Tag Archives: Sean O’Rourke

Ah here.

Spotted at the Courtmacsherry Festival, County Cork at the weekend.

Uncanny Séan O’Rourke, In fairness.

Previously: ‘I Found Myself On The Floor’

Pic via Barry Holland

From top: David McCourt with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a Science Foundation of Ireland event in new York, March 2018; Economist and associate professor at University of Limerick Stephen Kinsella

This morning.

Economist, associate professor at University of Limerick and Sunday Business Post columnist Stephen Kinsella spoke to RTÉ Radio One’s Seán O’Rourke.

It followed Fine Gael Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed saying Granahan McCourt will be putting less than €200million into the National Broadband Project, compared with €3billion from Irish taxpayers.

Mr Creed’s comments were made on Clare FM last Wednesday and reported by Justine McCarthy in The Sunday Times yesterday.

Mr O’Rourke asked Mr Kinsella for his thoughts on a ministerial press statement saying that Granahan McCourt is “responsible for €2.4billion towards costs” in relation to the project.

Mr Kinsella said:

“They have to run the network but they’re not being paid to actually install it. We’re paying them to install it. So the State fronts up the money first, builds up the network and they then operate the network.

“And in operating the network they recoup fees from the operators that they’re going to contract out to – to sell you your broadband: Vodafone and so forth.

“So while they will have to invest that money, they’ll be getting it in, in revenue as they do so. So the actual amount of the money that they front up, as the minister said, will be in the region of  €180million.

“This time last week, we conservatively estimated, my colleagues Eoin Reeves and Donal Palcic, estimated it [the €180million figures] to be around €300million-€400million. And we assumed that we were very conservative when we assumed that.”

Asked if he thinks it’s a good deal for the State, Mr Kinsella said:

“…The negatives are that the advice from the Department of Public Expenditure has been ignored and the public spending code hasn’t been adhered to. And we don’t really have full confidence that the private sector is bearing enough of the risk to justify the amount of investment that the State is putting into it.”

Given Mr Kinsella’s earlier estimate of €300million to €400million now being confirmed as €180million, Mr O’Rourke asked Mr Kinsella: “how could they get it so cheap?”

Mr Kinsella replied:

This is the question. It would be a very low-ball figure in the history of public-private partnerships like this and again my colleagues at the University of Limerick, Eoin Reeves, and and Donal Palcic are very well published on this, and around €300million-€400million would have been a conservative estimate. €180million seems quite low.”

“But again we are where we are now. The Cabinet has decided to award preferential bidder status to this company. If they decided to cancel it tomorrow there could well be very serious legal implications for the State.

“So the question is, right now: What aspect within the contract structure exists, to make sure that three or four years down the line, this company can’t just flip and asset strip it, extract the public value that is already put in there – that’s the key question for me at least.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: Bryan Wall: Your Money And Your Broadband

Previously: “Seán, You’re Sounding Like A Member Of Fine Gael’s Frontbench”

From top: Minister for Communications Richard Bruton (right) and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announcing the cabinet go-ahead for National Broadband Plan; RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke; economist David McWilliams

This morning.

Economist David McWilliams spoke to Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One about the €3billion National Broadband Plan and his concerns about the project.

It follows yesterday’s announcement by the Government that it has agreed a €3billion plan to roll out the infrastructure – a project that will be overseen by the sole bidder for the project, a consortium led by Irish American billionaire businessman David McCourt and including Denis O’Brien.

The contract reportedly requires the company to build and operate the network for 25 years, with an option to extend this contract for another 10 years.

Once the contract is complete, the State won’t own the network.

The interview also came ahead of the release of documents which reportedly outline concerns raised by officials in the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform on the plan.

From the interview…

Sean O’Rourke: “If this [National Broadband Plan] was such a great State asset that was being given away, how come, at the end of the process, only one company or one consortium is interested in acquiring it? Others have walked away.”

David McWilliams: “Well others have walked away because the actual prize is much more than was initially suggested. And that’s the role of Eir in all this. There was supposed to be 750,000 customers and then Eir realised, or came to the table, and said ‘we have about 300,000 customers, so the actual asset itself, the size of the asset changed and that’s why a lot of the bidders fell away because they were actually bidding for a much bigger prize and it is a prize…”

O’Rourke: “Yes but it also, as things stand, Eir can still get another billion out of providing the infrastructure for this, be it the telephone poles and cable, and so forth.”

