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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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Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence Debate – Consular Service: Motion

Consular Service: Motion

Senator Mark Daly: I move:

In respect of the recent review of consular and honorary consular services and the importance that appointments are based on reliable information, this committee:

agrees that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Secretary General of the Department and the Head of the Consular section come before the committee regarding the method in which consuls and honorary consuls are appointed;

is concerned over the lack of data available regarding the location of the Irish community living overseas including their specific location;

and calls for members to be supplied with up to date information to ensure the service is fit for purpose and in locations where the Irish community are living.

This motion calls on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the head of the consular system within the Department to come before this committee prior to the publication of the review of consular and honorary consular services. I am concerned about the lack of data because any policy should be based on data. We should be given information about the service so that we can ensure it is fit for purpose.

As members will be aware, we have asked for information on where Irish people are living around the world. We know there are 70 million people in the Irish diaspora, including 40 million in the US and 6 million in Canada. Those headline figures are reported over and over again. This committee wrote to the consular service to ask for data on where the Irish diaspora is located. When I say we want information, I do not mean we should be told there are 6 million people of Irish descent in Canada.  I mean how many are in each province, for example how many people in Montana are of Irish descent? I understand and this probably has not changed, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not have the breakdown of the figures. How can one establish honorary consulates unless one has the data? Government policy is based on data, for example the number of schools and classrooms is based on the number of pupils in the area. I do not think it is acceptable that the Government does not know the states where people of Irish descent live in the United States. I could tell the committee that in Alabama’s first district of the US Congress that 12.3% of people have Irish ancestry, that is 85,045 in Alabama have Irish ancestry. If one goes to Montana, which is served by the consulate in San Francisco and what cover 13 states and a representative may get to Montana once every three years.

The message we are sending to our communities in the United States is that we like them around St. Patrick’s Day, but outside of that we are not going to give them any resources.

Let us compare what we are doing in America to what we did in Canada, the then ambassador, Dr. Ray Bassett, who was there until recently, appointed honorary consulates to virtually every province. We have more honorary consulates in Canada, where there are only 6 million people of Irish heritage compared to the United States where we have 40 million people of Irish descent. This is the result of an ambassador taking an initiative.

I know there are concerns about it. I maintain that policy is based on data. It is shocking that the reply from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to this committee after numerous requests, is that they simply do not have the data. If one went on the census website for England, one would be able to get data on the number of people with Irish ancestry in Birmingham.

If the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is to have a consulate policy, for a start the Department must have the data.

I would like to hear the views of the committee members on this. I think the reply from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is unacceptable.

 I mean how many are in each province, for example how many people in Montana are of Irish descent? I understand and this probably has not changed, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not have the breakdown of the figures. How can one establish honorary consulates unless one has the data? Government policy is based on data, for example the number of schools and classrooms is based on the number of pupils in the area. I do not think it is acceptable that the Government does not know the states where people of Irish descent live in the United States. I could tell the committee that in Alabama’s first district of the US Congress that 12.3% of people have Irish ancestry, that is 85,045 in Alabama have Irish ancestry. If one goes to Montana, which is served by the consulate in San Francisco and what cover 13 states and a representative may get to Montana once every three years.

The message we are sending to our communities in the United States is that we like them around St. Patrick’s Day, but outside of that we are not going to give them any resources.

Let us compare what we are doing in America to what we did in Canada, the then ambassador, Dr. Ray Bassett, who was there until recently, appointed honorary consulates to virtually every province. We have more honorary consulates in Canada, where there are only 6 million people of Irish heritage compared to the United States where we have 40 million people of Irish descent. This is the result of an ambassador taking an initiative.

I know there are concerns about it. I maintain that policy is based on data. It is shocking that the reply from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to this committee after numerous requests, is that they simply do not have the data. If one went on the census website for England, one would be able to get data on the number of people with Irish ancestry in Birmingham.

If the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is to have a consulate policy, for a start the Department must have the data.

