No Catholics or bastards please, we’re British
Villager despises royalty, as anyone who believes in equality, merit or good taste, must. Interesting though that new-born Prince whatsit will come in fifth in line to the “throne”. Time was the new “Prince” would have been advanced to it over his older sister (Princess whatsit), as a male. The Bill of Rights 1689 and the act of settlement 1701, restrict succession to the legitimate Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover, of which there are over 5000, who are in “communion with the Church of England”. Spouses of Roman Catholics were disqualified from 1689 until the law was amended in 2015. The succession to the Crown Act 2013 leaves succession to the Crown no longer dependent on gender for lucky heirs born after 28 october 2011.
With such incremental progress it will only be a few aeons now before the monarchy passes for democratic.
23 years ago Vincent Browne got €90,000 in a private settlement with the state because the Garda tapped his phone over an eight-year period in part believing he was talking to IRA leaders for Magill Magazine. a decade earlier journalists Geraldine Kennedy and Bruce arnold were awarded £20,000 in the high court after their phones were tapped for a short period, for absolutely no reason. So how much will the around 200 lucky victims of Leslie Buckley’s version of phone-tapping – data breach – collect? INM has a cash pile of €90m but a stock-market value of only €110.9 million valuing INM in effect at less than €20 million, plus the cash. The problem is that 200 complaints of data breaches could easily hoover up most of that sum.
O’Brien has spent €500m building up his stake, partly to show the O’Reilly family what good management looked like and er partly to boost his popularity, but his holding is now worth only €33m and shares are down 40% over the last year. This is an investment even worse, though not nearly as predictably so, as one in Village Magazine over the last decade.
STabbing the competition
On 22 april The Sunday Times (Irish edition) unkindly editorialised that the INM group was leaking selective extracts from the 240-page affidavit of the ODCE on which it has grounded its application for the appointment of high court inspectors who would examine various allegations against the media group and its former chairman, leslie Buckley. In particular, The Sunday Times claimed that INM was strangely silent on the allegations leaked from the affidavit that the largest shareholder, Denis O’Brien, had access to sensitive commercial information, courtesy of communications minister, Denis Naughten, before other shareholders. But ironically The Sunday Times is part of the Rupert Murdoch stable, news International, which was forced to close down its News of the World brand in 2011 in the light of damning revelations that some of its senior editorial staff had condoned the widespread tapping of phones and other criminal offences.
At one point former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, soon after his inelegant departure from office in 2008 amid evidence of financial wrongdoing, graced a TV advertisement for the News of the World from inside a kitchen cupboard, his most ignominious television appearance until the recent Tim Sebastian interview. The Sunday Times was famously less than wholehearted in pursuing the politician for failing to account for over £200,000 unexplained in various bank accounts while he was Minister for Finance in the 1980s. ahern cultivated Murdoch whose sky division famously obtained rights to cover the Ryder cup in Ireland under Bertie’s premiership.
Equally intriguing is the insistence by O’Brien that the leaks to INM from the affidavit came from the ODCE rather than from the copy provided to the newspaper organisation in which he is the largest, though – significantly – non-controlling, shareholder.
The leaks came from people close to the non- O’Brien wing of INM.
Radio Caroline ended party early
Chris Donoghue, Niall O’Connor and Ed Carty have joined the ranks of independent journalists who now
advise government. Government Press advisor Nick Miller once toiled for regional titles such as the Kerryman, Tullamore Tribune and Evening Echo.
Now the one-time series producer of RTÉ’s ‘The Sunday Game’, and regular voice of ‘It says In The Papers’
on ‘Morning Ireland’, Caroline Murphy, has become press advisor to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan. She is of course married to Sean O’Rourke, presenter of RTÉ Radio 1’s flagship current affairs programme, the ‘Today show’. The formidable Murphy described some years ago to the Irish Times how she fell for the uncontroversial presenter: “We met around 1983, when I had a singles BBQ in a house I’d bought in Killiney: everyone invited had to bring a friend of the same sex and Fintan Drury (later chairman of the RTÉ authority who resigned because of a conflict of interest over rights to cover the Ryder cup) brought Seán. He was still there with Fintan at 2am when I threw them out – Seán was shocked. I couldn’t believe anyone would think it wasn’t my right to say the party’s over”.
