Ceann Comhairle pays tribute to Eamon Gilmore on his last question time as Labour leader

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett has paid tribute in the Dáil to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore who had his last foreign affairs question time as leader of the Labour Party to an empty Dáil chamber. The only Labour sinner on hand to witness Eamon Gilmore’s last interrogation was Joe Costello. Not even the opposition were all that bothered, a grand total of only two opposition deputies bothered to show up. Foreign affairs is just that, most TD’s don’t look beyond their constituency boundaries. There’s no votes to be had in those foreign places.

The Ceann Comhairle told Eamon Gilmore – “Could I say it’s been a pleasure always chairing sessions of foreign affairs with you as the lead Minister and Tánaiste and I wish you every success whatever you do”.  A nice touch from Sean Barrett – who probably has the toughest job in Irish politics, dealing with truculent deputies.

 

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Niall Collins and the clemency letter

You will be reading a lot about Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins in the next few days.

The 41-year-old Limerick TD and has landed himself in hot water because he wrote to a judge seeking leniency for a convicted drug dealer.

Collins, a scion of the famous Fianna Fáil Collins clan in West Limerick. His grandfather James Collins was a TD from 1948 to 1967. His uncle Gerry Collins is a former government minister who held several different portfolios in a career spanning 30 years; another uncle Michael J. Collins was elected a Fianna Fáil TD in 1997 also representing Limerick West until he retired in 2007 after it emerged he was on a list of tax defaulters. It was revealed that he had set up a bogus offshore account to evade paying tax. Fianna Fáil can trace their political ancestors all the way back to Wolfe Tone if you let them.

Niall Collins, 37, is a former accountant having worked with Ernst & Young and is a former lecturer at Limerick Institute of Technology. He was first elected in the 2004 local elections and previously served as Fianna Fáil’s environment spokesman before being moved to the justice portfolio.

Niallcollinselections

 Electionsireland.org

Collins is seen as a close ally of Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and this will be seen as major embarrassment to them both. Collins regularly criticised former justice Minister Alan Shatter for his failings as minister for justice. He even went so far as to accuse Alan Shatter of not doing enough about the  ‘scourge of gangland crime which is having a huge effect on society? We see the activities taking place on O’Connell Street in Dublin, on the Luas and along the boardwalk, including drug dealing.’

CollinsdrugsKildarestreet.com

Niall is so worried about drug dealing; he writes a letter to a judge seeking clemency for a man who pleaded guilty to possession of almost €18,000 worth of cannabis for the purpose of sale or supply. Luckily for Niall the Fianna Fáil front bench is so feeble there’s no one that can replace him, unless Micheal Martin is planning a reshuffle of his own.

Defence Counsel Michael Collins BL argued that the family circumstances of the accused man placed the case in the “exceptional category”.

The defence presented a letter, which was not read out in court, was dated last month and was written on personalised headed paper and included Niall Collins’ photograph and contact details.

Collins stated that he wrote the letter outlining the exceptional circumstances of the family as the mother of the man’s four children had died earlier this year. Jailing the father vs keeping the children with a drug dealing father who has previous conviction for assault where he produced a broken glass. That’s one for the moral theologians.

Personalised paper is bog standard correspondence from TD’s when writing letters.

As can be seen below – when Niall Collins; in his role as Fianna Fail treasurer used Seanad envelopes to raise money for Fianna Fáil with personalised paper.

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This looks like parish pump politics at its ugliest. Collins said today, “I truly believed that the judge should be made aware of these tragic circumstances so that they could be taken into consideration when sentencing.” Something defending counsel would surely have done?

But the bigger problem now for the Fianna Fáil leadership and Collins is the charge of hypocrisy. Collins was a thorn in Shatters side over his handling of the various Garda scandals, especially the Garda Ombudsman scandal. You can’t question the integrity of a justice minister while at the same time sending a letter of clemency for a drug dealer. It’s just bad political public relations.

Collins is not he first politician to write a letter to a judge on behalf of a defendant.

In 2002 it was revealed former Pogressive Democrat junior minister Bobby Molloy wrote over fifteen letters on behalf of a serial rapist who abused his daughter from she was nine until she was 18. Even after he was convicted by a jury, Molloy, as a minister, sought temporary release for the child rapist.