McWilliams: “Well it’s funny you mention Eir cause you know, of course, that Eir is the offspring of the original Eircom which itself was, when it was privatised, has been a lesson in how not to privatise State infrastructure, given that it was flipped I think it was four or five times, Seán, before its the eventual owner? Every single time it was flipped, or sold on, a little bit of the asset was gouged out and given to the new owners, ok?

“But the Eir lesson for us is that when you give public infrastructure to a small consortium of private investors who are in the business of maximising their own profit, which is absolutely legal and absolutely straightforward, you tend to get an outcome whereby the asset is sold and sold and sold on again.

“And every time it’s sold, the only way you can actually generate profit from an asset being sold is you actually take a little bit away from it all the time.

“The alternative is, I would say, is that we go back to the State companies: ESB, maybe Bord Gáis, and say ‘make a bid for this?’, ‘get involved’. So we stop the process and we go back and at least begin the notion of having second and third bidders. At the moment, we have a PPP, a public private partnership, which was set up under the assumption that we would have many bidders and PPP now has only got one bidder and ultimately taxpayers say ‘hold on a second am I going to actually end up footing  a massive bill for something I know we have to do but ultimately I’m not too sure whether we’re going to get value for money’.

“And let’s go back to the Department of Finance. The role of the Department of Finance is to be objective, civil servant, in the centre, saying ‘hold on a second, does this make sense for our country?’.”

O’Rourke: “Yes and has been pointed out repeatedly this is the guys, or these are the guys, this is the department who wouldn’t have agreed to free education in the late 1960s, they would have had reservations…”

McWilliams:Seán, Seán, Seán, Seán, Seán, this is spin. You’re giving me the spin, you’re supposed to do the opposite.”

O’Rourke: “I’m just saying that advisors advise. I suppose people are still smarting from bad decisions or remaining silent ten or 15 years ago at the height of the Celtic Tiger boom and they don’t want the file to be got wrong this time.”

McWilliams: “I understand and I understand that it makes great imagery to say electrification, free education and the Department of Finance were against that, etc. But I think…”

O’Rourke: “And that’s fact.”

McWilliams: “It’s florid, it’s florid, it’s more poetry than…”

O’Rourke: “And it’s factual.”

McWilliams: “It’s, well, it’s counterfactual. Because you don’t know what would have happened the next year. OK? It’s counterfactual, actually. So…”

O’Rourke: “No, but I remember interviewing Charlie Haughey who told me that [Fianna Fail Minister for Eduction from 1966 to 1968] Donogh O’ Mahony made the announcement about free education and Jack Lynch, the then Finance Minister, was absolutely shocked by it. I mean he was not agreeable to that but they had to go along with it because it was so popular.”

McWilliams: “Seán, I think you’re now sounding like a member of the Fine Gael frontbench, if the truth be known. Let’s get to the…there is politics in this and the politics, as you and I know, is that there’s an election in ten days’ time, 15 days’ time. And wrapping yourself as the saviour of rural Ireland never lost a vote, as you and I know, in an election, ok?

“But it strikes me, it’s just common sense here. And I started with the point Seaán, that nobody disputes that broadband in rural Ireland is essential – not just for rural Ireland but for urban Ireland to take away some of the enormous pressure, the commuting pressure, the congestion pressure on urban Ireland, right?

“So everybody wins with good broadband – there’s no question. The issue is: are we going about things the right way? Are we going about things the right way given where we started? And are we going about things the right way given the need to have value for money? That’s it.”

O’Rourke:But it’s a decision that has to be taken on the balance of advice. That’s the argument that Paschal Donohoe has been making, the Taoiseach as well, Richard Bruton this morning saying the benefits will be substantially in excess of the cost.”

McWilliams: “Seán, again, as of today, nobody is disputing that this is a decision that we need to take for the infrastructural development of the country over a 25 or 30-year period. The issue is the way in which the tender has turned out. The way which a single bidder has emerged. The way in which that bidder has been opaque, what I’m interested in is: what are these guys bringing to the table? What are these dudes bringing to the table? I don’t know.”

O’Rourke: “They’re bringing, presumably, access to more funding that will be needed, they’re putting a consortium together, obviously there are questions still unanswered about how much they’re pitching into the pot, so to speak.

Again, to quote Government sources last week, they’re saying they looked at all the options which presumably going back to base and one by one they were ruled out, maybe this is the least worst option. Because if they were to say, look, try to pull the ESB back into the proceedings or the process they’re running up against European law and State aid rules and so forth.

“So this thing has dragged on for long enough.”

