He’s going to spend more time with his money/tailor.
He’s going to spend more time with his money/tailor.
2/2 … beyond that, other than to assume whatever was happening would be acceptable from a public health point of view.
I very much regret that lack of thought and interrogation on my part, and I apologise unreservedly for it.
— Sean O’Rourke (@OrourkeseanSean) August 21, 2020
Former RTÉ broadcaster Seán O’Rourke tweets that he regrets and is sorry for attending the Oireachtas Golf Society’s 50th anniversary dinner at the Station House Hotel, Clifden, Co Galway on Wednesday night.
Earlier: Par For The Course
Seán O’Rourke at the first broadcast of Today with Seán O’Rourke after taking over from Pat Kenny on RTÉ Radio 1 at The RTE Radio Centre on September 2, 2013
— RTÉ Radio 1 (@RTERadio1) May 8, 2020
Farewell then Today with Seán O’Rourke.
Our most transcribed radio show.
Often biased, sometimes brilliant, usually professional, in fairness.
Previously: Sean O’Rourke on Broadsheet
Fianna Fail Justice Spokesman Jim O’Callaghan (left) and Regina Doherty, Fine Gael Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan and Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty spoke to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One.
It followed a front-page story in today’s Irish Independent, by Shane Phelan, about Mr O’Callaghan having previously represented former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.
Mr O’Callaghan accused Ms Doherty as having been “wheeled out” by Fine Gael’s press office while Ms Doherty repeatedly said it was all about “trust”.
From the interview…
Jim O’Callaghan: “This applies to every barrister in the country. You’re obliged to represent a person who seeks your legal services simply because you’re doing that doesn’t mean you’re endorsing their politics.”
Seán O’Rourke: “Are you saying then, if you were to decline the offer…barristers all the time decline certain offers of work for various reasons. Are you saying had you declined the opportunity to work for Gerry Adams, you would have been discriminating against him?”
O’Callaghan: “Can I say this to you as well, you will know, as well Seán, from your knowledge of the law, that I am not permitted to talk about individual cases. But I can talk to you in the generality about it. It’s a breach of the constitution for me to talk about individual cases. But can I say this: if somebody seeks your legal services and the way the system of justice operates in this country, is that if somebody, a solicitor, comes to a barrister, looking for that barrister to represent a client, the barrister must act. Unless there is some reason as to why the barrister cannot act.
“And when people approach me, whether it’s the Fine Gael ministers or indeed Sinn Féin politicians, or SDLP politicians, I will represent them to the best of my ability. And obviously things have changed since I became a TD in 2016.
“And now because I’m a national spokesperson it would be more difficult for me to represent certain people because it would probably be against their interest to help me represent them. But, listen, if Regina Doherty ever gets into legal difficulties, I’d be happy to represent her to the same way I represented previous Fine Gael TDs and Fine Gael ministers in the past.”
O’Rourke: “Regina Doherty?”
Regina Doherty: “Now there’s an offer, Seán, ha? You know what, I have huge respect from Jim and he is an eminent barrister and has a huge reputation and that’s not to be taken away. But the code of conduct does also allow whether a conflict of interest, or a likely conflict of interest might arise, for someone to step away from the case.
“But what we have here is a case of Fianna Fáil want us to do what they say not what they do. And you just said Seán, that the consistent message coming from Fianna Fáil, that they won’t go into Government with Sinn Féin.
“Unfortunately that’s not the case. We have a long litany of people in Fianna Fáil that have said over the last number of years that they will go into Government with Sinn Féin…”
O’Rourke: “No but can we discuss that…
Talk over each other
O’Rourke: “No, sorry, Regina O’Doherty, can we just confine this conversation to Jim O’Callaghan representing Gerry Adams and what that might mean for Fianna Fáil going into Government with Sinn Féin if it means that at all.”
Doherty: “What’s important about this, Seán, is that you have to be able to trust in what people say. Before people go to the door, or go to the ballot box on Saturday or they make that decision, I think that’s fair for them to know, can they trust what Fianna Fáil say and is it fair for Jim O’Callaghan to come out and lambaste Sinn Féin for their policies and for their past, political manoeuvres and seemingly be able to take their coin and do their work.
“And it’s not just Jim, to be fair. It’s John McGuinness, it’s Kevin O’Keeffe, it’s Mary Butler. Even Micheál Martin himself, in December 2017, said he’s not saying ‘never’ about going into Government with Sinn Féin. So the only people you can trust here that absolutely, unequivocally will not go into Government with Sinn Féin is Fine Gael.”
O’Rourke: “Jim O’Callaghan?”
