In a move that will be interpreted as yet another distancing of Enda Kenny‘s Government from co-operation with the Holy See, the Taoiseach has failed for the first time to issue a statement this year in response to the Pope’s message for World Day of Peace on January 1.
The practice of a statement from the Taoiseach in response to the Pope’s message has been customary for decades.
However, 2013 now marks the first year a Taoiseach has failed to do so, The Irish Catholic can reveal.
Traditionally the Taoiseach welcomes the Pontiff’s message in accordance with previous years while highlighting important human rights issues. This has been the norm for former Taoisigh up until this year when the practise mysteriously ceased.
The Department of the Taoiseach refused to say why Mr Kenny stopped the long-running practice.
In response to a question from The Irish Catholic, a spokesman for the Taoiseach said: “It is not common practice for leaders to issue their own responses” to the Pope’s message, “nor is there an expectation to do so”.
However, this is contradicted by the fact that this is the first year that no statement was made.
In fact, Mr Kenny made such a statement last year which endorsed Pope Benedict’s New Year message.
In that statement the Taoiseach called for Ireland to become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the same council that in 2007 criticised Ireland’s failure to clarify its abortion laws, reiterating “its concern regarding the highly restrictive circumstances under which women can lawfully have an abortion in the State”, regretting “that the progress in this regard is slow”.
In this year’s peace message, Pope Benedict insisted that “the killing of a defenceless and innocent being will never be able to produce happiness or peace”.
His message comes at a timely moment in Ireland as the Catholic hierarchy is set to bring its concerns about proposed legislation for limited abortion directly to the Government politicians.
Enda Kenny to accept Nobel Peace Prize today
ENDA KENNY IS to travel to Norway this morning with 17 other European leaders to collect the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the EU.
The Taoiseach’s office said he will be present at the ceremony in Oslo City Hall but it is understood that the award will be presented to the three Presidents of the main EU institutions – Martin Schultz, José Manuel Barroso and Herman van Rompuy.
Kenny will be joined by Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Francois Hollande but British Prime Minister David Cameron, Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt and Czech President Vaclav Klaus all decided to skip the event.
Of the snub, Cameron said,�“There will be enough people to collect the prize.”
After the ceremony, Kenny will attend a gathering for visiting heads of State and Government, hosted by Prime Minister Stoltenberg. He will also hold a bi-lateral meeting with the Norway leader, as well as with Danish Prime Minister Hell Thorning-Schmidt.
The Nobel Committee awarded the peace prize to the EU for bringing more than half a century of peace to a continent ripped apart by World War II. Although the decision was met with some ridicule, the almost €1 million in prize money is to be donated to children affected by war and conflit.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was warned the decision could have implications for 25,000 jobs and future investment.
Early this year, the HSE decided not to reimburse new drugs that had passed all regulatory stages and were becoming available for use in patients. They included drugs for treating skin cancer and cost up to €85,000.
In correspondence with Mr Kenny, up to 20 multinational drug firms claimed that the HSE move was portraying Ireland negatively and could have “unintended consequences” for Ireland.
The details have emerged against a backdrop of continuing controversy over the price of medicines and Government efforts to curb costs, including the cost of drugs. A recent survey found that the cost of some medicines here is among the highest in the world.
It has also emerged that the price paid for drugs in Ireland is of critical importance for pharmaceutical companies as it influences the price in many other countries, both within and outside the EU, as part of an international price-referencing effect.
Earlier this year the HSE argued that no specific budget had been provided to it to pay for the cost of new drugs and medicines coming on the market after approval.
However, the multinational drug companies argued that a ban on reimbursing new drugs by the HSE represented a breach of a supply agreement with the State.
In June Minister for Health James Reilly reached an interim deal with the pharmaceutical industry that involved reductions in the price of certain off-patent medicines. He claimed this could save up to €20 million in a full year.
As a condition of the agreement the HSE was obliged to add to its list of items for reimbursement “drugs which in the normal course of events would have been approved under its schemes”.
In effect, this meant that the HSE could not refuse to pay for drugs for financial reasons.
In October the Government secured a full agreement with the pharmaceutical industry which it said could generate €400 million in savings over three years. In return for making price concessions, the pharmaceutical companies reinforced the principle that new medicines will be approved under the HSE’s drug schemes once they have been proven to be cost effective.
