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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Scafisti and the Irish Navy

I read about "scafisti" people who are forced to drive boats and then arrested as human smugglers, there are reports saying that Irish Navy are involved in detaining suspected smugglers and I presume the Minister might say its up to Italy to try them but Navy must have handed over lots of people to be detained in Italy...whats the process atleast?

Italy court clears accused people smugglers, says were forced to drive boats Steve Scherer Reuters 9 September 2016

I asked Clare Daly TD (Member of Parliament) about it and she asked a series of parliamentary questions(PQs).

I came across this Intercept article Italy Imprisons Refugees Who Were Forced to Pilot Smuggling Boats at Gunpoint Zach Campbell September 16 2017

“Many attorneys ask for plea bargains in order to get the quickest release of their clients,” said Fulvio Vassallo, an immigration lawyer and law professor at the University of Palermo. Vassallo explains that in Sicily, plea bargains or abbreviated trials can be a win-win for numbers-oriented prosecutors and defense lawyers alike.
Joof denies that he drove. “They told me I was accused of being the boat’s captain,” he told The Intercept in an interview in the center for underage asylum-seekers where he now lives, in a small town outside Palermo. “I told them, ‘No, I paid my money to come here.’ I asked them to see the evidence that I was a captain. And since 2015, they haven’t shown me any evidence that I’m the one who drove the boat.”
Joof was charged with "favoreggiamento" or “facilitating” illegal migration. It’s the lowest level smuggling charge you can get in Italy.
Look at the photo halfway down, it is captioned.

The LÉ Niamh, an Irish naval vessel participating in Mediterranean rescue operations, rescued 367 refugees off the coast of Libya, on Aug. 5, 2015. This photo provided by Joof’s lawyer show that after the rescue, police investigators put plastic wristbands on refugees they believed to be the skippers, as well as the witnesses that identified them. A similar process happened when Joof was rescued and accused of driving. Photo: Irish Navy

Who puts the wrist bands on the people while on the Irish ships? Who are these police investigators, do the people get fair trial in Italy?

Clare Daly TD asked a PQ and the gov said the Irish Navy didn't know why the article says the photo was taken by the the Irish Navy...
I am also advised that the Naval Service cannot stand over the provenance of the photograph used in the article in question and which is credited to 'Irish Navy'.
Other photos from the Defence Forces from that day where you can see the rough white material covering the grey deck of the Navy ship.

I asked the author of the article and he replied I" looked through my notes. That photo was part of a collection provided by the Irish navy to Joof's lawyer. If I remember correctly, I think she got them through evidential discovery in the court case. The photos were indeed shot aboard the LÉ Niamh " but strangely he says he doesn't know who the police investigators are... and again Clare Daly asked about what other agencies operate on Irish Navy ships and government said none...,but author of the article says
The wristbands and interviews happen aboard the ship while still at sea. I don't know whether that was Irish navy, Frontex, Italian or other. My guess is that it varies depending on the crew.

What is Ireland's part in the Italian trials?

30 people smugglers handed over by navy crew Irish Examiner October 03, 2015 Sean O’Riordan
The ship’s captain, Lieutenant Commander Daniel Wall, said that when the refugees got on board his vessel, they felt safe and would approach the crew to point out members of smuggling gangs.

Lt Comdr Wall said those identified were then isolated from the rest of the refugees and pointed out to Italian authorities when the ship dropped them in ports.

LÉ Niamh crew help see people-smugglers charged Irish Examiner January 26, 2017 Sean O’Riordan
Lieutenant Commander Daniel Wall travelled in December to a court sitting in Sicily to provide evidence against five men charged with aiding and abetting murder.

Five arrested over migrant drowning incident Aug 7th 2015 TheJournal.ie/ AFP
5 people have been arrested by the Italian authorities in connection with the drowning of more than 200 migrants last Wednesday.

Three Libyans and two Algerians are accused of human trafficking and multiple homicide charges.

Joof is Gambian.

PQs on Operation pontus
PQs on Operation Sophia

For Written Answer on : 08/03/2018
Question Number(s): 4 Question Reference(s):11685/18
Department: Defence


To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the role played by the Naval Service in relation to the arrest of scafisti in the Mediterranean that is persons that are forced to drive boats and then arrested as human smugglers and in the event of there being an involvement to justify same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

In July 2017, Government and Dáil approval was secured for the deployment of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force to serve as part of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy naval mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Sophia. Irish Naval vessel L.É. Niamh, subsequently deployed to the Mediterranean from October to December 2017.
In the course of its deployment in Operation Sophia last year, the crew of L.É. Niamh were engaged in both security tasks and in responding to Safety of Life at sea events (search and rescue) in the area of operation. In addition the core task of the mission including, gathering information on oil smuggling, patrols focusing on countering illegal arms trafficking, surveillance operations with the purpose of intercepting smugglers and people traffickers and monitoring the effectiveness of the Libyan Navy & Coastguard activity from a standoff distance the L.É. Niamh also undertook search and rescue operations.

All activities undertaken by the Naval Service as part of Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean adhere to and are conducted in accordance with international law, including human rights, humanitarian and refugee law and the principle of non-refoulement. The status of individuals rescued at sea is a matter for the authorities at the point of disembarkation in accordance with relevant international law and conventions on the trafficking in Human Beings.

Where people have been rescued by Operation Sophia, they are brought to a safe port or transferred to another vessel to be taken to a safe port. In that regard, the ports of embarkation for migrants rescued by Operation Sophia have been in Sicily.

