Category Archives: Transparency in Government & E.U. Scrutiny

Senator Daly has long been an advocate of repairing the Democratic Deficit Locally, Nationally and Internationally.

With a view to restoring the on-going lack of Democracy on a national level he is advocating that the Senate adopt new roles including a review of all proposed EU Legislation and scrutiny of Statutory Instruments prior to them being signed into law .

Corporate Manslaughter Bill passes to Committee Stage

Fianna Fáil Senator, Mark Daly has led a debate on the 26th of October a debate in the Seanad on the Corporate Manslaughter Bill which he introduced and saw the passing of the Bill to Committee Stage.

The Corporate Manslaughter Bill addresses the gap in Irish law where there is an absence of clear legislation to hold corporate entities and state agencies criminally liable for unlawful deaths that occurred as a result of their actions or negligence.

At present, there is no clear legal recourse following such a death and this bill will ensure that this gap is filled with robust, clear-cut legislation.

Corporate Manslaughter (No. 2) Bill 2016: Second Stage

“I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

  I thank the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality for coming to the House today. If one was to dedicate this Bill to anyone it would be to the 1,600 people who contracted hepatitis C as a result of the actions and inaction of the blood transfusion service.

  In 2005 the Law Reform Commission identified a serious gap in Irish legislation in terms of holding entities, both incorporated and otherwise, to account in situations where management failed. In some cases, it would be impossible to secure a conviction because of the legislative gap. While it is theoretically possible for a corporate entity to be prosecuted, the Law Reform Commission identified two serious deficiencies in securing a conviction. First, in order to initiate a prosecution, it was necessary to establish that a senior manager within the entity had the necessary criminal responsibility or guilty mind required under current legislation. Second, the commission also observed that the law was ambiguous and would fall foul of legal principle.

  Section 2 of this Bill means that a corporation could be convicted of corporate manslaughter if found guilty of gross negligence, where no one individual within the organisation was said to have responsibility. There are a number of cases where that happened in Ireland although the most famous such case is that of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster between England and Holland. This Bill will provide the necessary mechanism to ensure that corporate entities are held to account. It will provide an avenue to justice for the families of the victims of corporate manslaughter. It will re-balance the current legislation in favour of workers, customers, the public and the citizens. In reality, this is about providing a game changer in corporate culture and ensuring that management understands it is liable for persons in its care. We want to create a deterrent effect whereby senior managers are aware that they could go to jail for up to 12 years. Corporations will no longer be able to evade their responsibilities by rotating managers.

  As the Minister will be aware, the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern, received approval from the Government of the day to put forward a criminal justice (corporate manslaughter) Bill in 2010. A report was prepared on that Bill but it has not yet been published. Unfortunately, it never progressed. Fianna Fáil is willing to accept amendments to this Bill on Committee Stage, which will begin in ten weeks. I know there probably will be a call for pre-legislative scrutiny but if anyone claims he or she can do better than the Law Reform Commission on pre-legislative scrutiny, I would beg to differ. We want to produce the best Bill possible and we want to provide on this side of the Border what is available on the other side, namely, adequate corporate manslaughter legislation. The UK legislation was proposed under a Labour Government and pushed by the trade union movement. When people hear the term “corporate entities”, they think of large private and public companies but we are also talking about State agencies, as in the case of the blood transfusion service.

  The tragedy of the gap in our legislation is such that when prosecution cases relating to the blood transfusion service were under way, the individuals who should have but did not act when contaminated blood products were given to people could only be prosecuted under the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, a section of which refers to deliberately administering a noxious substance. That was the best the Director of Public Prosecutions could come up with in terms of prosecution but even that failed because of delays and serious failings within the aforementioned Act. That legislation did not countenance that a State agency would deliberately and knowingly contaminate 1,600 women with blood products it was aware were deficient.