However, new documents released by the Government show that Mr Kenny received strong representations on the cuts by leading pharmaceutical companies. The letters had been written in February and March and many struck a similar tone.
In one, the president of Eli Lilly, John C Lechleiter, was concerned that “your Government’s recent decision not to reimburse new medicines puts at risk this aspiration and portrays Ireland negatively to inward investors such as Lilly”.
Mr Lechleiter pointed out that Lilly employed more than 700 people in Ireland in two manufacturing sites. “I believe further price cuts and a blanket ban on reimbursement of new medicines could have a number of unintended consequences for the wider Irish economy.”
The chairman of Johnson and Johnson, William C Weldon, told Mr Kenny in a letter: “When new medicines are scientifically and independently judged to be of value and improve health outcomes, it is imperative that they are made available to Irish patients.”
TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny said “an avalanche of speculation” over Ireland’s debt legacy last weekend was damaging as he confirmed the process of assistance for Ireland under the European Stability Mechanism was under way.
He said this process did not involve a second bailout programme, and reiterated the decision of June 29th to break the link between sovereign and bank debt.
Speaking at the announcement of 100 jobs at Voxpro in Cork yesterday, the Taoiseach referred to what he described as damaging speculation last weekend over comments by German chancellor Angela Merkel which appeared to rule out backdated recapitalisation’s of euro zone banks.
“There was an avalanche of comment and speculation as if this was reality last weekend. Doing down our country, in fact, when clearly at the very highest level of the European Union we have a clear understanding from our communiqué and from the press conference with the French president of what that understanding actually is. So we are now in a process of negotiation and discussion about how the assistance can be given to Ireland, not if any assistance can be given to Ireland.”
Responding to comments by a spokesman for Dr Merkel’s CDU party yesterday, who said new conditions would have to apply if the ESM was used in such a manner, Mr Kenny said that he had never “envisaged” a second bailout.
“I wouldn’t put any kind of term like that on it,” Mr Kenny said. “Part of that decision was to recognise the special circumstances that apply in Ireland’s case in that our banks have already been recapitalised at public expense.
“The joint communiqué issued by myself and the German chancellor on Sunday … clearly says that the special case that applies in Ireland will be taken into account in the negotiations and the discussions that are now the mandate of the eurogroup or the ministers for finance.”
He said the Government was pursuing the decision made on June 29th to bring it to reality.
“This is not a sort of troika bailout situation that applies now, Ireland’s banks have been recapitalised to the highest level. that’s a matter of historical record. That burden has been put on our taxpayers and that’s why we are pursuing the decision taken on June 29th to bring that to reality which will ease our position somewhat.”
Moments after Mr Kenny declared in Brussels that he had achieved solid progress overnight at a tense EU summit, Dr Merkel moved abruptly to curtail the scope of the effort to break the link between bank and sovereign debt.
The chancellor’s intervention, which took high-level EU figures by surprise, has cast a new cloud of uncertainty over the feasibility of Mr Kenny’s demands.
For the first time in public, she backed her finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble in his assertion that national bodies must remain responsible for most banking debts.
The question of who takes responsibility for “legacy” banking debts has emerged as one the most sensitive issues to be settled in complex talks on the recapitalisation of stricken banks by the ESM.
Although EU leaders decided at the summit to farm out this discussion to euro zone finance ministers, Dr Merkel pre-empted these talks even though the EU leaders did not address this question at the summit.
Their focus had been on fixing a January 1st deadline for a legal agreement on new powers for the European Central Bank to supervise commercial banks, a precondition for direct ESM aid to banks.
This was a “very progressive” step forward, Mr Kenny told reporters. “So that’s good news from that point of view for Ireland and for Europe.”
It was only shortly afterwards, in a briefing room down the corridor from where Mr Kenny held his own press conference, that Dr Merkel spoke.
Answering a reporter’s question about the possibility that any ESM rescue of Spain’s banks would damage her re-election campaign next year, she ruled out the fund taking on retrospective liabilities.
“I hadn’t even thought of the elections before hearing such ideas here. The capital needs of Spanish banks have just been evaluated and a programme for their recapitalisation has been agreed,” she said.
