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.

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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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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Irish Language Act Northern Ireland – Daly: ” It’s deplorable that the DUP is rolling back on its commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and St. Andrew’s Agreement.”

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I agree with Senator Conway about the information being provided to Ministers. Mark Twain said that “facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable” but when one does not have the facts, there is nothing one can do about it. While heads should roll, in a modern democracy, the fact that the lists are not accurate means that the HSE has a lot to answer for. That does not mean that the Minister is not the person in charge. The former Minister, Deputy Varadkar, appeared here many times and one would swear that he was a commentator on the health service instead of being the Minister for Health. Nobody can point to any reforms he made when he was Minister for Health.

  The leader of the DUP is also a person who seems to be unable to grasp facts as they apply to the real world. She is not a woman of detail, as we know, because even though she was in charge of the department that promoted and signed off on the renewable energy scheme, she said she did not realise that the devil was in the detail and that, in reality, she was giving away hundreds of billions of pounds to people to literally burn money. She was not very good on facts when she said yesterday that more people in Northern Ireland—–

(Interruptions).

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Paul Coghlan is being very interruptive today and by interrupting, he is delaying the entire process.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I will start again for the benefit—–

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan That is not allowed.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly In respect of the DUP leader’s ability to grasp facts, she does not seem to understand that her department was in charge of signing off on the renewable energy scheme and that she has burned £500 million on this scheme to the point where I am informed by people in Northern Ireland that they are not even burning the pellets they are getting paid to burn. They are actually taking the pellets south and reselling them. That is enterprising and I am sure the DUP would love that type of enterprise. The leader of the DUP also said something yesterday that is not a fact either. She said more people in Northern Ireland speak Polish than speak Irish. That is not true. There are 30,000 Polish speakers and 105,000 people who speak Irish. She did not seem to understand the most important fact of all when she announced the DUP’s policies and said that she did not support an Irish language Act and would not see one implemented. This is part of an international agreement. That is a fact. It is the St. Andrew’s Agreement and it should be implemented. However, the DUP seems to want to roll back on an agreement to which it signed up itself. Ms Foster does not seem to have much of a grasp of the facts. It is deplorable that the DUP is now rolling back on its commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrew’s Agreement.

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Submissions sought for position paper on Irish overseas and Diaspora – Daly

Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on the Irish Overseas and Diaspora and Member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Mark Daly is calling on Irish people, at home and abroad, to contribute their ideas to the Fianna Fáil policy paper on the Diaspora which is currently being revised. Fianna Fail was the first political party to ever produce a policy paper on this issue.
Senator Daly commented: “With everything that is happening across the world, and especially in the United States, Ireland needs a strong stance on issues affecting Irish people, and people of Irish descent.

“Fianna Fáil is committed to ensuring that the voices and opinions of Irish people overseas are heard, and included in our policy positions.

“Issues such as immigration reform in the United States which will affect the 50,000 undocumented Irish currently living there and Brexit will affect us all, but for those in the United States or Britain, they are especially pertinent.

“We want to hear what people feel are the major challenges affecting the Irish diaspora, and what solutions people feel are suitable.

“Submissions can be made until Friday, 24st February by emailing me at Mark.Daly@oireachtas.ie

“I would urge anyone with an interest in, or knowledge of, diaspora issues to get involved,” concluded Daly.

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