Monthly Archives: October 2012
Earlier this month, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett found that his party colleague had failed to answer a question from Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin about the criteria he used to identify 35 priority locations for the centres announced last July.
Last week, Mr Barrett ruled that Dr Reilly had again failed to answer a question, this time from Labour backbencher Robert Dowds.
Mr Dowds had asked why a proposed primary care centre at Rowlagh in his constituency, which was originally slated to be funded under the Government’s capital programme, was now to be developed by public-private partnership.
This followed the revelation in September that Dr Reilly had added 15 locations, including two in his own constituency, to a list of priority locations for such centres.
After the Minister referred his inquiry to the Health Service Executive, Mr Dowds queried his compliance with Dáil standing orders in a letter to the Ceann Comhairle. Mr Barrett found that the Labour TD’s request for information had not been addressed, and sought a response from Dr Reilly.
The Minister replied that it was unfortunate that the detailed information sought by Mr Dowds was not furnished by his department at the time.
He said the department was not in a position to do so based on the information on its files alone and it had therefore referred the matter to the HSE for an answer.
He went on to say that Rowlagh was never included in a capital plans and was not included on the 2012 capital plan submitted to the department.
The delivery method for a potential primary care centre in Rowlagh changed in lists reported in the media and published by the department as part of the Government’s stimulus package announced last July, he said. This change occurred on the advice of the HSE’s head of estates as a public-private partnership was considered the fastest way to make progress.
According to the Ceann Comhairle, Standing Order 40A of the Dáil does not require ministers to provide information requested by a TD. It does, however, require that each and every request for information be addressed in the minister’s reply.
In response to questions from other TDs on the same issue, Dr Reilly said the consideration of projects for inclusion in the capital programme was “an evolving process”. Details of the next programme will be published
NAMA’S case against Gayle Killilea Dunne “is going to be tried in the tabloids and no place else”. That’s the blunt assessment of the former social diarist-turned-property developer’s US attorney, Philip Russell, after going head-to-head with the toxic loan agency’s lawyers in Connecticut last week.
Central to Nama’s claim against Ms Killilea Dunne is its belief that she acquired millions of dollars worth of properties in the exclusive town of Greenwich using money provided by her husband, the erstwhile Baron of Ballsbridge Sean Dunne. The Dunnes, for their part, insist there is no basis to Nama’s claim and say they are ready and able to disprove it in court.
But according to Ms Killilea Dunne’s lawyer, it’s unlikely she will ever have to take the stand.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent after meeting lawyers for Nama last Monday, Mr Russell said it was his view that they were now “hoping they can go back and curl up and make believe this (case) never happened”.
Following a hearing before Judge Douglas Mintz last July, Nama served papers seeking access to documents from the real estate agency Sotheby’s relating to property deals in Connecticut that it believes will support its case. While lawyers for the Dunnes had objected initially to the subpoena, last Monday they withdrew their objection.
Asked to describe what had happened in the case since Nama first filed their action against Ms Killilea Dunne last June, Mr Russell was scathing.
He said: “In June, Nama said under oath that they had an emergency basis to seek an injunction and that they had no other adequate remedy and they needed the court to intervene to stop Mrs Dunne from committing irreparable harm to property which was the property of Nama.
“The judge denied that application in July, but he said: ‘However, I will give you an opportunity to come in and have a hearing on October 22’. So Nama accepted that invitation from the court and we fully expected them to be there with their evidence as to why their claim should not be thrown out or denied again. Essentially, last Monday was the time for them to quote: ‘put up or shut up’.”
Asked to describe last Monday’s events at Stamford Superior Court, Mr Russell said: “When they came to court with four highly paid partners from the law firm of McCarter & English, one from New York, one from Hartford, one from Boston and one from Newark; when they showed up with these four titans of the law, we expected we would have our hearing. What we got instead was that the matter would be postponed until January 15.
“Now, usually in my limited experience, when you call the fire department to report a fire, you don’t tell them when they get there that you’d like them to wait six months before coming into the house. But apparently these four guys from McCarter & English are much smarter than I am. They understand things that I cannot.”