O’Callaghan: “Well I think, with all due respect to Regina. This is a fairly low blow. They’re trying to conflate work done by a barrister who subsequently becomes a politician with work done as a politician. Under no circumstances will Fianna Fáil be going into Government with Sinn Féin.
“Simply because in the past I have represented Sinn Féin politicians, does not mean that I’m going to be saying to Micheál Martin ‘let’s go into Government with them’. Just as because I represented Fine Gael politicians in the past doesn’t mean I’m going to say to Micheál Martin ‘let us get in with Fine Gael’. The reality is and the public understand this. The function of a barrister is to represent fearlessly the person who seeks their legal services. And when you’re asked to represent somebody, you must represent somebody.”
O’Rourke: “Are you saying this, Jim O’Callaghan, are there two of you? I mean there’s Jim O’Callaghan the barrister and Jim O’Callaghan the politician.”
O’Callaghan: “Well, no. There aren’t two of me. There’s one of me. But I did have a life before politics, unlike some people in politics and I do have experience working as a barrister and the administration of justice. And I think that it’s extremely important for the administration of justice that we do not have a situation in this country that operates say in the United States, where lawyers become very partisan and lawyers will only represent people with whom they feel an affinity. And what happens then is that you get lawyers making public comments about their clients.
“We don’t do that in this country and it is very important that the independence of the Bar is maintained. Any person who represents, I represent, I’m not affected in any way by their representation of them. My politics aren’t represented by my representation of them and my views aren’t represented…”
O’Rourke: “And did you…”
Talk over each other
Callaghan: “I’ll just finish this Seán. I was asked to do a job in the same way, for instance, if a patient goes into Dr James Reilly or into Dr Leo Varadkar and sought treatment – that patient is entitled and would get the best treatment from those doctors because those are acting professionally.
“Similarly, anyone who comes to me, irrespective of their politics, if they come seeking my legal services. I give them the best treatment possible.”
O’Rourke: “And there’s also the point, Regina O’Doherty, that, according to the Independent, Jim O’Callaghan began representing Gerry Adams in 2015, when he was not a member of Dáil Éireann.”
Doherty: “Which is why, in the code of interest, the conflict of interest, or the likely arrival of a conflict of interest is a reason that you would refute the case. Jim was desperately attempting to be a TD in 2015 and [inaudible]. This is about trust, Seán.”
O’Rourke: “No, no, hold on a tick, now. I mean, just the point he makes…on the point he makes: you know, would Leo Varadkar, in his days as a doctor, have refused somebody who came in looking for treatment simply because that was a Sinn Féin person?”
Doherty: “No, but Leo Varadkar is not going out the next day and lambasting the people that’s he representing. That’s the difference here. So you have to ask yourself the question: can you trust Fianna Fáil when they tell you that they won’t go into Government with Fianna Fáil, or with Sinn Féin?”
“When they are consistently telling you, Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher, Darragh O’Brien, Anne Rabbite, you know there’s a reason Micheál Martin is a sole trader in this general election campaign. It’s because you can’t trust the Fianna Fáilers to be let out on the plinth because they let the cat out of the bag.”
“This is all about trust….”
O’Rourke: “Regina O’Doherty, just as a matter of interest, I mean are you, as a Fine Gael TD, are you accusing Jim O’Callaghan of double jobbing as well?”
Doherty: “No, I think there’s lots of TDs who have jobs. I think the only people who are precluded from having a job, a second job, are actual ministers. So that’s not an issue…”
Doherty: “This is about trust, Seán.”
O’Callaghan: “I’m sorry. This is about politics. This is about a general election taking place on Saturday. This is about a story coming out the day in advance of the general election. And it’s difficult for me, Seán. Because I’m not allowed to comment upon individual cases. So that means I can’t really dispute Regina’s claim that there’s a conflict of interest here, you know, the circumstances of the case in which I previously represented a person.
“I’m not going to talk about the case but all I would say is the public is aware that a barrister is asked to represent a client and does so without fear or favour and without any concern for the politics of clients.
“And that is something that we need to maintain in our independent legal system.”
O’Rourke: “And before you go mentioning Pat ‘The Cope’ and all the rest…”
Talk over each other
Doherty: “…and I won’t list off the names because I think they’re well rehearsed. A barrister is also justified when [inaudible] a case, where there is a conflict of interest arises or likely to arise.
“And I think Jim, in fairness, in 2013 you were on the ticket to be a Fianna Fáil TD in your constituency and you were successful in the 2016 election. [Inaudible]. I didn’t write the story this morning, I don’t know who did. But this is about a matter of trust and whether you can be trusted to say what you do. You need to walk the walk and talk the talk.