McWilliams: “No, look, I’m with you. But..what they’re bringing is money, right? We’re in a world of zero interest rates, there’s money everywhere. Money is the least of our problems when it comes to infrastructure. The entire financial markets worldwide are bashing down the door of infrastructural projects which are State-backed which is – this is going to be one – because when the €3billion comes in, there’s a subsidy of €3billion coming in, raising the money is the simplest thing to do at the moment.”

O’Rourke: “Well if it’s that simple, if it was that appealing to the financiers and potential consortia, how did we end up with just the one?”

McWilliams: “Because first of all the original plan disintegrated, OK, because of the Eir move. Secondly, they were so far down the road with this and thirdly, don’t underestimate how politicians are blindsided by financiers and the alchemy of easy money. And the guys come in and say ‘we’ve got the money, we’re the only people with the money, take it now’. And suddenly all the politicians and the civil servants say ‘oh my god they’ve got the money’.

“Look around the world, interest rates worth zero, infrastructural projects are the easiest things to finance. This is what they would call in finance and I’ve worked in this for years, it’s not only low-hanging fruit, this is fruit that is almost at ground level.”

O’Rourke: “Well by that logic, they should have got the NTMA to go and fund the thing and we should have built it ourselves.”

McWilliams: “Well maybe. Maybe. Maybe. But the point is: I’m intrigued by what the consortium is bringing to the table. OK. I know the ESB, for example, has public infrastructure. I know that Bord Gáis has it. I also know that we’re going to be renting this stuff off Eir, I think the figure you quoted me there is €1billion. Up to €3billion is going to go to Eir on a rental bid. Wouldn’t it seem more logical to go back to ESB, go back to Bord Gáis and say ‘we need the second bid or a third bid in this procedure’. Stop the procedure, start again, fast-track it and come back again.”

O’Rourke: “David McWilliams, thank you very much indeed.”

Listen back in full here


Tánaiste Simon Coveney


Listen back here


Director General of the HSE Tony O’Brien

This morning.

Director General of the HSE Tony O’Brien spoke to Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.

Mr O’Brien’s interview followed the HSE confirming yesterday that some 208 women in Ireland had a false negative smear test before being diagnosed with cervical cancer and 162 of these women – 17 of whom are now dead – were not told of their earlier incorrect test.

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


Terminally-ill Ms Phelan was only told last year that a 2011 smear test assessed by the US lab returned a false negative while she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014.

The information about the 208 women only came to light after Ms Phelan refused to sign a confidentiality agreement connected to her court action.

Yesterday, Dr David Gibbons,  a former member of the National Cervical Screen Programme, told RTE’s Jackie Fox, on Morning Ireland, that he had raised concerns about the outsourcing of cervical smear tests to US labs in 2008.

He raised his concerns with Mr O’Brien when he realised that the US lab tests were detecting fewer cases of cervical cancer than the tests done in Ireland. Dr David Gibbons warned there would be problems in ten years’ time.

When nothing changed as a consequence of him raising his concerns, Dr Gibbons resigned.

Mr O’Brien is due to retire this summer.

From this morning’s interview…

Sean O’Rourke: “At any stage over the past week, did you consider standing down sooner?

Tony O’Brien:No.”

O’Rourke: “Despite the fact that, quite clearly, you and the minister Simon Harris are very much at odds, in very serious way.”

O’Brien: “I don’t believe we are. After what seems to be reported in the media, the disagreement between us, we were having a conversation last night which was perfectly normal and didn’t touch on this at all. You know, we’re grown-up guys, we have different roles, I said what I said because it would not have been appropriate for me to publicaly express confidence or otherwise in staff because I am, effectively, their employer. That is not the same…”

O’Rourke: “That’s a bit like sort of, you know, circling the wagons, you know, my people, right or wrong.”

O’Brien: “No, no, if the director general of RTE went out tonight and said she didn’t have confidence in you, you would take great umbrage at that. You would probably find it quite difficult to come in and present your programme tomorrow. You’d have the opportunity to sue RTE for effectively sacking you and for doing so without any process.”

O’Rourke: “Did you…”

O’Brien: “So my role is different.”

O’Rourke: “Did you ask her [CervicalCheck clinical director Grainne Flannelly] not to resign?”

O’Brien:I asked her to consider carefully, in order that I wanted to be sure that she had reflected fully and made the right decision and I spoke to her at some length on Saturday evening, at the point at which she was confirming to me her decision to resign. What I didn’t want her to do was to do something in haste without a period of reflection and I also had a duty of care to make sure that she had access to some appropriate clinical colleagues that could talk to her about her own situation.

