Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ One.
Fianna Fáil Health Spokesman Stephen Donnelly comes unstuck as he claims ownership of the National Health Strategy.
Watch in full here
Yesterday: Beds For All
Here it is! @fiannafailparty Health Manifesto – our exact strategy to fix the Health Service.
An extra 5 million home help hours.
Double the NTPF fund to cut waiting times for patients.
2,600 more hospital beds.
Hire extra 4,000 nursing staff over 5 yrs https://t.co/BumqxeKPoN
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) January 20, 2020
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly TD with FF Seanad Leader Senator Catherine Ardagh (pic 2) outlines his strategy to save the HSE.
From top: National Children’s Hospital site this morning; National Paediatric Hospital Development Board Project Director John Pollock; Stephen Donnelly, Fianna Fáil health spokesman, and the Department of Health’s Assistant Secretary Tracey Conroy at a meeting of the Oireachtas health committee today
At a meeting of the Oireachtas health committee – which is discussing the overspend at the new National Children’s Hospital with representatives from the Department of Health and the HSE…
The committee heard that, last August, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board warned the Department of Health and Minister for Health Simon Harris that the cost of the National Children’s Hospital could top a billion euro.
Last month The Irish Times reported the total cost for developing the facility at St James’s Hospital was expected to be more than €1.73 billion.
Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly pointed out that Irish taxpayers will pay over twice as much per bed at the NCH as the two most expensive hospitals ever built in the world.
Mr Donnelly repeatedly asked Ms Conroy if she believed this represents a “catastrophic failure of management”.
Eventually, Ms Conroy said “I don’t”.
Watch the exchange here from 35.35.
On @RTENewsAtOne, Claire Byrne says the €200m raised by the Govt through the sale of the National Lottery in 2011, and earmarked for the construction of the new children's hospital, will now only "pay for a couple of windows at this stage".
— Colette Browne (@colettebrowne) January 23, 2019
Watch the meeting live here
WATCH: Department of Health describes cost escalation of the new children’s hospital project as ‘very significant and disturbing’. Dept’s Assistant General Secretary Colm Desmond is before the Oireachtas Health Committee pic.twitter.com/ooYT3PP866
— RTÉ Politics (@rtepolitics) January 23, 2019
Further to Wicklow Independent TD and (Social Democrats co-founder) Stephen Donnelly’s decision to join Fianna Fáil.
Anton D’Alton, a Greystones, North Wicklow resident, writes:
I couldn’t help noticing that Stephen Donnelly, formerly an Independent TD and once a founding member of the Social Democrats has decided to cast his lot with Fianna Fáil, and is set to become that party’s spokesman for Brexit.
I’m sure as I am that the good citizens of Wicklow, and more particularly those from Greystones are choking on their quinoa at the thought.
Sadly, it was all too predictable that Donnelly would end his perfect isolation and cast his lot with the Soldiers of Destiny. it would seem, ambition got the best of him.
However, in his rush to join the ranks of the Soldiers of Destiny, Donnelly who was making his mark as a free ranger hunting down the vultures, has now swapped his independence to become a meaningless NCO in charge of jungle outpost.
Indeed, one wonders for how long ‘The Donnelly’ will last in Fianna Fáil before he realises he has committed the political equivalent of Seppuku?
Fianna Fáil are no doubt very pleased with themselves at the moment, or at least the one’s in Mount Street are. They are past masters at the game of ‘seek out and smother’ especially when it comes independent minded candidates with the potential to do mischief to their interests at a later date.
From their vantage point in Mount Street, they made a simple calculation that it would be far better to have Donnelly ‘inside the tent’ performing as a political castrati in a sideshow rather than on the outside and singing a different tune.
Fianna Fáil’s short-term gain is Donnelly’s long-term loss. What he doesn’t realise yet, is that the electorate in North Wicklow have long memories and are not as forgiving of shape-shifters as constituents in other counties might be?
And there is one factor he has not calculated yet; namely how to deal to deal with Fianna Fáil’s notorious Wicklow cummans?
