Category Archives: Active Citizenship

Active Citizenship means to play an active role in the society in which we live. It is about how we treat others whilst being accepting of differences and remaining conscious of the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion. It is about acknowledging that while we, as citizens, have rights but responsibilities also. By actively participating as citizens, together we can create the society we want – at home in the family, by volunteering in our community and by voting in elections and referendums.

Active Citizenship requires leadership. Therefore, it is important we choose our representatives carefully and those which we trust. Elected representatives must carry out their role in an accountable and open manner. By taking responsibility together for our society is the best way to make Ireland the ideal place where we want to live.

Sarah Moorhead SC Interim Report – Review of the Role and Remuneration of Local Authority Elected Members

20181130 Interim Report – Review of the Role and Remuneration of Local A…


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Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement: North South Implementation Bodies: InterTradeIreland

“I am not sure whether Deputy Breathnach got an answer to his question about EU procurement rules. How will Brexit affect the ability of Northern companies to tender for jobs?”

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Disclosure Tribunal Report Statement

“I thank the Minister for coming to the House to outline the issues addressed in the Charleton report. I will not go into the detail but one point seems to have been lost in this discussion of what happened to Sergeant McCabe, his family and the other whistleblowers. The Minister echoed the words of Othello when he described Sergeant McCabe as having done the State some service. To quote another famous speech, if a man stands for a righteous cause, he is stronger than all of the hosts of error. Sergeant McCabe has stood against all of those “hosts of error”. What we have forgotten, however, is what he was doing when he was whistleblowing. He was taking on a system that was rigging the penalty points system and he was highlighting that assaults were not being properly investigated. As a consequence, people were driving on our roads who should not have been on the road because they were not given the penalty points they deserved. As the Department is well aware, last year more than 60 drivers involved in serious accidents, including some causing death, should not have been on the road.

Let us step back from what happened to Sergeant McCabe and ask what happened to gardaí who fraudulently manipulated the penalty points system, with the result that people died on our roads. What happened to those whose crimes were not properly investigated and who subsequently committed further assaults? Why did the Garda Síochána allow that to happen? What happened to the gardaí who did not investigate those crimes properly and did not ensure our roads were safe because they failed to issue penalty points? We know what befell Sergeant McCabe. In a letter Sergeant McCabe provided to be read out in the Dáil, he stated they had destroyed him, his career and his family.

The Charleton report referred to the astounding inefficiency and inertia of Tusla and stated that the allegations against Sergeant McCabe took on a life of their own. It found that Sergeant McCabe was a good citizen and a good officer.

The question that arises is related to consequences. We know what happened at a high level to the Garda Commissioners and Ministers for Justice and Equality who resigned as a result of the handling of this case. However, at a fundamental level, there have been no consequences for people who engage in the types of activities Sergeant McCabe highlighted and for which he was isolated within An Garda Síochána.

I welcome the initiatives the Minister is taking on reform. However, as a result of the blood transfusion scandal, the Law Reform Commission proposed 13 years ago that a corporate manslaughter Bill be introduced. Deputy O’Callaghan and I, as well as other Members, introduced corporate manslaughter legislation that reflects exactly the proposals made by the Law Reform Commission. It would mean that an official in the Department of Health or a person working for a blood transfusion service who knowingly allowed contaminated blood products to be issued to women, resulting in death, would go to jail. We would all consider this proposal appropriate, yet the Bill has not been passed. Hundreds of women died needlessly, not through human error but because somebody, whose job was to ensure blood products were safe, sent out blood products in the knowledge that they were not safe. Did this person go to jail? No, he did not. Did he die? No, he did not. Did the people he affected die? They most certainly did. Where is the law to stop that happening again? It is sitting in the Department, which does not want section 3 of the Bill enacted. This section provides that people would be held to account if somebody dies. The Minister is far more qualified than I am in the law. If a garda chose not to allow penalty points to appear on a person’s driving record, with the result that the person retained his or her driving licence instead of having it removed, and subsequently that person was responsible for killing someone on the road, should that garda be jailed for corporate manslaughter on the basis that he or she did not do his or her job? The Bill sets a high threshold in that regard, so I am not sure the garda would go to jail.