Let’s remember all of the women involved in this are human beings, flesh and blood. So too are the staff members and clinicians involved. I take my duty of care to all of them equally seriously. And I think some sections of the media need to think about that too.

Listen back in full here

Previously: HSE Boss ‘Dismissed My Concerns’ About Cervical Screening Results

Mark Stedman/Rollingnews


Dublin City Council’s CEO Owen Keegan speaking to RTE’s Sean O’Rourke this morning

This morning.

On RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Dublin City Council’s CEO Owen Keegan was interviewed about  a range of matters.

These included the Luas Cross City works, the College Green plaza the lack of cycling facilities in the capital, housing and comments of Housing Agency’s boss Conor Skehan who recently claimed some people were ‘gaming the system’, by, he alleged, declaring they were homeless in order to jump the housing waiting list queue.

He was also asked his opinion about the €500,000 that Dublin City Council have voted to spend on lowering a recently built flood defence wall in Clontarf.

From the interview…

Owen Keegan: “What we’re saying is do not come into the city centre unless your destination is in the city, core city centre. There was far too much traffic going through the city centre and we’ve basically made it, we’re not accommodating that traffic but you can still access every car park, you can access every hotel and business is doing well in the city centre. This myth that business is dependent on car access, that’s simply not the case.

“Business is recovering very well in the city centre. We’ve held the retail core, despite all the challenges and it’s a difficult time for retail generally with the move to offline [sic] sales. It’s about the quality of the  retail experience and about the whole public…it’s not just about how you access it.”

Sean O’Rourke: “This is an another angle being taken by, this is another one of our listeners, Marie, ‘will you please ask Owen Keegan what’s the plan for cyclists trying to make their way safely through the city; you take your life in your hands and probably drive Luas drivers mad as well cycling down Dawson Street’?”

Keegan: “Well one of the immediate things we’re going to do is improve cyclist facilities around the College Green area because we recognise that it is very challenging at the moment. There is a need for significant further investment in cycling facilities in the core city centre.

O’Rourke: “Now, describe the plaza that’s planned. I mean what is it going to do? How big is it going to be? What’s going to go on there?”

Keegan: “It’s basically an open space but, you know, finished in very high quality materials, you know, for pedestrians. There will be a dedicated cycle track on one side of it, a two-way cycle track. I mean I’m not going to describe the image here..”

O’Rourke:It’s a public facility…but again people are thinking, ‘well, you know, that was supposed to be the great appeal of the boardwalk and the first job that has to be done there, along the Liffey, is you’ve to go out and clean up the needles that are there, left by people unfortunately who have the wrong relationship with drugs.”

Keegan:I think there are issues about the boardwalk but I don’t believe that this public plaza will be, I think there’ll be significant uses of, you know, I mean, one of, the problem with the boardwalk, at times of the day, it isn’t that used, it has been frequented by, you know, certain category which is unfortunate. I don’t think that issue will arise here.”

O’Rourke: “You think it’s going to be an area that’s going to enhance the city as opposed to one that’s going to create further social problems…”

Keegan: “Absolutely..absolutely.”


O’Rourke: “What about housing? Obviously you have a responsibility there and it’s in Dublin, perhaps more than anywhere else, that the crisis is most keenly felt. What have you been able to do by way of, I mean how many new social houses or apartments did the city council build? I don’t mean ones that you supplied to new, or sorry to people who didn’t previously have one, what is the story there at the moment in Dublin City Council?”

Keegan: “Well, look, the housing situation is very difficult and the city council, we’re not responsible for the performance of the housing market. The recovery in the general housing supply has been slow, much slower than, given the buoyancy of the economy – that’s not our direct responsibility, but it is a major factor, so, I suppose the housing crisis is partly because we got out of social housing building and that would have been, and in actual fact there was no money to spend on social housing, it’s something that I think was most unfortunate. We’re back in social housing now, it’s taking time to ramp that up.

“But you know we’re dealing with the consequences of the failure of the private housing market and we have some influence on that market, in terms of planing policy but there are other factors there. But we have been very proactive in terms of sourcing our social housing. I mean last year we would have sourced about 4,100 units – not many of those were new builds. But there was an awful lot of housing that had been, our own stock, that had been out of commission, that we recommissioned.

“We made about 2,400 HAP housing assistance payment units available, the new builds would have been, we built around 100, sorry 250, the approved housing bodies brought about 350 units of supply, we got about 56 on Part V. Overall, we did about 4,000 allocations.”