“So that’s what this is about.”
O’Callaghan: “Well now, Regina, you talk about a conflict of interest. You can’t state what it is. People come to me, all the time, looking for…
Talk over each other
Doherty: “No, what it is is you’re saying one thing and doing another. That’s what it is. It’s immaterial what the court case is about, Jim.”
O’Callaghan: “Regina, you know…”
Doherty: “The court case is irrelevant, this is about you. This is about whether you’re willing to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. That’s what this is about.”
O’Callaghan: “Regina you’ve just been sent out by Fine Gael press office to try and inflict some damage upon me…”
Doherty: “Excuse me, do not dare insult me…”
O’Callaghan: “I’m not trying to insult you.”
Doherty: “I am a public representative for 11 years and I’m well entitled to make representations on my own behalf and on the people who are going to vote on Saturday because you’re dead right: this is about the election on Saturday. But it’s about whether people can trust Fianna Fáil when they say they won’t go into Government with Sinn Féin.
“Because it’s clear now that they can’t. And you’re not on your own Jim. You’ve a long list of your colleagues who’ll go into power with Sinn Féin because they don’t really care who they go in with. They just want power.”
O’Rourke: “Is there an element of desperation with Fine Gael wanting to score political points on this today?”
Doherty: “Who broke the story Seán? Because I don’t know who broke the story. I only reacted to it at about 6.30am, 6.45am this morning.”
O’Rourke: “Yeah, by Shane Phelan [Irish Independent journalist] who broke another important story about Fine Gael which was the Maria Bailey story about six or eight months ago.”
Doherty: “So clearly he’s a very good journalist.”
O’Rourke: “Yeah, but I mean, in reacting to it…”
Talk over each other
O’Rourke: “You’re drawing the conclusion that because Jim O’Callaghan worked as a barrister for Gerry Adams in a case that had nothing to do with politics, that therefore he cannot be trusted when he says ‘Fianna Fáil will not go into Government with Sinn Féin?”
Doherty: “The conclusion I’m drawing, Seán. Is that you have to talk the talk and walk the walk.”
O’Rourke: “There you are, Jim O’Callaghan?”
O’Callaghan: “Well I don’t really understand the point. Every day of the week, barristers represent people who are in trouble and who are perceived in a very negative light by the public. It is extremely important that those barristers continue to represent people who are before our courts.
“If they don’t, we end up having a marginalised justice system in this country. Like just because a barrister is representing somebody down in the criminal courts today it doesn’t mean that that barrister in some way is endorsing the criminal act of which they have been accused. Like it completely undermines the system of justice if you start imputing to a barrister representing a client the actions or background of that client.”
O’Rourke: “[After he became a TD] You could have handed over your brief to another colleague.”
O’Callaghan: “All I can say to you is: you don’t know what happened in the case that’s on the front page of the Irish Independent today after I became a TD and I can’t tell you because I have a duty of confidentiality and the code of conduct precludes me from talking in public.”
O’Rourke: “But can you see, perhaps even in appearance of hypocrisy here?”
O’Callaghan: “No, none whatsoever. Like there was a great barrister up in Northern Ireland called Des Boal, he represented very many people who were accused of membership of the provisional IRA. He was the founding member of the DUP. The legal system in this country has always operated on the basis that barristers, irrespective of their politics, will represent people from any background.
“And I know there aren’t senior counsel Fine Gael TDs at present but there was a long tradition of Fine Gael senior counsels who also operated as TDs and it was always the case that the Irish Bar, that if a Fianna Fáil minister was in difficulty, they would go and seek the advice of a Fine Gael senior counsel to represent them. That’s the tradition that exists in the Irish Bar.
“That you represent people, irrespective if you disagree with them or irrespective of whether their politics are different to yours. And it’s simply unfair and wrong for Fine Gael to suggest that, simply because I represented individuals who have different politics to me, that I now adopt the policies of those individuals.”
Listen back in full here
Earlier: Well Now
Just before 2pm, when the radio and television moratorium on election coverage began, the Council of the Bar of Ireland released the following statement:
“It is the duty of barristers to be independent and free from any influence, especially such as may arise from their personal interests or external pressure, in the discharge of their professional duties as barristers.
“Barristers cannot discriminate in favour of or against any person availing, or seeking to avail, of the services of the barrister on the grounds of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language politics, religion, nationality, national or social origin, national minority, birth or other status.
“This is detailed in the Code of Conduct of The Bar of Ireland, to which all members of the independent referral bar are bound.