  I am aware of a situation relating to the Coast Guard service in County Kerry. Senior management in Dublin was aware that the communications equipment being used was liable to catastrophic failure at any moment. The Coast Guard service co-ordinates rescue operations involving the Coast Guard helicopter service, lifeboats and ships in distress. Management had been informed by Motorola that the equipment being used, which dated back to the 1960s, was liable to fail catastrophically at any moment. Mid-rescue, it could simply stop functioning but management did nothing. In a rescue situation, if communication fails, lives could be lost. Despite being told that, senior management refused to seek new equipment because it wanted to close down the coastguard station at Valentia and move operations to Dublin.  They wanted to keep highlighting the fact that the equipment was out of date. Their concern was more about their own requirements of closing Coast Guard stations, at Malin and Valentia in this case, rather than the lives of the people involved. However, if corporate manslaughter legislation was enacted and those in senior management knew they could go to jail in the event of lives being lost because communications equipment failed and they knew about it, I imagine there could be a cultural shift. This deterrent factor that I am seeking to have put into law, as is the case in other jurisdictions, would bring to mind the new reality for those in areas of responsibility and those responsible for people’s lives. These people should have the best interests of the citizen at heart.

  Tragically, in the case of the blood transfusion service, the Coast Guard in Kerry and in the case of CIE following the Buttevant rail disaster, no one could attribute blame to one individual. This is another important aspect of the legislation. There was an entire cultural problem within these organisations.

  There are remedies other than sending an individual or a number of people to jail. Under this legislation, the corporation, entity or State body would have a report undertaken on its activities as a result of a court action being brought against it. The cultural shift required as a result of this report would then be put in place. If it were not to be put in place, then the courts could seek further redress. The courts could also impose sentences that do not involve jail terms, for example, community service. There are other possibilities as well.

  Fundamentally, this law should be put in place for the 1,600 victims of our blood transfusion service. Tragically, that is the worst case I can make, but it is not the only case in which State agencies or bodies failed to act in the best interests of the people. The idea of having gross negligence on the Statute Book would allow the Director of Public Prosecutions and others to pursue individuals. It would also ensure individuals who, for whatever reason, do not have the best interests of the citizens at heart might at the least have their own interests at heart and might think twice before forgetting to recall blood products or not bothering to recall blood products they know to be contaminated.

  In the case of the Stardust nightclub fire, there is nothing to say this law would have secured a prosecution. However, it is certain that the current law would definitely not allow prosecutions in such cases. Health and safety legislation predominately addresses issues of gross negligence in the workplace. Outside of that there is little available when it comes to customers, women in hospitals expecting the State to look after their best interests or people who are on the high seas off our coasts who expect modern communications equipment to deal with the crisis at hand.

  The extraordinary thing was how the Coast Guard was allowed to be run down to the point it reached. This happened despite the then Minister, Noel Dempsey, instructing senior management to buy new equipment. The new equipment was purchased and put into a warehouse in Blanchardstown for two years until the warranty ran out. We then waited for the next Minister to come in and produce a report on why the stations at Malin and Valentia should be shut down. Those involved hoped that the Minister would agree with the report and that the new equipment would be installed in Dublin. All the while, antiquated Motorola equipment was in use. It was so bad that the operators of the consoles used to have tweezers to pull the buttons out of the consoles after pressing them. That was how old they were and how liable they were to catastrophic failure at any moment. Senior management were given what was known by Motorola as a death certificate. They had all that equipment and information and they did nothing. They sat on it for ten years. What was the likelihood that someone would die as a result of such behaviour by senior management?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It was very high.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly It was extraordinary high. Let us suppose I was able to inform those in senior management that, under corporate manslaughter legislation, if that equipment failed, they would go to jail. I imagine that while such people would not have the interests of the people on the high seas in their hearts, they most certainly would have the interests of not going to jail in their hearts. This is the cultural shift and the deterrent factor we are looking for.

  I sincerely hope no one ever gets convicted under this legislation. I wish there was no need for it. However, as we know from the hepatitis C scandal and others, it is required. If, in future, families lose loved ones, there will be a remedy to ensure the people who acted irresponsibly, who were grossly negligent or who failed to act would go to jail, as they should.”


