Last April, Minister of State for Small Business John Perry wrote to the chief executives of Bank of Ireland and AIB asking them to meet a Government advisory group and set out their positions on funding small and medium-sized enterprises, and how they dealt with SMEs with distressed loans.
“It is imperative that we listen to the voice of small business,” said Perry. Indeed when Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed him to the ministerial ranks it was because of Perry’s “understanding of small business”.
The extent of Perry’s understanding of distressed loans in the SME sector became clearer yesterday when the Sligo politician and his wife, Marie, consented in the Commercial Court to a judgment of €2.47 million against them in favour of Danske Bank
The debt related to a €2.42 million loan advanced to the couple in October 2011, which itself was a restructuring of existing loans. To use the phrase made infamous by the Anglo Irish recordings, Perry as the relevant Minister had skin in the game.
The court proceedings disclosed that security and collateral on the loan included the Stone Park Restaurant, Perry’s Hardware shop in the politician’s home town ofBallymote, Co Sligo, as well as 50 acres of agricultural land.
The Fine Gael politician did not make himself available for comment yesterday and a spokeswoman said: “The matter remains before the court and he will not be making any comment until [proceedings are concluded].”
Registration of the judgment is scheduled for September 2nd. The Perrys had sought a three-month stay on the registration to allow them seek a resolution but counsel for Danske Bank objected on the grounds that they had had ample time to do so.
The judgment will create major political problems for Perry and might even cast a strong doubt on his future status as a TD. Officially the Government will make no comment about the case but privately officials have said it is a private matter for the Minister of State that does not impinge on his public duties in Government.
He will be the second Minister in the past year to have his financial affairs exposed to scrutiny, following the inclusion of Minister for Health James Reilly’s name in Stubbs’ Gazette. Politically, however, the judgment will have more ramifications for Perry.
He is, after all, the Minister for Small Business. And in his position, can he credibly call – as he did last April – for the chief executives of the country’s biggest banks to explain their position on distressed loans to an advisory group of which he is a member when he himself is in that category? The Dáil is in recess but will be returning within a fortnight of the judgment being registered.
The highest mileage, travel and subsistence costs revealed once again go to Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation John “The Promise” Perry. He is from Sligo and claimed mileage expenses for 179,218km.
Mr Perry’s total travel and subsistence costs between March 2011 and last July 14th came to €71,887.
Hopefully he will use these expenses to pay some of the debts he owes .
John Perry, the Fine Gael Minister for Small Business, is being taken to court by Danske Bank which is seeking repayment of close to €1.3m in loans racked up during the property boom.
The Sligo TD owns a number of businesses and properties in and around his Ballymote power base. The latest register of Oireachtas members’ interests lists his assets as including a supermarket, apartment, funeral home, 70 acres of land in various locations and offices in Ballymote and Sligo town.
If he has any sense of decency John Perry a Minister who has blatantly lied to his constituents and is being taken to court for nonpayment of debts should immediately resign his seat. However it is unliky that this arragant ywat will do so.
Generally, this man only opens his mouth to change the foot he has wedged in there. When the two feet are not at home, he comes out with gems that do not inspire confidence… “There must be assistance for small businesses that are creating unemployment throughout the country”(Dáil speech).
Rest assured this man will do nothing concrete to stimulate the retail sector where approx 40,000 jobs have been lost in the past five years. Regretfully due to Government policies, many more localized jobs are uncertain due to the inactivity of this no-getter. Even so, then again, what can you expect from a man who cannot even get around to fixing the local potholes?
John the Promise in another open-mouthed gesture guaranteed the restoration of Breast cancer services to Sligo General hospital within 100 days of Government. During a live interview with Ocean FM concerning the return of cancer services to the North West of Ireland. Perry hung up the phone when questioned on his failure to deliver on his promise. He claimed that the presenter had an agenda against him. What a cringing cop out, what paucity of thought. Perhaps a taste of things to come – A true-blue arrogant fascist to the end.
I have just done this man a slight disservice for I understand he is a high flier when it comes to claiming the few bob.
For expenses in his first twelve months, this man topped the bill. Among his colleagues, he is known as the King of uncertified reimbursement.
In conclusion, what can one say about Perry? Maybe he is a bit like the invisible man. Could you pick him out from a line-up of expense villains? That folk is the story of Perry the obscure, invisible before the election and unseen after it just waiting for his Bisto pension.
