Tag Archives: TD


As you were.

From top: Mr Justice Peter Kelly; Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness

Last month.

On November 18th, a notice was posted on the Courts Service website saying:

Due to a shortage of judges the Kilkenny Personal Injuries List of cases for trial in Kilkenny commencing on November 18th 2019 has had to be cancelled.

All cases in the list are adjourned to the next list. Any case which requires to be dealt with more urgently may be mentioned to Mr Justice [Kevin] Cross with a view to seeking a hearing date in Dublin.”

Further to this…

Last night in the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness raised the recent cancellation of the Kilkenny list and he specifically criticised the handling of the situation by the President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

He also asked if there is a shortage of judges, if current judges are overworked and if the Minister for Justice believes Mr Justice Kelly was using cancellations to force the appointment of more judges.

He said:

“We should not be afraid to determine if it is giving value for money and if its members are actually needed. Maybe we should ask them to fob in. Then we will get a better picture of things.”

Fine Gael TD and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed was standing in for the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.

They had the following exchange:

John McGuinness: “I raise the decision to cancel the High Court list in Kilkenny at short notice. When the High Court sits in Kilkenny each year it deals with quite a number of cases pretty efficiently.

“It was explained to the president of the Kilkenny Solicitors Bar Association that this cancellation resulted from a shortage of judges. The President of the High Court informed the local bar association of this. It is high-handed.

“This court serves the region very well and deals with a great number of cases. Many people who are listed for a hearing have been waiting for years.

Having built themselves up emotionally to go to court and have their case heard, they were told, at short notice, that the sitting would not proceed.

“The President of the High Court should have shown a little more consideration for the citizens who have to appear before that court.

“The civil court list was also cancelled at very short notice. Again the reason given was that there is a shortage of judges. Is that the case?

“Is there such a shortage of judges that the provincial court sittings have to be cancelled at the last minute?

“Is the Courts Service, under the President of the High Court who wrote to the local association, so dysfunctional that it could not have arranged for matters to be dealt with differently?

“Is the system so out of touch with the people who appear before the courts that it could not, or would not, give consideration to the serious difficulties this has caused for the individuals in question?

“Who is in charge? Is this an issue of efficiency or, as was stated, a case of there not being enough judges available to hear these cases?

“What happened in the week in question? Was the backlog in the courts so great?

“I hope the minister will tell me if that was the case because I want to understand the reason for the decision to cancel the list at short notice.

I appreciate the separation of powers, before the Minister starts telling me about it. This is not about the separation of powers. This is about time management for judges and respecting members of the public and citizens whom we all represent.

“What are the Minister’s views on the excuse used, that is, the lack of judges?

Is this an effort by the judiciary to put pressure on the minister to appoint even more judges?

“Is there a business case for the appointment of judges at which I can look?

“This decision is unsatisfactory in respect of both the High Court list and the civil case list. I want an explanation.”

Michael Creed: “I thank Deputy McGuinness. I am standing in for the Minister for Justice and Equality who is unavoidably absent.

“On his behalf, I note that under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions.

“The assignment of judges and the scheduling and cancelling of lists is a matter for the presidents of the courts who are, under the Constitution, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions.

“In order to be of assistance to the deputy, the minister has had inquiries made with the Courts Service and has been informed that a notice was recently published on the Courts Service website, as directed by the President of the High Court, setting out a decision to cancel the High Court personal injuries list in Kilkenny due to a shortage of judges.

“Interim arrangements have been set out whereby all cases in the list are adjourned to the next list. Any case which is required to be dealt with more urgently may be mentioned to Mr Justice Cross with a view to seeking a hearing date in Dublin.

“As the deputy will be aware, judicial appointments are made by the President acting on the advice of the Government in accordance with Articles 13(9) and 35(1) of the Constitution.

“The Government is committed to ensuring that judicial vacancies across the courts are filled in a timely manner.

“The issues which gave rise to the cancellation of the High Court lists in Kilkenny will be resolved following the appointment by the President of five judges – Brian O’Moore, senior counsel; Mark Sanfey, senior counsel; Mary Rose Gearty, senior counsel; Niamh Hyland, senior counsel; and Mark Heslin, solicitor – to the High Court on 2 December 2019.

“The new judges will be sworn in by the Chief Justice on Friday, 6 December. It is intended that the new judges will take up their duties immediately thereafter.

“With regard to the Circuit Court sittings in Kilkenny, the listing of cases and the cancellation of lists are matters for the President of the Circuit Court.

“A notice was published on the Courts Service website, as directed by the President of the Circuit Court, setting out recent decisions to cancel lists as well as the interim arrangements.

“The Courts Service has informed the Minister that the planned criminal and family law cases scheduled for next week in Kilkenny will proceed as arranged. All civil cases have been adjourned to a date early in the new year.

