What is truth?

Posts tagged ‘Batt O’Keeffe’

Ireland to-day

 

Noel Dempsey, Dermot Ahern and Tony Killeen have joined Mary Harney in resigning from Cabinet.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach confirmed that he had received letters of resignation from the three.

The ministers had already announced that they are not to contest the general election.

Their letters are to be forwarded to the President who will formally accept the resignations.

Their resignations bring the number of vacancies in the Cabinet to five.

Earlier, Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney announced that she had offered her resignation to the Taoiseach, after deciding not to contest the next General Election.

Ms Harney told RTÉ News this evening that she did not believe it was appropriate for someone who was not running in the election to continue to serve in Cabinet.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has told the Dáil that the General Election will take place on Friday, 11 March.

Watch live

Mr Cowen said the Finance Bill will be brought before Dáil next week and will make its way through the legislative stages over the following weeks.

He also rejected the Labour Party notion that he was engaging in a stunt regarding the ministerial resignation and said the truth was far from it.

He said on the 11 March he will go to the country with a strong front bench line up and said the election was about the future of the country.

Mr Cowen also announced that President McAleese has accepted the resignations of Ministers Mary Harney, Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey, Tony Killeen and Batt O’Keeffe.

Mr Cowen paid tribute to their work. He also confirmed Batt O’Keeffe would not be contesting the election.

He has reassigned the following Government portfolios:

Department of Health and Children to the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan.

Department of Transport to the Minister for Community, Equalilty and Gaeltact Affairs Pat Carey.

Department of Justice and Law Reform to Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smyth.

Department of Trade, Enterprise and Innovation to Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Mary Hanafin.

Department of Defence to Minister for Social Protection Eamon O’Cuiv.

Earlier, Government Chief Whip John Curran has said he would be surprised if the Green Party pulled out of Government. He said the government parties remain committed to enacting legislation giving effect to the budget.

Meanwhile, Green Party are meeting to discuss the developments.

Earlier, the Dáil was suspended after Opposition parties condemned the way the Government was handling the situation.

Amid heated exchanges in the Dáil this morning, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said what had happened was disrespectful to the people.

He said the Government was disintegrating and said the moves would seriously impact on the running of the country.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the resignations had been plotted and planned for the last couple of weeks and called on the Greens to stand up to their coalition partners.

He said Fianna Fáil had treated the Green Party with contempt.

Some 50,000 people will emigrate this year, and 25,000 jobs will be lost, according to the latest economic forecast from the Economic and Social Research Institute.

However, the ESRI says the economy is set to grow by 1.5% this year, with exports increasing by 6%.

In its latest quarterly commentary, the ESRI forecasts growth for the Irish economy of 2.25% of GDP next year.

Gross National Product, which excludes multinational profits, should grow by a 0.25% this year and 1.5% next year. This growth will be driven by continuing strong export performance.

But most job creation comes from the domestic sector, and here the ESRI says the combined effects of income tax increases in the budget, continuing problems in the banking industry, and a collapse in consumer confidence will depress demand, leading to some 25,000 fewer jobs.

Unemployment is forecast to average 13.5% this year, dropping slightly to 13% next year.

The ESRI expects emigration to pick up strongly, with some 50,000 forecast to emigrate this year. This compares to 44,000 who left the country in 1989, the peak year for emigration in the 1980s.

then we have this

Health Minister Mary Harney dramatically resigned last night and is now in line for a €310,000 pension payoff.

As her resignation brought closer a major cabinet re-shuffle, Sport and Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin clung on to her post and will escape the axe despite voting against Taoiseach Brian Cowen in the confidence ballot.

Following the departure of former Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin — and now Ms Harney — Mr Cowen is being urged to bring in new blood and freshen up the FF line up ahead of the general election.

Last night, Ms Harney announced she was not contesting the forthcoming general election.

The former Tanaiste and PD leader also offered her resignation as Health Minister to Mr Cowen, which he accepted.

Given Mr Martin’s departure, she said it would be appropriate to stand down.

Ms Harney will receive:

* An annual ministerial pension of about €69,200.

* A TD’s pension of around €50,600 per year.

* A pension lump sum of around €160,000.

* A termination lump sum of around €17,000.

* And a year of monthly termination payments from the Oireachtas worth another €66,900.

She will also get additional payments for serving as Tanaiste between 1997 and 2006 in the Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrat coalitions.

The €50,600 TD pension only kicks in once the monthly termination payments, paid the year immediately after retirement, have stopped.

The total package is at least €313,100 over the next year, whereas she would have received around €322,300 if he retired before the Budget.