“It is in accordance with the provision that everyone is entitled to access to justice, which is central to trust in the Irish legal system and the rule of law.”
Clockwise from top left: Alison OConnor, Fionnan Sheahan, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke;
On RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
Ireland editor of the Irish Independent Fionnan Sheahan, Irish Examiner columnist Alison O’Connor and RTÉ’s Niamh Lyons joined Mr O’Rourke to discuss last night’s leaders’ debate on RTÉ’s Prime Time.
The panel discussion followed Mr O’Rourke interviewing Breege Quinn about the murder of her 21-year-old son Paul Quinn in Monaghan in 2007, following comments made by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald during last night’s debate.
During the interview with Ms Quinn, she said Sinn Féin’s Minister for Finance in the North Conor Murphy should resign or be stood down as minister.
Following this, Mr O’Rourke asked the panelists how the matter might effect the election “in the last three crucial days”.
Alison O’Connor: “Well I suppose, Seán. First of all, I mean, that Breege Quinn, I mean, what, I found myself really moved by her interview and almost close to tears at times. What she’s been through, her immense dignity and even where she said, at the end, two wrongs not making a right.
“There are a lot of people as we know who want to vote Sinn Féin in this election. People who would not have considered it before and it’s for understandable reasons because they say want change and they’re not expecting to get that change from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
“But I think that, in a funny sort of a way, it’s this blowing up at this time is not a bad thing. Because this is part and parcel of Sinn Féin’s history and their past and that we see this playing out. People will be able to make, I believe, a fully informed choice.
“And in a way, it gets to the heart, I mean this is something that happened 13 years ago. And Mary Lou McDonald is implying, saying, whatever, that in that space of time and even in more recent times, I mean, it has come up, Mrs Quinn was on [RTÉ’s] Drivetime the other day as well, that she didn’t have either then, now or in the last couple of years a full conversation with Conor Murphy, a very senior member of her party, to see where exactly things stand.
“Either a) that just doesn’t have credibility or b) shockingly, it’s very far down the list of the party’s priorities. And I would also say, as someone who observes, has been observing politics for a long time, this is the bit that fascinates me. If Sinn Féin are in Government, in a coalition arrangement, and we’ll say that was actually an interview on Prime Time last night, and Mary Lou McDonald was a minister and she was asked that question by Miriam O’Callaghan and gave that unsatisfactory an answer, how that plays, how we’ll say the Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael side of the house would cope would that. And the fall-out from that sort of thing.
“And my final point as well then is, just watching it as a viewer last night, I thought Miriam O’Callaghan did magnificently with the questioning. Why didn’t Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin, I thought, in terms of, just purely point scoring which it seems wrong to bring that level of it to this conversation, did not pile in, did not ask any questions?”
O’Rourke: “Well, perhaps because they felt dignity required and also the political reality, nothing needed to be said. Fionnan Sheahan, I suppose when it came to other aspects of law and order and the ugly side of our relatively recent history, the question of the Special Criminal Court was one that Mary Lou McDonald struggled on as well?”
Fionnan Sheahan: “Yeah you’re colleague Bryan Dobson has a three-question rule. He says on TV, when you ask somebody a question three times and they haven’t answered it, the viewer at home can quite clearly see ‘well, they’re not answering the question’. Miriam O’Callaghan went further, she asked the question four times and Mary Lou McDonald failed to answer that question about the Special Criminal Court.
“Sinn Féin’s position now is that they say they want to review the Special Criminal Court. They have opposed the Offences Against The State Act every time it has come up in the Dáil over the past generation which implies that they are opposed to the Special Criminal Court. So Mary Lou McDonald could not come out with a straight-forward [inaudible] last night, saying ‘I’m in favour of the Special Criminal Court’ which not only affects prosecutions of alleged members of a terrorist organisation but also is a key element of combatting gangland crime.
“So I mean, in effect, you are seeing in a situation like the murder of Paul Quinn, north of the border. However there are situations where is nigh impossible to get witnesses into the witness box and that’s why we…”
O’Rourke: “I suppose looking at this, Niamh Lyons, like all political change, sorry, like a lot of political change, it has to be done crab-like. That’s how they got to the ceasefire over a quarter of a century ago and it was interesting looking at Eoin Ó Broin on the Virgin Media analysis, the post-match analysis, he was saying, just by way of clarification on that, Sinn Féin, yes they want a review of the courts and they want it done by a senior judicial figure and they will accept the outcome. So if that recommendation is the Special Criminal Court stays, they’re happy for it to say.”
