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.
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:
– 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”.
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.
The Irish Times
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has dismissed Fianna Fáil claims that he promised businessman John McNulty the Seanad byelection seat during a meeting at Lissadell House in Co Sligo four months ago.
Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly raised the ongoing controversy in the Seanad during a debate on the arts and culture.
Mr Daly said: “On the 20th June this year, the Taoiseach visited Sligo for the opening of Lissadell House. And during that visit I believe Mr McNulty met him with a delegation and that the issue of the Seanad byelection was discussed.
He asked for confirmation of the meeting and if Mr McNulty “was assured, despite the many torturous interviews that were held and the many people that were lobbying for the job and if at that particular meeting on the 20 June in Sligo, that the Taoiseach promised Mr McNulty this Seanad byelection seat for him”.
But dismissing the claim a spokesman for the Taoiseach said Mr Kenny attended Lissadell House on June 20th, “where he met and shook hands with many of the hundreds of guests in attendance”.
Maire O Halloran