Murphy told the Irish Independent her work at the national broadcaster has been “marginal” in recent years.
Cosying up to NATO is now de rigueur inside ‘modern’ Fine Gael. Four of the party’s MEPs, Seán Kelly, Brian Hayes, Deirdre Clune and Máiread McGuinness, advocate a policy which would see us dilute neutrality by falling in line with deepening EU military co-operation. In a statement issued to accompany the launch of a discussion paper ‘Ireland and the EU: Defending our common european home’, by Brian Hayes on 9 March, the MEPs stated, “We want to make it clear that we do not support the creation of an EU army. However, Ireland can do so much more in collaboration with our EU partners in the area of security and defence”.
These MEPs have not gone off on a frolic of their own volition. This is now FG and Varadkar’s euro-military policy. Ironically, the Taoiseach is known to disdain – if not despise – his predecessor, the dreaded social democrat, Dr Garret FitzGerald, and nearly everything he stood for. Yet FitzGerald was a believer in Ireland joining NATO. The way things are advancing on the euro-military front, Varadkar may yet follow suit.
And this is an EU that very controversially appears not to recognise the necessity for compliance with international law and the need to obtain UN sanction for military action.
In a statement on the Syrian bombings by Britain, France and the US, the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, reiterated the union’s condemnation of “the repeated use of chemical weapons” by the Syrian regime and said that the union “is supportive of all efforts aimed at the prevention of the use of chemical weapons.
All efforts? Has the EU abandoned all pretence of a role as a significant moral arbiter of international law?
Wriggly and opportunistic post-Brexit UK will aim to trade into the EU with lower environmental, labour and consumer affairs standards, and accordingly lower costs.
The only time Villager sees this issue having been addressed was in a recent talk by Michel Barnier, EU Brexit negotiator, to environmentalists. He said the UK “should” continue to observe EU environmental standards.
The agreement on the future relationship with the UK should include a non-regression clause”, Barnier told a Green 10 meeting at the european Parliament in Brussels on 10 April. However, it is surely unlikely the UK would sign up to ‘new’ commitments not previously mentioned in negotiations, especially if it is suggested the abhorrent European court of Justice would police them.
And in a world of Trump, Brexit and political extremism in Eastern Europe “should” will have very little to do with what actually happens.
Meanwhile Amber Rudd, the British Home Secretary, has anyway refused to rule out staying in the customs union after Brexit and suggested it was still a matter for cabinet discussion. Her statement drew vicious antagonism from Tory Backbenchers and a threat from the DUP to leave government unless the UK keeps its foot on the pedal.
Theresa May has repeatedly insisted that Britain will not be in any form of customs union after Brexit so that the UK is free to strike trade deals with the rest of the world.
Villager still predicts the UK won’t leave the EU or, if it does, that it will soon skulk back.
The agri-food sector continues its battle with environmental regulatory compliance issues, the latest list of worst offenders from the environmental Protection agency (ePa) shows.
The National Priority Sites List for October 2017 to March 2018 lists seven offending Irish industrial facilities, representing less than one per cent of industrial sites licensed by the EPA yet attracting over a quarter of complaints and 13 per cent of open compliance investigation files.
Four of the sites are in the agri-food sector, which has constituted over half of offenders in previous lists.
Those named-and-shamed include Aurivo Dairy Ingredients Limited, County Roscommon, Lacpatrick Dairies Limited, County Monaghan, Rosderra Irish Meats Group, County Offaly and Arrow Group, County Kildare.
Wild councillors and geese
Dublin City Council convened a special meeting on 24 april at which councillors have passed a motion to seek legal advice on whether there are grounds to judicially review the recent decision by an Bord Pleanála to permit a 500-unit residential development in Raheny, adjoining St Anne’s Park, for developer Pat Crean’s Marlet Property Group.