Niamh Lyons: “Yeah and there has been criticism of the Special Criminal Court by the likes of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Amnesty International. I think the issue here, for Mary Lou McDonald, is that she wanted to be front and centre in that debate last night. She put herself up there, playing the senior hurling but she wasn’t at the match at all.
“And this is where I suppose the rubber hits the road for her candidacy. You know, when you hear her, that accusation that, you know, who runs Sinn Féin? On that issue and the Special Criminal Court and on the issue of Paul Quinn, she’s unable to pivot in her own position and if you go on the Sinn Féin website, you’ll see a picture of Mary Lou, you’ll see Pearse Doherty, Michelle O’Neill and Conor Murphy.
“He’s one of the top four people in the party. He’s their lead negotiator. So why is she not allowed pivot away from something that he has previously said. You know, why is she so on the backfoot on this issue. Why does she sit down in front of Bryan Dobson, not knowing that not only had Conor Murphy made those claims but Gerry Adams in the past has made those claims. Why did she not check it out? Is she following a particular line?”
O’Connor: “I mean that’s the heart of it. This is a woman at the peak of her…this is a woman at the peak of her political powers right…”
Talk over each other
O’Rourke: ‘But is there a light-touch relationship with the truth? You know, I mean she, in this studio, sitting where Fionnan is sitting, she said she believed Gerry Adams when he said he wasn’t a member of the IRA.”
O’Connor: “Actually Seán, I’m trying to…she didn’t quite say that. She said something like ‘you accept’…because I remember hearing that interview, I’m trying to remember her wording now, it was a very particular wording and…of course the criminal court was going to come up. I’ve heard her address it previously in the campaign. Of course the Quinn story was going to come up. So I find it very interesting, I didn’t see Eoin Ó Broin last night.
“So Eoin Ó Broin, who’s of lesser standing, if you like, than the leader is able to say that Sinn Féin would accept the outcome of a review into the Special Criminal Court. So it gets back to the heart of that issue, where we wonder, who pulls the strings on these sorts of issues, the whole, as Micheál Martin calls it, the old provos issue and why Mary Lou McDonald doesn’t appear to have the absolute autonomy as party leader on these issues.”
O’Rourke: “Let’s move to another…”
Sheahan: “The issue I suppose is that: do people care?
Talk over each other
O’Connor: “Yeah, that’s an interesting…”
Sheahan: “The calculation Sinn Féin will make now is ‘well, you know, how many people are going to know who Paul Quinn was and how it was that he died and how many people, the man on the street, is going to know who Conor Murphy is? And that’s all stuff north of the border’…”
O’Rourke: “Yes, and there are atrocities on all sides…”
O’Rourke: “And if you go back long enough into the history of all the parties, very bad things happened. Now let’s move to another aspect of this debate…”
Listen back in full here
Earlier: How Was It For You?
From top: Radie Peat of Lankum; Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín; Lankum video for The Granite Gaze
On RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
Singer Radie Peat, of Lankum, sang The Granite Gaze just after Mr O’Rourke finished an interview with Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín.
Following her performance, Mr O’Rourke and Ms Peat had the following exchange after he asked her about folk songs and their use as protest songs.
Radie Peat: “I am thrilled to play that song after Peadar Tóibín there because it’s basically, yeah, it’s a protest against some of his views. So I’m pretty, pretty glad I got to play it.”
Seán O’Rourke: “Ok, well, we’re not going to engage in electoral …”
Peat: “Oh no…”
O’Rourke: “Your name Peat, as in Radie Peat, it’s associated with a very long-running, sadly no longer there, Peat’s on Parnell Street.”
O’Rourke: “But it gives you, I suppose, an identification with this great capital city of Dublin. Because it was an institution there for how many generations in your family?”
Peat: “So it was three generations. It would have been my great-granddad WB Peat founded that. Yeah, so it was very sad, very sad to see it go, you know.”
O’Rourke: “And I read somewhere that every time you come back from, say you’re foreign touring, you just notice something different, not all of it that you appreciate or would approve of, in just the streetscape and the shape of the capital?”
Peat: “Yeah, I’m finding it really shocking. It’s not one building, it’s entire blocks just seem to be missing. I spotted another two just yesterday, just gone. You know, so, I find that worrying, really. And I wonder what’s going up in its place and if it’s like a hotel or student accommodation. That’s not what we need.”
O’Rourke: “Just on that thing, yeah, I read that you’re not mad keen on the amount of student accommodation that’s being built but I mean every year, every autumn we, on this programme and others, we’re reading about students just struggling to find somewhere to live.”