Asked what the response had been from Nama’s US attorneys to offers from Ms Killilea Dunne for full disclosure of her financial affairs on the condition that they sign a non-disclosure agreement in return, Mr Russell claimed: “They scoffed at it. We didn’t want the case to be tried in the press and it is. Apparently from their behaviour on Monday, my distinct impression is that it’s going to be tried in the tabloids and no place else, because later the same day, we resisted the application to go to January, we said we would like an immediate hearing. We said let’s come back in a week and hear it. When we did that, they withdrew their application and said ‘well, we’ll renew it if and when it’s appropriate’ which tells me they’re hoping they can go back and curl up and make believe this never happened.”
Commenting on Nama’s inclusion of newspaper clippings as evidence to support its original submission to the court, Mr Russell said: “It was an embarrassment and it still is. They have pursued every person Mrs Killilea Dunne has had business dealings with.
“They’ve served papers on them and made them sit for depositions under oath as if Mrs Killilea Dunne was someone sinister and as if she wasn’t worthy of credit and didn’t enjoy a good business reputation. We are looking at Mrs Killilea Dunne’s options when Nama either abandon this lawsuit or we convince the judge to dismiss this outright. This case is like Seinfeld, it’s the lawsuit about nothing.”
Asked by the Sunday Independent for comment on Nama’s action against Ms Killilea Dunne and her husband, a spokesman for the agency said as a matter of policy it does not comment on ongoing court cases.
Why Barack Obama is likely to win Ohio? It is the improved economy, stupid — Unemployment cut by one third as auto companies hire and so do banks
Which state in the union has featured the following employment developments this month?
Chrysler announced they are adding 1,100 new jobs, J.P. Morgan Chase is looking for hundreds of bankers, and the Cleveland Clinic needs so many new nurses they rented out the Cleveland Browns football stadium for a jobs fair.
Yes, indeed,� it’s Ohio, and the unemployment rate is just seven percent these days, well below the national average and seemingly ready to go even lower as the above statistics make clear.
Ohio was once the rust belt and a byword for decaying infrastructure but now thanks to the auto bailout and an upbeat economic forecast, the populace are set to vote for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney.
There is precedence for this. Back in 1988, Democrat Michael Dukakis won several farm states like Iowa which he had no right to win after farm states made clear how much they blamed the Reagan administration and Dukakis opponent V.P. George Bush for the farming prices slump.
Similarly, Obama has stayed ahead in Ohio despite every effort by the Romney camp to undermine that lead– it truly is the economy stupid.
“We’re doing great,” says Rich DeVore, 47, president of a United Autoworkers Union local in Perrysburg, on the outskirts of Toledo told Bloomberg News. “You see a lot of great things happening.”
Put simply, unemployment has dropped by one third and Ohio looks like it will continue to support Obama as a result.
It may well put him in the White House.
Fire fighters evaluate the scene of an apartment building which had the front wall collapse due to Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012 in New York, United States. Hurricane Sandy, which threatens 50 million people in the eastern third of the U.S., is expected to bring days of rain, high winds and possibly heavy snow. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the closure of all New York City will bus, subway and commuter rail service as of Sunday evening.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline and hurled a record-breaking 13-foot surge of seawater at New York City on Monday, roaring ashore after washing away part of the Atlantic City boardwalk and putting the presidential campaign on hold.
Just before its centre reached land, the storm was stripped of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force wind, and forecasters were careful to say it remained every bit as dangerous to the 50 million people in its path.
The National Hurricane Center announced at 8 p.m. that Sandy had come ashore near Atlantic City. The sea surged a record of nearly 13 feet at the foot of Manhattan.
Lower manhattan. Bye bye wall streetpic.twitter.com/bGGf2oxg
In an attempt to lessen damage from the storm, New York City’s main utility cut power to about 6,500 customers in lower Manhattan. Authorities worried that seawater would seep into the New York subway and cripple it, along with the electrical and communications systems that are vital to the nation’s financial centre.
As it closed in, Sandy knocked out electricity to more than 1.5 million people and figured to upend life for tens of millions more. It smacked the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor, from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph (135 kph).
As it made its way toward land, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned into a fearsome superstorm, a monstrous hybrid consisting not only of rain and high wind but of snow. Forecasters warned of 20-foot (66-feet) waves bashing into the Chicago lakefront and up to 3 feet of snow in West Virginia.
Judging from figures recently, released male medical cardholders have cost the taxpayer €20m since 2008, to further their sex life.
