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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

Welcome to my website. I hope that it can be a useful resource in staying up to date with my work on your behalf in Seanad Eireann as Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil and Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, the Irish Overseas and Diaspora.

If you have any queries, questions or ideas please do not hesitate to contact me.

Is mise le meas,

Senator Mark Daly

Seanadóir Marcus O’Dalaigh

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Deaf Education Conference 2016

On the 1st of October I gave the opening address to the Deaf Education Conference 2016. The education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in Ireland has been a cause of concern to many parents and educators over the years. We know that Deaf and Hard of Hearing children have not been achieving educational levels in school on a par with their hearing peers of similar ability. We know that only a small proportion of them go on to third level education. And we know that parents, members of the Deaf community and the IDS, Deafhear and CIDP have been battling on a daily basis often for months and years, to get their children the support and services they need in our schools – services and supports which are their right as enshrined in Irish legislation.

One of those parents, Andrew Geary, has been battling with some success to get his son the supports he needs in school. The Deaf Education Conference 2016 is the brainchild of Andrew, who recognises the need to provide a forum to move the education of our Deaf and Hard of Hearing children into the 21st century. The Conference is fully supported by the Education Partnership Group, an independent peer group made up of Deaf and Hard of Hearing interest groups. Parents Groups such as Our New Ears and Sharing the Journey have also championed the cause of many families over the years, opening doors and supporting parents in their battles.

The Conference was aimed primarily at Parents of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children, the Education Professionals working with these children, Policy Advisors in this area and anyone with an interest in this area of education.

National and International Panel

The Conference included a panel of both Irish and international experts on deaf education who will speak about:

  • Best practice in the education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.
  • What can be achieved through best practice.
  • What is happening in Ireland today.

A key aim of the Conference was to identify a number of key objectives to improve the education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in Ireland and to signpost a clear pathway towards achieving them.

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WATCH: Senator Daly discusses the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict

Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (Hague Convention) Bill 2016: Second Stage

“I welcome the Minister to the House and I welcome the Bill. We are happy to support the Bill, its aim and its intent. Obviously, we hope it is not something that would ever have to be directly applied in Ireland. That said, we are happy to support other colleagues in other jurisdictions where the cultural property of armed conflict has been vandalised or stolen.

  I have a question relating to the practical application of this measure. I know the Minister has outlined some cases involving ISIS and others in which there has been vandalism, wanton destruction and theft. In one case during the second Gulf War all the artefacts in the museums in Baghdad were stolen during looting.  At that stage, depending on whose version of history one wants to believe, the US was in control and was standing by without intervening as the looting was going on. I note that the information I have does not list the US as being a party to this. Given that the Iraqi army had disintegrated and that the new occupying force which was in place was watching while looting was happening, was there a case for this part of the Hague Convention to be used? Was such an attempt ever made?

  Obviously, this has been a long time coming. As we deal with these issues, it is important to support other countries. It is clear from the case of the Convention on Cluster Munitions that the more countries sign up to these treaties, the greater the moral obligation on others to ensure they do likewise. If they do not sign up, they are in danger of becoming pariah states under international law.

  The essence of attempts to prosecute warring parties during or after conflicts is that the destruction of cultural artefacts, as happened with ISIS in Syria, would probably not rank high in the international courts’ grand scale of priorities. Nevertheless, it is important to protect cultural and heritage artefacts and sites of historical interest and importance to civilisation. For that reason, we support both the Bill and the Minister in bringing it to the House.”

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Corporate Manslaughter Bill passes to Committee Stage

Fianna Fáil Senator, Mark Daly has led a debate on the 26th of October a debate in the Seanad on the Corporate Manslaughter Bill which he introduced and saw the passing of the Bill to Committee Stage.

The Corporate Manslaughter Bill addresses the gap in Irish law where there is an absence of clear legislation to hold corporate entities and state agencies criminally liable for unlawful deaths that occurred as a result of their actions or negligence.

At present, there is no clear legal recourse following such a death and this bill will ensure that this gap is filled with robust, clear-cut legislation.

Corporate Manslaughter (No. 2) Bill 2016: Second Stage

“I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

  I thank the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality for coming to the House today. If one was to dedicate this Bill to anyone it would be to the 1,600 people who contracted hepatitis C as a result of the actions and inaction of the blood transfusion service.

  In 2005 the Law Reform Commission identified a serious gap in Irish legislation in terms of holding entities, both incorporated and otherwise, to account in situations where management failed. In some cases, it would be impossible to secure a conviction because of the legislative gap. While it is theoretically possible for a corporate entity to be prosecuted, the Law Reform Commission identified two serious deficiencies in securing a conviction. First, in order to initiate a prosecution, it was necessary to establish that a senior manager within the entity had the necessary criminal responsibility or guilty mind required under current legislation. Second, the commission also observed that the law was ambiguous and would fall foul of legal principle.

