Bursting the bubble that surrounds Leinster House
SF leader must answer questions on possibility of ‘Cold War’ like voter database.
Mary Lou McDonald should answer “detailed questions” on Sinn Féin’s internal voter database to ensure her party is not carrying out “Cold War” like profiling of Irish citizens, Labour Party leader Alan Kelly has said.
Mr Kelly said revelations about Sinn Féin’s Abú system posed serious questions for Ms McDonald.
Speaking on Independent.ie’s Floating Voter podcast, the Tipperary TD said: “I think Mary Lou McDonald needs to come out front and face questions in relation to this - very detailed questions.”
“Effectively we need to know if we have a political party that's building a national database on individuals. This would strike back to stuff that was done in the bad times during the Cold War where there was a profile being done on every individual in the country and that would be really scary stuff,” Mr Kelly added.
Sinn Féin has refused to answer questions about where they are storing the information of potentially 3.5m voters, who is managing the system or how the database was funded.
The party has also refused to give any detail on how they have complied with data protection laws in creating a national voter database.
Details of the Abú system came after Independent.ie revealed Sinn Féin representatives were encouraged to “elicit” information from Facebook users which could be cross-referenced with their internal database to locate home addresses of potential supporters.
“I have never heard at a national level that a party is actually profiling every citizen in the State. If information is being stored by a constituency TD, for instance, and that information is being shared to a national system well then that is cause for serious concern,” Mr Kelly said.
“We don't have enough information and Sinn Féin have to answer questions as to whether this is within data protection law, within GDPR. Why is some of this potentially being stored outside the country,” he added.
Hazel Chu: I may not win a Seanad seat but I’m running for my daughter
Green Party Chairperson and Dublin Lord Mayor has admitted that while the chances of her winning a Seanad seat are slim, she has put herself forward for her daughter.
Cllr Hazel Chu is in the running as an independent candidate for a seat on the Commercial and Industrial panel, having failed to secure the backing of her party.
Following her move, there has been discontent in the Green Party, with three Senators putting forward three motions before the parliamentary party meeting last night, one of which was no confidence in the Chair.
Speaking on Independent.ie’s Floating Voter podcast, Cllr Chu said that it is important for her to run for the Seanad, despite a slim chance of winning, for her daughter Alex (3).
“If I’m to be able to look at my three and a half year old in the eye and tell her that we need better representation so that people would see that this is a good thing that people from different minority groups and genders should be in government office, this is what i need to do,” she said.
“It may be a fool’s errand, but on a personal level, and on a professional level, it’s really important to me.
“A lot of my colleagues support me because of that,” she said.
She also apologised for holding an event in St Stephen’s Green for journalists yesterday, where she officially launched her Seanad campaign.
The Irish Independent reports today that Cllr Chu did not seek permission from the Office of Public Works (OPW) to hold that event and that under 1962 bye-laws, political events are not permitted in the park.
“I am very sorry,” she said.
She added that she didn’t think she would get many people to “show” up at the briefing and didn’t realise that she had to seek prior permission.
“I emailed some people, I didn't think they would show up.
“I’m happy to apologise.”
Doherty: Sinn Féin taking action against Holohan after failure to remove Facebook post
Sinn Féin is taking disciplinary action against councillor Paddy Holohan after he failed to remove a Facebook post supporting a salon owner who reopened in breach of Covid-19 restrictions.
Senior Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said there is a disciplinary procedure underway after Mr Holohan, who has previously been suspended from the party, failed to remove the post.
“This fella made a comment, we told him that comment isn’t in keeping with the party’s view, we told him to withdraw it, he isn’t doing so, there’s a disciplinary procedure, the party will deal with that,” Mr Doherty told Independent.ie’s The Floating Voter podcast.
In a post on his Facebook page last month, Mr Holohan described C&N Beauty Room owner Christine McTiernan as “inspiring” after she was arrested by gardaí for opening her business during Level 5 restrictions.
Mr Holohan has previously been suspended from the party over derogatory comments about women and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Mr Doherty said on Friday that while there was huge frustration with restrictions there was consensus around the need for the public health measures.
Elsewhere in a wide-ranging discussion, Mr Doherty said that Sinn Féin is preparing itself for a general election, noting there is a lot of internal tension in the coalition parties.
“Those things bring on elections, a leadership challenge in Fine Gael or indeed Fianna Fáil can actually bring on an election. Do I believe it [the Government] will last? I don’t know, all I know is that we’re getting ready, we’re selecting our candidates, we’re making sure we have enough candidates in the field," the party's finance spokesperson said.
He noted that the party had “left a number of seats behind us” in the last election because it did not run enough candidates in certain constituencies.
Mr Doherty also defended Sinn Féin’s role in failing to secure cross-border consensus on Covid-19 restrictions, insisting it was not possible because of the DUP’s reluctance. He said criticism of Sinn Féin for this was “like saying isn’t it terrible that Sinn Féin can’t convince the DUP that Brexit is bad”.
The Donegal TD criticised the UK government’s unilateral decision this week to extend post-Brexit grace periods for Northern Ireland without consultation with the EU, saying it was “really, really bad faith”.
He also said that the State had ‘no option” but to stop doing business with Davy Stockbrokers after it was hit with a record €4.1m fine by the Central Bank for regulatory breaches.
MacSharry: EU nationalism has turned Ireland into ‘bureaucratic losers’ on vaccines
European nationalism has turned Ireland into “bureaucratic losers” in the race to vaccinate citizens, a Fianna Fáil TD has said.