O’Rourke: “But that would seem to be just a fraction of what’s needed in a city of a million people? How many people are on your housing list, waiting list?”

Keegan: “There are about 19,000. But 4,000 does represent significant, relative to where we would have been…”

O’Rourke: “What would you expect to do this year?”

Keegan: “Well I’d expect to do a lot more than that.”

O’Rourke:Would you expect to double it?”

Keegan:I’m not sure we’d quite double it, no, no. We have an awful lot of houses at different stages of construction, we’ve under construction, at planning, design, so, the pipeline is building up. It takes time to get housing. And we were out of the social housing business. At the same time, a lot of our effort has gone into, we brought another 200 hostel beds on, we’re working on about 500 family hub units, all of these units are delivered by the city council so, you know, we have been very proactive, compared to where we were two years ago and we would begin to see the benefits of that over the next two to three years.”

O’Rourke:Is money an issue for you or have you got as much as you think you can spend?”

Keegan: “I think in fairness we’re getting as much as we think we can spend, you know? I don’t think that is an issue.”

O’Rourke: “And what about space in which to build?”

Keegan: “Well at the moment, we have a limited number of sites. I think every site that we own is at some stage in the process, you know, in two or three years, we’ll run out of sites and we’ll have to acquire land or, you know, but at the moment, we have enough sites, they’re all, every site we have I think is being pursued and is at some stage along the process.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, I mean, talking about the list, the 19,000 people on it, do you have a view on what Conor Skehan had to say, the chair of the national Housing Agency, that some people were making themselves homeless in order to get quicker access to accommodation?

Keegan:There is no doubt that a number of people who are presenting, or families who are presenting as homeless, are leaving the family home. Now whether you can accuse those people of ‘gaming’, you know, that’s a very emotive language. A lot of those people are in very difficult situations in the family home. So I think it would be unfair to categorise everybody who leaves a family home.

There is probably, you know, a sense to which, given the political priority  on housing families who are actually homeless, the priority being put on that, you know, people who are queuing in an ordinary fashion, in very difficult conditions in the family home, some of them may say ‘well look, I’m not getting anywhere’, you know, and may have made themselves homeless.

“But I think someone has to have an understanding of the factors, it’s not as simple as, I think the word ‘gaming the system’ was unfortunate. People can be in very, very difficult circumstances at a family home and it may not be tenable for them to continue to reside there and they present…”

O’Rourke:And in desperation maybe, they think there’s a quicker route to a permanent home…”

Keegan: “Yeah and given how important housing is, it’s not unreasonable that people would maximise, now I don’t advocate, and we certainly think people are better off being in the family home where they have family supports and in many, most cases, it is by far a better option going into a hotel, but you know, we have to accept that for some people it is not a sustainable option.”


O’Rourke: “One other question, it’s on the mind of some of our listeners. A lot of time, I think was it two years and a lot of expense went to raising the sea wall, that protective barrier in the Clontarf area. And now it’s going to be lowered again so that motorists can have their view of the sea restored? Does that make sense?”

Keegan: “It doesn’t make sense to me. And I would have advised the members strongly against it. But, ultimately, this was a political decision. In fairness to the elected members, I think we started that, the construction of that project in the run up to the general election. And having sailed through the planning approval process and nobody  objected to it, none of the councillors objected to it, it was unanimously endorsed, the part VIII at the council. When we went to build it there were a number of concerns raised locally and they just gathered momentum in the run-up to the general election and, certainly one councillor was particularly active in campaigning against it and kind of, we were, the contractor was on site. It just, we kind of just lost control of the thing, so it was unfortunate. I mean, don’t start sensitive projects in the run-up to a general election would be the lesson I’d learn from that.”

Listen back in full here

Pic: Today With Sean O’Rourke


Clockwise from top: The Gate Theatre, Jill Kerby and Lise Hand

Earlier this morning.

On RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Canadian-born financial journalist Jill Kerby; columnist with The Times, Ireland Edition Lise Hand; Solidarity/People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett and Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness joined Seán O’Rourke for The Gathering slot.

During the slot, they turned to the statement released by The Gate yesterday, in the wake of claims made by six women against the theatre’s former artistic director, for 33 years, Michael Colgan.

The six women are Grace Dyas, Annette Clancy, Ali White, Ella Clarke, Ciara Smyth and Ruth Gordon.

The claims revolve around events ranging from the early 1990s to 2016, Mr Colgan’s final year at The Gate.

In the statement, The Gate Theatre called out for employees, or former employees, who have concerns to raise about sexual harassment or abuse of power to contact them on confidential@gate-theatre.ie.

