Last week I was delighted to host a briefing for members of the Oireachtas on Jadotville-Unfinished Business, presented by retired Commandant Leo Quinlan who is the son of unit commander Commandant Pat Quinlan (deceased). This extraordinary story has been popularized by a movie of the same name and last year 150 soldiers from the 35th Irish battalion “A” Company were honoured in recognition of their achievement in fighting against an estimated 3,000 enemy troops in the Congo in 1961.
At the Order of Business in the Seanad today, I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs to come to the Seanad today to explain how the Irish Government intends to defend every line and dot of the Good Friday Agreement in light of this morning’s ruling by the UK Supreme Court.
Today I am calling for the establishment of a Commission on Taxation. A major question now is "Are Vulture Fund Tax Losses the Tip of the Iceberg"?
Following on from RTE's revelations on this weeks "The Great Irish Sell-off" I believe that it is time to establish a Commission on Taxation to review the structure, efficiency and appropriateness of the Irish taxation system.
Hot off the press ! In conjunction with my Independent Seanad colleagues, I produced a short booklet on the serious implications of BREXIT for Ireland. This year I hope to establish a cross party Seanad process of inquiry on the potential impact of BREXIT.
Dear Friends, it has been a busy and eventful year and I have much to be grateful for. My sincere thanks to the City and County Councillors who elected me to the 25th Seanad and to members of the ICPSA who nominated me. It is an honour to represent you. As a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs and the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement Committee, I have been very involved in the preparations for Brexit which I believe is one the most serious international issues facing Ireland. At home, my efforts have been concentrated on important legislation including the Planning and Development (Residential Tenancies ) Bill which will be passed into law this week. As we all know, legislation alone will not solve the worsening homelessness crisis because at the heart of market triumphalism there is still the greed of the few at the expense of the many. Greed is the biggest personal and political challenge we face and we need to keep thinking and talking about it until it is solved. I want to thank each and every one of you for engaging with me during the year and I look forward to sharing 2017 with you.
As the shock of the British Referendum result to leave the EU reverberates around Europe and the world, the stock exchange and money markets are set to record their worst day ever. As the UK’s closest trading partner Ireland will be disproportionately affected by Britain’s exit. The process of “uncoupling” from the EU will commence straight away and while our main focus is naturally on the economic implications, the geopolitical ramifications of our shared border require immediate and careful attention. As someone who has served in both the British and the Irish Army and who grew up with “The Troubles” the fragile peace process which has been forged and carefully nurtured by citizens and politicians from both sides of the border is always foremost to my mind. Central to that peace process has been the dismantling of the “hard border” between North and South with all of its attendant security checks and border controls.
It was with a heavy heart that I rose today in the Seanad to offer my sympathies to the family of the late Jo Cox MP. Sadly neither her son of 5 nor her daughter of just 3 years will ever have known the great humanitarian their mother was. Sadly neither of those children will now ever fully experience the woman who believed that motherhood was her greatest joy, a joy that in fact surpassed all political ambition.
We must ask why this beautiful woman’s life was taken from her. Was it the Brexit referendum? That would be the easy answer. We could possibly live with the idea that some deranged person driven by a passion for one side of the Brexit debate saw himself as doing a service to the cause. While there may be some truth in that hypothesis it does not provide a complete answer. The truth is we are living in an ever more violent society and hate is a growing phenomenon.
In the Sunday Times this weekend there was an excellent article on some of the problems surrounding policy making in Ireland. The article reiterated my own belief that the policy advice and direction given by Senior Civil servants at national level is sometimes seriously flawed with serious consequences for citizens. The article refers specifically to the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act passed in Dec which made Specific Planning Policy Requirements such as apartment size standards mandatory. I raised serious objections to this Bill in the Seanad as it gave the Minister considerable new powers to override Local Government and issue what are effectively mandatory guidelines.
I am a candidate in the Seanad Election 2016 on the Labour Panel representing the ICPSA who nominated me and City and County Councillors who are my constituents. When I was elected to the Seanad in 2014 I promised not to be whipped by any party and I have remained true to this. This leaves me in the unique position of being able to serve all Councillors.
Whether you are a member of a party or an Independent, I will serve your needs. As I have no restrictions placed on me, I can speak at any time at the Daily Order of Business or at a Commencement Debate on issues that are important to you. I have no other constituency except you. Please play the video below and listen to what I have to say:
As the Seanad Election 2016 approaches, the question has to be asked ‘does party politics serve the people or the party’. The fallout from the General Election 2016 has resulted in many high profile TDs losing their seats and the challenge for political parties now is how to enhance the profile of those who lost so that they are ready for the next general election whenever that comes. The people of Ireland decided by way of a referendum to retain the Seanad in 2013. However, I doubt that anyone voting in that referendum wanted the Seanad to continue as the old boy’s staging post that it has become since 1937.