Sligo’s junior minister John Perry TD has been harshly criticized after he claimed in the Dáil that many Irish were “emigrating by choice.”
The TD said he knew people who were “delighted” to be emigrating to the US and Canada for work.
His own south Sligo town, Ballymote, has seen many ‘American wakes’ in recent years with one weekend last year seeing the emigration of six young men followed the following weekend by another four forced to move.
Local GAA clubs have lost a signicant number of young players to the scourge of emigration with some having to suspend under-manned teams.
According to official CSO figures, over 87,000 people left Ireland in the year leading up to April 2012, with emigration surging to levels not experienced since the famine. 1,600 people are emigrating every single month. That is nine people leaving the country every single hour.
Perry, the Minister of State for Small Business, was answering questions from the opposition and specifically claims from Sinn Féin that nine people are emigrating from the State every hour when he said, “There are people emigrating by choice. I know several young people who will be quite delighted to go to the United States if they can get in, or to Canada if they have the required qualifications.”
Opposition TDs said most workers would be happier at home but Perry argued that there was a certain balance “for highly educated people, emigration was a matter of choice.”
Perry said the Government was doing its best to sort out the economy but “one cannot just wave a magic wand.”
His comments were described as offensive and disingenuous by opposition TDs with Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary saying that most of those who had emigrated “would be happier here at home”.
Sinn Féin jobs spokesman Peadar Tóibín criticized Perry’s comments, saying: “Most emigration is forced emigration.”
“It is astonishing that a minister in the Department of Jobs is that detached from reality to claim that those emigrating do so from personal choice.”
Bríd O’Brien of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed responded, “People of all age groups are emigrating because there’s no work here.
“We’ve lost an awful lot of jobs. I think a lot are leaving because they feel they have to.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Youth Affairs Senator Kathryn Reilly has called on Minister of State John Perry to apologise to those young people and their families who have been forced to emigrate to find work.
Senator Reilly said, “The majority of emigrants are under 25 years of age. They are leaving in search of work. They are leaving because Fine Gael and Labour have failed to invest in job creation.
“For Minister of State Perry top suggest that these people are choosing to leave is an insult to them and to their families.
“Minister of State Perry should apologise to these young people and to their families, not only for his insulting comments, but also for his Government’s failure to address the youth unemployment and emigration crisis.”
Tomorrow Is Perry the worst Minister of State Ever?
Jobs not Debt, 9th Febr
ens of thousands of people have marched through cities in Ireland in a massive show of anger against severe austerity measures and high costs of living.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions,which organized the rallies, claimed more than 100,000 people attended, with some 60,000 marching in Dublin. Demonstrators also protested in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford.
Tough cuts were implemented to please Ireland’s creditors in the wake of the country’s banking crisis. It has been relying on a joint EU-IMF loan since 2010.
The “Lift the Burden” march took place despite the Irish government’s recent bank debt deal with the European Central Bank. It saw 28 billion euro worth of costly promissory notes swapped for long-term sovereign bonds.
The union’s General Secretary David Begg vowed that the campaign against the debt burden will carry on until the European authorities fully honor the agreement reached last July to separate bank debt from sovereign debt, The Irish Times reported.
“It would be fatal for people to believe this issue is now resolved and we can all move on,” David Begg said. “At the onset of the crisis Ireland had one of the lowest debt to GDP ratios in Europe. The difference between then and now is due entirely to Ireland socializing bank debt at the behest of the ECB, to save the European banking system.”
I’ve no confidence at all in the deal, it won’t make any difference to ordinary people,” Alfie Murray who marched in Dublin with his 8-year-old grandson, told Reuters. “It’s the next generation that’ll shoulder the cost,” he said.
Financial advisor Marco Pietropoli explained to RT that the Irish per capita have ended up with a far bigger bill than the most countries who had a bailout. “Therefore they are suffering a great deal more.”
Pietropoli says that Ireland’s situation is one of the most difficult in the EU and that Dublin’s holding of the bloc’s presidency isn’t likely to make things any better.
“I don’t think the Irish with the presidency are necessarily going to be able to exert much pressure or much influence to actually change the situation in Europe, because the power remains with the Germans.”
Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘Fracking’, is an
Industrial process used to exploit ‘unconventional gas plays’, areas where methane gas is distributed throughout the rock layer rather than concentrated in one reservoir. Fracking involves pumping massive volumes of water(3 to 5 million gallons plus per well), mixed with sand and chemicals, under huge pressure, to open up natural fissures in the gas bearing rock and allow the gas to be forced up the well to the surface to be harvested.
While Fracking has been around since the late 1940s, recent technological advances have led to a huge surge in shale gas exploitation since 2007. The Bush regime in the US exempted Fracking from clean air and water legislation, which allowed it to proliferate with a minimal of environmental regulation.
Fracking has caused environmental degradation and pollution of water supplies across the US. A 2011 study by researchers at Duke University in the US firmly establishes the connection between the Fracking process and
water contamination*. Three companies have been given preliminary authorisations to explore for shale gas in parts of 12 Irish counties, including
Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Fermanagh and Clare. Five Irish local authorities have voted to ban Fracking, but the decision on whether or not to allow it will rest with Government ministers and the Environmental Protection Agency.
There are numerous concerns surrounding this process, including:
• Environmental damage, air and water pollution,
in particular drinking water supply;
• Excessive water usage;
• Industrialisation of a rural landscape with
drilling pads on intersections of a 2 km grid;
• Infrastructure risk caused by a massive increase
in HGV traffic and resultant damage
to roads and increased risk of accidents;
• Long term human and animal health risks;
• Delaying of the transition to a low-carbon
• Economic risks, another short term construction
boom, followed by a massive bill
to the taxpayer to clean up the environmental
damage, while ownership of the gas is
transferred to private companies with a
negligible financial return to the State;
• Risks to Ireland’s tourism industry and to
Ireland’s reputation as a clean, green food
Crucial information including repeated requests for a termination were not recorded in Savita Halappanavar’s medical records, her husband’s solicitor claimed yesterday.
Gerard O’Donnell, representing Praveen Halappanavar, said the notes covering her care on Monday, October 22nd, when it is alleged she made her first request for a termination, were “particularly scant”.
“It’s almost as if a whole day is missing from the notes,” he said last night. He said while there were records kept of her having cups of tea or of her husband asking for extra blankets for her, there was none on the requested termination.
Ms Halappanavar died at the hospital on October 28th, having presented with severe backpain a week earlier. She had been 17-weeks pregnant and had been found to be miscarrying. Mr Halappanavar says she asked repeatedly, between Monday 21st and Wednesday 23rd, that the pregnancy be terminated. This was refused, he says, as a foetal heartbeat was present and he claims they were told: “This is a Catholic country.”
She contracted E-coli and septicaemia and died four days after the foetus.
“There is no reference in the notes to the fact a termination was requested,” said Mr O’Donnell. “It is extremely fortunate that there were other people in the room when one of the requests was made, on the Tuesday morning, to witness the request and the reference to Ireland being a Catholic country.”
Mr Halappanavar has said the first request was made on Monday 22nd and that the consultant said she would have to check if this was permissible.
Mr Halappanavar has told The Irish Times the consultant returned on Tuesday morning.
He said she told them a termination was not possible as long as the foetal heartbeat remained, and made the “Catholic country” reference.
Also in the room, he has said, were a family friend, two junior doctors and a midwife.
Mr O’Donnell said he wrote to Galway University Hospital on November 2nd asking for copies of Ms Halappanavar’s medical notes and received them on November 16th.
Minister for Health James Reilly was asked about the claims of gaps in the health records in Sligo last night. He said: “Obviously this is of concern and this is a substantive matter for the investigation”.
HSE director general designate Tony O’Brien said information that Mr Halappanavar had that would “speak to any inconsistencies between what’s in the record and his personal knowledge would be of great value to the review team”.
A HSE spokeswoman said: “The investigation team has commenced its work and, as such, it would not be appropriate at this juncture to attempt to address matters which come within its remit. The investigation now under way will be important in terms of determining the completeness of information regarding the care provided to Ms Halappanavar.”
Meanwhile, advocacy group Patient Focus said its representative on the HSE inquiry team would walk away from any investigation which was not about getting to the bottom of what happened.
SPENDING IN Sligo Regional Hospital continues to be €800,000-plus per month over its approved budget, according to the latest figures released by the HSE last night (Tuesday).