Operation Sophia has so far contributed to the apprehension of 130 suspected smugglers and traffickers, removed approximately 520 boats from criminal organisations availability, contributed to almost 290 Safety of Life at Sea events and rescued over 42,400 migrants.

At the Government Meeting of 27 February last , I secured approval for the deployment in 2018 of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force to serve once again as part of Operation Sophia. Arrangements are currently being made for two Irish naval vessels to deploy consecutively under rotation for a period of approximately 32 weeks in total.


For Written Answer on : 03/07/2018

Question Number(s): 39 Question Reference(s): 28842/18

Department: Defence

Asked by: Clare Daly T.D.



To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the person (details supplied) that put the wristbands on persons while on the LE Niamh when the vessel participated in recuse operations in the Mediterranean Sea; and if hwill make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) The LÉ Niamh, an Irish naval vessel participating in Mediterranean rescue operations, rescued 367 refugees off the coast of Libya, on Aug. 5, 2015. This photo provided by Joof’s lawyer show that after the rescue, police investigators put plastic wristbands on refugees they believed to be the skippers, as well as the witnesses that identified them. A similar process happened when Joof was rescued and accused of driving. Photo: Irish Navy. https://theintercept.com/2017/09/16/italy-imprisons-refugees-who-were-forced-to-pilot-smuggling-boats-at-gunpoint/


Irish Naval Service vessels were first deployed as part of 'Operation Pontus' in May 2015 to assist the Italian authorities with the migrant crisis. This was a humanitarian search and rescue mission conducted in accordance with a bilateral agreement with the Italian authorities and in accordance with the applicable international conventions on the rescue of persons in distress at sea.

In 2015, L.É. Niamh deployed from July to September and during its deployment, rescued a total of 4,127 migrants from unseaworthy vessels. I am advised by the Defence Forces that in the course of the event in question on 5 August 2015 involving L.É. Niamh, no wristbands were applied to persons rescued by personnel on L.É. Niamh. I am also advised that the Naval Service cannot stand over the provenance of the photograph used in the article in question and which is credited to 'Irish Navy'.

The deployment of Irish Naval Service vessels on a humanitarian search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean over the period 2015 to 2017 has been an important element in Ireland's response to the migration crises in the Mediterranean.

L.É. Samuel Beckett is currently deployed in the Mediterranean as part of the UN mandated EU naval security operation, 'Operation Sophia' and will be replaced in mid-July by L.É. James Joyce.



For Written Answer on : 24/07/2018

Question Number(s): 54 Question Reference(s): 33145/18

Department: Defence

Asked by: Clare Daly T.D.



To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if agencies operate and or investigate on Naval Service ships while they are engaged in Operation Sophia.


In July 2017, Government and Dáil approval was secured for the deployment of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force to serve as part of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy naval mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Sophia. An Irish Naval vessel was subsequently deployed to the Mediterranean from October to December 2017. Participation in Operation Sophia represented the first involvement by the Naval Service in a multilateral security operation under a United Nations mandate.

In February 2018, the Government approved a further Naval Service contribution to Operation Sophia. This will involve a total of 2 naval vessels deployed consecutively during the year for a period of up to 30 weeks in total. The deployment will run from mid April to end November.

In accordance with the mandate for the mission, the Naval Service can be involved in surveillance and intelligence gathering operations, search and rescue operations and disposal of migrant boats and Force Protection Operations.

Operation Sophia has a close relationship with other EU organisations and agencies involved in countering human smuggling and trafficking. Cooperation with such organisations and agencies is mainly around the area of the mutual exchange of information which increases Operation Sophia's overall operational awareness. These agencies are not operating or investigating on Irish Naval Service ships deployed in support of Operation Sophia.

Further News Report of August 5th 2015 rescue

On 5 August 2015, the Dublin Navy refused to intervene off the Libyan coast. The Coast Guard ordered the commander to organize the rescue, but it was late Lite Irlanda-Italia, così morirono 25 migranti La Stampa Riccardo Arena 12/05/2017

LE Niamh rescuers recall horrific scenes during bid to save migrants Herald.ie Alan O'Keeffe – 07 August 2015

I.S terror attack fears held up major Irish Navy rescue mission during incident which saw 200 die Owen Conlon The Sun 13th May 2017

Naval Service defends actions of patrol ship during migrant rescue
Irish Times, May 16, 2017 Lorna Siggins

Five men detained after presumed drowning of more than 200 migrants RTE.ie 7 Aug 2015

Migrant Crisis: Refugees charged up to €1,600 to board boat August 09, 2015 By Conall Ó Fátharta

Five men charged with murder of 200 migrants drowned in the Med Stephanie Kirchgaessner 7 Aug 2015

Coveney blasts 'inhumane' trafficking trade Irish Independent Philip Ryan August 8 2015

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Councillors should not be able to co-opt anybody on to their seat if they leave the council within a year of when the next election is due.

Councillors should not be able to co-opt anybody on to their seat if they leave the council within a year of when the next election is due.

I notice many councillors quit around a year before the next elections are due in order to co-opt a replacement and to give them profile before the election. Im not impressed.
Coyle calls time on 20-year political career but has no plans to disappear Fingal Independent May 28 2013

Speaking to the Fingal Independent about his decision to retire, Mr. Coyle, said he had always intended to step down a year ahead of the next local elections to allow his replacement to be co-opted on the council and establish a record for themselves before facing the electorate.

