Ministers of State Announced

ministersofstate2016Today an Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the appointments of Junior Ministers which were agreed at Cabinet today. They are as follows

  • Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and the E.U. Single Digital Market– Dara Murphy, Cork North Central, (Departments of the Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Justice and Equality)
  • Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement – Eoghan Murphy, Dublin Bay South, (Departments of Finance, and Public Expenditure and Reform)
  • Minister of State for Tourism and Sport – Patrick O’Donovan, Limerick County, (Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport)
  • Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal – Damien English, Meath West, (Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government)
    5. Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources – Sean Kyne, Galway West, (Departments of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, and Climate Change, Communications and Natural Resources)
  • Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture – Andrew Doyle, Wicklow, (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine)
  • Minister of State for Employment and Small Business– Pat Breen, Clare, (Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)
  • Minister of State for Training and Skills – John Halligan, Waterford, (Departments of Education, and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)
  • Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People – Helen McEntee, Meath East, (Department of Health)
  • Minister of State for Health Promotion – Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Offaly, (Department of Health)
  • Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief– Sean Canney, Galway East, (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform)
  • Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid – Joe McHugh, Donegal (Departments of the Taoiseach, and Foreign Affairs and Trade)
  • Regional Economic Development – Michael Ring, Mayo, (Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht)
  • Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy– Catherine Byrne, Dublin South-Central, (Health, and Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht)
  • Minister of State for Justice with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration, and Integration – David Stanton, Cork East, (Department of Justice and Equality)

    These appointments are in addition to the three Ministers of State who were appointed when the Government was formed – Regina Doherty, Finian McGrath and Paul Kehoe.

The total number of Junior Ministers now stand at 18. Of those 3 are Independent TDs (Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Sean Canney) and the other 15 are members of Fine Gael.

Seanad “No” Campaign to launch tomorrow

English: This is a photograph of the Seanad ch...
English: This is a photograph of the Seanad chamber, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin Ireland. The Seanad is the upper house of the Irish parliament(Oireachtas). It is the chamber and seat of the Irish Government senators (Seanadóirí). The photograph was taken on 28th of June, 2008 at the inaugural opening of the Houses of the Oireachtas for a 'family fun day'. This we were told (by the guides) was the first time that photography was permitted inside the houses of the Oireachtas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow morning in Dublin “Democracy Matters” will launch in Dublin. The campaign will be calling for the Seanad, instead of being abolished as suggested by the Government, that it be “radically” reformed based on the bill published recently by Senator’s Katherine Zappone and Feargal Quinn. The bill can be viewed here.

As well as the two senators, the others involved are former Senator Joe ‘Toole, former Attorney General and Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and journalist Noel Whelan.

The campaign is launching well before any date has been set for a referendum on abolishing the Seanad, but it is expected to take place in the Autumn of this year.

Already the opinion pieces have started. On Thursday Fine Gael Dublin Central TD and former Senator Paschal Donohue wrote a piece in the Irish Times entitled “Only political insiders would mourn the passing of the Seanad“. His piece contained the usual reasons for abolishing, lack of reform, lack of powers, lack of legitimacy and of course the cost as well as comparing it to other parliaments.

While those who want Seanad Eireann abolished always give out that it hasnt been reformed, they seem to be throwing the baby out with bath water as they seem to have given up on any chance of reform by abolishing it.

With proposals for Dáil Reform from Eoghan Murphy TD being discussed, should we really embark on the biggest change of Bunreacht na hEireann? Many already complain of the power of the whips and the government controlling the agenda of the Dáil, and the Seanad is the one place where they do not have that power, is it wise to get rid of that place? I have yet to be convinced.

I shall be attending the launch of Democracy Matters tomorrow so do watch my Twitter feed for details coming from that.

Enhanced by Zemanta

PollWatch: RED C/Paddy Power #aras11

The president of Ireland's residence in the Ph...
Image via Wikipedia

So with the campaigning underway and nominations coming in, Paddy Power has commissioned RED C to undertake an opinion poll for the Presidential Election.

The results are interesting and changes are from the last RED C Poll in August.

  • Micheal D Higgins (Lab) 36% (-3)
  • Gay Mitchell (FG) 24% (-1)
  • Sean Gallagher (Ind) 21% (nc)
  • Mary Davies (Ind) 19% (+4)

The only candidate to rise in the poll is Mary Davies, which may show some momentum in the campaign as her profile rises. The drop in the support of the two party candidates will be a surprise to the teams, but may also serve to light the fire under them to get them working harder.

