be the first to know, Seán, I’m sure.”
O’Rourke: “I hope you’ll keep that promise.”
Pic Via Today with Sean O’Rourke
From top: Lynn Boylan MEP; Mary Wilson
Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan went on RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime with Mary Wilson yesterday evening to discuss water charges and the European Commission.
Ms Boylan had asked the Commission if flexibility previously afforded to Ireland on water charges still applies.
The Commission replied: “If the established practice is to have a system in place implementing the recovery of the costs of water services, in accordance with the polluter pays principle, the Commission considers that the flexibility afforded to Member States […] would not apply“.
RTÉ reported yesterday that that this meant Ireland could not be exempt from water charges.
Grab a tay.
Mary Wilson: “Now turning to the European Commission, it’s declared that Ireland does not enjoy an exemption from the obligation under European law for a system of water charges. Now this confirmation is highly likely to severely limit the new minority government’s discretion to scrap water charges if in fact that is the road that they finally go down. The confirmation comes in the form of a written response to the Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan, following a parliamentary question and Lynn Boylan joins us now, good evening.”
Lynn Boylan: “Good evening. Can I just say that that’s not what the response says at all.”
Wilson: “Does it not? Well…”
Boylan: “That’s a very, that’s a very…”
Wilson: “The commission’s written response makes it clear that Ireland’s de facto exemption from water charges no longer applies because the Government…”
Boylan: “That’s not what it says…”
Wilson: “…introduced water charges and metering…”
Boylan: “That’s absolutely not what it says…”
Wilson: “So what do you say it says, Lynn Boylan?”
Boylan: “It says it provides that members states shall not be in breach to the directive if they decide in accordance with established practices not to apply the provisions of cost recovery. Now, that’s the derogation, that’s what the response says. It says, If the established practice is to have a system in place implementing the recovery of the costs of water services, the Commission then considers that the flexibility would not apply. Now nobody in their right mind is going to say that the established practice in Ireland is Irish Water which itself is not even in compliance with the water framework directive because it’s not even having full cost recovery – it’s literally just covering the costs of its bills, of issuing bills. So it’s absolutely nonsensical to interpret that from the response that the Commission gave out this morning.”
Wilson: “I’m just, I’m just reading the written response. Brussels regards the introduction of water charges as Ireland’s established practice in ensuring that the principles of polluter pays and cost recovery are adhered to.”
Boylan: “It says, if the established practice, if the established practice, Irish Water is not…”
Wilson: “Is to have a system in place..”
Boylan: “Yes, is not the established practice. Irish Water is not the established practice. The established practice in Ireland is to pay for water through general taxation, based on the ability to pay. Now it’s also interesting that if Ireland wants to use the derogation 9.4, based on the standard practice, which is general taxation, it can do that in its river basin management plan which was due to be submitted on December 2015, which they missed that deadline and they have confirmed to Deputy O’Broin that they won’t be in a position to submit it until December 2017.”
Wilson: “Were you a bit taken aback by this response?”
Boylan: “No I wasn’t taken back at all and, in fact, this was exactly what we expected. This was a priority question, a very simple, black and white answer and the commission delayed and delayed for seven weeks. We got confirmation, off the record, that this was being blocked at the cabinet, the commission cabinet, and what we did then yesterday was put out a press statement, to put pressure on the commission and they came out with a vague..”
Wilson: “And you got the response..”
Boylan: “A vague response which is all based on established practices and established practices is not Irish Water.”
Wilson: “Did we introduce the concept of water charges and metering back in 2010?”
Boylan: “In 2010, Irish Water was not set up until 2014.”
Wilson: “I know that but yes, what I said was the concept of water charges?”
Boylan: “No the issue is…”
Wilson: “And metering and the European Commission, it is believed that they believe that the introduction by the former coalition of water charges or the concept of water charges meant that Ireland’s established practice had changed and it’s all about that established practice.”
Boylan: “But the established practice. How is the practice established between 2010 and 2014?”
Wilson: “Well I got water bills.”
Boylan: “It wasn’t even in existence.”
Wilson: “I got water bills…”
Boylan: “Not in 2010 you didn’t.”
Wilson: “No but in 2015..”