If you want to get on the council campaign and go for election and win. Isn't it your work in the community that establishes your record, not being co-opted?

If a councillor is elected to another position he should be allowed co-opt a replacment.

Councillors quit for various reasons, work or family commitments or health. One could say that you coulnd't punish somebody for poor health and should have nothing but sympathy for them but heres an example of somebody who says he is retiring due to ill-health but says he decided this year before he stood down, so he can't have been that poorly.

List of co-options around a year before 2014 local elections

List of co-options before 2019 local elections

The Fingal County Council standing orders says If a non party councillor members dies, his/her family gets to nominate a replacement. Would be better if it were his election agent?

City and County Council Members – Co-options and Changes since the 2014 Local Elections Adrain Kavanagh

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Why does legislation take so long? Political decision, indecision, or lack of legal drafting staff?

Why does legislation take so long? Political decision, indecision, or lack of legal drafting staff?

dccae example via DCCAE log

FOI and esubmissions search

Get esubmission lists compare with Dail answers and see when decisions were made.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

We need Media Legibility as much as Media Literacy

Reuters Digital News Report 2018
As part of the Reuters Digital News Report 2018 survey a question was asked of the public in each country 'Who is typically responsible for writing a press release? The results of the Irish survey carried out by FUJO surprised me.

33 percent thought journalists and news outlets write press-releases for organisations; only 36 percent correctly identified the role of a PR spokesperson.
Would a "Press Officer" answer option let more people choose the correct answer? (or public relations, less or more), or was there a confusion between a press release thats usually written and then offering spokesperson (as in speech) as the correct answer option?

I read some other US studies/surveys of media literacy recently and the most of the questions seemed very basic to me, Im not sure how familiarity with the particular phraseology used by the news media is actually a news literacy test, a lot of the phrases are not actually used in the news, questions on general sceptism would be more useful. The 2018 and 2017 Reuters report seem to be about how the ignorant public get things wrong and are being misled by social media and outside forces, no mention of a catastrophic unending Mid-East war based on lies buoyed by the media or phone "hacking". The 2017 questionnaire directly compared social media and news media and seem to prime the respondents to compare and contrast them rather then consider news media by its self.

Media Literacy vs Media Legibility
One of the functions of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is 'media literacy', news/media literacy seems to be (generally aimed children) but also to be all about the public's ignorance of the media and how it works, how about the media be more transparent.

I think the other side of the coin to 'media literacy' might be 'media legibility', as an example, the Reuters Digital Report 2018 report says a lot of the public were not clear about who writes press releases. If the media was clearer about often just turning press releases into articles (perhaps by including the entire press release they were sent at the bottom of the article or linking to it), that would be 'media legibility', ie. being clearer about what they are doing. Does BAI have Media Legibility Policy / Network or does is my example have any part of the Media Literacy policy?

I think media correcting their mistakes and using hyperlinks or embedding to source documents is crucial. Maybe news media literacy is a consumer facing issue and news legibility is a journalism industry issue. So does anyone in Ireland promote news legibility for the public benefit? The Press Council/Ombudsman is extremely limited as a I recently discovered its for the press not the public. The NUJ seem to be like lawyers and just defend reporters no matter how they carry out their job. The are number initiatives like the Trust Project Indicators which would aid media legibility but none are active in Ireland. The Centre for Critical Media Literacy is for student journalists, will they be able to change industry practices once employed in the industry?

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland operates under the Broadcasting Act 2009

Among the functions of the BAI is to,

(g) to undertake, encourage and foster research, measures and activities which are directed towards the promotion of media literacy, including co-operation with broadcasters, educationalists and other relevant persons.
it also funds
(b) new television or sound broadcasting programmes to improve adult or media literacy,

Definition of media literacy
“ media literacy ” means to bring about a better public understanding of:

(a) the nature and characteristics of material published by means of broadcast and related electronic media,

(b) the processes by which such material is selected, or made available, for publication by broadcast and related electronic media,

(c) the processes by which individuals and communities can create and publish audio or audio-visual material by means of broadcast and related electronic media, and

(d) the available systems by which access to material published by means of broadcast and related electronic media is or can be regulated;

Can this not include media legibility? can you not bring about a better public understanding of the nature and characteristics of material published by means of broadcast and related electronic media by encouraging the publishers to provide transparent and rich content?

BAI Understanding media and the Media Literacy Network

Media Literacy Network Ireland

BAI's Media Literacy Policy Document on the working groups of the Media Literacy Network Ireland and the Interim Steering Groups and an infrequently updated mailing list.

Press Council / Press Ombudsman

There is independent of government Press Council/ Press Ombudsman which was set up to accompany the Defamation Act 2009 which outlines the mininum standards Minimum Requirements in Relation to Press Council.
The principal objects of the Press Council shall be to—

(a) ensure the protection of freedom of expression of the press,

(b) protect the public interest by ensuring ethical, accurate and truthful reporting by the press,

(c) maintain certain minimum ethical and professional standards among the press,

(d) ensure that the privacy and dignity of the individual is protected.

Could this include encouraging media legibilty (or even media literacy?) The Press Ombudsman doesn't take complaints from third parties only those "personally affected" which leaves a lot of mistakes with no outside body to enforce correction.

