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.

1916 Rising plaque to be first addition to Washington Monument in decades

Ireland to become 17th country with its own representation at the US site
The bronze plaque, which displays the words of the 1916 proclamation, will be added to the Washington Monument. Photograph: iStock

The bronze plaque, which displays the words of the 1916 proclamation, will be added to the Washington Monument. Photograph: iStock

A new plaque honouring the 1916 Rising is to be unveiled on Thursday in Washington as the famous Washington Monument re-opens to the public after a three-year renovation project.

Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief Kevin Boxer Moran and Senator Mark Daly will attend the unveiling, which will also be attended by the US secretary of the interior, David Bernhardt.

The bronze plaque, which displays the words of the 1916 proclamation, was presented to the US National Park Service on behalf of President Michael D Higgins and the people of Ireland.

Ireland is one of the few countries to have its own plaque on the walls of the monument. In total, 192 commemorative stones are displayed in the interior walls, mostly from other US states. Ireland will on Thursday become the 17th country with its own representation at the site. It is the first addition since 1982 when a donation from Alaska was accepted.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Mr Moran said it was an honour to be invited to attend the ceremony, noting that the specially-commissioned plaque recognises the fight for independence in both countries.

“The plaque acknowledges the unique and exceptional links between our two countries and recognises the contribution which many Irish have made, and continue to make, to the United States of America,” he said.

Mr Daly said the idea for the plaque arose during the centenary celebrations for the 1916 rising. In particular, it honours the memory of Thomas Francis Meagher, the Irish revolutionary who designed the Irish tricolour and fought on the Union side in the American Civil War, leading the 69th New York regiment and later becoming governor of Montana.

“It is a huge achievement for Ireland to have its own dedicated plaque, particularly given that it is such a rarity,” he said, noting that it illustrates the continued power of Irish-America.

First Lady Melania Trump and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney are due to participate in a further ceremony on Thursday which will be attended by the Irish delegation, including Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, Dan Mulhall.

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Replica of 1916 Rising Proclamation presented by the President of Ireland installed in Washington Monument

 Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly secured unique permission

Congressman Joe Kennedy III and Senator Mark Daly with the plaque to be places in the Washington Monument

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly and member of the Oireachtas All Party Consultation Group on Commemorations will attend the unveiling of a special plaque unveiling at the US Department of the Interior on Wednesday (18th September).

The bronze plaque includes a replica of the 1916 Rising Proclamation and refers to the creator of the Irish Flag, Thomas F Meagher as the embodiment of the links between the two Republics. Meagher fought in the Irish Rising of 1848 and in the ‘Fighting Irish’ 69th regiment of the Union Army in the American Civil war. The President of Ireland presented the plaque to the United States National Parks Service.

Senator Daly has worked with the Department of the Interior and the US National Parks Service since 2015 and helped secure permission for the plaque, which was finally installed just last week ahead of the grand reopening on Thursday.

“The permission for this plaque was given in 2016 to celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising, but as the Washington Monument has been closed for the last number of years for structural works, this is the first time the plaque will be seen by the public.

“I am delighted to have been invited to the Washington Monument to see the plaque unveiling. This is a great honour for Ireland and shows the strong and enduring friendship between Ireland and the United States.

“Our relationship with the US is one of our most important, it’s commitment to peace and prosperity on this island is invaluable. It’s extremely rare to secure permission for a new plaque – the last time this happened was when Alaska became a State in 1949, and it took until 1982 for that plaque to be installed.

“Ireland is one of only 17 nations to have a plaque in the monument, most of which were installed in the 1800’s when the monument was under construction.

“The Washington Monument contains commemorative and memorial stones received from all 50 States.  The majority of stones were received between 1849 and 1855, and these memorial stones are only accepted in very rare circumstances, such as the admission of a new state to the union or replacement of a previously donated stone.

“The announcement of the permission for the installation of a plaque from Ireland was made by the United States National Park Service on St. Patrick’s Day 2016.

“The White House Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney who has been instrumental in this project will visit the Monument with Senator Daly and Minister Moran on Thursday morning”.

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Senator Daly calls on the Minister for Health to allow information sharing to help Organ Donation

Needless to say, I am disappointed that the Minister of Health is not here to discuss the issues of organ donation and organ donor awareness. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, was also unable to come to take this matter. It is a matter of life and death for some. The specific issue I raised last year has not been advanced by either Minister. I thank Mr. Mark Murphy of the Irish Kidney Association for coming to listen to the response that will be given by the Department of Health, if not the Minister.