The cost of sex boosting is likely to come under scrutiny in the budget.
An anonymous source in the Health department stated that they were trying to set new guidelines before approving Viagra coverage. One wonders what criteria; they will use to set these guidelines. The league of elderly nurses maintained they were available for consultation on this matter.
In a statement issued this morning the Catholic Church declared that ordained members found misusing the drug would face stiff penalties.
The Minister of Health James Reilly believed that the general populace could learn from the banks. When asked to explain further he declined. Now just who is screwing who?
Woman’s rights groups claim that this will be a big let down for the elderly.
Mary McLean a pensioner said as things stand we are really hard up and that this was just another attempt by the Government to deprive the elderly of their rights.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny donned a leprechaun outfit and shiny brogues in an effort to affect the outcome of a meeting with Angela Merkel where he outlined the desperate and pathetic state of the country which he believed had a “Fiscalholic” financing problem, “basically a disease” that was “genetic, so not really our fault, technically”.
In a move described as “Economic Trick or Treating”, Kenny approached Merkel with the hypothetical situation that if a retroactive bank bailout – or “treat” – was not forthcoming, a chronic and grinding European financial meltdown – or “trick” – would take place thanks to the jaw-droppingly large amounts of debt amassed by the state and the bone-headed repeat-performances of unwise investment and fiscal eejitry shown by the government and Irish citizens since the initial bust.
“We’re lost – we’re still all desperately buying small houses in the middle of nowhere for €400k. I see it as being like an abusive relationship, with the Irish people representing the battered wife, but also the abusive husband who – in a way – batters himself to punish himself for cheating on himself with himself – on himself but, also, TO himself WITH himself…if you get me.”
“BY himself, as well” he added.
An exciting new venture in Westmeath’s bustling Zombie District
“I just laid it all out for Angela and the Leprechun outfit really hammered my point home. I told her about our “Fiscalholic” nature and that our problems with money were down to a “disease” and that it wasn’t our fault, and to leave us off. I said that we were basically sound and just wanted to have the craic and that the weather was bad here all the time and all our kids are going to Australia and we’ll probably have another bad winter and that the roads needed mending. I told her about Mick Wallace, who doesn’t pay tax because he doesn’t want to, and nothing happens. I then told her about how it was Fianna Fáil‘s fault and the unions were at me and that the hospital consultants all laughed at me for driving an ’09 car.”
“I said that, really, if Europe wants to stay viable, she should make an effort to stem Irish emigration. We just show up and puke everywhere. That really made her think”.
Kenny did a series of forward-flips to round out his presentation to the German Chancellor who then clapped and whooped as the Taoiseach threw out chocolate Euros from a plastic “pot o’ gold” in a display of extreme irony
Ireland’s economic struggles have created a generation of “involuntary non-returns” who have been forced out and are unable to go home.
This is according to leading academic on the Irish in Britain, Professor Mary Hickman , who describes reality of this latest wave of emigration out of Ireland as “depressing”. A long-term researcher on the community in Britain and founder of the Centre for Irish Studies at London’s Metropolitan University, Professor Hickman is preparing to document the new wave of emigration from her new position as Professorial Research Fellow at the Irish studies centre based in St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
“Since the fall of the Celtic tiger we see the proportion of people leaving Ireland, who are Irish born, rising each year, successively,” she said. “I do think there might be an expectation that there is more done for these citizens by the Irish government in the coming years. There may be a feeling that they are owed something more, due to the calamitous catastrophe in Ireland.”
She added: “The issue is even if these people think they are making a positive decision to leave, that they are leaving voluntarily, that becomes involuntary as they can’t go back because there are no opportunities. This is an issue potentially facing quite a number of people – I would call it involuntary non-return. It’s a really difficult situation to be in and it’s important that this is documented.”
In leaving her 25-year role at London Metropolitan University last month Ms Hickman gains the opportunity to do more research while based at St Mary’s – who recently began investing in and expanding their Irish studies centre. “I would be more than happy if this hadn’t happened to Ireland and no one was emigrating unless they really wanted to,” she said.
“Its a bit depressing. We had all that emigration in middle of the 19th century, then in the 1950s, then in the 1980s and here it is again. I think people during the Celtic tiger thought it would not happen again, but it has.” She added: “It will of course inform the work I will be doing over the coming years and my recent move has allowed me the flexibility to do that.”