If Donnelly thought the Social Democrats were obstreperous, he’s in for a rude awakening.
What he might not have realised was that rebel Fianna Fáilers in Wicklow, helped orchestrate his election back in 2011, in order to dispose of the unpleasant Dick Roche.
And believe you me, they are a fickle and crafty bunch when it comes to dealing with parachute candidates sponsored by Mount Street.
The hills of Wicklow are awash with the dead carcasses of fair weather candidates thrown out of the mother ship only to be shot by the renegades on arrival.
It may well be that Donnelly thinks that the only people whose nose will be out of joint in North Wicklow are The Blue Rinse Brigade who frequent Avoca, or The Blow-Ins who queue like lemmings outside The Happy Pear on Sundays.
Perhaps in his conceit, he believes the regular voters in North Wicklow will forgive him. They won’t and they never will.
So the die is cast. Humpty is in for a big fall. When that happens, no one in Mount Street will be there to put him back together again.
Earlier: A Limerick A Day
(Sam Boal, Rolling News)
New Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly (left) and Michaél Martin this afternoon
He’ll want a toupée next.
@iamDarragh Really? Take a look at Fianna Fail policies for the past 15 years and tell me you don’t see serious incompetence.
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) November 14, 2011
Stephen Donnelly TD
Following his unexpected departure from the Social Democrats Stephen Donnelly went on the Pat Kenny show on Newstalk where he spoke with Jonathan Healy (sitting in for Pat) about his future plans.
Jonathan Healy: First of all, after all that’s happened this week, has the dust settled somewhat?
Stephen Donnelly: “Yeah, I think it has. It’s been a tough few days, the decision on Monday was a very sad decision for me, personally. It was some time in coming, y’know, I’ve been considering it, I’ve been talking to some people, but I’ve been immersed in the Social Democrats for the best part of two years, and it was a very intense thing to do. I’m very proud to have done it, very proud to have worked with the people that were involved with it.
..it was a sad day, but yeah, life moves on. The country moves on, there are important things to be doing. We’d #appletax on Wednesday, we’ve the new vulture fund amendment for Minister Noonan, which is a great first step, a lot of additional work, so life moves on. There are more important things than the soap opera of politics.”
Healy: “Well, we’ve all been through dramatic breakups in our lifetimes. This was quite dramatic, as your fellow co-leaders, if I can call them that, were suggesting you were workshy, did that hurt?”
Donnelly: “No, it didn’t hurt at all, I grew up in Ireland with a mop of red hair, you learn to get a fairly thick skin pretty quick. I’m more than capable of throwing stones across the House, I have done so many times over the last six years, so not at all.”
Healy: “Were you workshy, that’s the question!”
Donnelly: “No. One of the comments I made to one of my colleagues was ‘if they’re going to have a go, you’d think they’d pick something with a little more credibility’. There’s nobody involved in setting up a new party, and to be honest, Jonathan, very few people in politics that are workshy. It’s an intense job, it’s a very rewarding job, but no, clearly there was no merit to that. Look, it was a tough week for everybody, they felt they had to say something. I think it was disappointing, they let themselves down, it’s irrelevant.”
Healy: “Have you spoken to Roisín [Shorthall] or have you spoken to Catherine [Murphy] since this happened on Monday?”
Donnelly: “No, no we haven’t. We had an awkward session in the Dáil with the three of us in there as we’re all still in the same technical group. But we’re all there to serve, you know, and we’ll move on. We’ll all do the best we can as TDs, the best we can to our ability, so we’ll just move on.”
Healy: “You want to be in government, you’ve made that clear…”
Donnelly: “Sorry, can I, sorry to cut across you there, I haven’t made that clear, that’s not why I’m in politics…”
Healy: “No, your motivation is, if you’re in government in whatever capacity, you make more of a difference.”
Healy: “That’s what I’m saying.”
Donnelly: “Sorry, yeah.”