Further Research

I came across Brian O'Neills papers on media literacy which revealed to me why I dislike the concenpt of media literacy so much in Communication Rights, Digital Literacy and Ethical Individualism in the New Media Environment
Commentators have noted that the new emphasis on media literacy in public policy represents a significant shift of responsibility from collective forms of regulation and control, represented by legislation and regulatory control at member state level, to the individual who is now deemed responsible and assumed to be capable of making informed choices in matters of communication and social interaction in today’s mediated environment (Livingstone, Lunt et al. 2007; Penman and Turnbull 2007). The ideal subject of digital literacy appears to represent a form of ethical individualism in which the source of moral values and principles, and the basis of ethical evaluation is the individual (Lukes 1973).

Sonia Livingstone has highlighted media legibility as the other side of media literacy but seems to be mostly referring to bad interface design rather then the content I don't quite see it as problem to be overcome but an opportunity, the usefulness of hyperlinks and embedding in order to make news media legible, perhaps if I referred to it as "news media legibility and transparency (honesty...opacity) that would be clearer.
As with our other pairings, the notion of literacy implies a text to be read, raising questions of legibility – what interpretations are afforded, what knowledge is expected, what possibilities are enabled or impeded. The case may also be made in reverse – the more complex or, especially, the more “illegible” (or hard to read, to decode) the text or media environment, the greater the task of media literacy. On this account, many new digital interfaces should be understood as illegible (illdesigned, non-user-friendly, possibly deliberately obscure or deceptive); only as literacy develops and, one hopes, as the text/technology is redesigned responsively, can literacy and legibility achieve a tolerable balance.

The focus on legibility, together with the recognition that literacy is culturally and historically conditioned, not simply a matter of individual cognition (Scribner and Cole 1973; Snyder 2001), foregrounds a critical perspective long important to audience research.

Maybe in the second paragrpah she also means in the individual versus collective sense that you she and Brian O'Neill wrote about? (when will academic papers be legible?)

Reading other mentions from her of legibility...

Still not clear if she quite is saying what Im saying about news media content.

But if Sonia Livingstone suggests that media legibility is essential for media literacy should it not be core of the BAI Media Literacy Policy and the Media Literacy Network?

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

If a TD thinks an Irish president shouldn't be returned without a vote, why have they not initiated a bill to prevent it?

Michael Fitzmaurice TD says he wants to try and force a presidential election,(I think there should be one too).
Ill stand myself against President Higgins if there is no election insists TD Ocean FM Nialll Delaney 2017

Fitzmaurice says he would contest presidential election to stop President Michael D Higgins getting " a free run" at a second term
Liam Cosgrove 21 Aug 2017

I asked Michael Fitzmaurice TD, "do you think that it should be possible for an Irish President to return to office without an election?"

He replied "I think that should not happen".

I then asked him,

"would you then be sponsoring a bill to to remove Article 12 5° from the constitution?"

Where only one candidate is nominated for the office of President it shall not be necessary to proceed to a ballot for his election.

I received no reply from Michael Fitzmaurice TD.

The Constitutional Convention members made up of 66 citizens and 33 public reps voted on potnetial changes to the length of Presidential term.

Reduce the presidential term to five years

One-term presidency – seven years

One-term presidency – five years

Perhaps limiting it to one 7 or 8 year term would the simplest way to propose to resolve this, whether it would pass through the Oireachtas is another story.

If Michael Fitzmaurice or any other TD feels this strongly about this, why havn't they initiated such a bill.

Reducing or broadening the nomination criteria may be another way to address this without removing the option entirely.

Potential candidate senators can not initiate bills to amend the constitution but they could ask their potential TDs nominators to do so.
Constitutional Convention report on presidential terms
Previous consitutional reviews

Ps Who are these other potential candidates? Who is Dr John McHugh from US / Donegal?

Constitutional Convention and Citizens Assembly Polling Company Recruitment standards

Before suggesting new citizen's assemblies / constitutional conventions shouldn't we get answers on the lax recruitment standards used for them, a few examples below.

Constitutional Convention

A women called "Louise from D12" rang up RTE's LiveLine in February 2013 to discuss the Women in the Home debate and casually admitted (at ~24ms) that a friend that works for the company recruited her, and did so because she knew she would fill out the survey, because she had done surveys with her before and she fit a demographic, considering the rules of selection required a recruiter to start at a randomly selected house, what are the chances she was following the rules or just got lazy.

There were multiple versions of the convention membership list as people dropped out and others were added and I have not found a Louise ? Dublin 12 in any of the lists I have, but there is a Yvonne X Dublin 12. A woman called Yvonne spoke on RTE 's Liveline during April 2013 who joked about the Chair Tom Arnold calling her Louise and who Joe Duffy described as the only person to speak publically about the Constitutional Convention. So this is obviously the same person.

It was a different polling company to the one use for the Citizen's Assembly, but same lack of standards, I looked and couldn't find an ethical code for market research satff.

For the constitutional convention a married couple and some neighbours were chosen to be members which doesn't seem very random or demographically spread.

Concern as couple and set of neighbours are 'randomly selected' for constitutional body Independent.ie Fionnan Sheahan February 16 2013

It interesting that this was added to the Citizens Assembly methodology

Interviewers selected a start address at random within the DED allocated to them. They then tried to complete interviews at every nth house within that specific location. Within each household a random selection process was used to identify the person to try and recruit if more than one person was available.
 Direct applications from members of the public to take part in the Assembly were not accepted, as the members of the Assembly had to be chosen at random to ensure a completely unbiased approach and be broadly representative of all citizens using demographic variables as reflected in the Census. Similarly, interviewers were not allowed to recruit friends or family together.