Comments Off on Corporate Manslaughter Bill passes to Committee Stage

Filed under Active Citizenship, Corporate Manslaughter Bill

Daly to lead debate & call for vote on Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2016

Bill will allow corporate entities & state agencies to be held liable for unlawful deaths


Fianna Fáil Senator, Mark Daly will lead a debate in the Seanad tomorrow (26th October) on the Corporate Manslaughter Bill which he introduced.

The Corporate Manslaughter Bill addresses the gap in Irish law where there is an absence of clear legislation to hold corporate entities and state agencies criminally liable for unlawful deaths that occurred as a result of their actions or negligence.

“At present, there is no clear legal recourse following such a death. A 2005 Law Reform Commission Reform, on which this bill is based, identified this gap in Irish legislation, and this bill will ensure that this gap is filled with robust, clear-cut legislation.”

“The bill being debated and voted on will bring Irish legislation into line with similar, progressive laws in other countries.”

“The uniqueness of this legislation is to be found in Section 2 where a corporation can be convicted if found guilty of gross negligence even if no one person in the corporation can be said to be responsible. The bill will also allow for prison term to be handed down if a court deems it necessary”

“I am confident that this bill will help balance the law in favour of workers, customers and the public, in general.”

“The ultimate outcome of this legislation will be to cause a shift in outlook and approach among senior management within corporations in Ireland. Now that they can be held liable, as an entity or individually, I am hopeful that this bill will  cause cultural changes and ensure a deterrent effect to reduce deaths,” concluded Daly.

Comments Off on Daly to lead debate & call for vote on Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2016

Filed under Active Citizenship, Corporate Manslaughter Bill

Order of Business Speech 11th June 2015

Last Thursday I opened the Order of Business at the Seanad speaking about the opportunity that my NAMA and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Transparency Bill would have provided for transparency. In 2012, I tried to pass this bill but my colleagues opposite had opposed it on the grounds of “what could go wrong?”. To those whom opposed it, I hate to say I told you so but I think I did.

I then spoke about Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen and teenager whom has been detained for two years in an Egyptian prison. He has now gone on hunger strike and finds himself in horrendous conditions. He wakes up to the screams of people being tortured and wonders is he going to be next. The Government needs to act urgently to do more in securing Ibrahim’s release. I have proposed that the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee should go visit him and members of the Seanad should also join.

I also raised the issue of the Government’s policy on the closure of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, which cared for 25 elderly high dependency residents with mental health conditions including advanced Alzheimer’s. Dr Kelly, former chairman of the Western Health Board and medical officer at Castlerea Prison, said the Government’s policy was “tantamount to elder abuse”.

A motion will be put to vote this Tuesday in the relation to this appalling policy on the closure of Rosalie Unit in Castlerea.

Watch my lead off speech on the Order of Business here:

Comments Off on Order of Business Speech 11th June 2015

Filed under NAMA and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Transparency Bill 2011

Daly demands answers over British tapping claims

Foreign Affairs
– Reports suggest Irish cables and phone calls are being bugged by British Intelligence Agency – 

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly and the party’s spokesperson on communications in the senate is calling on the Justice Minister to explain why foreign law enforcement agencies, including the British spy organisation General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) are being allowed access to Irish phone-calls and emails.  The interception of underground cables was reported last weekend, and it’s now emerged that Minister Frances Fitzgerald has signed in a law which will allow this practice to continue.

Senator Daly commented, “I find it shocking that the Government would stand over the tapping of Irish data by foreign spy agencies.  What’s worse is the fact that this practice has been commonplace for years and nothing has been done to stop it.  The scale of this tapping is unknown, but it is possible that all Irish internet activity could have been monitored via these underwater cables.

“The details of this mass monitoring came to the fore last week following the publication of documents from US whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and raise serious questions about what the Irish Government knew about the bugging.  Minister Fitzgerald has remained silent on the issue despite the revelations making national and international headlines.