However, finances in the hospital improved marginally — by a fifth of one percent — during September.
Sligo Regional is now listed 13th in Ireland — from 119 centres — for rates of absenteeism. General support staff, nursing and management/admin are the grades identified.
St Johns Hospital is also showing a budget overrun in excess of 10% for the year.
The ‘shave back’ and savings in Sligo Regional Hospital helped contribute to a national picture which saw the HSE’s overall deficit for 2012 drop back to €399 million — it’s first drop.
Sligo Regional Hospital has spent €7.4 million more than its allocated budget in the first nine months of 2012, last night’s official statistics confirm.
The Hospital has now exceeded its annual budget by 10.5%, states the HSE Performance Report for September.
Statistics for Sligo Regional Hospital reveal that by September 30th it had spent €78.4 million of its entire 2012 budget of €92.3 million.
The budget allocated by the Department of Health for 2012 suggested that Sligo Regional Hospital should have been able to get by with €70.9 million between January 1st and September 30th.
In St John’s Hospital, the accumulated budget overrun for the year now stands at €1.3 million — a 10.2% overrun.
St Johns show heavy spending on agency costs for staff in medical/dental; it accounted for 23% of payroll costs in September.
The Minister for Health, Dr Reilly, has iterated all year that there will be no bail-out for HSE or hospitals running over budget.
The Government has been under some pressure from The Troika, which oversees Ireland’s bailout. It has criticised spending on health.
The Irish Times reports this morning that the Government has agreed “to comply by the end of the month with a request from the EU-IMF troika for a detailed plan to tackle the spending overrun in the health service.”
RTE has, however, offered a glimmer of hope; unexpended capital budgets in 2012 may be considered for reallocation to current-side budgets, the station’s Health Correspondent Fergal Bowers indicated last night on television.
Fianna Fáil’s Health spokesman Billy Kelleher separately predicted the Minister “will move to ‘shore up’ his budget failings by moving unspent money from his Department’s capital allocation to current spending.”
A nursing union leader, Liam Doran of the INMO, said that talk of budget overruns was ”an accountants exercise.” The original budget was wholly inadequate, he said.
Criticism of budget overrun was “unfair, misguided and unwarranted,” added Mr Doran, who praised staff for “heroic” efforts.
The leading Labour Party councillor in Sligo, Cllr Jim McGarry, has also queried in past fortnight whether Sligo Regional Hospital has been under funded by the Government. See SligoToday.ie 5/11/2012
No Specific Reference
There is no specific reference to Cregg House in the Performance Report released last night.
Page 40 deals with an update assessment titled: ”Service Arrangements and Grant Aid Agreements.”
It remains unclear if this section — unlikely — includes any reference to the ongoing impasse between the HSE and the Daughters of Wisdom at Cregg House.
The Performance Report states: ”….Of the 27 Non Acute Agencies in receipt of over €10 million in the non acute sector, 14 have completed, with the remainder all indicating that they will sign with the exception of a single provider.”
This single provider, adds the Report, ”is in negotiations on whether they will continue to provide services.”
The Report speaks of “cost containment issues,” in particular in HSE dealings with disability agencies.
The Daughters six months ago publicly highlighted an issue of under funding in a proposed renewal of its Service Level Agreement (SLA) and said they could not continue.
In the past two months the Daughters again re-stated their commitment to leave after 57 years but offered an extension to January to the HSE.
The Performance Reports provides the most up-to-date picture of what is happening at all levels inside Irish hospitals, community services and the HSE itself.
In comparison, the report released Monday by the Economic, Social and Research Institute (ESRI) — which assessed hospitals including Sligo Regional Hospital — refers only to 2011 and an historical analysis of data.
They Reports are released online each month after all data and commentary for the relevant month has first been sent to the Minister for Health.
Sligo Regional is highlighted in the Performance Report for high levels of absenteeism. It is 13th in the country on a rolling assessment over three months up to August.
Cregg House is placed 112th in a list of 119 named centres, while Roscommon County Hospital is 7th in Irish health settings for absenteeism.
The absenteeism issue in Sligo is once again ‘flagged’ in the summary comment to the Minister.