  Section 2 of this Bill means that a corporation could be convicted of corporate manslaughter if found guilty of gross negligence, where no one individual within the organisation was said to have responsibility. There are a number of cases where that happened in Ireland although the most famous such case is that of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster between England and Holland. This Bill will provide the necessary mechanism to ensure that corporate entities are held to account. It will provide an avenue to justice for the families of the victims of corporate manslaughter. It will re-balance the current legislation in favour of workers, customers, the public and the citizens. In reality, this is about providing a game changer in corporate culture and ensuring that management understands it is liable for persons in its care. We want to create a deterrent effect whereby senior managers are aware that they could go to jail for up to 12 years. Corporations will no longer be able to evade their responsibilities by rotating managers.

  As the Minister will be aware, the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern, received approval from the Government of the day to put forward a criminal justice (corporate manslaughter) Bill in 2010. A report was prepared on that Bill but it has not yet been published. Unfortunately, it never progressed. Fianna Fáil is willing to accept amendments to this Bill on Committee Stage, which will begin in ten weeks. I know there probably will be a call for pre-legislative scrutiny but if anyone claims he or she can do better than the Law Reform Commission on pre-legislative scrutiny, I would beg to differ. We want to produce the best Bill possible and we want to provide on this side of the Border what is available on the other side, namely, adequate corporate manslaughter legislation. The UK legislation was proposed under a Labour Government and pushed by the trade union movement. When people hear the term “corporate entities”, they think of large private and public companies but we are also talking about State agencies, as in the case of the blood transfusion service.

  The tragedy of the gap in our legislation is such that when prosecution cases relating to the blood transfusion service were under way, the individuals who should have but did not act when contaminated blood products were given to people could only be prosecuted under the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, a section of which refers to deliberately administering a noxious substance. That was the best the Director of Public Prosecutions could come up with in terms of prosecution but even that failed because of delays and serious failings within the aforementioned Act. That legislation did not countenance that a State agency would deliberately and knowingly contaminate 1,600 women with blood products it was aware were deficient.

  I am aware of a situation relating to the Coast Guard service in County Kerry. Senior management in Dublin was aware that the communications equipment being used was liable to catastrophic failure at any moment. The Coast Guard service co-ordinates rescue operations involving the Coast Guard helicopter service, lifeboats and ships in distress. Management had been informed by Motorola that the equipment being used, which dated back to the 1960s, was liable to fail catastrophically at any moment. Mid-rescue, it could simply stop functioning but management did nothing. In a rescue situation, if communication fails, lives could be lost. Despite being told that, senior management refused to seek new equipment because it wanted to close down the coastguard station at Valentia and move operations to Dublin.  They wanted to keep highlighting the fact that the equipment was out of date. Their concern was more about their own requirements of closing Coast Guard stations, at Malin and Valentia in this case, rather than the lives of the people involved. However, if corporate manslaughter legislation was enacted and those in senior management knew they could go to jail in the event of lives being lost because communications equipment failed and they knew about it, I imagine there could be a cultural shift. This deterrent factor that I am seeking to have put into law, as is the case in other jurisdictions, would bring to mind the new reality for those in areas of responsibility and those responsible for people’s lives. These people should have the best interests of the citizen at heart.

  Tragically, in the case of the blood transfusion service, the Coast Guard in Kerry and in the case of CIE following the Buttevant rail disaster, no one could attribute blame to one individual. This is another important aspect of the legislation. There was an entire cultural problem within these organisations.

  There are remedies other than sending an individual or a number of people to jail. Under this legislation, the corporation, entity or State body would have a report undertaken on its activities as a result of a court action being brought against it. The cultural shift required as a result of this report would then be put in place. If it were not to be put in place, then the courts could seek further redress. The courts could also impose sentences that do not involve jail terms, for example, community service. There are other possibilities as well.

  Fundamentally, this law should be put in place for the 1,600 victims of our blood transfusion service. Tragically, that is the worst case I can make, but it is not the only case in which State agencies or bodies failed to act in the best interests of the people. The idea of having gross negligence on the Statute Book would allow the Director of Public Prosecutions and others to pursue individuals. It would also ensure individuals who, for whatever reason, do not have the best interests of the citizens at heart might at the least have their own interests at heart and might think twice before forgetting to recall blood products or not bothering to recall blood products they know to be contaminated.

  In the case of the Stardust nightclub fire, there is nothing to say this law would have secured a prosecution. However, it is certain that the current law would definitely not allow prosecutions in such cases. Health and safety legislation predominately addresses issues of gross negligence in the workplace. Outside of that there is little available when it comes to customers, women in hospitals expecting the State to look after their best interests or people who are on the high seas off our coasts who expect modern communications equipment to deal with the crisis at hand.