The other key finding of the poll in 33% of votes are undecided on who they will support. They are predominately young voters under 35.

While Sinn Fein have yet to announce a candidate, they possible will this weekend, this is the first poll with the four candidates and no “fantasy” candidate.

As the polls come in, during the campaign, I will again be doing a poll of polls. This is will be the initial poll.

Meanwhile in the betting stakes, also from Paddy Power, the odds are:

  • 8/13 Michael D.Higgins (from 4/7)
  • 3/1 Gay Mitchell
  • 13/2 Mary Davis
  • 8/1 Sean Gallagher (from 9/1)
  • 28/1 Mary Lou McDonald
  • 28/1 Martin McGuinness
  • 28/1 Michelle Gildernew

Its getting interesting.

Fianna Fail Senators Caught “Flipping”

Remember during the expense scandal in the UK that the big issue was over the “flipping” of the designations of first and second homes. Well it would seem that two Fianna Fail Senators were doing just that over here.

Ivor Callely, who could be expelled from the Fianna Fail Parliamentry Party over his flipping of his homes. Despite his home being in Dublin, Mr Callely was claiming his expenses based on his second home in West Cork.

It  now seems that Senator Larry Butler was up to something similar. He was claiming his expenses based on a house in Kilkenny and not his home in Foxrock.

Should we be surprised that Senators Callely and Butler were gaming the system? Are others also doing it?

Personally I think they should both resign for abusing the system. As Guido would say, “they were troughing it”!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Fine Gael and Labour

Labour Party (Ireland)
Image via Wikipedia

I read two posts (Jason and Tadhg) over the weekend about the Labour Party conference in Galway. It made me realise one thing. Fine Gael cannot work with Labour to better this country!

In the next election, the main battle will be between Labour and Fine Gael. They will be fighting to pick up seats from Fianna Fail, who will be desperately trying to hold on to them. This is especially true in Dublin where Fianna Fail is polling in third place and is facing a Fine Gael style 2002 wipeout in the capital.

Fine Gael’s line in the next election will have to be that a vote for Labour will be a vote for Fianna Fail. There is no doubt about that. Labour and Fianna Fail sit better together than Fine Gael and Labour, as thankfully Fine Gael as taken a turn to the right after the 2007 General Election.

It also true of the policies being taken by the Labour party, they are more similar to Fianna Fail. Take their training commitment from the weekend (taken from Tadhg’s Post)

Labour also will help 30,000 new apprentices get qualified. Re-read that sentence everyone. Apprentices, means plumbers, block-layers, electricians etc. Thousands of whom are qualified and on the DOLE! Why should the state finance the training of another 30,000?

Tadhg points out good reservations about this!

While Gilmore still thinks he can be Taoiseach, I don’t think so. As Jason points out, Labour will have to become a “broad church” for that to happen.

I do not think Fine Gael should enter a pre-election pact with Labour next time out. We should be aiming for Majority government, and failing that, we should do a deal with minor parties and independents to govern.

Its a pity the PD’s are gone, they would have worked well with Fine Gael!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Electoral Reform and the List System

There seems to be a bit of talk about Electoral Reform lately going around and the possibility of it being in the new FG policy. As someone who would like to see the Seanad replaced with an elected body, by a PR List, possibly national or regional, Jason O’Mahony, who I normally agree with, raises a better idea for the using the List System within the Dáil elections.

The only part I disagree with him is the idea of quotas for Men and Women on the list, and if it is an open list, the idea of listing them altrnatively is kind of a waste.

But what would we call this mixed system of PRSTV and PR List? A mix of First Past the Post and List ends up being called Mixed member proportional representation system like they have in Germany, what would you call it?

In the end I dont think adding list TD’s will make a huge difference to the political system in this country, whether it be for 15 or 30. At the upper end of the scale, it would have more of an impact on coalition building. But would it not be better to use this system for a seperately elected upper house, that would have actual powers, more akin to the House of Lords in the UK?

That would be my preffered system, and if we get that super-constitutional referendum that Fine Gael is promising, there will be lots of hard choices for us all to make.