Controversy erupted in 2008 when it emerged that Labour TD Kathleen Lynch had written to a judge in a rape case. The rapist received a 14-year jail sentence, with the last year suspended, for the rape of two teenage sisters in Cork. During Mr Casey’s trial, his defence counsel presented a letter to the judge from Cork North Central TD, Kathleen Lynch. She said she regretted writing the letter if it had prolonged the agony of the victims. Lynch’s actions forced the then Labour leader Eamon Gilmore to outline guidelines for TD’s on how to deal with approaches from families looking for character references in court cases.

The 2011 presidential campaign was all about clemency letters. Senator David Norris wrote a clemency letter on Oireachtas notepaper for a lover who’d been convicted of statutory rape; and Gay Mitchell sought clemency for a convicted double murderer on death row in America.

In 2009, it emerged former Fianna Fáil TD Tony Killeen sent two letters to the Minister for Justice urging that a convicted child rapist be freed. Killeen was promoted as Minister for Defence not long after the incident. Proving resilience is one of the most underestimated political virtues.

There’s hope for Niall yet…..Up to today, he was touted as a future leader of Fianna Fáil.

 

 

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Illustrating Adams

A cartoon focused twitter account called ‘Illustrated Gerry’ @GA_Illustrated has taken the bat shit twitter musings of Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams and visualised them. Reading Adams tweets sometimes leaves one wondering has he embarked on a Hunter S Thompson type of journey and decided to lead Sinn Féin through the medium of a narcotics fueled haze. Mind you, Fear and Loathing Leading Sinn Féin would be a good yarn and an apt title for a book. Adams folksy and whimsical tweets are a little to folksy and whimsical for a man that’s meant to be a ‘serious politican’.

It is quite something else though to be able to visualise the bizarre musing of the 65-year-old leader of Sinn Féin – who according to some political pundits – will be leading Sinn Féin into government after the next general election.

@GA_Illustrated/TWITTER

Ducky ar lá indeed……..

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Marc MacSharry

A bitter row broke out in the Seanad today over the membership of Marc MacSharry on the banking inquiry. Fine Gael Senator Maurice Cummins claimed that Fianna Fáil Senator Marc MacSharry had a conflict of interest. A claim Cummnins later withdrew.

Senator MacSharry is not well-known outside of political circles. He’s not a national figure.  He’s a provincial back water prince from Sligo. Marc is more famous for being the son of Ray MacSharry, the former Fianna Fáil minister and European Commissioner. Ray is famous for introducing swinging cuts in state spending that earned him the nickname Mack the Knife. Ray used to be a director at Bank of Ireland and is currently the public interest director at Irish Life and Permanent. Just two of the many banks his son Marc will be investigating.

Marc has been a Senator since 2002. He contested the 2011 general election after bizarrely being added to the Fianna Fáil ticket in Sligo/North Leitrim by Fianna Fáil headquarters. A terrible strategy that gifted Fine Gael two out of the three seats in the constituency. Below is Marc’s electoral record.

MacSharry

http://electionsireland.org

Prior to entering politics Marc worked as a Customer Advisor/Sales Executive in Irish Permanent Building Society from 1991-1994. These days when not involved in Seanad spats – Marc is also an estate agent. According to the blurb on his company website he’s a ‘total solutions provider’. What a waste he’s in the Seanad. Sure he could be providing solutions for all of Ireland’s woes if only we’d let him. 

His company provides:

  • Comprehensive Property Management
  • Residential & Commercial Sales
  • Residential & Commercial Lettings
  • Auctions
  • Receivership Support Services
  • Monitor Rents and Provide Monthly Rent reports
  • Carry Out Property Inspection
  • Tailor Repairs & Fit Out Programmes
  • Carry Out All Renewal Negotiations and Tenant Changeover Logistics.

He lists in his declaration of members interests – a property he owns and some land. He also has a small stake in a development company called Foresthaze LTD which is in the process of being liquidated.

Up to today  – the Sligo Senator hasn’t really come to the nation’s attention. He can only be remembered for calling Enda Kenny ‘a clown’, and he missed a Seanad debate on organ donation despite signing a petition asking for the Seanad to be recalled. He made a big song and a dance on why the Seanad should be recalled and then fecked off to Portugal, missing a crucial vote which the Goverment won by one vote.