“The Circuit Court is operating with a full complement of judges. At its Cabinet meeting of 26 November, the Government nominated Judge Rosemary Horgan, who had already been sitting in the Circuit Court in an ex officio capacity, for appointment to the Circuit Court.

“Judge Horgan’s warrant for appointment is scheduled to be signed by the President this week and her swearing-in ceremony is scheduled to take place on 9 December.”

McGuinness: “I have asked the Minister several questions, which he has not answered.

“I simply want to go back to those questions. Does the minister believe that the President of the High Court, and thereafter the President of the Circuit Court, were using these cancellations to force the minister to appoint more judges?

“Where is the business case showing the numbers required for these judges? Where is the information to inform me, as a Member of this House, that these judges were in fact needed?

“Is it time to review the 1998 Act so that we can have a better system to manage these cases? Is it not interesting that the President of the High Court cancelled the session in Kilkenny?

“The Minister’s reply did not include an alternative date when that will happen. Urgent cases are to come to Dublin. The whole idea of provincial sittings is to deal with issues at that level and give people a chance. In my opinion they have not been given a chance. They have been shown a great discourtesy by the judiciary.

This comes at a time when the President of the High Court has decided that he does not need Mr Edmund Honohan any more.

He took from him a body of work that he was doing very capably and gave it to several other judges. Is Mr Edmund Honohan not being used to his full potential?

“Are the other judges so overworked that they cannot manage their caseloads? What is going on here? A serious cost to the State arises from all of this.

“For far too long we have left the management and functions of the judiciary out of the loop.

We should not be afraid to determine if it is giving value for money and if its members are actually needed. Maybe we should ask them to fob in. Then we will get a better picture of things.”

Creed: “As I said in my opening remarks on behalf of the minister, it is envisaged that the most recent appointments will address the issue of the High Court sittings in Kilkenny.

“I will not accept the deputy’s invitation to trespass on matters germane to the judiciary or engage with his commentary on this business case. I will convey his remarks to the Minister for Justice and Equality.

“The Deputy will be aware that the principle of the separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary is long established and I do not intend to go down that road.

“The deputy made a point about whether it is time to review the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998 regarding the organisation and administration of the Courts Service. I will bring these comments to the attention of the minister.”

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Previously: Here Comes The Pane [Updated]

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From top: Protesters outside South Dublin County Council in Tallaght yesterday and Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins

Joan Collins writes:

How have we, as a society, reached the point where nine of the country’s largest waste firms have re-registered their Irish companies as unlimited, meaning they no longer have to file their public accounts?

Seven of those have also created ownership structures involving offshore locations that hide their financial affairs behind an impenetrable veil of secrecy.

So when these companies and their apologists come on the airwaves and say they are losing money, how do we know? Will they open their real books to the public?

If (highly unlikely) they are losing money and they cannot provide the most basic service a country needs, the Government should take back the control of our waste collection and disposal in its entirety using best practice in other European countries where, in many cases, people receive financial incentives to re-use and recycle.

When Alan Kelly introduced the statutory instrument (secondary legislation) of the waste service legislation and set a mandatory minimum price of 11c per kilo black bin lift and 6c per kilo brown bin lift, under the “polluter pays” principle (the less landfill a household disposes of the less a household pays), surely he knew the waste companies would use the opportunity to ensure their profits (if we knew what they were) would be protected.

Enda Kenny, in his reply to me during Leaders’ Questions last week, stated that 87% of households would be paying less under the new charges and that, in the “spirit” of recycling, companies would compete and bring down their prices.

You would wonder what planet Mr Kenny lives on, these private monopolies do not have a good reputation in providing cheap and cheerful waste collection services.

Myself, Cllr Pat Dunne and other activists supported the locked out Greyhound workers in June 2014.

Over 80 men, many who carried their pay and conditions under TUPE, were locked out of their jobs when they would not accept the draconian cuts in their pay and conditions. We ended up in the courts because we disrupted the Buckley brothers’ collection service.

They had no problem in spending big money in seeking injunctions in the courts and bringing activists to the courts as well.

Many of these workers were replaced by agency workers on much lower wages and conditions.

The Buckley brothers, at the time, said they had to bring their costs down. When myself and Clare Daly raised the issue of health and safety and working conditions at the time the then Minister for jobs, Richard Bruton stated that he would request the labour court to investigate it.

We will continue to pursue this.

Competition has increased the waste charges exorbitantly. 11c per kilo for the black bin has turned into 35c with Greyhound, 35c with Thornton’s and 27c plus a pick-up charge of €3.20 with Panda. 6c per kilo for the brown bin has turned into 23c with Greyhound, 20c with Thornton’s and 16c plus a pick-up charge of €2.56 with Panda.