The questionaire asked people what way they voted in the last election but the Assembly said they did not use that information to select, It seems it was asked to cover themselves from accusations of political party stuffing.
How people voted at the last election was asked in the recruitment questionnaire by REDC in case it was required for quota purposes. It was however, decided not to quota the sample on this basis but only on the basis of demographics.

Seems like a direct attempt to address the issues highlighted in that article and eslsewhere but they haven't addressed the issue of a recruiter using people they've surveyed before as I highlight above.

Citizen's Assembly

Statement from the Citizens’ Assembly re issue with the recruitment of some replacement members in December 2017/January 2018
RED C Internal Audit

REDc were asked to recruit 13 more people after drop outs before the referenda session and turns out one recruiter was having trouble recuiting people so asked his family and friends to suggest people and then rang them rather then do it by random door knocking as per the rules of the recruitment, he recuited 7 people in this improper way. So the close votes for the referenda session are being deemed invalid.

REDc say they checked and said all previous recruitments were correct so previous sessions such as abortion not affected...

I don't know how the problem wasn't spotted when there is supposed to be as RED C state "a secondary validation screening process to double check that those who had been recruited were a. definitely happy to take part and b. were recruited as prescribed".
REDc follow-up validation questionnaire

I asked the Citizens Assembly about this and they justed quoted the report I had already read back at me,
In response to your specific query, I refer to section 8 on page 14 of the Audit Document, specifically point (g) under the heading "Audit Response" . I include the full text of point g below for convenience:

"g) The verification documents show that a full and proper verification procedure was initiated and completed with each of the seven members, but the responses given by each did not point to the irregularity of recruitment which has since been identified."

I hope this answers your query.
No it doesn't, how is that they asked these people about how they were recruited and none said they contacted first by phone which is what this suspended recruiter did, (not by a door knock) against the rules of the recruitment process. Did the recruiter tell all 7 to lie to the next REDc employee to call them about how they were first contacted but 1 of them forgot to lie to the secretariat at the meeting?

Their audit says,
This came to light in final checks conducted by the Secretariat among new members attending their first meeting on the 13th & 14th January 2018, when one replacement member stated that recruitment had been initiated by telephone rather than face to face.
So secretariat had suspicions on the day but let the people continue (otherwise the meeting would have to have been cancelled?).

It was reported at the time the recruiter directly involved was suspended, would like update on the disciplinary procedure.
Recruiter for Citizens Assembly suspended after replacement members enlisted through personal contacts and not randomly Irish Independent Allison Bray February 21 2018

Theres long been criticism of pollling, thats its often done by people ringing their mates to fill a quota and here we have that exact thing happening...

Another rogue recruiter
A person commenting on TheJournal article said that somebody tried to recruit him to the citizens assembly on the street as opposed to door knocking as was required in the contract, I didn't believe him at the time because he said he was asked about his vote, the REDc methodology document they put out at the time didn't mention asking about last vote, they published the questionaire a week later and it included a question about their last vote, the Assembly said they didn't use it as selection criteria but they obviously asked as way to cover their ass regarding accusation of political stuffing.

Now that the Taoiseach and other political parties are looking at more Citizens Assemblys, wouldn't it be useful to scrutinize the ethical standards of the polling/recruitment staff of the companies used.

RTE Liveline: The Citizens' Assembly 25/04/2017
RTE Liveline: The Citizens' Assembly 28/05/2018
Manner in Which Refenda are Held

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Irish newspapers have no accountability as Press Ombudsman won't tackle fake news in member newspapers.

The Irish Independent's Kevin Doyle misparaphrased Darragh O'Brien Fianna Fail TD and former foreign affairs spokesperson by suggesting he said 'Russian jets have entered Irish airspace' in Ireland is now a fully-fledged participant in 'modern Cold War' as Varadkar says we can't be neutral (March 28 2018) he actually said "Irish-controlled airspace" see the transcript video at 4hr 56m. Its worth making the distinction between Irish airspace and international airspace, that Irish air traffic control helps manage traffic in. If one is treating this issue with seriousness it deserves, this needs to be reported accurately.

I have got a similar mistake corrected in the Sunday Business Post, RTE and the Irish Times, I complained to the Press Ombudsman about it after the Independent didn't reply, the Ombudsman rejected it on the basis it didn't personally affect me even I though I genuinely feel my safety and security is jeopardized by this inaccurate and thus inflammatory misreporting.

The Independent published something that isn't true, has been informed it isn't true, so is publishing something which its know not to be true, which is the definition of fake news, The Independent is publishing fake news and the Press Ombudsman won't do anything about it.

There is no accountability in Ireland for Irish newspapers.

ETA: I informed Darragh O'Brien TD about this and asked him to contact the Independent to get a correction made, he hasn't, he obviously didn't take his job as foreign affairs spokesperson seriously.

ETA: A journalist told me that newspapers do have accoutability because you can just stop buying newspapers if you think they publish news that is fake, but 1. I don't buy the Independent I read it onine if I do read it, and 2. How many people actually knew the above was false news, in order for it to effect anybodies purchasing habits? and for those purchasing choices to affect the paper.

Previously If 'genuine' news orgs don't address or correct their mistakes then they are fake news.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The world is overwhelming.

The world is overwhelming, how are you meant to keep up?

Monday, 23 April 2018

Lack of scrutiny by opposition parties of opposition/private members bills

Trying to figure how its correct for parties to vote for various private members bills that seem to have, not small but large flaws in their concepts or justifications. which they don't seem to consider all parts but will be seen to endorse by voting for the bill. They say they deal with issues at committee but should it be before?