Peat: “Yeah but that’s part of a bigger problem that there’s like a housing crisis and a rent crisis and the rents are too high. You’re not going to fix that by building student accommodation that no one has the possibility to buy.”
O’Rourke: “Yeah, yeah.”
Peat: “That’s not going to work. You need to build social housing, you need to sort out, like there’s bigger problems there than students not being able to afford, families are homeless, that’s a bigger problem.”
O’Rourke: “Yeah, ehm, just back to the music…”
Ms Peat is taking part in Imagining Ireland: Speaking Up, Singing Louder at the National Concert Hall on Sunday, February 9.
Listen back in full here
Previously: You May Like This
Who made the decision to use a digger to remove a small tent in which a homeless person was crushed and left with life changing injuries?@MurphyEoghan refuses to call a halt to people being evicted from tents.
— Mick Caul (@caulmick) January 17, 2020
Because @simoncoveney failed to deliver his commitment to end the use of Hotels and B&Bs for homeless families, @MurphyEoghan doesn’t even pretend to have a target to end it.@FineGael won’t solve a crisis they caused.
— Mick Caul (@caulmick) January 17, 2020
From top: a Fine Gael poster was mistakenly placed near the scene at Leeson Bridge; Seán O’Rourke discusses housing and homelessness (from left) with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy; People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett; Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Bróin and Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien
On RTÉ One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
Seán O’Rourke spoke to Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy; People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett; Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Bróin and Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien about housing and homelessness.
The five men discussed the incident along the Grand Canal in Dublin at lunchtime on Tuesday in which a man was seriously injured after the tent he was sleeping in was removed by an “industrial vehicle” while he was still in the tent.
During their discussion, the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said he has received a report on the incident but it’s, as yet, not publishable as there are many private details pertaining to the man contained in the report.
Mr Murphy also spoke about how his election poster came to be placed in the area where the incident occurred.
At the beginning of the segment, Mr O’Rourke played a clip of what Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said when he was asked to comment on the incident.
[Mr Varadkar’s comments, in which he called on the Lord Mayor and Fianna Fáil general election candidate Paul McAuliffe to comment, can be read here]
After playing the clip, Mr O’Rourke then put it to Mr Murphy that Mr Varadkar’s comments were “clumsy and insensitive”.
Seán O’Rourke: “Eoghan Murphy, how clumsy and insensitive was that on the part of you party leader An Taoiseach?”
Eoghan Murphy: “Just to say first of all, Seán, I mean this was a shocking incident and an accident that happened. I think the whole country has been very upset by it.
“And I know that all our thoughts are with the person who is in hospital and also with the people who are involved in this accident…”
O’Rourke: “The Taoiseach’s thoughts were on the political point scoring.”
Murphy: “The Taoiseach’s first reaction, when I discussed it with him and when he was discussing it publicly was one of sympathy for the person involved in this. And then this terrible event that happened, this terrible incident. And, you know, from my understanding, what he was referring to was the fact that, yes, the Lord Mayor wanted an investigation done. And yes, Dublin City Council is conducting one.
O’Rourke: “The Lord Mayor has political responsibility for it.”
Murphy: “I think, as Housing Minister, I’m responsible for what happens in relation to housing up and down the country. And local authorities have their responsibilities too. And people know that the responsibility for housing delivery, for example, is shared between my department and…”
O’Rourke: “We were looking for some sort of explanation or comment from both Dublin City Council and Waterways Ireland and what we got were two statements. The first of which came from Dublin Regional Homeless Executive saying that an incident occurred involving a homeless man during a process where Waterways Ireland were removing tents that were placed in a precarious and dangerous location.
“And then Waterways Ireland came back saying the process is an initiated by DHRE with the homeless person and it’s only when that negotiation is complete, an arrangement is made that Waterways Ireland is contacted to remove the temporary accommodation on the canal bank.
“I mean if ever there was a case of blame and buck-passing that surely was it.”
Murphy: “We’re going to get to the bottom of this. It’s not the Government policy to just remove tents like this. But the tents were in a very precarious position and people might have seen some photos now, to see where they were.
“Every person who was in those tents was approached and accommodation was offered because accommodation is available….”
O’Rourke: “Damien English [Fine Gael TD] said, here in this studio two nights ago, that you were expecting to get an initial report yesterday. Did you?”
Murphy: “I did. And with that initial report there are a lot of details that go into the personal circumstances of the individual in question, so it’s not suitable for publication at this point in time. But we’re going to get to the bottom of this and we’re not going to have a blame game…”
O’Rourke: “Leave the personal circumstances aside, that’s perfectly understandable. His privacy has to be respected. But the way the two State agencies went about this business and then effectively started blaming each other.”