General support staff (9.75%), nursing staff (7.39%) and and management/admin (6.48%) absenteeism rates in Sligo Regional Hospital all far exceed the national average of 4.7% for the three month rolling period under review.
No reasons are offered in the Performance Report, or elsewhere, as to why absenteeism — and across several grades — remains high in Sligo Regional Hospital.
The Performance Report indicates that nine in every ten incidents of absenteeism is certified — 89.8%
Finally, 1.8 million medical cards had been issued by October 1st — almost 40,000 more than were planned in budgets for 2012, says the Performance Report.
It took almost 40 minutes for all the charges against the nun to be read out to the jury of seven women and five men at a special sitting of Sligo Circuit Court.
The trial has been moved to Sligo from the area where the alleged offences took place.
Sister Peter would call her alleged victims to the front of third class at the school to indecently assault them, Aileen Donnelly for the DPP told the jury.
Ms Donnelly went on: “They were brought up to the desk and they were abused by indecent touching.
“This amounted to a system of abuse . . . and systematic indecent assaults.”
Ms Donnelly said the 63 counts would not cover all the allegations, but the prosecution had reduced the number of alleged assaults to help “with the administration of justice”.
Sister Mary Theresa Grogan, dressed in a black-and-white tweed suit and white top, had earlier pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
The court heard she joined her order in the 1960s and had become a teacher at the Midlands school in the early 1970s.
She left Ireland in 1990 and returned to the Midlands in 2005.
Ms Donnelly said that, on seeing her return, one of the alleged victims made a formal complaint to gardai in January 2006.
The trial continues at Sligo Circuit Court.
CIRCUS ANIMALS are safe coming to Sligo for the foreseeable future.
Hopefully, they have no hang-ups as some strong things were said about them this week.
Fianna Fáil went walkabout before the vote, with neither of its two councillors, Rosaleen O’Grady and Jude Devins, present for the debate.
Cllr Arthur Gibbons wanted the Council to prevent any of its land being used when the circus comes to town.
However, Cllr Matt Lyons put in a stormer to champion the cause of the circus.
And get this — and this is rare — Cllr Declan Bree sat on the fence!
Room To Exercise
He was proud to put down such a Motion as times have changed.
Elephants were taken away from their mothers at a very young age and animals didn’t even have room to exercise when travelling with circuses.
Cllr Matt Lyons said ”I’ve a lot of humanity in my body but I don’t agree with this.”
”I’ve been to circuses and don’t agree animals are abused or ill-treated.
”If this Motion is passed we won’t be able to fish, hunt or anything.” Circus animals were treated better than those on farms. Dogs had been left hanging from gates.
Cllr Daniel McGarrigle said he came from an agricultural background. ”The next call will be to close zoos. If we go down this road where do we stop?
Cllr Marcella McGarry said she had listened to debates on radio. Two circus managers had invited people to come and check animal welfare and found nothing wrong.
Cllr Declan Bree said he didn’t have strong views either way if animals are treated subject to law.
Mayor David Cawley said he appreciated the sentiment in the Motion. But the Fairgreen was the only site affected and it didn’t have circuses anymore.
These were Irish businesses, he said, and subjected to regulation.
In reply, Cllr Gibbons said it was about sending out a message to ”stop this cruelty.”
The comparison with domestic and zoo animals was not fair, as those animals were born in that habitat, he said.
Other speakers included Cllr Veronica Cawley and Cllr Jim McGarry.
The vote to impose the ban on circuses using Borough Council property in Sligo resulted as follows:-
Cllr Arthur Gibbons
Cllr Chris MacManus
Cllr Matt Lyons
Cllr Marcella McGarry
Cllr Daniel McGarrigle
Mayor David Cawley
Cllr Veronica Cawley
Cllr Delan Bree
ABSENT FROM VOTE (2)
Cllr Rosaleen O’Grady
Cllr Jude Devins
SOME of Sligo‘s primary classes are among the most overcrowded in the country.
More than 1,400 pupils are in ‘supersize’ classes of 30 or more.
That represents 21 percent of primary students in the county.
Sixty- two percent of pupils are in classes of 20 or more and 17 percent in classes under 20.
Leitrim has 18 percent of pupils in classes under 20.
Peter Mullan, Media Officer, INTO said: “Ninety percent of pupils in Sligo schools are in classes of 20 or more.”