More recently Marc and his father became embroiled in an ongoing legal row arising out of the alleged actions of accountant Kenneth McMoreland. McMoreland was accused of deceiving three brothers to the tune of €2.4m over a deal to sell a housing development site to Foresthaze developments LTD, which  Mac the knife was chairman of and in which according the register of Oireachtas members interests Marc himself held a share. The MacSharry clan was brought into the case as a third-party by Mr McMoreland seeking that he be indemnified for any damages that may be awarded against him (McMoreland) arising out of proceedings over the deal.

McMoreland has claimed Mac the knife , his sons Ray and Marc have a liability in relation to the €2.4m damages awarded against him, but the hearing of his claims against them has been deferred pending the outcome of his Supreme Court appeal. There is no suggestion of impropriety and to date no liability has been fixed on any of the MacSharry clan arising out of the court case.

Whether the government seeks to have Senator MacSharry removed from the banking inquiry remains to be seen. But who better than an estate agent to sit on the inquiry……

 

You can watch todays Seanad spat below.

 

 

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Is Ireland racist? The Waterford against Roma facebook page

The Roma community in Ireland have come under close scrutiny recently in Ireland. Thanks in no small part to Paul Connolly’s sensationalist brand of journalism. Gardai removed two blond children from their Roma parents because, as RTE reported, their “features, blond hair and blue eyes, contrasted with the other children in the family”. The removal was carried out without any proof of risk to their health or welfare. In fact, one of the children was removed because of a racist message sent to Paul Connolly’s Facebook page.

A Facebook page called – Waterford Against Roma, was set up today with the sole aim of harassing members of the Roma community in Waterford and posting pictures of them to Facebook.

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Usually with a tagline of alleged crimes.

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What’s really worrying – in the space of just eight hours the page has garnered over two thousand ‘likes’ with people adding vitriolic comments to the pictures posted.

romacomments

 

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And on and on. The outright racism is relentless; violence condoned and one person even claimed to assault a member of the Roma community. The comments made against members of the Roma community underneath their photos is also probably highly defamatory.

A recent report  by ENAR Ireland (The Irish Network Against Racism) says that two-thirds of victims who reported to iReport.ie won’t report an incident to Gardaí due to a lack of confidence in Garda ability to investigate. IReport is a reporting system for the people, communities and Irish organisations to document incidents of a racist nature that are occurring nationwide. Not only is the above Facebook age racist but also an incitement to hatred.

There has only been one attempt to charge someone for online incitement to hatred (I think). A kerry man was charged and acquitted of inciting hatred. He set up a Facebook page called “Promote the use of knacker babies as shark bait”. 

Judge James O’Connor noted that while the comments made on Facebook were “obnoxious and revolting” it appeared that the remarks were a once-off and the man responsible had issued an apology.

Grand so….Nothing to see here.

Is Ireland racist? The comments on The Waterford against Roma Facebook page would seem to suggest racism is not only a problem…….. but on the increase.

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The Enda Shuffle

As a general rule; politicians dancing is a bad idea. Unperturbed, Enda Kenny decided to bust some moves to Pharrell Williams’ hit song Happy while attending the Bloom festival in Phoenix park yesterday. I expect dancing like you’re driving a tractor will be a new craze that will sweep the country. I give you the Enda shuffle….

www.Independent.ie

 

You can watch the full video below.

 

Next week, Ministers’ Alex White and Joan Burton will tango for the nation as they dance a duel to become the next leader of the Labour Party.

 

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Quick interview with Simon Harris

Simon Harris is a Fine Gael Candidate for the European Parliament in Ireland South and is currently a TD for Wicklow and East Carlow.  He is the youngest member of the current Dáil at 27 years old. Simon is also member of the Public Accounts Committee, its role as the public spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Comittee as seen recently in the media is one of the most powerful Oireachtas Committees. Before his election to the Dáil, he served on Wicklow County Council, having been elected in June 2009 with the highest percentage vote of any County Councillor in Ireland. Earning him nickname the ‘Harris Hurricane’. 