UPDATE: I wrote this before seeing this story on the Front Page of the Irish Times.

Sargent resigns

Trevor Sargent at the Green Party convention i...
Image via Wikipedia

The Statement:

Statement by Trevor Sargent TD

A Ceann Chomhairle, I thank you for the opportunity to explain to the House the circumstances of the clinic enquiry I received in June 2008 relating to an assault in September 2007 which were partially reported in the media this afternoon.

A victim of an assault came to me to voice his frustration at the slow progress being made with a case where he alleged he had been head-butted when he told me he had reported vandalism to parents of a child he had seen trying to remove a road sign in their housing estate.

My intention was to ensure the Gardaí were aware I had received a representation from a victim in an alleged assault and that the full preparation of the case would benefit from witnesses not yet interviewed being interviewed before proceeding further. The victim was afraid for his safety, meanwhile.

I accept however that although my actions in contacting An Garda Siochána were not a criminal offence, under Section 6 of the Prosecutions of Offences Act 1974 such a communication could be deemed not lawful. In this regard, I accept I made an error of judgement. Accordingly I hereby tender my resignation forthwith as Minister of State for Food and Horticulture.

Green Party Leader, John Gormley also issued a statement:

“I am greatly saddened by Trevor Sargent’s decision to resign as Minister of State.

“There is nobody in Leinster House – or in Irish politics generally – whom I admire more than Trevor. He has brought a unique mix of ability and talent, decency and honesty to Irish public life.

“Trevor’s departure is all the more difficult because he is more than just a colleague, he is a trusted friend and confidant.

“I note that in tendering his resignation he has acted promptly and without any self interest. That is totally in keeping with his approach to politics and the contribution he has made across the past four decades.

“Trevor will continue to serve the people of Dublin North as their TD with the same total dedication he has shown since June 1992. He will be missed from the Green Party team in government but he will continue to work closely with his parliamentary party colleagues.”

I didn’t see that coming… I think he was set up. But it doesn’t reflect well on a government which is obviously at war with itself!

How long more will it last?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sargent in trouble now

Green Party (Ireland)
Image via Wikipedia

So now Trevor Sargent is accused of acting improperly in a criminal case. The Minister of State is the latest in a long line of accusations to have hit the Government. The latest of course being the resignation of Willie O’Dea.

While many would have assumed the Green Party were above all this type of stuff but it turns out, being in Government with Fianna Fail may have taught them some bad habits.

If Sargent was still the Leader of the Green Party there would be calls for his resignation, but as he isn’t I don’t think there will be that much pressure. Of course FF may ask for his resignation to get back at the Greens for forcing O’Dea out, but then that would be hypocritical in the extreme!!

Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan has called for his resignation, and the Green Party Chairman, Dan Boyle,  is defending him saying

“I know he’s a decent and honourable man and he’ll act accordingly.”
So there will be no tweet looking for his resignation!
Trever Sargent will make an statement on the matter this evening in the Dáil.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Ahern, Coughlan and O’Dea.

Fianna Fáil
Image via Wikipedia

So what do three of the above have in common at the moment? To me they represent why Fianna Fail is no longer fit to govern.

  • O’Dea lied under oath, and was forced to resign.
  • Coughlan thinks young people emigrate for fun and theres the whole Hanger 6 debacle
  • Ahern was cheerleader in chief for O’Dea and he is the Justice Minister!

This government is beyond itself. It is out of ideas. It has no idea what it should be doing. Of all the cabinet Ministers, the only one I think that is trying to do their job is Brian Lenihan. While I dislike the idea of NAMA, at least he is trying to do something to fix the country, none of the other ministers are!

We have a government where a minister can be brought down by a tweet. Two parties desperate to stay in power because one will be out of power and the other will possibly be wiped out at the polls.

The government has gone stale, Cowen has the opportunity now to embark a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle with his only constraint being the Green Party. What they want, only they know, though the Evening Echo is suggesting that Dan ‘tweet’ Boyle could be elevated to Cabinet.

Where does that leave the rest of us. Well there is the possibility of the Dublin Mayoral Election this year, through which Dublin residents can tell FF and Green Party what they think of them. You will have the Dublin South By-Election (2 years in a row, is that a first?) and you also have the Donegal South-West Bye-Election. Of course there will also be the Childrens Rights Referendum, but the popularity of the Government won’t come into that, hopefully! Then next year you have the Presidential Election.