“The Government has been extremely secretive in its handling of this controversy; and has now enacted a law to legitimise this surveillance. Minister Fitzgerald signed the relevant section of the 2008 Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act into law at the end of November, almost keeping it under the radar, until the release of the Snowden files, which brought it to the public’s attention last week.  Despite the subsequent media attention, the Minister has remained stony silent.

“This new legislation gives extended powers to Governments to pressure telecommunications companies into allowing them access to information and threatens them with “in-camera” private court hearings should they fail to comply.  This is an extremely worrying development, and could leave personal and business data like text messages, emails, voice messages and phone calls open to exploitation.

“Minister Fitzgerald must clarify the terms of this legislation and give assurances that no monitoring will be allowed unless it is part of sanctioned criminal investigations”. 

Comments Off on Daly demands answers over British tapping claims

Filed under Britain, Transparency in Government & E.U. Scrutiny

Defamation Bill 2014

Defamation Bill

Senator Mark Daly:  I wish to thank the Minister of State for his contribution. I would also like to thank Senators Crown and Barrett, and especially Mr. Shane Conneely, for their work on this important legislation, which relates to the awesome and overwhelming power of the State to silence people who have information and wish to criticise the State. The Minister for Health spoke yesterday about the ambulance service. I have had meetings with paramedics who raised concerns with me many months ago. They cannot simply come forward and give the powerful testimony of what they have seen and what they know is wrong with the system, which is a matter of life or death to those who will need their services.

Our protection of whistleblowers has been poor. In 2002 the Irish Bank Officials Association, IBOA, asked for whistleblower legislation to protect people in the financial services industry. The reply from the State, the civil servants, who guard that famous building where all our legislation originates – which is not this building because more often than not it comes from the civil servants – was that we need a more comprehensive Bill. It is not enough for the financial services to have whistleblower protection. We must have it for everybody. If that had been in place between 2005 and 2008 would people have come forward to say the place is going to explode and Anglo Irish is a shell of a company? Maybe they would. The civil servant who raised it in the Department of Finance was ostracised and had no protection. Those who criticised it were vilified. The power of the State against the individual is awesome and overwhelming.

The case of Louise O’Keeffe is connected to this. She took on the State and the State informed her and everybody else when she was defeated in the High Court that it would clean her out, for what she had done. When the Supreme Court gave its ruling the State wrote to all those who had taken cases against it saying their cases were exactly the same as hers and that they would lose as she did, and would lose their houses. Many backed down. She took it to the European Court which thankfully reversed the decision of the Supreme Court. The State wrote again to all those people and told them this time that their cases were different from hers. That is the awesome power of the State against the individual. At every opportunity we must take the power from the State and give it to the individual.

Senator Crown is quite clear about the defamation being limited to €1 but it does not mean that there cannot be special damages. If somebody makes reckless allegations for example that the electricity from the ESB causes cancer but electricity from another supplier does not, the ESB can take an action and be awarded only €1 under this legislation but special damages can be awarded. It offers protection to the State body but also guards against reckless behaviour by citizens.

We want to encourage the citizens in a country where there is little courage and little support for whistleblowers. A person would want to be very brave to come forward against the State because of its awesome and overwhelming power. As Senator Barrett pointed out, not only does it have overwhelming power but it can use all its resources, financial and other, against the individual. In a country that has suffered for so long because of the silence of those who knew better, and knew much more than they were ever willing to tell, people must be encouraged in every way possible to bring forward what they know and tell it to the public and the press. If those paramedics spoke on radio and television and said it was a fact the whistleblower legislation might protect them from being absolutely destroyed by their management. I know many who would come forward if they did not feel the overwhelming power of the State to destroy them and take everything they have. If the Government gave them every possible protection they would speak out. Speaking out is vital. It has not happened enough. The financial crash happened and the child abuse issue went on for so long because those who knew did not have the courage and were not given the protection, I do not know in which order. I often feel they did not have the courage but the protection was not there either. We have to rebalance and overbalance it. The power rests with the State. It must rest with the citizen.

Comments Off on Defamation Bill 2014

Filed under Transparency in Government & E.U. Scrutiny