These companies have hiked up their annual service charge from €59.95 to €169 with Greyhound, from €50 to €104 with Thornton’s and Panda has increased it up to €86. There is also a charge of €40 to switch your collector from Greyhound to Thornton’s.

For low income families, people who are ill, those who need to use incontinent nappies and the elderly will see hikes of 75% to 200%. For example, a woman, who is a carer for her 89-year-old Mum who has Alzheimer’s calculated that her annual bin charges will soar from €274.80 to €497.50 for the same number of lifts: she stated the new system “is an absolute disaster, Mum used to get the waiver, our black bin is largely full of Mum’s pull-ups (diapers) and they weigh a lot”.

That is an increase of €4.28 per week. From many examples that I have received from households using Greyhound and Panda, when you do the maths, it works out more.

So, competition is increasing the charges. The “recovery” means more of the same austerity for the majority of people while wealthy families continue to protect their wealth.

It was announced this morning that private waste companies have agreed to a 12-month freeze on current bin charge rates. 

But how did we get here?

Between 1995 and 2001 many of the TDs currently in the Dáil were on councils all over the country and implemented the FF/Green policy of privatising their waste services. They handed over the most fundamental and necessary service in society, the collection and disposal of waste, to private companies.

When the four councils in Dublin, in 2001, brought in a charge for the collection of waste, the Campaign Against the Bin Tax was initiated. The greater Dublin area, DCC, Cork and Galway were the last of the councils to bring the charges in.

The councils brought in waivers for households who received social welfare payments, Local Authority flat complexes were excluded (a year after the collection was privatised these exemptions were gone). A divide and conquer strategy by the councils ensued.

Many households refused to pay and joined the boycott campaign, in the knowledge that if/when the councils had a compliant level of payment the service would become lucrative to tender to private companies.

There wasn’t a mass resistance but there was a sizeable boycott campaign, particularly in working class areas. A membership card was produced and households paid an annual membership fee (to represent people in court cases).

The councils pursued non-payers through the courts, the campaign challenged the waste legislation, one of the campaign members from Crumlin went to the Supreme Court.

We lost, not on the principle, but on the basis that the legislation should have been challenged through the courts within a specific period from the introduction of the legislation but we were outside of that time period.

When the council stopped collecting waste from non-payers, a campaign of householders throwing their own waste into the trucks began, appeals were made to the workers, many who were not paying either, but their unions SIPTU and IMPACT did not support the boycott.

I took a half day every day, from my holidays, for two weeks to head out at 6.30am with the trucks and demonstrated that we could throw our waste into the trucks.

The councils went to the courts and got an injunction that non-workers could not interfere with the trucks. We could walk beside them but not “interfere” with them. The councils did not implement the injunction unilaterally but strategically picked areas to impose it to break the campaign. People began blocking the trucks demanding they pick up bins.

Hundreds of names were taken by the guards and 24 people were jailed from all over the city. Mass demonstrations took place supporting the jailed activists.

In the Dublin 12 area householders took the decision to meet on Saturday mornings to bring their waste down to Davitt Road waste depot and leave it at the gates in protest.

Again the guards were called to stop “illegal dumping” as the council claimed. Again people, including myself, were done under the Litter Act.

As a testament to the deep and strong objection to the non-collection of our waste, 10 years on, people still meet every Saturday at 11am to dispose of their waste in an organised fashion at the depot. I attend these protests every week.

Today we see the outcome of the Government’s action against the huge resistance to the privatisation of our waste services. Many of these companies moved their accounts to the Isle of Man, the British Virgin Islands and New Zealand just before or just after they won the tenders from the local authorities.

That is why I made the point in the Dáil that a cartel was being run by the waste companies. I listened intently to Michael Kilcoyne, a representative from the Consumer Association of Ireland on the radio last Friday.

His words were bang on when he made clear that the same parties and TDs, now so vocal on the issue, were the same who voted and supported our services being privatised. His position is that this day was inevitable.

I warned Enda Kenny that the last time practically every household was visited by an austerity charge, it was the water charges and that his Government will be met with the same resistance if his Government does not, for the moment:

  • Set the minimum charge as a maximum charge.
  • Set annual charges to stay in line with the consumer price index
  • Set waivers for social welfare recipients and low income families
  • In the meantime set up a commission of investigation into the waste industry and for local authorities to get back into waste collection and disposal

Joan Collins is an Independents 4 Change TD for Dublin South-Central.

Earlier: Resolving The Bin Charges Debacle


A tweet by Fine Gael TD Noel Rock in February

Newly elected TD Fine Gael was a Dublin City Councillor prior to him winning his seat in the Dáil on February 26.

He won his Dublin City Council seat in June 2014.

During his campaign for his council seat, he made a ‘no expenses pledge‘, saying he wouldn’t taken any unvouched expenses as a councillor.

