Monthly Archives: August 2012

Joint Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey visits the Seanad Chamber

As the Minister for Defence was late for his meeting with the Joints Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey visited the Seanad Chamber. It was a pleasure to hear him speak about the Irish Brigade at the flag underneath the Seanad Chamber.

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Daly calls on Minister Rabbitte to provide more detail on his Broadband Plan

Kerry Senator and Fianna Fail Seanad Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resource Mark Daly has called on Minister Pat Rabbitte to further explain his new Broadband plan.

Senator Daly commented “Deputy Rabbitte’s plan is vague in many areas. he does not address broadband availability in rural Ireland,where in some areas it is less than 20%, he does not outline a national minimum broadband speed or even a timeline of when the broadband plan will actually be delivered”.

” We all know that broadband is a vital tool for all industry and with the number one issue being job creation our broadband services have got to be improved. However Minister Rabbitte has not address business and ordinary customer’s concerns, who need a high quality broadband service they can rely on.

We all support any efforts to improve broadband services, but Minister Rabbitte has not outlined in concrete detail how he intend to do this”

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Coming home with Notre Dame to Dublin; a trip of a lifetime Ireland opens its heart to the ‘Fighting Irish’

It is hard to miss that there is a Notre
Dame/Navy
football game going on here in Dublin.

There was not an
empty seat on the Aer Lingus 109 from New York to
Dublin last night as we joined the 35,000 mostly Irish fans who have flown from
America in an unprecedented pilgrimage.

If you saw more green and “Go
Irish” t-shirts per square foot than you’d see on St.
Patrick’s Day
, then you knew you were on the plane to the game.

You
could hardly have missed it either as the Aer Lingus employees at the airport
were decked out in Notre Dame caps in a nice touch.

Not that Navy was
utterly outmatched. When the pilot announced as we closed in on Dublin that a
Navy battleship was steaming into Dublin port right underneath us, the cheers
for “Go Navy” were loud and raucous.

At the airport itself, Uncle Sam on
stilts, perfectly kitted out in his red white and blue was there to greet the
tired but eager fans as they poured off the plane.

A host of
photographers and TV cameras closed in on the Irish
Americans
as they left the terminal. This game is big news here in Ireland
and a massive boost worth an estimated $100 million to the ailing economy.

A large Notre
Dame
display in the main arrival hall at the airport added that extra touch
to the festivities. This game has been organized expertly down to the last green
balloon knot.

I had shared the flight with a couple from upstate New York
who compared their trip to Ireland with the Hajj to see Mecca.

Lifelong
Notre
Dame
fans, Bob and Ruth Murphy were living the dream as the plane
decelerated and the Irish coastline came into view.

Neither had been to
the Emerald Isle before but had been there often in their dreams.
A sunny day sweeping away the wet weather that has plagued Ireland this summer
awaited them.

“Perfect,” said Bob as he gazed out the window, as his wife
slept. “A dream come true.”

The pilot announced that we were coming in
over Mayo where Bob’s ancestral people come from so he felt right at
home

At the Merrion Hotel, staff marveled at the enthusiasm and
child-like happy faces they were seeing these last few days.

Notre
Dame
fans were in their second home and all of Dublin knew it.

The
game has taken over the city and tickets on the black market are changing hands
for $2,000.

The locals have embraced it. I had four messages from friends
here asking about tickets.

It will be a wonderful occasion, like no other
I have seen as the Fighting Irish take the field on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium
a mile or so from here.

We can hardly wait.

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/story/news/periscope/coming-home-with-notre-dame-to-dublin-a-trip-of-a-lifetime—-a-trip-to-remember-as-ireland-opens-its-heart-to-the-fighting-irish-167968446.html#ixzz253Mzf2ON

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Only 2% of laws introduced in Ireland annually are produced by the Dail and the Seanad

http://www.irishexaminer.com/analysis/democratically-deficient-205621.html

Democratically deficient

By Mark Daly

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Elected representatives are not properly scrutinising the majority of new laws, leaving power in the hands of a small elite, writes Mark Daly

THE scale of the nation’s fiscal problems is well known and the financial deficit is discussed daily. Yet the scale of the growing national democratic deficit is not debated to the same extent or with the same sense of urgency. This is in spite of the fact that the weakness of our legislative process has largely contributed to the current fiscal situation.

Our democratic and legislative systems as they are presently designed are failing. We know they failed in the run-up to the financial crisis but, unlike the financial regulatory system, our democratic structures are not going through the same radical transformation. And if they do not go through significant reform they will continue to fail citizens.