I dont think FF or the Greens are going to do well in any of the upcoming elections. Dublin South is more then likely going to go Labour, Donegal South-West is probably going to Sinn Fein (I’m sticking to my prediction!), and the Dublin Mayoral election will probably go to Labour on Fine Gael transfers (just like the 1990 Presidential Election!).

Unless the Government gets its act together it will go from crisis to crisis as it is now. It seems to just get over one thing when something else crops up. They need to think quick, the boom is long and Ireland needs solutions now.

Its that or be wiped out.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

This is a “momentous” piece of Legislation

Marriage by jcoterhals on Flickr
Image by jcoterhals on Flickr

Last night I attended the GLEN briefing on the Civil Partnership Bill, hosted by the Cork Gay Project and L.inc. It was a very interesting meeting and I certainly learned a lot! We were given a 3 booklets on the Bill and I am currently working my way through them and they are fascinating. The speakers were Eoin Collins, Director of Policy Change at Glen and Dr Fergus Ryan, head of Law at DIT.

A few things struck me last night during the talks by the speakers. One of those was what they called this bill. They called it “momentous”, “profound”, “substantive” and “the biggest change to family law”. A few other things that caught me were that we must “accept progress along the way” (that’s directed at you Marriage Activists) and that we need to focus on “whats in the Bill” (I got flashbacks to the Lisbon Campaign when that was said).

We are going to get this bill whether we like it or not. But this bill will do a lot for Gay and Lesbian Couples (or same-sex couples as they are called). The bill will confer rights and obligations that are equivalent to marriage. It will help to equal the playing field between same-sex couples and opposite sex couples, who at the moment, even if unmarried are better protected under Irish Law.

Just a quick note, remember that the Civil Partnership scheme in the Bill only applies to same-sex couples, while the presumptive cohabitation scheme will apply to both same-sex and opposite sex couples.

So a quick did you know about the Bill.

Did you know you don’t need to be Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual to enter into a Civil Partnership?Under the bill at it stands the Civil Partnership must be between two people of the same sex and not related (ie: Father and son, or brothers etc)

Did you know you have to take vows under the bill? Under the bill a Civil Partnership Ceremony must take place in public in front of two witnesses and vows must be said.

Did you know Divorce (dissolution) is easier for a Civil Partner? Under the bill to get a dissolution you must be living separatelyfor two out of previous three years. To get a Divorce under marriage you need to living separately for four of the previous five years. There is also no clean break in a Gay Divorce, just like in a Straight Divorce.

There are a few distinctions without a difference between Marriage and Civil Partnerships but legally there is not a whole heap of difference.

But Tax, Social Welfare and Immigration aren’t dealt with in the Bill!

And rightly so. If Tax and Social Welfare were dealt with in this bill it would have to be certified as a money bill. This means the Seanad would have only 21 days to look at the bill and the Dáil can over rule it a lot easier. It is important that the bill is being dealt in the way that is. Provision will be made under the Finance Bill and Social Welfare Bill to make changes.

As for immigration, there is a bill dealing with immigration currently before the Oireachtas. This can easily amended to provide for Same-sex couples.

What is wrong with the Bill?

The bill does have a number of deficiencies. It does not deal with children adequately nor does it deal with citizenship. These can be remedied through the stages of the bill in the Oireachtas and Senators David Norris and Ivana Bacik have committed themselves to putting an amendment on Children forward.

What is right with the bill?

The bill will give more rights in the following ares:

  • Shared Home
  • Visitation Rights
  • Succession
  • Maintenance
  • Equality (introduction of Civil Status)
  • Domestic Violence
  • Right to sue for Wrongful Death
  • Pensions
  • Ethics
  • Tenancy

The bill will amend over 130 pieces of legislation. It will allow the law to play a role when people need it most, on illness, separation and death.

This bill is needed now. It would be cruel to dismiss it for something that we might get further down the line. That is the problem we don’t know when, we don’t how, and we think a referendum will be needed. Could you imagine the COIR posters if there was a referendum on Gay Marriage??

This is one of the biggest reforms of family law to be undertaken in Ireland. Hopefully this bill will start a train of reform in Irish Family Law, which is sorely needed!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]