However, Mr Rock is now claiming all the unvouched expenses that he is entitled to as a TD.

Louisa McGrath, in the Dublin Inquirer, reports:

…Rock said by email that he is taking a different approach to expenses as a TD.

In theory, by not taking expenses as a councillor, Rock’s unclaimed money was going back into the council and therefore into the community.

But he says it was probably just being used to to pay the expenses of other councillors, and he was often approached by community groups asking if they could use some of this money.

So this time, he wrote, he is claiming all the unvouched expenses that he is entitled to as a TD and — along with the expenses claimed by Norma Sammon, his replacement on Dublin City Council — this money will go into a community fund for the north side of the city.

Which new Dublin TDs are taking travel expenses? (Dublin Inquirer)

That’s right.

255,000 of them.

Senator Averil Power used Oireachtas facilities to print 73,000 calendars (Independent.ie)


Anon writes:

 Have you noticed there is no comments section open for that story (link above) in the Indo on Averil Power. Unlike say this story on Sinn Féin. Must be an oversight…

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Lian writes:

Christmas card with a printed signature from a local TD I’ve never met. Postage (at least) paid for by public money. I’ve emailed him to thank him and ask him to make a charity donation in future. Ideally to one supporting the homeless, who won’t be getting many cards themselves…


Lian writes:

I wanted to see what the response was before I named him. It was Eric Byrne of Labour. Here’s his reply:

“Thank you for your email. I will ensure that you are taken off my mailing list.
In relation to the other points that you raise, I will take these all on board.
Also in relation to homelessness and the charities you mention, I agree entirely with your sentiments, I welcome the moves by the Minister of Environment to meet with City Officials and homeless charities today to discuss this matter.
In the meantime, I wish you and your family the very best for Christmas and the New Year and if there is anything future which you wish to discuss with me please do not hesitate to contact me.
Best Wishes,
Eric Byrne, T.D.”


Fine Gael TD and Assistant Government Chief Whip Joe Carey 

In evidence, Garda Dermot O’Rourke said that he was operating a mobile speed detection van on October 14 at Ballaghafadda West. He observed a car exceeding the speed limit by driving at 71kph in a 50kph zone, and Mr [Joe] Carey was the registered owner of the car.

Challenging the prosecution on Mr Carey’s behalf, solicitor John Callinan pointed out that the space where the picture alleged to be Mr Carey’s car registration should appear on the documentation was blacked out.

Garda O’Rourke said that the blacking out on the page had occurred because the page “went through the photocopier so many times”.

In response, Judge Patrick Durcan said: “I’m going to strike it out.”


Speeding case against Fine Gael TD gets struck out (Irish Independent)


[Socialist Party TD, Joe Higgins]

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins, for Dublin West, has announced that he won’t take part in the next general election.

In a statement on his website, the 64-year-old said:

“It has been my privilege to work alongside many people from every part of the Dublin 15 area who have displayed such commitment to defending and developing the community. I will continue to fight for the people of Dublin West as a public representative over the next two years as I have tried to do since I was first elected to Dublin County Council twenty three years ago.”

It also states:

“Joe felt it was necessary to make his decision public now because of the inevitable focus that will come on Dublin West because of the By-Election. It’s only a matter of time before he would be asked about his own intentions regarding future elections, so Joe felt it would be best to outline his decision before any campaigning for the By-Election starts.”

Read his statement in full here

Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

[Independent and former Labour TD Patrick Nulty last June]

“I am today resigning as TD for Dublin West and will take all the steps necessary to do that immediately this week. I sent inappropriate messages via Facebook. This included inadvertently sending one to a 17-year-old woman. To the best of my knowledge I have never met this woman and the message was sent while under the influence of alcohol.”

“I apologise wholeheartedly to the woman involved and to her family. It was never my intention to upset anyone in this way but it was totally wrong. The message was entirely inappropriate and I take full responsibility for my actions. For this reason I have decided to resign my seat in the Dáil. I set myself the highest standards personally and politically. Unfortunately due to personal mistakes I have not met those standards in this matter and I will take responsibility for that. I still believe passionately that Ireland can be a fairer and more just society based on equality and social justice but at the present time I believe to resign is the correct and right course of action.”

“I would like to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to all my family, friends and supporters who have given me so much support over the last five years as a public representative. In politics people very often do not take responsibility for their actions. I hope I am doing that. I would further like to apologise to my constituents in Dublin West for my mistake. I hope they will understand my reasons for resigning and accept my apology. I hope that as I have taken decisive and direct action on this matter my privacy will now be respected in what has been a very difficult decision for me personally.”

Independent TD Patrick Nulty resigns unexpectedly (Journal.ie)

TD sent ‘spanking’ Facebook messages to girl (17) (Sunday World)