But the Green Party is insisting the shake-up must not be used to delay the holding of the general election on March.

and this

FORMER Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin will qualify instantly for “obscene” severance payments of around €95,000 after quitting his job.

Under legislation introduced in 1992, ex-ministers and ex-attorney generals get severance payments for two years to compensate them for the loss of their ministerial salary of €98,745.

However, Mr Martin will be contesting the next general election, so he will not be claiming his ministerial pension (which would have been worth almost €75,000 per year) and a TD’s pension (worth around €54,000 per year).

Fine Gael Senator John Paul Phelan criticised the severance package for Mr Martin as “obscene”.

 

Comment:

 As the farcical Government top rats now run away from office I am beginning to wonder what monstrous secrets lurk within those fine offices that have forced them to such undignified exits.

Cowen and lenihan have for so long played the people of Ireland and have gotten used to ruling the country as if it were their own personal property bestowing jobs for their lackeys and cronies and even this action or even the promise of such rewards for the recent support for Cowen has now become unstuck .We are experiencing today in Ireland what it must have been like for the last days of Rome.

With all its corruption and betrayal we the people of Ireland stand innocent and betrayed once again by those we have invested our thrust in

Nothing but the total disbandment of Fianna Fail and the Green political parties should now be considered and criminal negligent charges and treason charges should be brought against these traitors

A full international investigation on all events that have brought our country into this sad state must be carried out and the treachery of the public office holders must be punished.

Fianna Fail’s last attempt of stroke pulling has blown up in Cowens face !

Still the same incompetence!

Cowen’s cabinet line-up

Taoiseach 

Brian Cowen

Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills 

Mary Coughlan

Minister for Finance 

Brian Lenihan

Minister for Health and Children 

Mary Harney

Minister for Transport 

Noel Dempsey

Minister for Justice and Law Reform 

Dermot Ahern

Minister for Foreign Affairs 

Micheál Martin

Minister for Social Protection 

Éamon Ó Cuív

Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport 

Mary Hanafin

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government 

John Gormley

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources 

Eamon Ryan

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation 

Batt O’Keeffe

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 

Brendan Smith

Minister for Defence 

Tony Killeen

Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs 

Pat Carey

Attorney General 

Paul Gallagher

We see again that incompetence is ignored at the very top of Irish Politics

Cowen is rewarding his buddies and to hell with the rest of the people!

By surrounding himself with this clapped out and worn out bunch

We the people are going to be at the receiving end of yet more pain.

The Greens have now all but thrown in the towel and have being totally consumed in their self interest in big jobs and pensions for themselves

It is so sickening to see their blatant scramble over the crumbs from the Fiannia Fail Table

Talk about a bunch of wasters and sell outs

It’s just sickening!

When will the people rise up and get these leaches off our backs?


Billy Timmins dail comments July 2009

Written answers

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Department of Education and Science

Adult Education

12:00 pm

Billy Timmins
(Wicklow, Fine Gael)

Question 825: To ask the Minister for Education and Science the position on graduates who are in receipt of the jobseeker’s allowance; if there are new courses they can avail of; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

I recently announced a new initiative whereby unemployed workers will have access to 2,500 new places on part-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses from September 2009. All 2,500 places will be on courses that support the goals of the Government’s “Smart Economy” plan and particularly those relating to specific skills needs of exporting sectors identified by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. 1,000 of these places will be available for unemployed graduates to undertake part-time postgraduate diplomas or conversion programmes at levels 8 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

The scheme will be open to people who have been on the Live Register for at least six months on 1 September 2009, or who have been awarded Statutory redundancy and have an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment. One of the conditions for people participating on these new part-time places is that they continue to be available and seeking work. Once they satisfy these conditions they will be entitled to retain their social welfare payments. Where they receive an offer of full-time work they must take up this offer of employment.

Details of the third level institutions providing these places and information on how to apply for a place will be announced in the coming weeks. The information will also be made available through local FÁS and Department of Social and Family Affairs offices. Unemployed graduates on full-time postgraduate programmes may also be eligible for support under the Department’s Student Maintenance Grant Scheme. Provision of grants are subject to a means test and other eligibility criteria. Further information on how to apply for a student maintenance grant is available on the Student Finance website: http://www.studentfinance.ie

Dail debate 9 Last

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

Deputy Brian Hayes suggested that my Department’s failure to co-operate with the commission in its early stages somehow contributed to the perceived delays in the commission publishing its report.

I will acknowledge that prior to 2003 some difficulties were encountered in my Department’s dealings with the Commission—–

Aengus Ó Snodaigh
(Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

Some?

