Patriotism, as I understand it, is a combination of love of country, pride in its history, traditions and culture, and a determination to add to its prestige and achievements” -Lemass

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Is mise le meas,

Senator Mark Daly

Seanadóir Marcus O’Dalaigh

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Scotland under attack by Westminster and City of London in “phoney” economic war

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100 years ago the elite and leaders of Europe called on millions of citizen to sacrifice themselves under the banner of freedom for small nations. A century later the new leaders and elite solemnly commemorate the sacrifice of those millions for that principal. Yet, we see the same European leaders now arguing against the freedom of Scotland and it’s continued membership of the European Union. We also observe from this side of the Irish Sea the City of London and the Government in Westminster engaging in a “phoney” economic war against Scotland.

In Ireland the government claim to be “neutral” in this “Phoney” economic War, mere observers, despite the fact that we all support the ideals of freedom which Scotland seeks. We are however concerned about the effect an independent Scotland, with control over its corporation tax would have on jobs here and the ability of this nation to attract foreign direct investment. The government is quietly seriously concerned about the obvious knock on effect on the situation in the North

In the event the people of Scotland vote for independence, Ireland and it’s government should not be and will not be neutral in supporting Scotland in any adverse actions by the city of London and Westminster. We must support Scotland’s continuation within the EU, a country that is currently in the EU and meets all the criteria for membership should not and must not be punished by now treating it or those larger EU states.

The position of the leaders of Europe is worrying. Our own former Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, who is on the executive of the Party of European socialists issued a statement where he said Scotland’s membership would be blocked by large countries such as Spain and ironically in this the anniversary of the start of World War 1, Belgium. His comments were issued by the ‘ Better Together’ Campaign to support their argument against an independent Scotland.

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has not been neutral in his intervention despite saying “I don’t want to interfere on your referendum here …… it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible” for an independent Scotland to get the necessary approval from the member states for it to join the European Union.

Yet, an answer is available to David Cameron and the ‘Better Together’ campaign who question the impossibilities of an independent Scotland being allowed to remain in or rejoin the European Union . This answer is available to the Prime Minister and the British government as members states are allowed to ask the question of Scotland’s membership of the EU in the event of it voting for independence. Amazingly the British Prime Minister refused to ask the EU for official advice on the situation, there by allowing the doubt to continue. Why then did the Cameron and London Government not seek and get a definitive answer?

Pat Cox the former President of the European Parliament who is well accustomed to the way of making the impossible possible in Europe said on RTE’s Morning Ireland that because they are on the inside Scotland should be facilitate and a mechanism is available to do that in the EU

Would government in Westminster and the City of London seriously block an independent Scotland access to EU membership and use of sterling in the full knowledge that it would prevent an independent Scotland being a success? A success that British Prime Minister Cameron has admitted Scotland would be during a speech he gave while he was opposition leader “It would be wrong to suggest that Scotland could not be another such successful, independent country.”

Professor Joseph Stiglitz the Nobel prize winning economist who is well known on this island is right when he says that David Cameron, the Government in Westminster and City of London were “for the most part” bluffing when they ruled out the Scottish National Party calls for a currency Union. The scare mongering over EU membership is “for the most part” an equal bluff. While we remain “officially” neutral, having gone through an economic war similar to the one that is being threatened against the Scots, we must conclude that on this occasion the threat of this economic war is “Phoney” and as Professor Stiglitz would put its “for the most part” bluff.

Ireland’s concerns on an independent Scotland and its effect on job creation here are unfounded in the same way. As are the concerns on attracting foreign direct investment into Ireland when 10 new countries joined the EU. The knock on effect in the North will without doubt be an issue for the Irish government and will require serious reengagement by both governments to tackle this evolving situation.

I agree with the British Prime Minster when he said Scotland would be a successful independent country. As another small country, ranked 7th in the world by the UN human development index, we must not be neutral. We must, should and will be active in asking and persuading other small countries in the EU and the more reluctant larger states to support an independent Scotland’s continuation in the EU.

Senator Mark Daly is a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs since 2007 and Spokesperson for the Irish Overseas and the Diaspora

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Govt Vote on Commercial Rates will Ruin Small Towns and Villages – Daly

FF seeks to annul Ministerial Order on Commercial Rates
Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly says a Government vote against a Fianna Fáil motion on commercial rates will decimate rural towns and villages.
Under proposed legislation, Fine Gael and Labour want to charge half commercial rates on properties that are vacant.
Senator Daly commented: “In the Seanad, Fianna Fáil Senators put forward a motion to annul a Ministerial Order which will effectively charge commercial rates on vacant properties. The motion was unfortunately not supported by Fine Gael and Labour Senators. This Ministerial Order will result in councils imposing commercial rates on vacant properties. Although the rate will be half that of occupied premises, this could decimate rural towns and villages.
“No Regulator Impact Assessment on this Ministerial Order has taken place, what I fear may happen is vacant commercial buildings in towns and villages will be knocked down. Owners who are currently unable to conduct business in the vacant properties or receive rent will be forced to demolish their premises as they will be unable to pay the commercial rates that will be imposed. The majority of County Councils in the country do not charge for properties which are vacant, a change to this may jeopardise any hopes of towns and villages have of recovering and enticing businesses to set-up in these urban centres.
“This move by the Government is another attack on rural Ireland, there have been numerous unfair policies implemented which adversely affect rural people. For instance, rural Post Offices have been closed, over 100 rural Garda stations were shut, rural bus routes have been curtailed and small schools have been forced to close. The change to the commercial rates system will be another nail in the coffin of rural Ireland.”