On 13 March I asked for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to come to the House in order that we could find out why he had not signed the statutory instrument to allow the HSE access to the driving licence registry to see the names of people who had indicated on their driving licence that they would like to be an organ donor. He cited two reasons on that occasion, one of which was related to the issue of data protection under EU law, while the other was Brexit. He was too busy in dealing with it. In May 2018 we informed him that, according to research conducted by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service, he was able to share the data. The Schedule to the legislation could be amended to allow the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, under section 63 of the Finance Act, to make a regulation to make the database available. When the Minister, Deputy Ross, told us that he was not able to share the information because of EU data protection law, he was not aware that the previous Minister, Deputy Donohoe, had shared data in the driving licence registry with everybody, from car manufacturers to the Health and Safety Authority, the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland, eFlow, a private company, the Road Safety Authority, the National Transport Authority, the National Consumer Agency and the local authorities. People approved by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, commercial services and the office of the provost marshal of the military police have access to it. Tribunals of inquiry also have access to it, as do the Office of Official Assignees in Bankruptcy and the Courts Service, yet the HSE and the national transplant authority do not.

We asked the Minister to come in again and he has not shown up today but he replied on 22 March that it is not a data protection issue and the issue is the Department of Health has not requested that the national organ transplantation unit have access to information from the driver’s licence registry. A year ago, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said that he would ask the HSE to give me its views and see if progress can be made in a constructive way. Has the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport engaged with the HSE on this issue and when will he be asked to sign the statutory instrument that will allow the HSE to have access to the drivers licence registry so that people will know if their loved ones want to be an organ donor?

It should be borne in mind that figures supplied by the Irish Kidney Association to me show that when asked by a professional in organ co-ordination and transplantation if they would consider donating their loved one’s organs, the figure internationally is approximately 52%. When supplied with information that their loved one wanted to be an organ donor, the organ donor rate in families increases to 92%. The only place we currently have a registry is in National Driver Licence Service. I have outlined all of the other organisations that have access to this registry. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is clearly blaming the Minister for Health and his Department by saying that they quite simply have not asked for this information.

Will the Department of Health ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport for this information in order that it will be available to healthcare professionals, organ donor co-ordinators and the families of the donors so that they can make an informed decision when considering to donate organs?

I thank the Senator for raising this issue and for the opportunity to speak on it in the Seanad on behalf of my colleague, Minister for Health.

It is appropriate that we are debating this issue during Organ Donor Awareness Week.

Organ donation is among the most selfless acts we can bestow on one another. The improvement in the quality of life for organ recipients and their families cannot be overstated. We have a duty to do everything we can to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from organ donation. Work is continuing to finalise the general scheme of a Human Tissue Bill and to deliver on the commitment in the programme for Government to provide for a soft opt-out system of consent for organ donation and an associated register.

The aim is to make organ donation the norm in Ireland in situations where the opportunity arises. Under the soft opt-out system, consent will be deemed, unless the person has, while alive, registered their wish not to become an organ donor after death. However, it is proposed that even though consent is deemed, the next-of-kin will always be consulted prior to removing any organ. If the next-of-kin objects to the organ donation, the donation will not proceed. The best way to ensure that a person’s wish to become an organ donor is realised is to have a conversation with one’s family and to make one’s wishes clearly known to them.

The proposed opt-out register for organ donation will create a clear and easily communicable choice to individuals to either opt-out of deceased organ donation entirely, or to allow deemed consent to apply. Signing up to the opt-out register will be a definitive expression of the person’s wish not to become an organ donor after death.

The Senator’s proposal to share code 115 on a driver’s licence in respect of organ donation with the HSE’s Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland would not guarantee that the person’s wish to become an organ donor would be carried out. This is also the situation in regard to organ donor cards. The decision to donate organs in the case of a deceased person rests with the next of kin. Health service personnel will not proceed to transplant organs without the permission of family members, irrespective of whether the deceased person carried an organ donor card or had ticked code 115 on their driving licence.

Furthermore, due to the need for medical practitioners to be informed about the medical history of the potential donor to ensure the safety of the recipient, the co-operation of the family will always be required as part of a safe organ donation process. An opt-out register will make organ donation the clear default option, and signal to citizens the move towards organ donation being the norm. The general scheme of a human tissue Bill is being finalised at present and will be submitted to Government shortly.

I do not want the Minister of State to take this personally, if that is not the worst answer I have heard to a question put in the Seanad, it is fairly close.

Some 1 million people in this country have registered that they would like to be to be organ donors. That information is available in the Government system. This will increase organ donor rates from 52% to 92% if the family are informed that their loved one wants to be an organ donor. The Government is saying it will not do this and make this information available to families, the health services or doctors and nurses so that families can be assisted in making one of the most traumatic decisions that anyone can ever make. When people sign up for a driver’s licence and indicate that they want to be an organ donor, they want to share that information.

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is saying that it is available to the HSE if it asks. What the HSE, the Department of Health, the Minister for Health and the Minister of State are saying is that they do not want this information to be available to the doctors, nurses and the families.

As I stated earlier, this is not the worst reply I have ever heard in this House but it is pretty close. People are dying as they await organ transplants. It is costing the State hundreds of millions of euro in dialysis and so on with people waiting in the system and taking up beds. That is not the reason we should do it; the reason we should do it is it would save lives. If making that information available saved one life, would it not be worth doing? Yet the Department of Health is saying that it does not want this.

Has the Senator a question?

This is not the worst reply but it is pretty close.