  The extraordinary thing was how the Coast Guard was allowed to be run down to the point it reached. This happened despite the then Minister, Noel Dempsey, instructing senior management to buy new equipment. The new equipment was purchased and put into a warehouse in Blanchardstown for two years until the warranty ran out. We then waited for the next Minister to come in and produce a report on why the stations at Malin and Valentia should be shut down. Those involved hoped that the Minister would agree with the report and that the new equipment would be installed in Dublin. All the while, antiquated Motorola equipment was in use. It was so bad that the operators of the consoles used to have tweezers to pull the buttons out of the consoles after pressing them. That was how old they were and how liable they were to catastrophic failure at any moment. Senior management were given what was known by Motorola as a death certificate. They had all that equipment and information and they did nothing. They sat on it for ten years. What was the likelihood that someone would die as a result of such behaviour by senior management?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It was very high.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly It was extraordinary high. Let us suppose I was able to inform those in senior management that, under corporate manslaughter legislation, if that equipment failed, they would go to jail. I imagine that while such people would not have the interests of the people on the high seas in their hearts, they most certainly would have the interests of not going to jail in their hearts. This is the cultural shift and the deterrent factor we are looking for.

  I sincerely hope no one ever gets convicted under this legislation. I wish there was no need for it. However, as we know from the hepatitis C scandal and others, it is required. If, in future, families lose loved ones, there will be a remedy to ensure the people who acted irresponsibly, who were grossly negligent or who failed to act would go to jail, as they should.”

 

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Daly to lead debate & call for vote on Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2016


Bill will allow corporate entities & state agencies to be held liable for unlawful deaths

 

Fianna Fáil Senator, Mark Daly will lead a debate in the Seanad tomorrow (26th October) on the Corporate Manslaughter Bill which he introduced.

The Corporate Manslaughter Bill addresses the gap in Irish law where there is an absence of clear legislation to hold corporate entities and state agencies criminally liable for unlawful deaths that occurred as a result of their actions or negligence.

“At present, there is no clear legal recourse following such a death. A 2005 Law Reform Commission Reform, on which this bill is based, identified this gap in Irish legislation, and this bill will ensure that this gap is filled with robust, clear-cut legislation.”

“The bill being debated and voted on will bring Irish legislation into line with similar, progressive laws in other countries.”

“The uniqueness of this legislation is to be found in Section 2 where a corporation can be convicted if found guilty of gross negligence even if no one person in the corporation can be said to be responsible. The bill will also allow for prison term to be handed down if a court deems it necessary”

“I am confident that this bill will help balance the law in favour of workers, customers and the public, in general.”

“The ultimate outcome of this legislation will be to cause a shift in outlook and approach among senior management within corporations in Ireland. Now that they can be held liable, as an entity or individually, I am hopeful that this bill will  cause cultural changes and ensure a deterrent effect to reduce deaths,” concluded Daly.

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Watch: Ireland has the highest rate in the western world of people who suffer with cystic fibrosis, Orkambi would transform lives

 

I thank the Leader for outlining the Order of Business. The Irish health system is pockmarked by the failures of the service itself and of politicians in terms of devising systems that do not work. In 2013, we highlighted that in the House with the recall of the Seanad to discuss organ donation. In one calendar year, 65 people on our organ donor waiting lists will die. Currently, there are 650 people waiting for liver, lung and heart transplants, of whom one in ten will die waiting. Other countries have systems that work to the point where they actually have an excess of donated organs. It has nothing to do with the generosity of the Irish people; it is simply a systems failure. Not only that, if we improved our system, it would save the taxpayer money. As the Leader knows, the cost of dialysis over a ten-year period is almost €325 million. Every organ transplant put in place would save money.

  The issue I raise specifically today relates to the Orkambi drug therapy for cystic fibrosis. The genetic profile of the Irish population means that Ireland has the highest rate in the western world of people who suffer with cystic fibrosis and who carry the gene which leads to that condition. Orkambi has transformed lives. There are a number of people who are on a trial of this drug therapy and the Government is carrying out a review of that. The cystic fibrosis website has welcomed the review, which is the second or third so far. Not all of the 500 cystic fibrosis sufferers in Ireland will benefit from the therapy, but it appears that the majority will. Research from the British Management Institute has outlined that every report commissioned by a Government Department over 20 years has ended up agreeing with that Department’s initial viewpoint. It is the case that he who pays the piper calls the tune. We are not, therefore, hopeful about the outcome of the Orkambi review. We realise the drug is expensive. Everybody understands that. However, the transformation in the lives of those who benefit from it is enormous.

  I ask the Leader to find an answer to the question. We have had debates on this in the House. The former Minister for Health, Deputy Leo Varadkar, attended the House to discuss the review. Meanwhile, people are suffering because they are not being given access to Orkambi and it is not made available more widely. I ask the Leader to organise an answer to the question in regard to Orkambi and to indicate when it will be available to those who will benefit from it.

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