It also said it intends to appoint an independent professional HR advisor to handle any issues raised.

The statement did not name Michael Colgan.

Readers will recall the Gate Theatre received €860,000 in State funding in 2016. Mr Colgan was paid €231,000, including salary, expenses and pension payments in the same year.

This morning, in light of the statement, Mr O’Rourke raised the matter with his panelists.

Nobody named Mr Colgan.

From the show:

Sean O’Rourke: “Moving on, the, I suppose, another one of the big stories of the week, can be summed up in the two words sex pests. Across the water, suggestions as well that there’s need to look into matters closer to home. I see The Gate Theatre now have appointed a HR expert to receive complaints from people there. What do you make of it all, Lise Hand?”

Lise Hand: “Well, I think there’s sort of two things going on here. First, you know, there’s actually almost a common theme running through a lot of what we’re talking about. A lot of it has to do with no kind of controls, regulation or no, and also people acting with impunity, with no fear of any consequences. And now you have, what started with a say #metoo in America spread…”

O’Rourke: “This is after Harvey Weinstein…”

Hand: “This is after Harvey Weinstein. And an actress started this hashtag and I think, within 24 hours, there was, you know, a million responses on Twitter to it. So, you now have this sort of rolling situation and, for the first time, we probably see people suffering consequences of these allegations. People are being made to step down, shows are, in Hollywood, shows are being axed. You have people, you know, you have men who have, are under these allegations, and they’re actually facing consequences.

“And you’ve a situation here, too, of course, where the #metoo thing has obviously reached Ireland, and, you know, we’ve seen a lot of action on social media over this over the weekend. There was you know, a report of one, it was in a Sunday paper, a couple of Sunday papers, you know, about one individual using the term sex pest and then there was sort of a separate story running online as well about other allegations made by somebody else of a much more serious nature.

“And I think there’s two things here. One, there is a danger when these things go up on social media, that different stories get conflated. And people who have nothing to do with this and are completely blameless, names start circulating. And this is the danger. And I think even with the best intention in the world, if somebody wants to step forward and say ‘we need to make this public so people will come out, you know, will come out with their stories’, I think there is a process, I think that, needs to be followed.

“I mean, as a journalist, if I’m you know, doing a story with any allegations, I will absolutely make sure that I have everybody sourced, every single fact nailed down before I go to it. And just one last thing: I think if the Government want to, could actually turn all this into an opportunity, it’s been, since 2002, many people have been trying to get a report, a new SAVI [Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland] report done…”

O’Rourke: “That’s. SAVI stands for sexual…”

Hand: “Sexual violence in Ireland…sexual assault and violence in Ireland, I think it is. Now they could. Since 2002, there hasn’t been a report on this. They could do that and also broaden it out to just look at the broader thing of harassment in the thing. If it only cost €1million and, you know, of a budget of €60billion, surely €1million could be found.”

O’Rourke: “Social media has transformed everything.”

McGuinness: “It has but the frightening thing is that women in America, who spoke out, are now empowered because they’re powerful. When they were powerless, they didn’t speak out. We and debate in the European Parliament on this issue, and there’s concerns in the parliament, as there would be in all big organisations, and I dare say in this outfit as well, that where people are together and some are more powerful than others, you can have what turns out to be sexual harassment and people are fearful to speak out. You need systems to address that.

“The worry with social media is it vents anger but actually could destroy a follow-up, where people should be held to account. And, in addition, people now saying ‘oh it’s going too far’ and the danger is that where there’s a real problem, and there are real problems in the workplace, that people will say, ‘ah sure look, it was harmless and now people are going too far and you can’t touch anyone in a lift or…’ That kind of thing. There is a danger.”

Jill Kerby: “Sure. But there’s always that kind of a backlash, I think, when any sort of event like this happens – especially in this country. I mean, when 20 years ago, there revelations about child sexual abuse in the church were happening, the same kind of people were coming out saying ‘oh, this is most unfair to the church and it’s most unfair to most priests because most of them are really nice guys and this is a terrible thing to do.”

McGuinness: “No one is saying that now.”

Talk over each other

Kerby: “Hang on, no, no, they’re not saying that but they are saying ‘oh this has gone too far’. You know. We have to live with social media. We have to accept…”

Hand: “I don’t think people are saying it’s gone too far, I think all people are saying is that care needs to be taken.”