Healy: “You have more of an opportunity now, perhaps, to do that, because, we know the arithmetic in the Dáil. There are many people now outside of your own constituency, who would like to see you serve some way in government. And let’s face it, you’re hot property, in political terms, Fine Gael might want you, Fianna Fáil might want you, is the phone ringing?”
Donnelly: “No, the phone isn’t ringing, I’ve had a few texts from a few friends of mine in some of the other political parties, I haven’t been approached on John [Halligan], and John is a Minister of State, not said that he’s resigning, but he has obviously sent out a few warning shots, and is taking the situation in Waterford very carefully. But, y’know, Minister Halligan has a job, and no-one is taking his place, because he’s doing it.”
Healy: “I was asking more about Fianna Fáil, who seem to be linked to you in some way. Has a call come through from Mícheál Martin yet?”
Donnelly: “No, no call has come through, I have taken soundings, I will continue to take soundings both in Leinster House and more importantly here in Wicklow. I was around the constituency yesterday, around Arklow town and Wicklow, talking to supporters, and talking to people on the street. Just listening. You know, ultimately, I work for them, we work for them. So, it’s important that I hear what they have to say on the best thing to do…
Healy: “So for now, you’re staying as an Independent, for now, but the future will probably hold something different, you just don’t know what that is yet, you’ll have to consult widely.”
Donnelly: “Yeah, yeah. Exactly.”
Listen back in full here.
Roisin Shortall, Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly at the launch of the Social Democrats in July 2015
Further to Stephen Donnelly’s announcement earlier today that he is leaving the Social Democrats.
The Wicklow/east Carlow TD spoke to Mary Wilson on RTÉ’s Drivetime this evening.
From the interview…
Mary Wilson: “Were you overwhelmed by the dedication it takes?”
Stephen Donnelly: “No, not at all, Mary. But can I start, I’ll come directly back to that, can I just say today’s decision is, is a very sad one for me personally. It’s one that I’ve thought about long and hard. Catherine [Murphy], Roisin [Shortall] and myself have been working on this for nearly two years. I consider it a great privilege to have worked with Catherine and Roisin. They’re two formidable parliamentarians. I feel, I consider it a great privilege to have worked with our candidates in the election and everyone who’s been involved in the Social Democrats. So, first and foremost, for me, I just want to say that this, this is a sad day – we’ve all invested a lot in it. To your question: look, I think it’s an unfortunate line that Catherine and Roisin are taking. Nobody can start a new political party work-shy. I’ve certainly been accused of all manner of things in my time. But nobody has ever accused me of being work-shy. Look, the reality is we all worked very, very hard on this and I have concluded, sadly, after nearly two years at it, the team, it’s not that it wasn’t working, I think we got some great things done together. It wasn’t working well enough and it just wasn’t working well enough for me. And Mary, anybody who’s listening to the show will understand. Will have been involved in a sports team or a business or whatever it may be. They come together with a good group of people, everybody tries to make it work and, after a reasonable period of time, in this case, for me, nearly two years, somebody on that team, or more people on the team say, ‘do you know what? Look, we’ve all been trying, it just isn’t working for me, this is no longer the right thing for me to be doing’. And so I’m stepping back. That’s what’s going on.”
Wilson: “Or, you could conclude, from the tone of the contributions from Roisin and Catherine, and now from yourself and your statement today, you’re not a team player.”
Donnelly: [Laughs] “Yeah, I don’t think anyone is kind of, who works with me in politics or outside of politics, would conclude that. You can suggest it, but I mean…”
Wilson: “Well I’m reading the line in your own statement, where you say, ‘despite the many obstacles new parties face, one critical component is that the leadership team must function very well together as a team, in spite of everyone’s best efforts, I have concluded our partnership didn’t have that’. You didn’t have that.”
