Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe survived his trial by ordeal in the Dáil yesterday, admitting to further breaches of the law on electoral declarations, apologising again to the Dáil for his mistakes and losing his friend and supporter Michael Stone from two State boards.
It has been a bruising 10 days for Donohoe, but the assumption in most political quarters last night, reflected in this morning’s papers, is that – with the usual caveat that there are no further revelations – he will not be taken down by the affair.
The Opposition proclaimed their disbelief at Donohoe’s latest explanations, but they cannot contradict them; unless they can, he will survive.
Harry McGee’s report is here and analysis here.
Politicians, officials, should be fined for failing to comply with disclosure obligations, ethics review finds
The Irish Times view is here.
Miriam Lord is probably right when she says that Stone’s mea culpa and resignation yesterday morning took the fizz out of the controversy.
Elsewhere this morning, Jennifer Bray has the news that the Government has decided to close the Citywest asylum centre for new residents, as the shortage of accommodation for people seeking international protection here worsens. The State has asked people who “are considering seeking refuge” in Ireland but are currently in places of safety “not to travel to Ireland at this time and to defer making travel arrangements” due to pressures on accommodation.
Jennifer’s report is here.
Families with children and also people arriving from Ukraine will continue to be accommodated by the State. But those arriving from elsewhere – most of them single men – will not be provided with lodgings by the State for a period of time. How long? Officials were unable to say. Sources said it depends on the numbers arriving and on whether the authorities can find more accommodation. So for an undetermined period, asylum seekers will have to find somewhere to stay themselves. Clearly, many won’t be able to. Be prepared for pictures of asylum seekers sleeping in the airport, on floors in emergency centres, or just sleeping rough.
Any applicants who do not secure accommodation when they arrive will have their details taken and will be contacted “as soon as accommodation becomes available”, the department said, adding that the policy will be kept under review. The State has, since early last year, accommodated more than 73,000 people who have fled the war in Ukraine or made applications through the international protection system.
Back in Citywest, there was a disturbance this week – fuelling much criticism online. Accommodating refugees is becoming a constant headache for the Government, and one with a combustible political mix.
Meanwhile, Sally Hayden reports from Senegal, where President Michael D Higgins is on an official visit. The President made some comments yesterday about migration that skirt pretty close to contradicting Government policy.
“I think it is very good that Ireland has opened its doors to those who are fleeing from their countries where it is no longer safe to be, and I think we have to realise that we have to do so without distinction,” the President said.
“Politicians will differ in their views in relation to it,” he continued, but “if you believe in the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights], if you believe in the full principles of international law, if you believe in the rights of the person, well then I think this places serious obligations on you into how you in fact deal with the stranger at your door.”
Because of course, the Government has decided to make a distinction between Ukrainian refugees and others. Ukrainian refugees are treated differently to those from other countries and are – as of yesterday – given favourable treatment for accommodation. Perhaps we will hear more of this today. Sally’s report here.
Looks like Germany will send tanks to Ukraine after all, in a significant escalation of allied military aid. This will clear the way for others to do the same. Feels like an important moment.
The HSE’s former head of digital transformation Prof Martin Curley has told health correspondent Paul Cullen that the introduction of better IT systems and electronic patient records is being blocked in the HSE by “bad actors”. But no, he doesn’t identify them. He was in the post for four years.
Michael McDowell unloads on Sinn Féin over the party’s fundraising.
News of the Oscars is everywhere, with the acting fraternity and all their admirers playing things down in characteristic fashion, including on our front page.
In defiance of court orders and a formal dismissal from his teaching position, Enoch Burke returned to Wilson’s Hospital School on Tuesday morning.
Dáil business starts after 9am this morning with topical issues, before the rural Independent group proposes a motion on inshore fishing. Leaders’ Questions at noon, followed by questions on legislation and then Taoiseach’s departmental oral questions. A few pieces of Government business, including the continuation of the Human Tissue Bill to allow for opt-out organ donations and the final stages of the communication regulation Bill. The weekly votes are at 8.30pm, and the Dáil adjourns at 9pm.
The Seanad sees statements on wind energy (no jokes, please), and the resumption of the Judicial Appointments Bill. At 4.30pm there’s a motion on a transport police service. Adjournment at 6.30pm.
Busy day at the committees. IBEC and the ESRI will discuss the plans for automatic pension enrolment at the Social Protection Committee (IBEC has reservations, as Dominic Coyle reports), while over at the health committee at the same time (9.30am) the HSE is in again. The Swedish ambassador will discuss his country’s EU presidency at the EU affairs committee.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State Pippa Hackett will discuss the controversial Coillte plan to partner with investment funds to buy up land for forestry at the agriculture committee at 5.30pm. Lots of other action, too – full details here.
Elsewhere today, Tánaiste Micheál Martin is in Lebanon, and Michael D continues his Senegal visit. Reports on irishtimes.com.