I would like to hear the views of the committee members on this. I think the reply from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is unacceptable.

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Order of Business – Whistleblower Sgt. McCabe Controversy

Senator Mark Daly: Obviously, the issue of what the Taoiseach knew and when he knew it is dominating the headlines today. There seems to be a lack of reality with regard to his statements. Every time he talks about the McCabe issue, he seems to contradict not only himself but also his own Ministers. Hopefully, we will get clarity on who knew what and when but as we all know, that is a distraction. It is merely a circus and a source of entertainment for political types and the media but is of little real concern to the people on the ground. What is of real concern to the people on the ground is the central issue of the treatment of Sergeant Maurice McCabe, a whistleblower who was doing his job as he saw fit and who raised concerns about An Garda Síochána. He has made allegations that he was targeted with a smear campaign of the worst and most vile type. That is why we welcome a tribunal of inquiry that will get to the truth of this issue. This is not just about Sergeant Maurice McCabe. We need to get to the bottom of why it was that a whistleblower, who did his job correctly and acted in the best interests of every citizen was smeared rather than protected. We introduced whistleblower legislation to protect whistleblowers but we should not only be seeking to protect them but to actually reward and encourage them. We should make sure that the State not only protects whistleblowers but encourages and rewards them for doing their job. Anyone who comes forward and acts as a whistleblower is doing a great service to this State. When we get to the bottom of all of this it is to hoped that those who have had allegations made against them in terms of their attempts to smear Sergeant McCabe will face the full rigour of the law.

  In the context of the Taoiseach’s inability to communicate, there was an event recently in Cork at which a person professed to be an Irish Sign Language interpreter. That person was actually a comedian and I have received communications from members of the deaf community who were outraged by his behaviour. He portrayed himself as a sign language interpreter and then interfered at an event at which the Taoiseach was speaking. It was a deplorable and appalling act to use the issue of the lack of recognition of Irish Sign Language in that way. Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe not to recognise the sign language used by its own deaf community.

  I wish to put the Leader on notice, in regard to the Corporate Manslaughter (No. 2) Bill and the Recognition of Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill, that on 25 March Fianna Fáil will propose an amendment to the Order of Business to the effect that Committee Stage of both Bills be taken. We have asked various Departments to submit their Committee Stage amendments but they have come up with all sorts of excuses and have not done so.  My party will table amendments to the Order of Business on 25 March.

 

 

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Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement meeting 9th Feb 2017

Implications for Good Friday Agreement of UK Referendum Result (Resumed): Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly As my colleague, Deputy Smith, pointed out, the difficulty about the Dutch Parliament’s understanding of our position is that it is not unique. I understand from meetings Fianna Fáil members had with some of the Sicilian and Italian parliamentarians that they thought Ireland is leaving the EU because Northern Ireland is leaving. This is the challenge we face. Malta had some understanding but, in reality, it requires a lot of education because there is so much going on and so much information-sharing and laying out of our position. One of the big challenges the Government faces is that while Theresa May has made her statement, we need to set out our asks and say what we want. Deputy Sherlock pointed out the votes that took place in Westminster. What is being said by the British Government and what it is doing are two entirely different things. Theresa May when she was Home Secretary said the hard Border would of course return if there were a Brexit. Then she became Prime Minister and said there would of course be no return to a hard Border. Now she says the Border will be as frictionless as possible. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, says there will be no special deal for Northern Ireland. The lack of understanding in Westminster could be put in the following way. While Westminster was trying to emphasise the importance of Northern Ireland in terms of the impact of Brexit, one of its reports which the House of Lords produced stated that – I thought it was a very telling line – the relationship between Ireland and Britain has not always been a smooth one. This would have to be the greatest understatement of any diplomat in the history of the State. The report’s analysis of the impact was such that its authors dismissed everything that would suit us and would do everything to suit themselves. The UK currently has an operation called Operation Gull whereby people leaving Belfast, Derry and Larne are profiled and 752 people have been arrested on immigration grounds.  It already has immigration controls between the North of Ireland and Britain. That is the solution to not having a hard Border. It has to accept that when 40,000 people were employed in the security forces in the North, the Border could not be secured. Trying to secure it now would be foolhardy, whereas it is already carrying out immigration controls at the three exit points from Northern Ireland to Britain. Yet, it will not reimpose that. The House of Lords has said that it cannot be done for political reasons, even though exactly the same system was in place between 1939 and 1952 and, under it, identify checks were carried out on people travelling from the North to Britain.