Murphy: “Well, so, so whenever this happens, you know, when we’re trying to help someone out of rough sleeping, into emergency accommodation and into a home which is where they really should be and that’s what Housing First is about and we can talk about that a little later.
“When we do that we do that with care and the health and safety of the individual in mind. And two State agencies were working together and an accident occurred. And we need to find out how that accident occurred and why. And I spoke with every city and county manager yesterday, in a regular meeting that I have, and I emphasised the points of taking …”
O’Rourke: “Except in this case, quite patently they weren’t working together because there was a man inside a tent.”
Murphy: “Yeah, but look, let’s just not jump to conclusions until we actually have the investigation complete. We know something went wrong here. We know it shouldn’t have happened. The people who are caught up in this themselves are distraught by it. Our thoughts are, first and foremost, with the person in hospital.
“We will get to the bottom of this but every city and county manager has been told directly by me that this must not happen again and to take every care when they’re looking after people who need our help the most.”
Eoin Ó Bróin: “And this is the second very serious and tragic event affecting a homeless person this week. Obviously there was the death of the young woman in emergency accommodation. I think, let’s take the electoral politics out of this and let’s say this has to be a turning point in terms of how we respond to rough sleeping. And there’s a number of things I think the minister needs to do and to do as quickly as possible.
“The practice of Waterways Ireland issuing eviction notices to rough sleepers in tents on the canal has to end and end now.”
O’Rourke: “Ok, minister, just quickly on that point, should it and has it?”
Murphy: “What we’re trying to do is to get everyone into a home. That’s Housing First.”
O’Rourke: “No, no, no. The eviction notices by Waterways Ireland.”
Murphy: “So what would happen in that instance though, those tents, they couldn’t remain there. It wasn’t safe for them.”
Talk over each other
Murphy: “Their care was being put first and foremost when the accident happened.”
Eoin Ó Bróin: “There’s a policy of Waterways Ireland in conjunction with Dublin City Council to issue eviction notices to people in tents. So first of all, that has to end. And the removal of tents and the use of heavy machinery to do that has to end. The second thing is that while it is the case that the individual in question was offered emergency accommodation, there are lots of reasons why people who are very vulnerable find it difficult, if not impossible, to take up that accommodation.
“And [Fr] Peter McVerry is right when he spoke earlier in the week. We have to phase out the use of dormitories. Particularly for people with complex needs or who have other issues going on in their lives. That has to end, that has to be an objective of the next Government.
“And the third thing is Housing First is where you take people out of rough sleeping and low-threshold emergency accommodation, you give them their own home and have wraparound support. The Government had a target in its most recent report of 600 over three years. We need to double that…”
Richard Boyd Barrett: “The circumstances of what happened at the canal are just horrific and shameful and without getting into all the details because I don’t know all the details. I do not understand why a digger was required to remove a tent. Right? A small tent.
“That is beyond explanation.”
O’Rourke: “You dodged the question though that I put to you based on what Eoin Ó Broin said earlier about these eviction notices by Waterways Ireland. Should they stop?”
Murphy: “I, so, the practice of Waterways Ireland…”
O’Rourke: “It won’t take long now to answer that question.”
Murphy: “Can I just say: the practice of Waterways Ireland in this instance, in relation to the people who were there and why the equipment was used that Richard asks, that will be clear when the investigation is finished. But it wasn’t safe for the people there and that was primary motivation…”
O’Rourke: “It sure as hell wasn’t safe if the man ended up in Vincent’s Hospital with life-changing injuries.”
Murphy: “Hold on, hold on, this is an accident that happened. They were trying and met with each individual who was sleeping there, trying to help them out…”
O’Rourke: “By the way, I mean, would you accept as well Minister, and this is not to make a political point that one of the defining images of this election campaign will be the pictures that were on the front of the Irish Examiner and other papers yesterday of that particular scene and the garda coming along to do the investigation with your picture on a pole overlooking the whole thing, looking for votes. You, as Housing Minister.”
Murphy: “Seán, I think that is a political point. But I think again and, you know, I have volunteers who helped put up my posters. They were postering late at night. The person who was doing it didn’t notice what was happening because they were just focused on doing one thing. And the second that we saw it was there, I had someone take it down and the person who put it up feels very bad about that.