Boylan: “Yes, so that’s not the established practice when you have a compliance rate which you have from Irish Water, you have an election result which was clearly a mandate from the Irish people. You’ve had mobilisations on the street. I think any lawyer would feel very happy going into court to defend that Irish Water is not an established practice and can I also say that there’s a precedent here. In the European Court of Justice found in favour of the member state in applying the derogation, a court ruling in 2014, against the German government. And that was around cost recovery. And they actually found in favour of the Germans over the Commission in that the flexibility is there for member states.”
Wilson: “I read, I read this report today and I took one meaning out of it, you’re taking another meaning out of it. And…”
Boylan: “You read a report or you read the response from the Commission because the response is not, the response is not up on the website…”
Wilson: “No, no, no, I read the reports of what the Commission has said. And I took from it..”
Boylan: “No, sorry, sorry…”
Boylan: “The report, the Commission’s response is not public.”
Wilson: “No, I’m not talking about the Commission’s response. I said I’ve read the media reports of what has been said and I’ve taken this meaning out of it. I’m not saying I’m right but I’m asking you if it will be open to interpretation?”
Boylan: “But what I’m saying is this response is not a public, it’s not up on any website. We received it this morning, Tony Connolly, your colleague went direct to the Commission and they’ve given him, and I presume Irish Water wrote his press statement, because the response in the report from RTÉ…I’m sorry, to jump to the conclusion…”
Wilson: “I doubt very much Irish Water wrote Tony Connolly’s press statement, he is a fine reporter who is well able to write his own press material.”
Boylan: “To jump to the conclusion that was in the RTÉ report, on the basis of the 100-word vague response that the Commission issued this morning, I find unbelievable…”
Wilson: “I’m not jumping to conclusions, I’m asking is this the position, you’re saying it’s another position and my question to you is, is it now open to interpretation?”
Boylan: “What I’m saying is that RTÉ’s interpretation of a very vague response today, I find bizarre. It doesn’t take into account, it doesn’t take into account that we haven’t even submitted our plan to evoke the derogation. We haven’t submitted it and won’t be until 2017…”
Wilson: “So you’re taking…”
Boylan: “It doesn’t…”
Wilson: “No, just a moment Lynn Boylan…”
Wilson: “You’re taking one interpretation of this and I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, I’ve put forward another interpretation, I’m asking you will it now be for further people within the European Union, the European Commission or elsewhere to decide what is the correct interpretation of this and, ultimately, could Ireland be facing fines?”
Boylan: “Well what I’m taking is the only precedent that’s set down in law is the court ruling of 2014, against the German state, and in paragraph 57, it says, in that regard Article 9 (4) provides that the member states may, subject to certain conditions, opt not to proceed with the recovery of costs for a given water use activity where this does not compromise the purposes or the achievements or the objectives of that directive. That gave the flexibility to the member states and that’s a European Court of Justice ruling.”
Wilson: “Can I ask you in simple English: Are you saying, nothing to see here, move on, water charges are all over?”
Boylan: “I’m saying that it was a wild leap to go from the very vague response we were given by the Commission to the report that came out from RTÊ and to not…”
Wilson: “Are you…”
Boylan: “But to not even reference that there’s been a European Court of Justice ruling?”
Wilson: “Are you…”
Boylan: “To not reference that Scotland have invoked the ability to pay clause and are in complete compliance with the European water framework…”
Wilson: “Are you saying it’s wrong? Are you saying it’s wrong?”
Boylan: “I’m saying that it’s not balanced.”
Wilson: “Are you saying it’s wrong. You have one interpretation, I’ve put another interpretation to you, I have said it will be still open for others to decide.”
Boylan: “It will be still open, of course, but the conclusions that this was based on, on something that’s not even in the public domain..”
Wilson: “And we could be facing fines..”
Boylan: “To jump to that interpretation..”
Wilson: “I’m not jumping anywhere..”
Boylan: “Well the RTE report, the RTE report, well, as I said, Scotland uses the concept of the ability to pay and they have submitted two river basin management plans and both of them have been adopted by the European Commission and are not in breach of the Water Framework Directive.”
Wilson: “Sinn Féin MEP, Lynn Boylan. Thank you for joining us.”
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