Donnelly: “Maybe, maybe. Am I partly to blame for it? Absolutely I am. In any relationship, in this case, where I was in a relationship where I was in a three-way partnership, of course, there are things I could point to and say, you know, did I always preform at my best – of course not. None of us ever do. It’s a team effort. We all tried, we all did things right, we all made mistakes and, sadly, I have concluded, after a considerable period of time, and after a lot of conversation, and talking to Catherine and Roisin about this, for some time, it isn’t right for me, and it isn’t right for the party either, and that’s the decision I’ve taken.”
Wilson: “So will you continue on now, as an Independent? Or would you, at some stage, in the future, consider joining another party? Or founding another party?”
Donnelly: “Well, look, my head, for the last two years, has been in Social Democrats and my head, over the last few weeks, has been only in whether or not to stay and continue to make a try. I can concluded some time ago that it probably wasn’t right but I, you know, kept going, gave every chance and, by the way, as did Catherine and Roisin. We all tried.”
Wilson: “It must have been an awful blow to you, Stephen Donnelly, I mean you came close in a couple of constituencies in the election, but that you didn’t add value to the party. You’re still there with the three TDs that you entered the last election with.”
Donnelly: “Yeah, yeah, it is a blow, there’s no question about it. It’s been a tough week. I’ve been speaking during the week with people involved in the party, who I care a great deal for and, you know, any of us, with our work colleagues, we feel a sense of obligation, we feel a loyalty, we feel a debt of gratitude, so yes, it does come as a blow. However, if we move from the personal to the professional, I’m elected to do the best job I can do, to serve my constituents here in Wicklow, west Carlow and to serve the country as best I can. And I concluded that I was no longer doing that in the Social Democrats.”
Wilson: “I know but you concluded two years ago that your best way of serving your constituents was to be part of a political party, to move forward the changes that you wanted to bring forward. Now you’re concluding you’re better off as an Independent, or are you?”
Donnelly: “Well, no, all I’m doing today, Mary, is concluding, or announcing the decision I concluded a few days ago, is to say, I can’t serve my constituents and my country as best as I want to within the situation I was in. Like, Catherine, Roisin and myself, everyone who got involved in the Social Democrats, and by the way, I wish the party the very best, we tried to do something very, very difficult to do and if you try these things, you have to be prepared to fail. Now, let me be absolutely clear, I am not suggesting, in any way, that the party has failed, it hasn’t. But for me, my involvement has, had got to the point where I said, ‘no, look, this just isn’t the right place for you to be anymore’. But you have to take those risks. I mean politics needs to be shaken up, we need people in there who are willing to stick the head above the parapet and say ‘look, here’s a set of values we all believe in, let’s try and make this work, let’s try and work together and affect good, positive change in the country’. There is so much opportunity and, you know, other parliamentarians and myself, we’ve got to be able to take risks and that’s what this was.”
Wilson: “Would you take the risk again? Would you join an existing political party?”
Donnelly: “Oh look, for two years, or nearly two years, I’ve been involved in the Social Democrats, the last few weeks, I’ve just been thinking about whether or not to do that, today, I’m just announcing, ‘look, I’m stepping back, it’s a hard decision’. I will be consulting with supporters in Wicklow, I started doing it today. There will be people coming into the office this evening and I’m going to be around the county over the next few days. So, that is a conversation that will have to be had. It will be had quickly and it will be had with my supporters.”
Wilson: :You must look though, at some of the Independent colleagues you had in the past, you see them in Government now: Shane Ross, Katherine Zappone, you see the opportunity they have, perhaps, to implement some of the policies that they want to implement. You’d like a slice of that.”
Donnelly: “I think anyone who has the great honour of being elected to the Dail, or the Seanad, or in this case, I guess, the Dail, should aspire to office, but like let’s not forget the vulture fund decision, let’s take that as an example. I think, Minister Ross, Minister Zappone, and I imagine other Independents involved there, would appear to have forced that over the line. But myself and Pearse Doherty and Michael McGrath and others, from outside of Government, have been raising these issues in the last few months and there’s been fantastic work done by RTE, by Prime Time, by journalists like Mark Paul, in the Irish Times, and others, so, it’s not that if you’re in Government, you have all the power and all the influence and, if you’re not, you don’t. You can influence the direction of the country from anywhere. From you, your colleagues in the media, me, my colleagues in the opposition benches, or indeed within Government. This vulture fund decision which was taken today, is an example of that. I wrote to the charity regulator before the [Dail] break and said, ‘Look, are you aware that this is going on with charities in the country? Would you take a look?’ and they got back to me, just about two days ago, and said, ‘you know what? we are going to take a look. So you can affect positive change from anywhere but, if you’re asking me straight, would I love to be in Government one day? Of course I would. I’d be astounded to hear any TD say that they wouldn’t.”