Outspoken Sligo-Leitrim deputy Marc MacSharry said the EU “made a balls” of procuring vaccines and insisted Ireland should explore other ways to increase supply
Speaking on the Floating voter podcast, Mr MacShary also severely criticised the Government’s reliance on the EU for vaccines and called on the Taoiseach to ask Prime Minister Boris Johnson for any extra supplies the UK has left over.
He said the Government should extend the date between first and second vaccines so more people can be vaccinated now.
“There is an element of EU and nationalist pride in preventing us from reaching out because we need to be the goodie two shoes Europeans,” he said.
“The only good deal on vaccinations is a fast deal and Europe went off thinking they were procuring office supplies, played hard ball with prices and those global negotiating geniuses in Bahrain got up the queue, so did israel, so did a number of other countries while we were being good, cautious, bureaucratic, responsible losers.”
The long-time Fianna Fáil dissident also said he expects Micheál Martin to step down as party leader before the next election and said he will be supporting Jim O’Callaghan in a leadership contest.
“I think 12 years of a leader is enough, it needs to be refreshed and that's it. It's not personal, it's business. It's good business to change it,” he said.
He said there are “five or six people who are prepared to step forward” and replace Micheál Martin naming Dara Calleary, Darragh O'Brien, Jim O'Callaghan, Michael McGrath and Norma Foley.
However, he said he will be supporting Mr O’Callaghan because he is not “blinded by ambition” and is in politics to makes changes rather than personal gain. “Is the Micheál Martin who brought in the smoking ban the Micheál Martin who is Taoiseach - I'm not so sure,” he added.
Mr MacSharry there is no personal animosity between himself and Mr Martin but said they do "have issues about how things are managed" in the party. "I'm not entirely risk adverse but I think the Taoiseach probably is," he said. "He's much more cautious than is necessary in my view but it is certainly not personal."
He criticised what he called a “highly centralised environment where the top decide and formulate” policy and said he believes this is “Micheál Martin's failure”.
“If a backbencher or a senator comes up with a cure for cancer it is not going to get into the minutes unless it comes from a Tony Holohan or KPMG or Deloittes and that's a problem,” he added.
Taoiseach should be vaccinated ahead of Cabinet for travel to US, says Fine Gael Junior Minister
The Taoiseach should receive the coronavirus vaccine ahead of Cabinet colleagues to travel to the US, according to a Fine Gael Junior Minister.
Fine Gael Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora Colm Brophy said on Independent.ie’s Floating Voter podcast that Taoiseach Micheál Martin should be vaccinated to be able to travel to the US for the St Patrick’s Day visit.
Mr Brophy said that Cabinet Ministers should then be vaccinated as per the vaccine priority list and should be “no exception” to the list.
“I don’t think that with the exception of the Taoiseach and for the reason of the US visit, that Ministers should come anywhere different on the list to where they would be based on the criteria outlined by medical professionals,” he said.
Minister Brophy said that he is against changing the order of prioritisation on the vaccine list.
“Lots of people make the case all the time as to why we should maybe move this group up here or this group down or change it around. I've always had the same view that we shouldn't and that applies to Ministers as well.
“There’s a logical clear exception as to why the Taoiseach should [be vaccinated] - to facilitate St Patrick’s Day visit.”
He also raised the question of if certain Cabinet Ministers were to be vaccinated, how the decision would be made between the Minister for Health or members of Nphet.
“Everybody has important jobs, really important jobs.
“Where do you vaccinate the people in Nphet, the CMO? Where do you vaccinate the head of the HSE versus the Minister for Health? It just becomes almost an impossible scenario,” he added.
Minister Brophy also said on the podcast that the €500 fine for non-essential travel to overseas did not have a “sufficient” impact for some people, which is why the fine has been hiked to €2,000 in recent days.
“For some people, €500 wasn’t regarded as a sufficient impact and that’s why you have to have that flexibility. I don’t think there was anything wrong with choosing €500 as the initial figure.”
Criticism of government is “jumped on and stamped down” by internal Green Party “enforcers”
Criticism of government is “jumped on and stamped down” by internal Green Party “enforcers”, a TD has claimed.
She was speaking on the Independent.ie Floating Voter podcast about Cllr Peter Kavanagh’s statements after he left the party this week, where he stated that criticism of the party by members is viewed as “betrayal”.
“That resonated with me and I think that kind of, people within the party taking up the role as enforcer, that is a genuinely a problem,” she said.
“That doesn’t lead to an atmosphere within the party that’s nice, that’s a nice place to be.”
She said that criticism is sometimes “jumped on”.
“The enforcer mentality - any criticism has to be jumped on and stamped down immediately, for sure,” she said.
“I don’t want to raise the temperature, because that’s what we keep doing.”
She said that she was not interested in a “personal row” with other members of the party.
When asked if she has considered leaving the party, she said that this is “always a conversation” she has with herself.
“From the point of programme for government, which obviously this government does not reflect in my politics, that’s always a conversation that I’m having with myself.
“I am always trying to gauge, am I a more constructive force inside or outside?”
Ms Hourigan said that in her opinion, if you’re not “too comfortable” you’re not “doing your work”.
She also said that there have been votes along the way in her time in government that she has not been “quite happy about”.
Ms Hourigan voted against the government last summer and lost the party whip for a period of time.
“I’m very careful when I dissent, it’s only about very specific things, it doesn’t happen that often.”
She also said on the podcast that CETA was discussed at programme for government negotiations and was not agreed.
She said that this is included in her own notes, which are subject to a non-disclosure agreement.
Groupthink for the Punchdown Generation
I’m starting to think Leo didn’t shut down the Strategic Communications Unit. He just started a podcast.
There was an online thing recently about Dinnybot FM, this is it in reality.
Great - If you like Boy Talk
Finally a podcast for the Jordan Peterson man child in your life, but with less intelligence.