The Raheny site is one of the most important inland winter feeding sites for Dublin Bay’s protected Brent Geese.
Interestingly, just before an Bord Pleanála issued its decision, Dublin City Council refused a much lower intensity development for sports facilities on an immediately adjacent piece of land, solely on grounds of the significant impacts on Brent Geese. Given that Dublin City Council recommended to an Bord Pleanála that it should also refuse the large-scale residential development on the same grounds of impacts to Brent Geese (as well as on the land zoning), it is hard to see how the integrity of the planning process has been upheld.
Paddy Jackson has applied for legal costs after his Belfast rape acquittal. Next he will be billing for his laundry.
Not that Jacko and the boys deserve sympathy but they were found “not guilty” and the Irish Times report that they had been “not found guilty” was disgraceful.
Uniquely among maligned whistleblowers, Sergeant Maurice Mccabe may receive a substantial windfall. according to the courtsdesk.com website, McCabe has issued proceedings against The Irish Times and Midlands Radio Group.
In December he settled a lawsuit over comments made by clown solicitor Gerald Kean on the Marian Finucane radio show in 2014, for around €180,000.
Kean, a celebrity, incorrectly said two Garda whistleblowers who helped expose widespread malpractice in the wiping of penalty points did not co-operate with an internal Garda investigation headed by then assistant commissioner John O’Mahoney. Kean claims, on the eve of his radio appearance, he took it upon himself to phone the Garda, and spoke to the then Garda commissioner, asking whether the commissioner or McCabe was right: and the commissioner said the commissioner was right.
Lucky this naive and manipulable guy doesn’t have anything to do with rights, defamation or the law or the media. Oh, wait: he’s a solicitor, and media commentator.
McCabe also has another action against RTÉ in which Alan Shatter is also named as a defendant.
Last year, McCabe and his family issued proceedings against the HSE and Tusla seeking damages over the creation of a file containing a false sexual abuse allegation against him.
He also has a High Court action against former Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
The Disclosures Tribunal is investigating allegations a smear campaign against the sergeant was orchestrated at the highest levels of the force.
Throwing the baths away with the bay
The €10m redevelopment of Dún Laoghaire’s dilapidated Victorian baths is about to begin with a completion date of spring 2020.
The project will include the retention of the existing baths building and the development of a new pedestrian walkway between the walkway at Newtownsmith and the rear of the east pier. The site will not include a public swimming facility. Proposed works include studio space for artists, an art gallery, a café and public toilet facilities, demolition and clearance of all other derelict structures on the site. In 2010 proposals were put to the council for a swimming pool, cafe, public viewing area and the walkway around the Baths Previous schemes had provided for high-rise apartment blocks and reconstruction of the entire seafront.
Monteco holdings will “imminently” demolish the Ormond hotel right next door to the Village office at 6 Ormond Quay. A row is brewing with Village publisher, Michael Smith, who has concerns about compliance with the terms of the planning permission regarding treatment of No 6, and the national monuments acts, since the house dates from the time of James II. Entertainingly too the hotel developer, a company controlled by QPR chairman, Tony Fernandes, represented by Goodbody solicitors, repeatedly claims that it owns a square metre that goes all the way up No 6,of which it has been apart since…1686.
Tyring for Limerick
Elected Councillors from Limerick have unanimously passed a motion opposing an Bord Pleanala’s move to grant permission to Irish Cement’s controversial €10m plans to burn used tyres and other alternative fuels in Mungret.
When that decision was appealed to an Bord Pleanála the highlight of the four-day hearing was when codes in Irish Cement’s Environmental Impact statement were decrypted to reveal a Gothic-sounding cocktail of toxic materials on their “alternative fuels” list. These included “animal tissue waste” and “red mud from alumina production”.
At the end of the hearing Dermot Flanagan SC, representing Limerick Council, admitted that, when the decision was made by the Council, there had been a deficit of technical information.
heroes and antiheroes in Twitterland
Nobody is more loathed on Irish social media than Denis O’Brien or more celebrated than Maurice McCabe. Social medialand alive with conspiracy theories about how certain tweets about the Disclosures Tribunal from Broadsheet.ie, the king of digital chic, do not show up in the #DisclosuresTribunal hashtag.