Self-governance is one of the key features of any democracy and the power to scrutinise and make new law is central to this. Yet when one looks at the way in which laws are introduced, debated and implemented, the size of Ireland’s national democratic deficit comes into view. The sheer number of laws being introduced without any proper oversight or scrutiny by the Dáil and Seanad is staggering.

Brian Hunt’s recent Oireachtas study, The Role of the Houses of the Oireachtas in the Scrutiny of Legislation, highlights the growing percentage of laws that government ministers introduce without any degree of scrutiny or oversight. In particular, the report highlights the prevalence of statutory instruments, EU regulations and directives among all laws implemented in Ireland.

The European Communities Act 1972 facilitates implementation of EU directives in Ireland by way of a statutory instrument. Whereas statutory instruments had previously been used as a legislative measure to supplement an act and provide relatively minor implementing measures or technical details, under the powers given to minister in the act, EU regulations and directives have consistently amended and replaced legislation previously passed by both the Dáil and the Seanad. With the mere stroke of the minister’s pen, significant legislation has been implemented without any debate or consultation by the legislative branch.

The taoiseach of the time, Jack Lynch, admitted that under the 1972 act the increased powers conferred on ministers to make regulation through statutory instruments were “admittedly considerable”. How effective can our democracy be when ministers can regularly bypass our constitutional system of checks and balances and create their own laws independently?

Consider laws introduced into Ireland in 2009 alone. Whereas 1,291 EU regulations automatically applied to Ireland without any systematic or detailed parliamentary scrutiny, 164 EU directives were added directly into Irish law, and 594 statutory instruments were made, again without any meaningful parliamentary scrutiny.

The only legislative measures introduced in Ireland in 2009 which received any degree of scrutiny by members of the Dáil and Seanad were the 47 acts enacted by the Houses of the Oireachtas. This suggests that, taking 2009 as an example, 98% of all laws introduced that year were not subjected to any real parliamentary review or oversight.

Even in the limited circumstances where the Oireachtas has been handed an opportunity to conduct meaningful scrutiny of EU legislation, it has failed miserably, and embarrassingly so when compared to other EU states.

The Lisbon Treaty permits each national parliament eight weeks to make submissions on proposed EU legislation. In response to the 139 pieces of legislation which were released for comment and consideration by member state parliaments in the first two years after Lisbon, the EU received 428 submissions, of which Ireland made only one.

The problems caused by this system of governance are only growing. Of the over 28,000 statutory instruments signed into law by ministers since independence, 7,333 — or 25% of them — were enacted between 2001 and 2010, again without legislative engagement.

According to Labour party whip Emmet Stagg TD, “the scrutiny of statutory instruments simply does not take place at all and this suits the Government”.

“Officials in the departments are particularly fond of skeletal legislation as it allows them to set out the detail of legislation in statutory instruments which will not be examined by the Houses.”

This further strengthens the executive and undermines the role of the legislative branch. Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern readily admitted, however, that “the number of officials in government departments who look at EU legislation is very small”.

Therefore, in the absence of parliamentary oversight, it would appear that ministerial and department officials are not scrutinising the EU legislation either.

It is clear that the elected representatives themselves are worn down by the system — this can be see in their approach to the few statutory instruments in which they can engage in debate. Indeed, Government chief whip Paul Kehoe is on the record as having stated that “even in respect of those statutory instruments which are laid before the houses, I don’t believe that members even read what instruments have been laid.”

Discouraged and disinterested, elected representatives are increasingly sidelined and they regularly play second fiddle to ministerial and bureaucratic power at national and EU level. The ways in which Ireland both creates law and fails to scrutinise EU laws weakens the extent to which citizens and their elected legislators are included in the policy-making process.

Power is in the hands of too few within our democratic system, not the people and those they elected to represent them. It is time that the national democratic deficit was re-balanced and that the democratic system was returned to its rightful owners.

* Mark Daly is a Fianna Fáil senator

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Legislation adopted in 2009

Please see the link below which shows the list of EU regulations adopted in 2009:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/Result.do?typedate=DD&startaaaa=2009&startmm=01&startjj=01&endaaaa=2010&endmm=01&endjj=01&RechType=RECH_date&idRoot=9&refinecode=LEG*T1%3DV111%3BT2%3DV1%3BT3%3DV2&Submit=Search

Please see the link below to the 594 Statutory Instruments introduced by the stroke of a Ministers Pen in 2009:

http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2009/statutory.html

Please see the link below which shows the list of EU directives  adopted in 2009:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/Result.do?typedate=DD&startaaaa=2009&startmm=01&startjj=01&endaaaa=2010&endmm=01&endjj=01&RechType=RECH_date&idRoot=12&refinecode=LEG*T1%3DV112%3BT2%3DV1%3BT3%3DV2&Submit=Search

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