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Implications for the Good Friday Agreement of UK Referendum Result

Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement Debate

Implications for Good Friday Agreement of UK Referendum Result (Resumed): Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark DalyAs my colleague, Deputy Smith, pointed out, the difficulty about the Dutch Parliament’s understanding of our position is that it is not unique. I understand from meetings Fianna Fáil members had with some of the Sicilian and Italian parliamentarians that they thought Ireland is leaving the EU because Northern Ireland is leaving. This is the challenge we face. Malta had some understanding but, in reality, it requires a lot of education because there is so much going on and so much information-sharing and laying out of our position. One of the big challenges the Government faces is that while Theresa May has made her statement, we need to set out our asks and say what we want. Deputy Sherlock pointed out the votes that took place in Westminster. What is being said by the British Government and what it is doing are two entirely different things. Theresa May when she was Home Secretary said the hard Border would of course return if there were a Brexit. Then she became Prime Minister and said there would of course be no return to a hard Border. Now she says the Border will be as frictionless as possible. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, says there will be no special deal for Northern Ireland. The lack of understanding in Westminster could be put in the following way. While Westminster was trying to emphasise the importance of Northern Ireland in terms of the impact of Brexit, one of its reports which the House of Lords produced stated that – I thought it was a very telling line – the relationship between Ireland and Britain has not always been a smooth one. This would have to be the greatest understatement of any diplomat in the history of the State. The report’s analysis of the impact was such that its authors dismissed everything that would suit us and would do everything to suit themselves. The UK currently has an operation called Operation Gull whereby people leaving Belfast, Derry and Larne are profiled and 752 people have been arrested on immigration grounds.  It already has immigration controls between the North of Ireland and Britain. That is the solution to not having a hard Border. It has to accept that when 40,000 people were employed in the security forces in the North, the Border could not be secured. Trying to secure it now would be foolhardy, whereas it is already carrying out immigration controls at the three exit points from Northern Ireland to Britain. Yet, it will not reimpose that. The House of Lords has said that it cannot be done for political reasons, even though exactly the same system was in place between 1939 and 1952 and, under it, identify checks were carried out on people travelling from the North to Britain.

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Amendments to Councillors’ Conditions: Statements

Amendments to Councillors’ Conditions: Statements

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I thank the Minister for coming to the House. I have to reflect the views of the people who have contacted me and say that there is grave disappointment regarding the offer that is on the table. In many counties and in many cases, even with what is on the table people will be €5,000 worse off than they were five years ago.

  The feedback I am getting is that the fixed allowance, which is obviously an increase in many instances, should continue under the current system, and the €1,000 under the municipal district payment, while welcome, is discriminating against Galway, Cork and Dublin, as my colleague has pointed out. The Minister has explained it, but that is the feeling that exists and we should have equity wherever we go.

  The Association of Irish Local Government and the Local Government Members Association have engaged with the Minister, as have many Senators and other public representatives, but what they are looking for is fairness. When one looks at the overall issue regarding their payments compared with Northern Ireland and England, Scotland and Wales, there is not the same parity of esteem, to use a term from the peace process, when it comes to public representatives at a local level here. If we want public representatives to continue in the role across the country then we must ensure that we give them the payments and the supports that will ensure they will be there. Otherwise we will have mass retirements as happened in Dublin City Council, when in one year, 20% of the councillors retired because of pressure of work in one election term.

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