So who is he? Simon took a quick break from his hectic schedule to talk to me.

 

 

Thanks to Simon and the Fine Gael digital team.

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The first rule of Gerry Adams Club is: You do not talk about Gerry Adams club

Sinn Féin are bit touchy about Gerry Adams lately. This text, sent by a member of the Sinn Féin UCC branch, read: “Lads, off the back of the news about Gerry Adams, members of the Cumann are NOT to make any statement regarding the issue. Disciplinary action will be taken to anyone who does so.” 

 

UCCSF

Eoin Neylon/twitter

They don’t say what disciplinary action will be taken. But when Sinn Féin members threaten disciplinary action, one should probably take to the beer and make of list of things to do before they die. Things to do in Cork before you’re dead – if you will. Let’s hope Sinn Féin don’t send someone down from headquarters to investigate who leaked the text message. Those accused of informing against Sinn Féin/IRA in the past usually ended up as one of the the ‘Disappeared’.

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Bertie’s digout to Fianna Fáil local election candidate backfires

You’d be forgiven for waking up this morning and thinking you’ve travelled back in time to the last decade. The big stories of the day are – Seanie Fitz of Anglo fame and the Irish Independent are reporting Bertie Ahern addressed a Fianna Fáil rally in his old constituency of Dublin Central in support of local election candidate Brian Mohan.

The Irish Independent are even reporting that Bertie said he was just giving a “dig out” for the son of a close friend and party member. No election candidate in the world wants to see their name in print with “Bertie” and digout”. It conjures up images of Bertie at the Mahon tribunal.

If you’re like Brian Mohan, a fresh-faced Fianna Fáil candidate running in the up coming local elections in Dublin Central, who do you believe would be a good choice to rally the troops? How about Senator Averil Power? A confident, intelligent politician without the Fianna Fáil baggage of old. Maybe Councillor Mary Fitzpatrick, who has been selected as Fianna Fáil’s candidate for the European elections in Dublin. Fitzpatrick was famously shafted by Bertie on the eve of the 2007 general election. I’m sure a Fianna Fáil TD could have made the short trip up the road from the Dáil to say a few words. Maybe Digger Dooley or Milf McGrath could have.

Who do you get instead? You put former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the top table and tell him to say a few words. Sure Seanie Fitz was just acquitted. Maybe he could have dropped by and said a few words while he was at it.

The truth of the matter is – some former Fianna Fáil cabinet ministers are still so toxic they’d put Chernobyl to shame. Everyone except Micheál Martin, because he was only a cabinet minister for fourteen years.

Bertie is a shameless self publicist. He would have been well aware what he was about say would have been reported back to the media.

Bertie told the soldiers of destiny at the rally “We still all support the party. We still all support Fianna Fáil.

“I don’t think much of the leader, I think you all know that. I’m not going to say anything nice about him,” he said.

He also said “The party is doing fairly brutal, I’m not a member but this is a meeting of supporters for Brian. But that’s the hard reality”

Whatever about the political stupidity of wilfully being associated with Bertie, the former Taoiseach was there to rally the troops, not to piss all over Micheál Martin and make himself the story.

So Brian, may I feel so bold as to suggest some alternative people to address your next rally. Someone with a bit more gravitas and who is not as toxic as Bertie.

  • The troika – you get three for one.
  • Oliver Cromwell – to hell or to the Seanad
  • Fingers Fingelton
  • The Black and Tans
  • Sean Dunne
  • Ian Paisley
  • Kim Jong-un
  • Angela Kerins
  • Eamon Gilmore
  • John Waters
  • Brian Cowen

Any of the above should suffice.

Bonus video: Brian disavows Bertie and when asked why Fianna Fáil do not have a TD in Dublin? He blames people “moving from all over the country to Dublin” and bringing “their anger with them”.  I’m surprised he didn’t continue with them fecking culchies taking our jobs and our women.

 

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TDs scheduled to ask Ministerial questions didn’t bother to show up (video)

Unbelievable scenes in Dáil. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle (Deputy Chairman) of Dáil Éireann, Michael Kitt, called the names of 15 TDs to ask almost 30 questions to Minister Bruton and none of them show up.

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