There some comment on the amount of private members bills being started in the Dail, most of them go nowhere, either delayed by the government and FF or by backlogs in the committee, there also questions over the quality of the bills, partly because there opposition parties didn't have the legal help the government have (although this has been reviewed and the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor is being given more reseources) but they can be still used as self-promotion tool for months despite all these problems.

I've noticed that small parties and independents groups are voting for opposition bills without any of their party or Dail group speaking on the bill, so whether they support the entire bill or just parts of it, the proposing party can claim support even if there are huge flaws in the bills or their justifications.

The opposition party's refrain is that it can be fixed in the committee stage, and that is where most of the work on the bill occurs, committee officials help the politicians write a report scrutinising the bill and asking for the governments and stakeholders views on them and then proposing amendments.

But second stage is supposed to be where the general principles of the bills are discussed and I've noticed a few bills where the opposition parties don't seem to have considered the principles of the bills.

Soldarity say they are supporting the Sinn Fein's Extreme Weather (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018
but during second stage they didn't mention one half of the bill about threatening to arrest people who might, say surf on the morning before a storm during a red weather alert, and be accused of risking the life of the of rescue workers they may or MAY NOT need help from.

The Irish Coast Guard and Irish Water Safety both already said they didn't agree with legislating to criminalise this behaviour.

Why don't private members bills have pre-legisation scruitny Government bills do.

The Irish Coast Guard and Irish Water Safety concur, and believe legislation would be almost impossible to implement fairly
Should we punish reckless people who need to be rescued Irish Times.

Listen: Irish Coastguard Director Not In Favour Of Legislating "For Stupidity". | Kfm Radio 04/20/2018

Paul Murphy spoke on the bill but only on the half of the bill related to workers being allowed off work and still being paid during a red weather alerts, his spokeperson thinks its ok to ignore the other half bill even with significant organisations disagreeing with the concept of the legislation.

I also have pointed out false claims in to justify the FF Online Social Media Online Transparancy Bill which the Socdems and Greens didn't speak on at second stage but did vote for.

Catherine Murphy's spokesperson refuses to acknowlege the problems with a section of the bill she voted for, and also said she hasn't fully considered the Extreme Weather Bill and thus missed the opportunity to express her thoughts on it at second stage it will be voted on this Thursday.

Capacity Review of the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor

A The passing of bills is as tortuous as it ever was, despite the era of ‘new politics’ Brendan Howlin March 20, 2018

Legislative backlog making busy fools of our politicians Parties in call to tackle growing backlog of Private Members' Bills Thursday, 22 Feb 2018 Justin McCarthy

Legislating and the art of preventing others from getting what they want Irish Examiner March 20, 2018 By Elaine Loughlin.

Oireachtas L&RS Note: Private Members’ Bills (PMBs): Admissibility, Government messages and detailed scrutiny 15 June 2018

Friday, 13 April 2018

Why did mutiple newspapers write that Denis O'Brien is a "majority shareholder" of INM?

Why did mutiple newspapers write that Denis O'Brien is a "majority shareholder" of INM? And then when queried about it, change it to single "largest shareholder"?

I first noticed an issue in the Broadsheet post Mistake in Look Hack in Anger

July 19, 2014:- Mr Rae, in his role as group editor of INM, orders the presses to be stopped to amend a column written by Sunday Independent editor Anne Harris which features references to Denis O’Brien.

Copies of the original article did however appear, allowing comparisons between the two. Harris originally wrote: “Denis O’Brien is the majority shareholder in INM. In theory, with 29% of the shares, he does not control it. In practice, he does.” The last sentence was deleted.

29% isn't a majority... and I've been told that publically listed companies cannot have majority shareholders, and that Denis O'Brien keeps his shareholdings at 29.9% so it can't be said he controls the company and doesn't have to make a bid for it all?

I searched Wikipedia article on Denis O'Brien and noticed that same sentence.

The Wikipedia articles cited the Guardian article Mistake in Irish newspaper editor's column was changed after going to press by Roy Greenslade 28 Jul 2014, It said,
Version one - Harris wrote: "Denis O'Brien is the majority shareholder in INM. In theory, with 29% of the shares, he does not control it. In practice, he does."

But copies of Harris's original column did make it on to the street and the differences between the two versions were spotted by Gavin Sheridan, who pictured them and then posted them here on thestory.ie website.

Gavin Sheridan's post Why was this Anne Harris Sunday Independent column modified? from 20th July 2014 which shows photos of two versions of the article that was changed, both versions say major shareholder not majority shareholder.

So the Guardian cited Gavin's post with the photos but misquoted them, I suspect some of the above were misled by this.

I emailed the Guardian, they asked me as the article was four years old why I was highlighted it to them now, I was surprised they didn't know, so I sent them the Irish Independents own Q&A on the allegations that the chairman of the company secretly read his journalist/employees emails and that this was paid for by a company owned by Denis O'Brien.

Guardian has not corrected their mistake.

I emailed Broadsheet and they corrected their post Mistake in Look Hack in Anger

Anne Marie McNally political director of the Social Democrats wrote a post about the topic which includes the line "The majority shareholder in INM is Mr Denis O’Brien." I emailed both her and broadsheet about it, it has not been corrected.

I corrected the wikipedia articles on Denis O'Brien, Anne Harris and Stephen Rae which all said majority citing the Guardidan article which cites Gavein Sheridans blog.