Regarding the move between universities, she added: “Lots of things fuelled the move, some personal but ultimately I had been at London Metropolitan since wet up the Irish studies centre in 1986. I felt 25 years was enough at any one institution. What is great about St Marys is they are self-evidently investing in Irish studies. There has been a centre there for some years, but it was recently reconfigured and re-launched, it was fortuitous for me at a time when I decided I had done my stint at London Met that they were expanding and approached me to offer the position.
“I held a high profile management job previously, but with this new professorial fellowship the prime axis of what you are doing swings back to research rather than management. This post releases me from all that, which is great as I want to draw together all the research I have done on the Irish in Britain over the past 25 years and this gives me the time to do it.”
via Land of no return.
via Land of no return.
Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, has told MPs that the powers could be justified when investigating incidents such as fly tipping and that setting a “crime threshold” would be difficult.
The Government has proposed new measures that will force internet and phone companies to record and store all activities of their customers for a year.
Ministers have said the move is only to allow the police, the security services and tax officials to tackle terrorism and serious crime.
The proposals will stop local authorities and hundreds of other agencies from accessing such records.
But Sir Paul, whose job is to check such powers are being used appropriately, said the powers should not be limited to law enforcement agencies, and said even “less serious” offences can have very serious impacts on the lives of the victims.
He told MPs: “It raises some (issues) particularly in relation to local authorities. They have a statutory duty to investigate fly tipping.
“It is not a very important crime but if it affects you directly it is very important to you.”
Measures in the draft communications data bill will require communication providers such as phone and internet companies to store details of every activity of their customers for a year.
The records stored will include emails, website visits, phone calls and activity on social networking sites, but not the content of any messages or calls.
The Government argues the move is necessary to allow the police and security agencies to keep up with modern communications and access data of serious offenders.
But civil liberty groups argue it is a huge intrusion in to people’s private lives.
A joint parliamentary committee is currently examining the bill, and Sir Paul gave evidence before it last week.
In additional written evidence, he said: “The powers should not be limited to just police and intelligence agencies.
“Parliament has delegated statutory enforcement functions to a number of other public authorities and as a result they have a clear statutory duty to investigate a number of criminal offences, some of which are their sole responsibility.
“Often the criminal offences that these public authorities investigate are regarded as very important at a local level and provide the public with reassurance and protection.”
He highlighted examples such as “criminals who persistently rip off consumers, cheat the taxpayer, deal in counterfeit goods, and prey on the elderly and vulnerable”.
He said requests from such authorities make up just over one per cent of the total adding: “but this does not mean that such public authorities should not be able to use the powers when they can demonstrate necessity and proportionality”.
He said: “It would be difficult to set a crime threshold for the use of communications data for a number of reasons, even by reference to the gravity of the offence.
“Previous statutory attempts to define serious crime have not produced satisfactory results and some “less serious” offences can have very serious impacts on the victims.
“It is therefore much better to leave it to the authorising officer to decide, in relation to the facts of each individual investigation, whether the application to use communications data to detect it is necessary and proportionate.”
Dominic Raab, the Tory MP, said: “This kind of intrusive surveillance is already shifting too far away from targeting terrorists and serious criminals towards indiscriminately monitoring ordinary citizens.”
Last week, Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said the new powers will only stop “incompetent criminals and accidental anarchists” and not the “really scary people”.
He said terrorists and organised criminals would simply find a way around the tactic and not use established providers or encrypt their messages.
Mr Graham also launched a thinly veiled criticism of the Home Office that he was not being given either the powers or resources to regulate any future system.
Whedon, who describes himself as a liberal and a feminist and publically backs LGBT rights, including gay marriage, is seen stocking up on canned goods as if preparing for a disaster, as he explains his decision to shift his alliegiance from President Obama.
“Mitt Romney is a very different kind of candidate. One with the vision and determination to cut through the business as usual politics and finally put this country back on the path to the zombie apocalypse,” he says.
“Romney’s ready to make the deep rollbacks in healthcare, education, social services and reproductive rights that will guarantee poverty, unemployment, overpolulation disease and rioting. All crucial elements in creating a nightmare zombie wasteland.”
But it is Romney’s support for “ungoverned corporate privilege” that Whedon predicts will plunge the economy into “true insolvency and chaos”.