Kerby: “On my tweet line, lots of people are coming out and, I have to say, most of them are men. And they’re saying ‘this has gone too far’, you know, ‘you women don’t always know what’s the difference between a little bit of jocular office whatever…'”

Talk over each other

Hand: “That’s different than saying, I think, that you know a lot of the people are going too far. I do agree that there is a certain, like ‘you can’t take a joke’…

Talk over each other

Hand: “The only people surprised by the amount, the outpouring on this, are men because any women have sat down together and they’ve talked about an incident, from something very minor, you know, something irritating…”

Kerby: “You know what? I believe them.”

Hand: “Well, we all believe them. Yeah. But..”

Kerby: “I believe those women who say that and that is why I believe the danger now is that there is going to be this great surge of opprobrium against the fact that it’s social media that’s directing this. We have to live with this.”

O’Rourke: “I, to be honest, don’t think social media is the main explanation for why these issues are coming up and I very much welcome the fact that they’re coming up and I think it’s a sign that feeling more confident, and in a stronger position to challenge what has been a rotten culture of sexism and misogyny and where sexual violence, harassment, sexism generally, was acceptable and pervasive in society. It’s becoming less acceptable and that’s because women are becoming more assertive and that is a good thing.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: “I knew It Was Likely I Would Never Work In The Gate Again”

Lorraine and Sgt Maurice McCabe and A Force For Justice by Michael Clifford

This morning.

On RTE’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

Michael Clifford, of The Irish Examiner, spoke of a book he has written about Sgt Maurice McCabe, called A Force For Justice: The Maurice McCabe Story.

During the interview, an extract of a statement made by Sgt McCabe’s wife Lorraine in preparation for a legal action against An Garda Siochana, which is contained in the book, was read out by Tara Campbell.

In it, Lorraine describes what life has been like for her and her family for almost 10 years:

“In 1993, I married a decent, honourable and, above all, an honest man. For the last nine years, because of these admirable traits and his decision to challenge the system for all of the right reasons, his life has intentionally, relentlessly and systematically been rendered intolerable for him at every turn.

“This has had a profound and very destructive effect on me, my children, my marriage and on our life as a family.

“It’s usual, in a marriage, to be able to turn to your partner for support. In my case, given the pressure that Maurice has been under, I’ve not felt able to burden him further at times when I would have ordinarily needed support.

“I’ve largely had to cope with other trials and difficulties in our lives, including the death of both of my parents, alone. I’ve also had to shield Maurice from many of the day-to-day family concerns regarding the children and otherwise – what would ordinarily be dealt with together.

One of the most difficult episodes for me was when Maurice was so low that he was admitted into St John of Gods for help. I’ll never forget the desperation I felt that night, after leaving him and driving home alone and wondering how I could shield the children from this. 

“We’ve five children, the eldest of whom is now 21. Tom was only a baby when all of this began. Despite my best efforts, their entire childhoods have been marred.

“Our lives have been destroyed. For years, we lived in fear. And now that fear has turned into extreme anger at what they tried to do and how things could have ended but for the relentless fight we had to endure and the tireless work of our legal team.

I’m still married to a decent, honourable, and above all, an honest man.

“However, he, I, and our children, have paid a very high price for his honesty and his decision to challenge the system in the interest of others.”

Listen back to the interview in full here

Leah Farrell, Rollingnews/Easons

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly spoke to Sean O’Rourke in light of Noirin O’Sullivan’s resignation.

From the discussion…

Clare Daly:I think there’s been an attempt here to kind of change the narrative to sort of portray the former commissioner as a sort of a victim. Too many people asking questions, she couldn’t get on with the job – the reason why there were so many people asking questions is that answers weren’t being given. Transparency and accountability wasn’t being delivered.

“And the sad fact is that there was open warfare inside the hierarchy of An Garda Siochana, between the civilian heads and between most of the senior garda management. And sadly, we’ve had a roadmap for how to deliver a modern police service, based on really comprehensive reports that were done by the Garda Inspectorate in previous years which all we need to do is implement them.

“And the problem being that the people at the top of An Garda Siocahana come from the old guard and are not best equipped to deal with that type of change that is necessary to herald in a new type of Garda management.”

Sean O’Rourke: “So you’re talking about, not just a new commissioner but a new top layer of management are you?”

Daly: “I think that’s absolutely necessary and we would be very concerned with some of the recent promotions by the Policing Authority for people who we know have been the subject of serious complaints and investigations by GSOC and Garda management, in example, for harassment of whistleblowers, have actually ended up on the promotion list. And…”

O’Rourke: “So the Policing Authority has to go as well, does it?”