On the April 2 2018 Times Ireland published an article INM journalists threaten lawsuit over data breach by Peter O’Dwyer | Lise Hand that said,
Some journalists had covered the Moriarty tribunal and had written stories critical of Denis O’Brien before he became the company’s majority shareholder.
I emailed them about it and they changed it to
Some journalists had covered the Moriarty tribunal and had written stories critical of Denis O’Brien before he became the company’s largest single shareholder.

In the Irish Times Who are the Independent News & Media 19 by Colin Gleeson it said
Denis O’Brien, the group’s majority shareholder, voted against his retention.
I emailed them and asked was this right?

An Irish Times editor replied that I was correct and he corrected the article, but there are many other instances of this in the Irish Times will they all be corrected? Another recent example.

Denis v Goliath’: O’Brien’s battle against alleged reputational damage Fri, Apr 6, 2018 Colm Keena
"At one stage, O’Brien was the majority shareholder in INM "
he was?

The Irish Times Gavin O’Reilly says INM data breach claims ‘stomach-churning’ Apr 8, 2018 by Ronan McGreevy says
Mr O’Reilly is the son of Sir Anthony O’Reilly, who was once INM’s majority shareholder.
was he?

The Journal has an article Explainer: What on earth is going on at INM?
Communicorp is almost wholly owned by Denis O’Brien, who is also the majority shareholder at INM.
By the time I checked it they had already corrected it on thejournal but not on their sister business site Fora. IT has now been corrected.
" Communicorp is almost wholly owned by Denis O’Brien, who is also the largest shareholder at INM."

In the Irish Examiner there are less recent incidences of Denis O'Brien being desrcibed as a majority shareholder.

The Sunday Businness Post

Standing up in INM: The equivalent of war by Anne Harris writes
On the night of Saturday, July 19, 2014, there was a dramatic intervention, mid-publication, to remove four words from an article written by me, as editor of the Sunday Independent. “Denis O’Brien is the majority shareholder at INM. In theory with 29 per cent of the shares, he does not control it,” I wrote. “In practice, he does.” O’Brien has always denied he controls INM.
Those four little words, “In practice, he does”, were the reason the paper was held up.

Did she really write majority shareholder? Can Anne Harris herself (or the editors of her article) have misquoted her own article?

The Sunday Business Post hasn't replied or corrected the article yet.

Irish Mirror

Irish Mirror joins list of newspapers calling Denis O'Brien the majority shareholder in INM

Why has such a crucial point about the Denis O'Brien been published seemingly incorrectly by so many news media organisations? and how has it gone unnoticed for so long?

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Is this an ad? How is this not an ad?

An 8 page supplement about the 'Creative Youth' published in the Irish Independent December 8th 2017.

Minister for Arts says of the supplement on creative youth in the newspaper on 8 December 2017.

Josepha Madigan:No cost was incurred by my Department in the production of the supplement on creative youth in the newspaper on 8 December 2017 as referred to in the Question. The content, design, layout and print costs were all a matter for that publication.
The Irish Times published a 28 page supplement on Creative Ireland on 13 December 2017.
The cost of the supplement referred to in the question which issued on 13 December 2017 was €34,744. This funding came out of the Creative Ireland Programme budget under subhead A6 of my Department's Vote.

So incredible was it that they Department of Culture didn't pay for the Independent supplement, its the second time this question was asked.

Creative Ireland End of Year Report 2017
During 2017, Creative Youth – a plan to enable the creativity of every child and young person, was developed in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Arts Council. This was launched by An Taoiseach, Minister Donohoe, Minister Bruton and Minister Madigan on 6 December 2017 in St Laurence O’Toole’s Girls National School, Seville Place, Dublin 1

The Department of Education didn't pay for it not did the or the Department of Children nor the Arts Council, [I asked them]. Not even the Department of the Taoiseach

Government marketing for arts programme ‘promoted Fine Gael’ Ellen Coyne March 14 2018 [They made a mistake re the name of the papers, (hidden as they are behind "details supplied"]
Creative Ireland

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Taoiseach's or Leader of Fine Gael's weekly video messages?

Theres some confusion over the Taoiseach Weekly Messages's that now come in video form but previously came as text when written by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Some think the Leo Varadkar should not use the Taoiseach office or governments buildings or jets as the backdrop to his videos if they are being put out by Fine Gael, but perhaps its because they didn't notice before, and its not as obvious that these messages were 'written' from the Taoiseach's desk and sent out via a Fine Gael newsletter for years and then more recently on Facebook.

Leo Varadkar may have been suceeded in more people seeing these messages but then he has also created a problem for himself who are these messages from and for?

Fianna Fail have criticised it and have been both melodramatic and not articulated the problem with it
Taoiseach under fire for using Government jet and employees to film 'party political videos'
Kevin Doyle October 4

Dáil debates Tuesday, 3 October 2017
Michael Martin
While he did not make himself available here to talk about the summit, he managed to bring a party person with him to take videos of him on the Government jet and at a meeting at the Irish Embassy in Tallinn. These videos were first published on the Fine Gael website; clearly, therefore, they have no official status. Does the Taoiseach think this type of party politicisation of a Government event is acceptable? While his personal obsession with media management is clear, why did he decide to break from the practice of his predecessors and use formal European Union business for purely party political purposes? There is an important distinction to be made in the Taoiseach attending summit meetings on behalf of the people as head of Government, not as the leader of a mere political party.
Dáil debates Wednesday, 4 October 2017
Leo Varadkar
On the two videos referred by Deputy Micheál Martin, one from Baldonnel and the other from the Irish Embassy in Tallinn, I checked both yesterday and neither of them contains any political content. The content is entirely about the business and work of the day - my work as Taoiseach. but in order to allay the Deputy's concerns, in the future I will post them on merrionstreet.iebefore they are posted on any other account. I am not sure that will make any difference in practice, but if it will help to allay the Deputy's concerns, I am happy to make the change.

