Did Enda Kenny breach McKenna during the Fiscal Treaty Referendum Campaign ?
November 12, 2012

In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling it’s worth returning to an unreported Dáil exchange from July. There were already questions regarding leaflets and speeches carried on stabilitytreaty.ie but this one looks difficult for the Government to put themselves at arms length.

In response to questions on his department spend on consultancy an Taoiseach told the Dáil that QTS were engaged to carry out a risk assessment and update the Department’s 2011 health and safety statement at a cost of €1,271 while Towers Watson facilitated a series of workshops in responses to the Civil Service organisational review programme coming to €12,100.

He concluded the total spend by his Department to date in 2012 on consultancy is €21,074.

After some toing and froing regarding the shortfall we were told an EU communications contract was given to a media and public affairs consultancy firm to deal with the EU affairs and co-ordination division of the Department of the Taoiseach starting 28 March.

The contract was 60 days. A month ahead of Referendum Order being signed and concluding on the Sunday prior to voting.

At first the Dáil was told

it was about the key message to be communicated during Ireland’s Presidency of the European Council and associated preparations.

Which was over nine months away, and

had nothing to do with the referendum issue.

When pushed by Mary Lou McDonald on the aligning dates he confirmed

there would have been some advisory work done in respect of the Government preparing for the referendum.

Micheál Martin then pressed the Taoiseach as to why he avoided the EU communications contract in his initial response.

I am saying the Taoiseach excluded that information in the beginning.  There was an attempt not to mention it, although I do not know why.  The Taoiseach just did not mention it; it is not included in the answer. We are, at least, entitled to receive answers to the questions we ask. I hope there was not an attempt to bury the information because of the sensitivities associated with European issues and the referendum.

Kenny first told the Dáil he forget to read page 3 of the three-page response before going on to say page 3 got stuck to page 2. The circus continued as we now had a figure closer to €32,000, rather than the ”total” €21,074 initially outlined.

The Ceann Comhairle who in fairness has shown himself to be fairer then his predecessors in this case had long sensed danger and made several attempts to rule questions out and move things along “in fairness to other deputies”.

Full transcript is here but I recommend watching proceedings here
[Skiping to 2:07:00]

Gone is the usual lame quip and non answer we are use to with Kenny.   He was genuinely trying to pull a fast one for whatever reason and is caught out.

Two interesting issues here, first if there was nothing untoward Kenny had no reason to exclude the EU PR contract. The unusual level evasiveness would suggest otherwise.

Second is the farce that played out is surely bread and butter to PolCors who were hardly absent when Enda, Micheal and Mary Lou were in the chamber.

The only mention in any paper was two solitary lines at the end of a piece in the Irish Times on Reilly’s advisers.

The Fianna Fáil leader raised the issue during a question on the cost of consultancies to Mr Kenny’s department. The Taoiseach said consultants were engaged only when necessary.

The cost of consultancy to the Taoiseach’s department to date in 2012 was €21,074.

The wrong figure reported by the Irish Times is one thing but if pages getting stuck together isn’t a Dáil Sketch then what is?

The McKenna judgements states

The public purse must not be expended to espouse a point of view which may be anathema to certain citizens who, of necessity , have contributed to it. No one would suggest that a Government is entitled to devote money from the exchequer in a direct manner in the course of a general election to secure its re-election. The position of a referendum is not any different.

A €19,803 contract from the Department of Taoiseach would suggest otherwise.

DR. FIVE  12th November 2012

You are welcome to join the discussion on this at Political World

Open Letter to Vincent Browne on the Children’s Referendum
October 31, 2012

Dear Vincent
I’ve just seen your panel for tonight’s debate on the Children’s Rights Referendum. There are plenty of us who oppose this referendum other than for religious reasons. To exclude our voices from your programme will mean that your debate is unbalanced before it even begins. With respect to John Waters and Kathy Sinnott, some of whose concerns I share, they are unlikely to represent the views of people whose definition of family would include same-sex parents/guardians and unmarried parents/guardians many of whom also oppose this amendment.I have been the national coordinator for a campaign (on behalf of the member organisations of Inclusion Ireland) aimed precisely at securing just a few basic, legislated rights for children and other people with disabilities and I can tell you categorically that neither Fine Gael nor Labour would commit to unequivocally support that objective. So much for their conviction to rights for children. This amendment will do nothing to help secure those basic rights.While I accept that many of the proponents of this amendment are genuine in their concern for children, I believe their professional perspective is skewed so much towards extreme cases that they have lost all objectivity about the enormous danger they are threatening to inflict on the real rights of all our children in so many ways they appear not even to have contemplated – and on the rights of those who are proven to be children’s best primary protectors and carers in the vast majority of instances.This referendum is not about the rights of children – as its proponents disingenuously claim, it is about who should have the right to represent them. It’s not just madness to transfer that right to the state to the extent that this amendment would, it is also to put at risk the interests of many more children than already are. State services are also being deliberately underfunded and the proposed amendment would also substantially weaken the grounds on which parents could make a legal challenge to the state on behalf of children.Questions this parent hopes will be asked tonight include:

What legally enforceable rights, exactly, would this referendum confer on children themselves?

Who will have the authority to pursue the enforcement of those rights, if any – parents/guardians – or only the state and its agents?

How does the proposed amendment make the state more accountable than under the terms of existing legislation/constitutional arrangements for any future failure to protect children?

How will it make decisions and actions of the state with regard to vulnerable children transparent?

How can a government that is deliberately impoverishing so many children, and so many of them children with a disability like my son, make any serious claim to a concern about children’s rights?

And finally, how does the government propose to make the state (aside from the Catholic Church which it has also seriously failed to challenge legally) accountable for its past failures?

Miriam Cotton  Clonakilty  31 October 2012

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