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Seanad Recall on flawed EU Organ Donation Law resulted in improved resources for transplant patients – Daly

Senator Mark Daly (centre) with members of the Irish Kidney Association Mark Murphy (left) Colin White, Gwen O’Donoghue, and Valerie Brady on the Plinth at the Dail after the recalled Seanad debate on organ donation. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Senator Mark Daly (centre) with members of the Irish Kidney Association Mark Murphy (left) Colin White, Gwen O’Donoghue, and Valerie Brady on the Plinth at the Dail after the recalled Seanad debate on organ donation. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly says the recall of the Seanad this day last year has secured improved resources for more than 600 people who are currently waiting on life saving organ transplant operations. The Kerry Senator spearheaded a campaign and secured the signatures of more than 20 Seanad colleagues to invoke a recall of the Chamber to debate and vote on the first ever law on organ donation in the history of the State.

Senator Daly says that while improvements have been made, more needs to be done to bring Ireland’s donation and transplant system in line with international standards, and he claims a fully functioning organ donation scheme will not only provide a better quality of life for transplant recipients, it could also result in major savings for the taxpayer.

Senator Daly commented, “The recall of the Seanad last summer brought organ donation and transplantation back into the spotlight. The Government’s handling of the issue left a lot to be desired; the then Health Minister James Reilly signed the EU organ donation directive into Irish legislation in 2011 without any debate in the Oireachtas. Subsequent calls for debates were refused and it was only when the Seanad was recalled that the issue was discussed.

“The week the Seanad was recalled, the HSE allocated extra senior staff and resources to the National Organ Donation and Transplant Office. Almost €3m in funding was set aside for 6 intensive care nurses, 6 link nurses, 5 procurement coordinators and 4 quality managers. The addition of these health professionals has improved the quality of service that patients waiting on organ transplants receive, but more needs to be done.

“Our record on organ donation has been criticised by international organisations, with the head of the Spanish Transplant Authority Rafael Matesanz claiming the system here is costing lives. Although improvements have been made in the past year there is still a long way to go in matching the high donation rates that other EU countries achieve.

“Improving our donation and transplant numbers would not only change the lives of those receiving a new organ, it would also result in significant cost savings for the taxpayer. The State stands to save around €100,000 per kidney transplant, because of reduced dialysis and medical costs. The Irish Kidney Association estimates that the savings made by organ transplant operations could amount to €325m over time. The employment of organ donor co-ordinators is a major step forward, but more needs to be done to transform Ireland’s organ donation system. It is essential that these changes are made to ensure that many more lives are saved and improved through transplantation”.

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Kerry broadband costs to soar as Govt scraps essential scheme

The Government’s decision to end the National Broadband Scheme further highlights its complete lack of interest in rural Ireland. The scrapping of the programme could see rural broadband users in Kerry forking out an additional €176 per year for a basic broadband service.

The withdrawal of funding for the National Broadband Scheme by the Government is short-sighted and ill-advised and will have serious consequences for households and businesses throughout Kerry. Broadband coverage across the county is of poor quality in many areas, and the removal of this essential service will only serve to make a bad situation worse.

The National Broadband Scheme, which was introduced by the previous Government, provided basic affordable broadband services in rural areas where coverage was poor. The decision to withdraw the funding could result in a 75% price hike for customers. Bills could increase by as much as €176 a year – a huge rise, which many homes may not be able to afford. The massive price increases could see households forced to give up their broadband, a utility which is now considered an essential service.

This move effectively downgrades rural communities and reinforces the two tier economy that this Government has created. Regional and rural Ireland has been effectively abandoned by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition. The Communications Minister Alex White has now decided to pull the plug on secure broadband in the region. Small and Medium businesses here will be at a serious competitive disadvantage compared to companies in the major cities, if broadband services aren’t up to speed.

Shortly before the local elections, the Government announced the National Broadband Plan, yet just months later the scheme which guaranteed basic broadband services at a reasonable price has been suddenly scrapped. This is a deeply cynical move by the new Minister, which will further disenfranchise rural Ireland. The scheme is due to expire on August 25th and I would urge Minister White to reconsider his decision and reinstate this essential scheme.

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Easter Rising descendants upset and angered by former Taoiseach’s remarks – Daly

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly is calling on the Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht to clarify whether comments made by former Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael John Bruton about the 1916 Easter Rising are reflective of the Government’s position. Mr. Bruton is quoted in newspaper reports this morning as referring to the Easter Rising as “completely unnecessary”.

Senator Daly commented, “I have been contacted this morning by descendants of those who fought in 1916 who are upset by the former Taoiseach’s comments. They’ve been expressing an ongoing concern that they are being side-lined in the commemorations, and these latest remarks do nothing to instil them with confidence.

“There are around 150,000 direct descendants of the 1916 volunteers still living in Ireland. These are people whose mothers, grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers sacrificed their lives to ensure that Irish citizens of a republic were given equal rights and equal opportunities, and they feel upset that a former Taoiseach would imply that their cause was a waste of time.

“I am a member of the all-party working group on the decade of commemorations, which is chaired by Minister Heather Humphries. It would seem deeply inappropriate for the chair of the group tasked with organising the commemorations to hold the same views as those expressed by the former leader of her party this morning, and I am calling on her to clarify whether the whether the comments reported, which have caused such deep upset among the relatives of those involved in the Easter Rising, are reflective of her party’s attitude to the commemorations”.

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