The reason we are discussing scandals is that there are no consequences for those who do not do their jobs. Sergeant McCabe was trying to do his job as he saw it, and he was correct in what he was doing. However, the system tried to prevent him from doing his job. The people who should have gone to jail and lost their jobs are still members of the Garda Síochána. They are the people who isolated him in his Garda division and felt it was okay to allow penalty points to disappear from the system. They did not investigate serious assaults. The reason people died is that the people who should have investigated certain assaults did not do their job.

We repeatedly hear about systems failure. We expect people to do their job and they should be held accountable when they do not do their jobs. We have not learned the lesson from such a serious and callous episode as that which occurred in the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, as a result of which the Law Reform Commission proposed the introduction of corporate manslaughter legislation. In the Minister’s constituency people knew the maternity services in the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise were not working and chose not to highlight this or intervene. Instead, they allowed the problem to continue, which should have had consequences. Tragedies happen and we understand that. The problem with our system is accountability. When somebody does something wrong, a person can resign and walk away with a pension, if in some disgrace. This will keep happening because there are no consequences for those who do not do their jobs as they should.”

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Seanad Order of Business 26/09/18

We read about the predictions of growth from the ESRI and that it will be near 10%, depending on who is doing the numbers. Yesterday, we had the UN human development index showing that Ireland had jumped from eighth in the world to fourth in terms of health, education and income, which is to be welcomed in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment, health and people’s wages. We also see on the reverse end of that scale, however, homelessness and housing as an ongoing issue. The Government is blaming others rather than itself, and it does not seem to have a plan, or rather it has many plans, because we have seen how many times it has announced them, but it does not have plans that it implements. No one is being held to account for that, although the blame seems to be transferred from the Department down to the local authorities.

We would like to see the real plan and the real figures. The Department continually issues figures but these have been challenged in the media by Dr. Lorcan Sirr and others who show the Government portraying houses being built when often they are just being reconnected to the electricity system having had their electricity turned off. The Department knows this and knows it is giving false figures but we cannot even get it to admit the truth until it is found out by experts.

I would also like to raise the issue of the human tissue Bill, which the Minister for Health has announced again some 13 years after it was first announced. In particular, I want to raise the issue of presumed consent, the idea that every one of us is an organ donor unless we opt out, and that there will be a very expensive system whereby we would opt out if we did not want to be organ donors. This has not worked effectively anywhere else in the world. Mark Murphy, CEO of the Irish Kidney Association, who is an expert in this area, has said time and again that despite the idea of presumed consent, with a register and so on, the family would still be consulted as to whether their loved one would be an organ donor. This means it is not really presumed consent and it is talked of as a soft opt-out. This is all done to distract from the fact the health system is not working properly and that we have so many people on trolleys. I suppose it might provide a brief respite for the Minister.

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Sign language version of Amhrán na bhFiann to be performed at today’s All-Ireland hurling final

The performance will take place in tandem with the Artane Band.

First performance of the ISL of the National Anthem last month

First performance of the ISL of the National Anthem last month

THE FIRST PERFORMANCE of the new Irish Sign Language version of the National Anthem will be performed at today’s All-Ireland hurling final.

The performance will take place in tandem with the Artane Band who will be playing Amhrán na bhFiann before the Galway and Limerick game.

The Irish Sign Language version of the National Anthem was first performed in public last month when a report on protocols surrounding the national anthem was launched by the Seanad Public Consultation Committee.

Source: Mark Daly, who put forward the Irish Sign Language Recognition Bill through the Dáil and Seanad last year, said today’s performance at the All Ireland Hurling Final is a milestone for the 50,000 members of the Irish Deaf community.

“This is a major step in the right direction for the Irish deaf community,” said Daly.

Our National Anthem should be inclusive, not inclusive, and having an ISL version that can be used at public occasions ensures the equal treatment of our fellow citizens who are deaf or hearing impaired.

“For far too long, our deaf community were pushed to the side-lines of major public occasions,” he added, stating that today’s performance of an ISL version of Amhrán na bhFiann “begins to right this wrong”.

“I really do hope that other sporting and public bodies make use of this newly available Irish Sign Language version of Amhrán na bhFiann. Ireland is an inclusive, welcoming and positive country and this weekend’s All Ireland Final will bring that home even more to our deaf citizens,” said Daly.

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