“But, like I mean, this isn’t about Eoghan Murphy and posters in a campaign. This is about a problem we have in this country about people sleeping rough that we can end using Housing First…”
O’Rourke: “Just to go back to that year 2017, the target point, July 2017, where it was to the case that no family or no homeless people would be put into these emergency accommodations. What’s the new target?”
Murphy: “So we have a very difficult situation where we don’t currently have enough homes being built to match demand. And until we get to that point, we’re going to continue to have people who are presenting themselves to emergency accommodation.”
O’Rourke: “So there is no new target?”
Murphy: “Can I just finish this point. At the moment, for every family that presents itself to emergency accommodation, we prevent one from going in immediately. We find them a home…”
O’Rourke: “Ok, it was 2017 what’s the new, is there a new deadline?”
Murphy: “Seán, can I just finish this point because…”
O’Rourke: “Please do.”
Murphy: “Since I’ve been housing minister 11,000 people have exited homelessness which is more than the number in emergency accommodation today. But we still have far more to go. We still have people in hotels and we want to end that. Our focus is on…well, our focus is on building more homes. So it was 10,000 last year. More this year for social housing.”
O’Rourke: “No more hostels…maybe the minister is right, Eoin Ó Broin…”
Murphy: “We’ve less families and children in emergency accommodation today than we had a year ago because we’re building more social housing homes.
Ó Bróin: “First of all I think if you put together credible targets, following consultation with local authorities and the voluntary sector, they work. The problem with the Simon Coveney target of the summer of 2017 was it was just plucked out of a hat.”
“But I think repeatedly the NGO sector, who do sterling work, academics and opposition have been calling on the Government to do a number of things. We have to reduce the flow of families into homelessness in the first place.
“Now some good work is done, I want to acknowledge that. But, for example, the ability of landlords who availed of Section 23 tax breaks to issue vacant possession notices to quit, is still the single largest drivers of families presenting as homelessness. That needs to stop as an emergency measure.
“The second thing is that it’s not that there’s not enough homes being built. It’s the Government is not building enough homes. Nowhere close to what’s required. And Housing First, Eoghan is absolutely right. It was Fianna Fáil who first put Housing First into a homeless policy document in 2008 and they never did anything about it.
“Housing First works for the homeless person and it works for society as a whole and, for the life of me, given that we have between two to three thousand individuals who need this intervention, the Government’s target is only about 600 over three years.
“I welcome every single one of those but it has to be dramatically increased no matter who is in Government after this election.”
More to follow.
Farmers sleep in their cabs of their tractors outside the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin this morning
Further to the ongoing farmers’ protest in Dublin.
One of the farmers who has organised the protest, Daniel Long, told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning that the farmers will break up the protest if the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed “corrects” the Dáil record in regards to comments he made yesterday.
Mr Creed said that death threats had been made against management at C&D Pet Foods in Edgeworthstown in Co Longford – a company at the centre of injunction proceedings against two men, Fine Gael Cllr Paraic Brady, from Drumlish, Co Longford, and Colm Leonard, from Aughanoran Dring, Co Longford, preventing them and others from trespassing at or blockading the facility.
Mr O’Rourke earlier said that the show had got word from Mr Creed’s department that he has no intention to clarify or correct what he said.
Cllr Brady told Mr O’Rourke said:
“There was a PULSE when it was reported back four weeks ago, five weeks ago, but, to date, no member of management or staff has come forward to An Garda Siochana even on request, regarding they were willing to give a statement to move this forward.”
On Morning Ireland earlier, Fran McNulty reported that according to “Garda sources”, no complaint about death threats had been made by the company.
Yesterday, Mr Creed told the Dáil:
“…this is a matter which the Garda is aware of, senior management in that company have had death threats issued against them, and their partners and families have been intimidated in that local community.
“This is not simply an issue of the Government not wanting to resolve this issue. We are grappling with what are very difficult issues.
“We have seen in other cases what happens when senior executives in companies are threatened. You, Deputy Mattie McGrath, may dismiss the significance of death threats against people. The Government does not.”
Mr Long told Mr O’Rourke that he told the minister this morning that what he said in the Dáil yesterday was not a true statement.
Asked how Mr Creed responded, the farmer said:
“He wasn’t very clear, he was evasive, I suppose would be the fairest way to put it, like. He said that was what was presented to him. He said he had a PULSE number. That’s kind of all he made of it like.”
Mr O’Rourke clarified with Mr Long: “The minister was relying on a record on the PULSE system?” to which Mr Long replied: “yeah”.
UPDATE: C& D has said that it DID report death threats to the gardai.
Listen back here
Dáil transcript: Oireachtas.ie
— Gary W (@Gwhizz365) August 4, 2019
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
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