Musing that no one can predict whether the zombie hordes will be the old school shuffling kind or the speedier type from 28 Days Later, he says: “The 1% won’t be the very rich. It will be the very fast,”
The director adds: “Mitt’s not afraid to face a ravening grasping hoard of subhumans – because that’s how he sees poor people already.”
Whedon’s video is the latest in a series of celebrity election endorsements. Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s Girls, appears in an Obama campaign ad in which she urges young women who are first time voters to lose their election virginity to “someone who really cares about women”.
The clip, entitled The First Time, provoked outrage from conservative commentators, who described as ‘tasteless’ and ‘disgusting’.
Actor Samuel L Jackson also stars in a rhyming bedtime story in which he tells Obama supporters to “Wake The Fuck Up” and support the Democrat campaign.
Of the 450 “high wealth” individuals, 54 are resident abroad for tax purposes.
This is the first time the tax authorities have released figures relating to how many Irish tax exiles are in the super-rich league.
Revenue said that last year its “high wealth” section dealt with 450 individuals who have net assets worth more than €50m and non-residents with “substantial economic interests” in Ireland.
It said the “number of non-resident individuals that are considered by Revenue to be high-wealth individuals is currently 54”.
Membership of the “54” club is confidential. But some of Ireland’s biggest business figures are known to have moved their bases to generous foreign tax shelters. This means they only have to pay tax on Irish earnings and not on their worldwide income.
Denis O’Brien, the telecoms entrepreneur and significant stakeholder in Independent News & Media (INM), is tax resident in Malta. Dermot Desmond, the founder of NCB stockbrokers and another shareholder in INM, is tax resident in Gibraltar.
Michael Smurfit, the paper packaging tycoon, has moved to Monaco while the racehorse magnates JP McManus and John Magnier are both tax resident in Switzerland. The supergroup U2 moved part of their business from Ireland to Holland after the Government capped the tax exemption scheme for artists.
In contrast, Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair chief executive whose wealth is estimated at €438m by rich lists, famously said he is happy to pay his taxes here.
While the official number of “tax exiles” is 10,781, some are people who moved abroad, rent their homes and pay tax here on the rental income. Others are foreigners working for multinationals here, or who have investments here.
Collectively they generated €49m in tax last year although it’s not clear how much the super-rich club of 54 contributed.
The issue of tax exiles has riled the taxpaying public, according to recent research by the Labour Party which showed that tax exiles were one of the main issues exercising voters. The Government plans to examine the issue of tax exiles in the Budget, with Labour pressing to tighten up the residency rules.
To qualify as “non-resident”, they must spend less than 183 days a year in Ireland, or 280 days over two years.
Michael Noonan, the Finance Minister, has been lobbied by business interests claiming that any attempt to tighten tax exile rules would scare off investors. A “domicile levy” of €200,000 imposed on wealthy Irish citizens living abroad for tax purposes raised just €1.6m in 2010.
Gerald Nash, a Labour TD for Louth, said: “While it is a fact that Ireland now has a taxation system that is considered by international standards to be among the fairest in the world, the system at the higher end needs to be radically altered to ensure that exacting standards are applied to so-called tax exiles in terms of their treatment for tax purposes.”
Above German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble
Ahead of today’s visit to Dublin by German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, German officials said retooling the emergency loans to the defunct bank was more politically palatable than transferring Irish legacy bank debt to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) bailout fund.
Irish officials indicated yesterday that Minister for Finance Michael Noonan would concentrate in today’s talks on the promissory note – issued to pay depositors and creditors of Anglo Irish Bank and, later, Irish Nationwide – and would return to the legacy debt issue when there was more promise of political progress.
Mr Schäuble will hold talks with Mr Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin ahead of a joint press conference. Both sides played down expectations of substantial progress today, ahead of Thursday’s talks in Berlin between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and German chancellor Angela Merkel.
“On the promissory notes it’s difficult to say anything in public as, officially speaking, this is European Central Bank territory,” said a German political source.
“A promissory note deal wouldn’t change the actual amount of debt,” said another official, “but would turn it into a 40-year mortgage.”
The promissory note obligations, an IOU issued to stabilise Anglo Irish Bank, have been the subject of ongoing technical discussions with the ECB.