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Committee on Public Petitions díospóireacht -
Thursday, 8 Jul 2021

Decisions on Public Petitions Received

The first petition for consideration is No. P00007/21, from Ms Nathalia Nogueira. which concerns the third level graduate programme, stamp 1G, visa extension. The petition states "As a result of the events of 2020, the year 2021 remains uncertain on a global scale." The petition seeks:

to extend the visa of all graduate students for one more year. This would give us a more realistic chance of successfully securing [or] seeking ... a sponsorship. This extension will not only be beneficial for students, but also for the Irish market for retaining a qualified workforce in the Country.

The reply from the Department of Justice in the advice note has been circulated to committee members. I propose that the petition and the reply from the Department are published, the departmental correspondence is sent to Ms Nogueira and she is asked if she is satisfied with the reply.

Do members have any views on that or is it agreed?

Petition No. 9/21 is on an unauthorised development. The petitioner's name is Mr. Michael Barrett. This petition concerns unauthorised development and the role of certain State and official bodies. Petition No. 23/21 concerns the unauthorised development on the River Shannon. The petitioner's name is Mr. Jamie Forde Kelly. These two petitions are similar. I propose that, in accordance with the powers given to the committee by Standing Orders, the committee consider both petitions at the same time. Do members wish to comment?

I agree that these are fairly similar petitions but Senator Buttimer might remember something similar came up in a previous petition.

I am shocked that we are back to it in 2021. I note a number of recommendations there as well. The first petition, that the secretariat advises is similar to a petition that was submitted, is the one the Chairman covered to make the two the same petition. However, it was what has been alleged here, on, I suppose, the Shannon Estuary. It says here that there are currently legal proceedings, and the club mentioned is under investigation by both Waterways Ireland and Westmeath County Council. We never got an update on that on the previous petitions committee because the Government fell. On that basis, I appeal to the rest of the members to have a look at the two recommendations. If we are joining the two of these together, my personal view is that recommendation 1 is the more proportionate and proper one to get responses to see what is happening with it.

Does anyone else wish to comment? Is Deputy Buckley suggesting that we do both separately or together?

They are fairly similar. This is what I am afraid of. I would go with the recommendation on the first one of Mr. Jamie Forde Kelly. On the recommendation, as one can see, there has been a considerable amount of work undertaken on this petition and the secretariat advises in respect of the report received on unathorised developments by Mr. Forde Kelly that Portaneena Marina is currently the subject of legal proceedings. It goes on to say that the petition case manager also suggests that follow-up responses be sent to the Department and Westmeath County Council for an update on legal proceedings. They are more or less the same recommendations. I have no problem. It is the same issue. They are two separate petitions but it is the same recommendation. If the rest of the committee is in agreement, recommendation 1 would be the one that I would be in agreement with. This is normally how it works.

I propose that the report from the local authority be sent to both petitioners for their views and that the official bodies be asked for an update on the current situation. Is that agreed? Agreed. I also propose that both petitions be published.

Petition No. 10/21 is entitled "Abolish the restricted dogs list in favour of Deed Not Breed". The petitioner's name is Mr. David Ward. A reply was received from the Department of Community and Rural Development. I propose that the petition be published; that the reply from the Department be published; and that we send the correspondence from the Department to Mr. Ward and ask him if he is satisfied with the reply. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Petition No. 12/21 is in the name of Mr. Niall Campbell. I suggest that this petition is inadmissible as it contains the name or names of individuals, contrary to Standing Order 127(d). I propose that the name of the individual be redacted from the petition when published. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Next on the agenda was the election of the Vice Chairman which we agreed at the earlier meeting would be put off until after the recess.

We are well over the time. On any other business, would any member like to make any final comments as this is our last scheduled meeting?

Chairman, it is not usual for me to make a comment such as this. Indeed, when you became Chair of this committee, I was one of the people who urged members to give you a chance to proceed. I have to say - I do not go into rhetoric against any members - I was very disappointed to read about yourself and the comments that were attributed to you in relation to the death of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe. I am just doing this because I am thinking of Mrs. Ann McCabe, her five children and her family. I would ask you, without any further delay, to clarify your position on this so that we can move on because many of the members of the committee are quite upset about it. I will not say any more about it. Thank you for letting me in.

On the same issue as Senator Murphy, as you are Chair of this committee and since we serve on the same committee, I did not hear the radio interview but I read about it in a newspaper recently. I have to say I was shocked by your alleged remarks. As I said, I did not hear them. I would like you to clarify them, be that here today if we have time or, certainly, in a public forum. The article I read is unsettling and the matter needs to be addressed, obviously, by yourself, because the article related to you. I am sure you know the one I am talking about.

Other members have spoken on it as well. I await to hear from you on that, Chair. Thank you.

I reiterate what previous speakers have said. Like Senator Murphy, I suppose, when you initially took up the job as Chair, my viewpoint was to get on with the work and crack on, but in light of these alleged comments - like Deputy Devlin, I have not heard the interview - and that article, I would appreciate it if you could clarify the situation, whether at this meeting or at a future one. Thank you.

Anybody else? To clarify, I appreciate that people did not hear the interview. Let me start.

The killing of Detective Jerry McCabe was unjustified and I condemn it unreservedly. It was a reprehensible act. I condemn everything about it, as my party leader made clear - the act and what they did. I made it clear in a subsequent statement to Tipp FM last Friday in the interview. We have consistently apologised to Mrs. McCabe and the McCabe family and Detective Garda Ben O'Sullivan and his family as well.

I do not know why this arises. It was made clear last Friday, with my answer on Tipp FM. That is my position.

Do you condemn the killers?

I will not go into it any further, Deputy Griffin. We are over time.

You will not, though.

I unreservedly, like I said-----

With all due respect, through the Chair. The man has apologised and you are at character assassination here.

Who is assassinating, Deputy Buckley?

Sorry, I have been asked to make a statement and I have made it.

That remark has to be withdrawn by Deputy Buckley. In the context of what is being discussed, it is unnecessary language by Deputy Buckley.

That is grossly insensitive.

We in this committee have always worked on issues but as Members of the Oireachtas we are held to account. I know that better than most. It is up to us to hold each other to higher standards and if we cannot have a debate without that kind of language, it says a lot about us.

Sorry, I have made a statement there. I am conscious that we are over time under the instructions from the Ceann Comhairle.

Chairman, I will ask you a question. It is black and white. Do you condemn the killers of Detective McCabe?

I have made a statement, Deputy Griffin, and we are leaving it at that. Thank you very much.

Do you condemn the killers, Deputy?

The rest of the meeting is-----

It is a disgrace, Chairman. It is an absolute disgrace that you, as a Chairman of an Oireachtas committee and as a Member of the Oireachtas, will not condemn people who killed a garda.

I will not politicise the situation, as Deputy Griffin is trying to do.

I have made a statement. Like I said, I unreservedly condemn the actions that they have done.

There is a glaring omission from that statement. The Chair and people of Ireland know that.

I have made that clear. My sympathies go out to the McCabe and O'Sullivan families.

They are empty, meaningless words.

You have asked me to make a statement and I have made a statement. The committee is adjourned until 11 a.m. on Thursday, 16 September, for a virtual private meeting to be followed by a public meeting at 12.30 p.m. As we discussed earlier, the executive will contact some of the other ombudsmen to check whether they can attend on that date. We agreed to hold a private virtual meeting at some stage during the summer. Once the secretariat gets back to us, we will inform the members. If not, I wish you all a happy summer and will see you after the recess.

The joint committee adjourned at 2.41 p.m. until 11 a.m. on Thursday, 16 September 2021.