I have no interest in engaging with the Senator in the politics that he wants to engage in on this issue. I want to distance myself from his interpretation of what I have said in suggesting that the Minister, the Department or I do not want this to proceed. He knows this is only playing politics with the issue and if he wants to do that, that is fine.

Let me be clear, I am not playing politics. This is not party politics or political—–

The Senator had an opportunity to put a supplementary question and he is being disorderly now.

—–but is about people who are waiting for organs. The Minister of State is just reading a reply—–

The Senator knows that he is not allowed to interrupt and he will have to find another way of pursuing this further. He is out of order.

—–that is prepared by the Department and I am just saying it is a terrible reply. Is that going to help somebody waiting on the transplant list?

I ask the Senator to please resume his seat and not to abuse this House.

I am not abusing this House. That reply is one of the worst I have ever heard.

I ask the Senator to resume his seat and obey the Chair. That is his opinion and he is entitled to it. I call the Minister of State again, without interruption.

The Government is totally committed to increasing organ donation and transplantation rates to the benefit the patients and their families. We welcome the Senator’s support for our efforts to increase the rate of deceased organ donation. Deceased organ donation, however, cannot proceed without the support of next of kin, as I outlined in my previous contribution, even in circumstances where the deceased person had an organ donor card or had indicated his or her wish to be an organ donor on his or her driver’s licence. The Minister’s proposals to introduce a soft opt-out system of consent for deceased organ donation are one of a number of measures being taken to increase transplant rates. The Department continues to work with HSE’s Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland, intensive care units, ICUs, and the transplant hotels, which are Beaumont, the Mater and St. Vincent’s hospitals, in building upon the achievements of recent years.

Improvements to our organ procurement service will continue to be achieved through improved infrastructure in ICUs, a more robust organ retrieval service, and through transplant centres achieving high conversion rates from opportunities that are presented. The legislation will be accompanied by a publicity campaign which will aim to ensure that individuals understand the opt-out system and to encourage individuals to have the conversation and make their wishes on organ donation known to their next of kin and to other family members.

Finally, I encourage everybody to consider becoming an organ donor and to make their loved ones aware of their intention in this regard.

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Work deaths Bill ‘needs action’


The Corporate Manslaughter Bill, which has been making its way through the Oireachtas since 2016, is designed to plug a hole in the Irish statue books in relation to corporate accountability.

Fianna Fáil’s Mark Daly has insisted the Bill must be progressed and he raised the issue of corporate manslaughter in the Seanad as the jury in the Hillsborough trial retired to consider verdict.

‘This is a timely reminder of the need for corporate responsibility as we have seen many times before, unfortunately, through tragedy. This Bill is about addressing the current gap which exists within Irish law that fails to hold corporate entities and State agencies criminally liable for unlawful deaths that occurred as a result of their actions or negligence,’ said the senator.

A 2005 Law Reform Commission Report identified a gap in Irish legislation in relation to corporate manslaughter and recommended a similar Bill, the Criminal Justice (Corporate Manslaughter) Bill be introduced. But it was never progressed.

Senator Daly said the Bill currently before the Oireachtas will have the ability to hold corporations to account even in situations where no one individual is found to be responsible.

He added: ‘The Bill will also allow for prison terms to be handed down if a court deems it necessary. I believe that the real impact of passing this legislation will be felt by a change in outlook and approach among senior management.

‘If they can be held accountable for their actions or their failure to act, it may cause them to think and care more about their actions.’ In January the son of a victim of 1979’s Whiddy Island disaster accused the State of treating Irish workers as second-class citizens by failing to pass legislation on corporate manslaughter.

Attending a Mass to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the oil tanker fire disaster, in which 51 people died, Michael Kingston said that other people should not have to go through what his family had suffered.

The Government press office has not yet replied to a request for comment.

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Speech: Senator Daly calls on the Government to allow progress on the Corporate Manslaughter Bill

In the coming weeks, Fianna Fáil will propose an amendment to the Order of Business in respect of the issue of corporate manslaughter. The relevant legislation was first proposed by the Law Reform Commission in 2005 as a result of the hepatitis C scandal in which blood products which were contaminated with hepatitis C were knowingly distributed to women. Thousands of women were infected and hundreds died as a result, yet no one went to prison. The man who knew the blood products were contaminated did nothing about it. I raise this issue again because we have brought our Bill forward again. The officials in the Department of Justice and Equality have refused to meet me, despite the Minister’s pledges that they would do so. They have concerns about the Bill. The part they are concerned about is that under which people would actually go to prison as a result of corporate manslaughter. In the North, there were arrests over incidents at a nightclub. We have seen court action resulting from the Hillsborough tragedy in which nearly 100 Liverpool fans died as a result of corporate neglect on the part of the police. The person in charge is facing prosecution and possible conviction. If the hepatitis C scandal happened again, nobody would go to prison because the Government has refused to allow the legislation to move forward. I wish to ask the Leader why that is the case. I suspect it is because many senior officials in a lot of Departments are afraid that at some stage they might face prosecution under the legislation as a result of their inaction.

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