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

—–especially in regard to complying with a small number of discovery directions. However, in this regard, the commission’s third interim report of December 2003 acknowledges some of the difficulties that were caused or contributed to by the committee, in that, for example, there was not sufficient clarity about what was sought or insufficient time was being allowed for compliance.

Furthermore, I would point out that in December 2003, in order to ensure that criticism of the Department’s responses to the commission was fully explored, the then Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Noel Dempsey, appointed an eminent QC and former chairperson of the Bar Council of England and Wales to conduct a review of the Department’s interaction with the commission. That report reached the conclusion that the difficulties over discovery were not due to obstruction or concealment but rather to poor historic record storage systems and misunderstandings about what was required. In all cases, my Department fully complied with the discovery directions. The issue of including day schools in the redress scheme was also raised.

I want to address the rationale behind the setting up of the redress scheme which was that children in institutions were separated from their parents and dragged from their homes while other family members watched on. Others spent years in these institutions, their only crime being that they had a single parent or a parent who could not feed them or look after them. They woke up in institutions, spent their full day in institutions and went to bed at night in the institutions. They had nobody to whom to talk or tell their stories nor did they have the benefit of the care and protection which children living with their families usually enjoy. In the case of abuse which occurs in day national schools, my Department has been found not liable for such abuse by the Supreme Court judgment. This is not to say that the abuse suffered by persons in this setting is in any way less serious or abhorrent.

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

However, the Minister is washing his hands of it.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

It simply means that the plaintiff is suing the wrong party in taking an action for damages against the State.

Michael D Higgins
(Galway West, Labour)

The Minister should put that on a memorial.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

Of course, for the State to accept liability in all such cases where it does not have a legal liability would be irresponsible in light of its duty to the taxpayer. A further consequence would be to distract from where that liability might lie. There have been some cases where my Department was made aware of allegations of abuse but did not take appropriate action. As a result, my Department accepted partial liability in those cases even though the abuse occurred in ordinary national schools.

I again reiterate the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the recommendations of the report are implemented in full and the needs of survivors are fully considered. I again reiterate the State’s apology. I commend the work of Mr. Justice Ryan, Ms Justice Laffoy before him and the members of the commission.

I hope that the full support of the House for this motion will be another acknowledgement of the acceptance by the people of the shameful manner in which these children were treated and that it demonstrates our united determination and commitment to ensuring that such appalling events will never be repeated.

dail debate 8

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

As Minister for Education and Science, I want to apologise unreservedly for the way the Department of Education and Science failed children in residential institutions.

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

What will you do about it? That is the question. It is not the apology; it is what the Minister will do about it now.

Brendan Howlin
(Wexford, Labour)

Please allow the Minister to make his contribution.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

The report clearly shows how the Department failed to protect these children for whom it had a duty of care. Had the Department done its job properly, thousands of children would not have suffered the way they did. We failed them. We are all united in our abhorrence at the findings of this report and the sheer scale of the abuse which children experienced in these institutions over a long period of time. The then Taoiseach apologised in 1999. My Secretary General acknowledged the Department’s failures at the commission’s public hearings in 2006. I unreservedly reiterate that apology today.

I can only imagine the frustration of survivors up to this point when they tried to speak out and their claims were rejected or denied. This report unequivocally supports the stories told by those who were abused and highlights the pain, suffering and abuse to which they were subjected for most of their young lives. For many, the continuing pain has remained with them and blighted their lives to this day. The report lays bare the reality of life in these institutions and the neglect, fear, and abuse experienced daily in an environment which, in the main, did not even provide them with their most basic needs.

I commend all victims on their bravery in coming forward to the commission and divulging the most painful and traumatic events of their lives.

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

For goodness sake spare us this. What are you going to do about it?

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

I commend them on their persistence in ensuring the story was told, heard and, most importantly for the victims, that it was believed. Without them, this report would not have been possible nor could we have ever hoped to learn from the mistakes of the past. Their bravery and determination is a lasting tribute to those former residents who are no longer with us and whom we should remember at this time.

Today, above all other days, we must be humbled and contrite for the wrongs that have been inflicted on innocent lives. The American author, James Baldwin, once said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed unless it is faced”. We have now faced the reality that thousands of young people lived in a regime that was harsh, severe and abusive. There is no denying it—–

Joan Burton
(Dublin West, Labour)

It was savage.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

—–but now, as a society, we will be judged on how we respond to this reality, learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure our children are protected and cared for.

Michael D Higgins
(Galway West, Labour)

And how we can reform the Department that covered it up.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

The Taoiseach, together with myself and other Ministers, met representatives of the survivors of abuse on 3 June during which the Taoiseach reiterated the Government’s full acceptance of all the recommendations in the commission’s report and that it is committed to their implementation. The groups were also advised that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will develop an implementation plan to be brought to Government by the end of next month.