So yes why were they posted from the Fine Gael facebook page first?

I don't see that he has published any of these update video on merrionstreet subsequently.

Even the government World Cup Rugby bid video that featured Independent Minister Shane Ross was posted from te Fine Gael facebook site.

Leo Vardakar featured a visit to North Strand Fire Station in his post Storm Emma weekly video, it was probably have been a mistake for the Dublin Fire Brigade to take the video and tweet it out themselves because of the Fine Gael logos and invitation to join at the end.

Some welcome these messages as a sort of weekly address like the President of the United States does but these videos often feature content that is specifically addressed at Fine Gael members. When even communications experts are getting confused maybe its time to change your approach.

Taoiseach Weekly Message Showing Taoiseach's weekly newsletter going back to 2011.

Its also a bit obstinate that Leo Vardakar never changed his @campaignforleo twitter handle but Im sure he loves that when anybody wants to tweet at him they have to include "campaignforleo", Im aware many things we might see as mistakes he may well have done on purpose.

I know the Taoiseach is still the leader of his party but these videos aren't clear, the Taoiseach should continue his weekly videos but they should be published via government/Merrionstreet and the deputy leader or chairman of Fine Gael can address the party.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Did Independent reporter tell Christy Dignam that the article she was interviewing him for was commissioned by the government unit he had critcised in her previous interview with him?

Dignam says he was duped into government advertorial Sunday Business Post Hugh O'Connell Mar 4, 2018

Christy Dignam has criticised the use of his comments in a government-sponsored newspaper ad as “totally out of order”, saying it was done without his knowledge.
Do they feel no shame, asks Aslan singer over state ads Justine McCarthy and Mark Tighe March 4 2018, 12:01am, The Sunday Times.
I only found out on Tuesday that it was an advertisement for the government... I was used. If I’d been told it was an advertorial, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Fantastic Finglas can only get even better with new luas link – Christy
Laura Lynott February 22 2018
Even though the newspapers got an interview with Christy Dignam confirming from his point of view he wasn't told the interview was for an NDP ad, they missed that the same person had reported Christy Dignam criticising the communications unit that commissioned the article on the NDP.

'Leo's propaganda millions should be used to help homeless' - Christy Laura Lynott – 21 November 2017
"The Government have their finger up their arse, they talk the big talk and they have a €5m propaganda team to do that but would that money not be better put into actually helping solve the homeless crisis?

Need her to confirm or deny she didn't tell Christy Dignam that his quotes would be used in an advertorial comissioned by government department he had critcised in previous interview.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Conor Skehan - Housing Agency Chair

Did Conor Skehan ask the Housing Agency to investigate the 'gaming of the system' more or not?
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Role of Chairperson of Housing Agency and Related Matters: Discussion
31 January 2018

Mr. Conor Skehan: First, I home in on his concern about crossing a line in terms of my role in the agency. The first thing to bear in mind is that I am chairman of the board and not a member of staff. My job as chair and our job as the board is to challenge our executive - sometimes to say, "Well done", sometimes to say, "Try harder" and sometimes to say, "Look harder."
Full video Oireachtas Video archive

Eoin Ó Broin:I asked when Mr. Skehan asked the Housing Agency to conduct a further study given his view that the 2016 study was out of date. Is he saying he did not ask the Housing Agency to do another study?

Mr. Conor Skehan:I have never asked the Housing Agency to do any studies. What we have is a-----

Eoin Ó Broin:Would it not have been appropriate to ask the agency to do a study before floating the idea publicly that he was not satisfied with the 2016 report? Would that not have been more sensible given that Mr. Skehan is the chairman of the body?

Mr. Conor Skehan:No. To be clear, the Housing Agency has, among other roles, a research function. We have a wonderful research officer, Mr. David Silke, who presents his research priorities for the following 12 or 18 months to the board every year. Again, this is a rolling programme. I do not always agree with Mr. Silke's priorities but it is his job to tell us what he believes we need to examine. He presents his priorities to the board every year and we accept them and move on. That his job and he is very good at it.

Eoin Ó Broin:Given Mr. Skehan's concern about the possibility of gaming the system and his view that the 2016 report was out of date and in light of his statement that part of the job of the board is to challenge the Housing Agency, you had never actually asked the agency to conduct a follow-up report on this issue?

Mr. Conor Skehan:The Deputy should see the list of things----

Eoin Ó Broin:That is a "Yes" or "No" question.

Mr. Conor Skehan
:It is not a "Yes" or "No" question. The Deputy should see the list of things we give poor old David Silke every year. They are in accordance with the priorities. We basically ask him what he is doing to study vacancy or affordability. The list is the list. I gave the joint committee a copy of the list of priorities and I make no apologies for having priorities. That is good management and gives a clear steer to the board.

Eoin Ó Broin:That is a "No" in reply to my question.

Mr. Conor Skehan:Deputy Ó Broin, you are a scallywag. That is not a "No" to the question.

Eoin Ó Broin
:It is a "No".

Conor Skehan Presentation documents.