The head of Twitter Europe, Sinead McSweeney, who once worked for the Garda is married to barrister Noel Whelan who is representing the Garda commissioner at the tribunal, it has been noted malicously. her connections are not that clearcut though. McSweeney was also an advisor to Michael McDowell, who’s representing Maurice McCabe, at the Tribunal, when he was Attorney General and later Minister for Justice.
Complaints were made too on Twitter that McDowell’s wife Niamh Brennan, professor of accounting in UCD, didn’t declare her interest (in him) when slagging off Sinn Féin on the ‘Marian Finucane show’ in April. But again to be fair, she has been all over the airwaves advocating a light line on Denis Naughten over his sharing of information with people close to dodgy businessman, Denis O’Brien; but McDowell is famously vituperative about O’Brien, who noted of the ex-PD barrister: “He worked for months for the Moriarty tribunal for free and never sent them a bill. Also, he was on a long-term retainer from Independent news & Media and Tony O’Reilly for many years. He always has something to say about me but underlying everything you have to look at his agenda, which he always fails to declare”.
Ashes but no sackcloth
More manoeuvrings out in Kildare and Wicklow whose Educational Training Board (KWETB) which has a budget of over €116m annually and responsibility for 23 schools, over 23,000 students and a range of training centres across the two counties. It is under investigation by the Fraud squad and the comtroller and auditor General; and a report into its activities has been commissioned by the Department of Education.
Its CEO, Sean Ashe, resigned earlier the year under a cloud but now it seems his son, John, was promoted to a KWETB position (details are sketchy partly because sean wasn’t keen on letting out comprehensive details on this sort of thing) just weeks before his Dad left. Interview panels are typically chaired by a member of the board but board members are staying schtum about who chaired this particular panel while the investigations are ongoing into procurement issues. FF councillor and KWETB board member Daragh Fitzpatrick who obtained almost €8,000 last year for serving on interview panels, and over €7,000 the year before, seems to be the go-to person on the board for chairing interviews. This is despite his struggle to find time to attend full KWETB board meetings. He was chastised by a fellow board member at a public board meeting recently for regularly trying to rush the board’s meetings so he could attend events elsewhere (on that day it was a funeral). Councillor Fitzpatrick is a bookie with a busy race diary.
In 2014, members of the new KWETB board were asked to each nominate five people for their 21 schools. of the 21 KWETB board members, Fitzpatrick, together with his friend and colleague FG Kildare Councillor Brendan Weld and Independent Wicklow Councillor Jim Ruttle, nominated the majority of persons subsequently allocated to the KWETB’s school boards of management. Weld and Ruttle shared the chairing of the KWETB after 2014 but resigned from their position as Vice-chair and chair during the investigation.
Fitzpatrick had the misfortune to be identified by an RTÉ ‘Prime Time’ programme last year as having failed to declare no less than six directorships in his declaration of interests. Kildare County Council took no action on this, elusively arguing it was not their role to do so.
The report on the investigation, by Richard Thorn, was submitted to the Minister for education, Richard Bruton, in March but, though the board in their submission recommended the Minister publish the report, there is no sign of it yet.
Village invited Transport Minister Shane Ross, leader of the fragile Independent Alliance, to contribute a piece to the magazine, about judicial appointments.
The castigation of the thoughtful Minister, for volatility; and the misrepresentation by barristers, judges and in particular the Irish Times of what for example the Council of Europe says about the undesirability of a lay majority for a judicial appointments body is unhealthy in a democracy, where the balance of powers must be treated with delicacy. Contrary to reports and indeed to an Irish Times editorial, the Council of Europe is only against the lay majority when the body makes – as opposed, as will be the case in Ireland to recommends to government – judicial appointments.
As the deadline passed the editor contacted Shane Ross’s office about the article. It will be submitted for our next edition.