In respect of my own Department, the erection of a memorial dedicated to all survivors, living and dead, has been already the subject of discussions with survivor groups and of consultation with the Office of Public Works.

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

The Minister still does not get it, just like the religious orders.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

It is proposed to hold further discussions with the survivor groups to advance the implementation of this recommendation.

The report also made recommendations relating to education, counselling and family tracing services. Funding for education grants is available from the Education Finance Board which is funded by €12.7 million of the religious orders’ cash contribution. At the end of last year, some €7.35 million of this remained to be spent on education for former survivors and their families.

Funding has been provided to some survivor groups primarily for information and referral during the commission and redress processes.

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

Put a price tag on that too.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

Last year, the Department provided funding to these groups as follows: Irish groups – €143,239 and UK groups – €428,312.

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

That is an insult to the people in the Gallery.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

They will continue to be funded by my Department in the current year. Barnardos is being funded to provide a family tracing service for former residents, which is highly valued by them.

My Department will continue to consult with the survivor groups on the recommendations relating to education, counselling and family tracing services.

At the meeting on 3 June, the survivor groups paid tribute to the residential institutions redress unit of my Department. That unit will continue to be available to them as a point of contact as we pursue implementation of the report’s recommendations.

Joan Burton
(Dublin West, Labour)

Many people do not have trust in that.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

Deputies have raised the issue of the commission’s records. While, under the Act, decisions on the commission’s records are a matter for the commission, the commission has assured my Department that no action will be taken on these documents for some time. I assure the House that the Government supports the desirability of preserving, in so far as possible, these records for posterity.

A range of issues were raised by the survivor groups including contributions by the congregations, redress, future needs of the former residents, criminal records, counselling, therapy services and a memorial. Some of the issues raised by the survivor groups have been also raised—–

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

What about responsibility?

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

—–by Deputies in the course of this debate. These and all of the other issues raised by them will now be given further consideration.

I do not want to move from focusing on the needs of the survivors. However, a number of comments were made by Deputies relating to my own Department with which I must deal.

Michael D Higgins
(Galway West, Labour)

That is right.

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

Good.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

In a recent “Questions & Answers” programme on RTE, Michael O’Brien, a former resident, implored all of us to stop making a political football of this issue. I ask the same of Deputy Ruarí Quinn. Deputy Quinn has every right to engage in robust debate about current policies and structures and changes he considers are desirable. I would welcome such a debate. Deputy Quinn also has every right to express his views in this House on my performance as Minister or that of my Department. Deputy Quinn is right to point to areas where improvement is needed. I and my Department would agree with him in regard to some of that.

I accept it is a problem that the information sought by the Deputy is not readily available because of information technology and database inadequacies. I have already asked my Department to go through individual school files and compile the ownership information for all schools into an accessible format for presentation. However, I do not accept that Deputy Quinn has the right to use the privilege of this House to impugn the personal integrity and motivations of civil servants working in my Department or any other Department. His language and personal allegations about those civil servants would be risible if it were not for the serious context in which they were made.

Michael D Higgins
(Galway West, Labour)

But in the past senior civil servants hid this abuse. The Minister knows that.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

I want to put on the record of the House that in my year as Minister—–

Michael D Higgins
(Galway West, Labour)

A former Secretary in the Department of Education said everything was wonderful in Daingean.

Brendan Howlin
(Wexford, Labour)

Deputy, allow the Minister make his contribution.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

dealing with my Department’s civil servants, I have always found them to be motivated by a strong desire to make the best choice in the public interest.

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

What does the Minister intend to do about the problem in his Department? Will he ask any questions?

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail

Far from the laziness and destructiveness Deputy Quinn alleges, I have found a huge commitment to their work and willingness to go the extra mile but I will not dwell on that matter today.

The focus of this all-party debate is on the serious issues covered in the Ryan report—–

Michael D Higgins
(Galway West, Labour)

That is right.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

—–and our responsibilities to those former residents whom we failed in their childhood.

Róisín Shortall
(Dublin North West, Labour)

What about the Minister’s responsibility and the role of his Department?

Brendan Howlin
(Wexford, Labour)

Please Deputies, allow the Minister to make his contribution.

Batt O’Keeffe
(Minister, Department of Education and Science; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

However, I could not let such an unprecedented attack on the personal integrity of my staff lie unchallenged on the record of this House.

Michael D Higgins
(Galway West, Labour)

And nothing about the past.

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