Daly:No, the Policing Authority has to be…”

O’Rourke: “If they’re promoting these people…”

Daly: “What this Government didn’t want it to be – a fully independent body. Let’s remember the personnel of the present Policing Authority were effectively hand-picked by the last government, there wasn’t open recruitment and selection for that. And their hands have been tied and they’ve allowed their hands to be tied even further. I made the example earlier and what happened in Scotland and other jurisdictions, they seem to manage it perfectly well.

“Where a garda commissioner or a chief constable, whatever they’re called, are actually held to account by a proper policing authority. We haven’t go that here. We’ve got a halfway house and the legislation has been there to deal with it.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: Changing Of The Guards

She’s Gone

Absence Of Malice

Conor Lenihan, of Fianna Fáil

This morning.

Former Fianna Fáil TD and junior minister Conor Lenihan was interviewed by Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One.

It follows a report in yesterday’s Irish Times in which it was reported Mr Lenihan is interested in running in the next European elections in 2019.

During the interview, Mr O’Rourke asked Mr Lenihan about an opinion piece written by Fintan O’Toole in today’s Irish Times in which Mr O’Toole focused on an interview in last weekend’s Sunday Business Post in which Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen told the newspaper the party wanted to see the Vat rate for builders and developers cut from 13% to 9%.

Mr Cowen told the Sunday Business Post:

We’re looking at a Vat holiday for a sunset period for the construction sector. We are calling for a reduction in development charges and planning levies. The pussy footing is over. There has to be radical measures for a period to allow the sector get back on its feet. To allow the sector to create affordable homes, to allow local authorities to be given the space to build houses.”

Mr O’Toole wrote:

The party [Fianna Fáil] has a bad case of builder’s bum: when it bends over to help out its friends it reveals the hideous gap between its recent left-wing rhetoric and its true loyalties.

If tax breaks for developers created a stable housing market and good urban planning we’d be living on Paradise Island.

Developer-led get-rich-quick schemes, fuelled by tax incentives, have led only to disaster.

Further to this, Mr Lenihan and Mr O’Rourke had the following exchange.

Conor Lenihan: “I think there’s a very serious crisis here and the current government and the previous government have done very little in this area. We do need emergency measures, we need something that actually gets builders and the constructions sector building houses.

This is not rocket science. We do need to provide incentives to people who are building houses to go out and build them. And if you talk to builders and plenty of us do, it’s very clear that the mixture of taxation on a house, to build a house, makes it very disadvantageous for people to get into building houses.

“So this is a very serious thing that has to be addressed. Now it’s nothing to do with anybody’s relationship with the building industry but I would point out that, notwithstanding the brickbat thrown by the likes of Fintan O’Toole against Fianna Fail in relation to our relationship or whatever, with the building industry that it’s very clear from the data, from 1922 on, from the period after independence, that the amount of social houses built by Fianna Fáil governments, is very consistent. We’ve always built more social housing than any other party in this State. So the record…”

O’Rourke: “Coming back…”

Lenihan: “…is good in terms of one level if you look at the actual data…”

O’Rourke: “Well, I think you’d probably have to go back to the 1950s to find your real achievements…”

Lenihan: “No, the social housing schemes were started in the 1930s by the De Valera government and a time when the previous government had no interest….”

O’Rourke: “In the Ahern era, and thereafter, it became a question of just leave it to the markets.”

Lenihan: “Yeah, and I think that was a mistake by all parties in Leinster House. We need to have social housing…”

O’Rourke: “No, hang on, you were the guys in Government from 1997 for the next, what was it, 14 years?”

Lenihan: “That’s right. Yes, but there was a, but there was a consensus in the Dail. The Opposition parties were asking for more, more tax cuts, more spending…”

O’Rourke: “Ok, just to come back to where we started…and your potential return to the political fray here, your name being on the ballot paper. Have you spoken to Micheal Martin about this idea?

Lenihan: Of course I have, I’ve spoken to him and I made it clear that I was open and available.”

O’Rourke: “And what did he say?”

Lenihan: “Well he was very encouraging, of course. As party leader, he does not and cannot express a preference for one candidate over another. He has to be respectful to the membership but I was glad to be able to meet him and share my ambition in that regard.”

Listen back in full here


Speaking of ‘sunsets’….

From an academic paper, published in the Irish Political Studies journal in 2011, about the Irish financial crash.

The paper was called Financial and Economic Crisis: Explaining the Sunset over the Celtic Tiger, and was written by Raj Chari, of Trinity College Dublin and Patrick Bernhagen, of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.


Any excuse