Spain only needs to ask for the tranches of funds. There will be no retroactive direct recapitalisation, either.” These remarks were immediately seen as an implicit rebuff to the demands of Mr Kenny and his supporters for a mutualisation of banking debt.
A German government spokesman in Berlin later said her remarks were simply a reiteration of the current legal position and that there was nothing new in them; they were not about Ireland.
In Dublin, the Government spokesman also sought to play down the significance of her remarks.
“We understand that Chancellor Merkel was asked a direct question about the recapitalisation of Spanish banks and she replied in that context,” he said. His statement also noted that the pledge by EU leaders to sever the loop between bank and sovereign debt still stands.
The possibility of the ESM paying for existing bank debts is crucial for Spain, given fears that its banking crisis could overwhelm the government of premier Mariano Rajoy.
This, in turn, has prompted anxiety in France and Italy that any escalation of the Spanish banking emergency would affect them.
Top-ranked French officials said the notion of the ESM taking on historic debt was seriously in play in the wake of the summit. “The discussion we must have is to guarantee the retroactive effect of this, which is very important vis-à-vis the markets. It will take some time – weeks or months,” a senior Elysée figure said.
“It’s important to reflect on the stability of the euro zone and how to deal with this historic problem.”
However, he was unable to say when such a deal might be secured, and acknowledged a lot of work remained to be done on the nature and scale of any deal.
Despite views expressed recently by finance ministers from three countries, including Germany, that European rescue funds should not take on “legacy” banking debt, Mr Kenny insisted it will happen for Ireland.
He said the European leaders’ decision to “break the toxic link between bank debt and sovereign debt” last June could not be reneged on. “I’m very clear on this: we are going to get a deal on debt. The nature and scale of the deal is yet to be worked out, but the decision has been made.”
Mr Kenny was speaking at an event in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of a two-day visit to the US aimed at enhancing business and tourism links between the two countries.
Mr Kenny said the HSE was a completely dysfunctional organisation which had been formed in 2004 by squashing the former health boards together.
He said that no-one had ever said it could be sorted out in 12 months.
“What’s happening now is the start of a generational reform in the health service in this country,” he said.
Mr Kenny was speaking after the HSE confirmed that its budget overrun at the end of last month stood at €374m.
At the end of August the figure was €329m.
“Are we facing similar cuts to acute hospitals? What are the implications of these overruns in terms of patient services?” he asked.
But Mr Kenny maintained that patients would still get effective treatment in hospitals, who were treating more people with fewer resources.
“When this is completed, you will have a health service that will deliver in terms of the people’s money being channelled for real effective health services for all our people,” he said.
Kenny accepts latest interest rate hike difficult – but won’t stop it – National News – Independent.ie
But he refused to step to block the second hike by AIB in two months.
The State-owned bank announced last week it would be raising its interest rate by 0.5pc to 4pc – two days after the bank paid €1bn to senior unsecured bondholders.
The move affects the bank’s 70,000 variable-rate customers, will see already-struggling homeowners coughing up an extra €1,222 a year for a standard €200,000 mortgage. Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the rate increase will “bleed the ordinary householder across the country”.
Mr Kenny said the decision was made by the AIB board.
Enda Kenny and James Reilly the Health Minister are out on the golf course when all of a sudden, Reilly collapses .He doesn’t seem to be breathing, and his eyes are glazed. Kenny whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps Reilly is dead! What can I do? The operator says calm down. I can help. First lets make sure he is dead. There is a silence then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “ok now what”
Kenny said he was “leading Ireland’s fight to recover from the bust”… Ireland’s Gross Domestic Product beginning to sneak upward once again, Mr. Kenny may prove himself anything but the “fool” that his predecessor (then T Brian Cowen) called him in 2010.
Mr. Kenny was asked by Time magazine why there had been no large-scale demonstrations in Ireland against cutbacks as there had been in other European countries.
“People understand that you have to do difficult things to sort out our own public finances,” he said.
I do not know what Kenny did to get such a favourable interview, but he for sure got off lightly. One suspects the journalist from Time magazine has absolutely no idea of what is happening in Ireland.
Does the woman not know we have high unemployment, increasing immigration? A lowering of all social services with further social charges be implemented and most likely additional tax charges in the upcoming budget, etc.?
Madam hear is the real Enda Kenny