Wilson: “Say differently. Would you be open to an approach from another political party? Would you open to an approach from Fianna Fáil? Or would you immediately say, ‘no, ideologically, I could never join that party’?”
Donnelly: “No, I’m just not there, Mary. That’s exactly the kind of conversation I’m going to have with my supporters here in Wicklow over the next few days and next few weeks.”
Wilson: “But that in itself is interesting, that that is the conversation you’re having about where you go from here. Whether it’s into another political party or whether you’re not definite back to the road of the Independent.”
Donnelly: “No, look the objective, if you’re lucky enough to be elected to serve, in my case, to represent the people of Wicklow and east Carlow, you always want to do that to the best of your ability. I’ve done it as an Independent, I’ve done it as the founder of a party, so I’ll be going into conversations here in Wicklow with a very open mind, you know, I want to serve, I want to do the best job that I can. There’s a huge opportunity out there for the country, there’s a lot of people who were left behind in the recession, there’s a lot of important work to be done. And I want to be involved in doing it.”
Wilson: “Will you stay in politics long-term Stephen Donnelly? You never struck me as a lifer?”
Donnelly: “I’m certainly an accidental politician. There’ no question about that. Before 2011, I don’t know if I’d ever met a politician to be honest, I’d certainly never been in a political party and I’d been out of the country for ten years. I got involved, Mary, I think actually your show was one of the first ones I went on, I remember my hand shaking…”
Wilson: “I remember that too.”
Donnelly: “…for the first time, I was so nervous. And I read out a statement and tried to sound confident. I got in, in response to the crisis, I just wanted to help. My mum spent a long career in public service as a teacher and in a girls’ reformatory, as with the hundreds of thousands of public servants around the country. I like working for my country. I’d no idea how I’d find politics, it’s been bizarre and rewarding and difficult and an incredible honour. I really had no idea…”
Wilson: “Will you stay in politics?”
Donnelly: “That’s a question for the people of Wicklow and east Carlow. My answer is I would very much like to continue to represent them but it is their seat and they get to decide that, not me.”
Listen back in full here
Earlier: Stephen Gonnelly
From left: Stephen Donnelly, Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy
“Stephen Donnelly T.D. has informed us that he is leaving the Social Democrats.
We are disappointed that he has decided to walk away from the project, we undertook, to establish and build the Party.
The Executive Committee of the Party has reaffirmed its commitment to the vision of a strong economy, fair society and honest politics.
We are fully committed to the project and will endeavour to develop the Party into an exciting force for change in Irish Politics.
As is the case across the globe the defence of social democratic values is not dependent on one personality or politician – but rather is a collective pursuit.
Since the Social Democrats were first founded, in July 2015, we have worked to build the party brick-by-brick. This is a long term project which requires dedication, hard work, long hours and a major commitment from all involved including our elected representatives.
The levels of dedication required for such a major undertaking can be overwhelming for some.
However our elected Councillors, our staff team and our volunteers are passionate about our project and we will now get on with the job of building our party.
We wish Stephen the best in his future endeavours and look forward, with excitement, to the future development of the Social Democrats.”
A statement by the Social Democrats announcing the departure of Stephen Donnelly.
More as we get it.
Statement via Gavan Reilly. Pic: Soc Dems
Catherine Murphy tells me she's hopeful Stephen Donnelly will remain within their Dáil group to maintain speaking rights
— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) September 5, 2016