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SHANE ROSS’S MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

A STEAMING row has broken out between the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Minister for Transport, Shane Ross.

Commuters in the capital were greeted this morning by the news that their friendly neighbourhood bus driver has been forced to “resort to emergency measures” because they have “no adequate wash and sanitary facilities” and are “expected to improvise” ie: relieve themselves in a bottle, presumably to be discarded in a nearby bin (should one exist).

The union placed thousands of leaflets on bus routes this morning outlining the need of its members for “appropriate facilities” and calling on the public to support them. In the leaflets, the NBRU said it had “been raising the issue for years” but to no avail.

Taking to Twitter, NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary called on Ross to take action.

The minister has yet to respond.

‘Legislation to stop harassment and stalking to go before Dáil’The Irish Times today.

Squire Hockey would surely agree…

MORE DARKNESS THAN LIGHT FOR FINE GAEL

POLITICIANS OF all stripes were eager to bask in the glow of last weekend’s Darkness into Light walk, with even Commissioner Phil Hogan recording his good wishes from Japan.

In Galway, Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh was forced to respond to criticism on social media, dismissing the suggestion that there was anything cynical about parking her branded campaign bus at the finishing area of a suicide prevention event. The candidate insists that she has supported the cause for a number of years and that “the bus was there because we had a team walking. I wasn’t canvassing”.

She did however post a number of updates from her campaign accounts before, during and after the walk, complete with election hashtags. Meanwhile in Dublin, Frances Fitzgerald also found time to upload a video of her own “incredibly moving experience”.

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DUNDALK’S BIG TRACK SURFACE BILL

PERHAPS IT should not come as a surprise that the manager of Dundalk’s racing track is set to lash out circa €3m to provide a replacement running surface. The question is, will it be in place for the autumn/winter season when alternatives are very thin on the ground.

Find out more in the latest issue of The Phoenix. 

CHARLIE FLANAGAN’S STRAW MAN

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was curiously flustered on Sunday following comments from Sheila Nunan on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics. Labour’s Euro election hopeful reaffirmed her party’s “commitment to Irish neutrality” along with “concern” about the ALDE and EPP position.

Flanagan dismissed the topic as “strawman” and a “scare tactic” but was disingenuous in claiming creeping EU militarism is not an election issue.

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CRAUGHWELL’S YOUTUBE U-TURN

IRELAND’S latest YouTube sensation has arrived. This time it is not some preening influencer or avocado munching millennial, however. Senator Gerard Craughwell has set up a channel to lambast wasteful public spending.

For over three minutes he runs though the list of electronic voting machines, water meters, PPARS, Eircode, motorways, the Luas and present scandals gripping the government over broadband and hospital building. “Have we lost the run of ourselves?” he asks. “Where are the managers in this country and who is managing it?”.

Prudent readers will be delighted with this turn around, given it is just over a year since Craughwell wrote to the nation’s county councillors under the title “Are you under-claiming on your travel expenses?”.

Ahead of the Senator’s bid to secure a local authority nomination for the presidency, Craughwell advised councillors “to keep a track themselves of the distance being travelled on all their Public Service Travel” in order to “ensure that you maximise allowable expenses”.

EMER, EITHNE AND ELAINE

IT WOULD be unfair to describe Leo Varadkar’s general election running mate, Emer Currie, as a blow-in to Dublin West but Emer, who is also running for Fine Gael in the locals in Castleknock, seems to be unfamiliar with the party’s main personalities in her new constituency.

Introducing herself on the party’s website as “proud to live, work and raise my family in Dublin 15”, the daughter of Austin Currie — former Blueshirt TD and presidential candidate and before that an SDLP Assembly member — said goodbye to blue rinse party matron, Eithne Loftus.

Cllr Loftus, is retiring after “many years of loyal and dedicated service,” said Emer, who hopes to take her place. Unfortunately, Emer referred to her distinguished predecessor as Elaine Loftus.

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SEE NO ARMY, SPEAK NO ARMY

Goldhawk has been busying himself flicking through Fine Gael’s European Election Manifesto 2019. In the ‘SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY’ section, the blueshirts claim to be “opposed to the creation of an EU army.”

However, their recent actions would suggest otherwise as this article from April shows.

DAVID SMYTH’S BLACKHALL BLUES

INTERESTING to see that the Law Society has just registered a judgement against Waterford tech outfit Agenda Computers Ltd, where the principal is one David Smyth.

Read more about him in the latest issue. 

IAN BAILEY: TRIAL BY ERROR
Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey has said that he will be “sacrificed” by Ireland to placate French authorities over the unsolved murder of Sophie Toscan-du-Plantier in west Cork almost 23 years ago.

According to the Indo, Bailey made the comments after French prosecutors said they will act “immediately” to demand Ireland complies with European extradition and judicial agreements should Bailey be convicted of murder in a trial in absentia which is due to open on May 27th.

Read more about Bailey’s ‘Trial by Error’ from March 2019, here for free.

NIALL CRONIN’S STRATEGY
Niall Cronin

THE IRISH Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) has decided to up its communications strategy, announcing the Herald’s former racing corr, Niall Cronin, as its new communications manager.

Read more about Cronin in the latest issue. 

SAORADH CHIEF’S DÁIL AMBITIONS

BRIAN KENNA, chairman of Saoradh, which reflects the New IRA’s political outlook, was once a model of the Sinn Féin parliamentary road and had aspirations to be a TD.

Read more about Kenna in the latest issue. 

GARDA PRIDE

Reaction to the news that uniformed members of An Garda Siochana will take part in this year Dublin Pride has been mixed. The issue of police participation is contentious globally as parades increasingly embrace corporate sponsorship and stray from protests roots. The matter has particular significance in Ireland where marching began in reaction to the murder of Declan Flynn in 1983.  

Festival Director Jed Dowling, who is having some trouble of his own (see here), responded to concerns by talking up the significance of gardaí and PSNI officers marching together and what this apparently symbolises for “all communities on our island” telling GCN that “one of the biggest things we learned is that excluding people doesn’t help anyone”.

This follows similar controversy last year, when Cork Pride dismissed concerns over accepting sponsored from Gilead, the pharma giant which tried unsuccessfully to block patient access to generic HIV medication months earlier.

Not long after the announcement from Commissioner Drew Harris, the Dublin Pride Committee unveiled the theme of this year’s festival, ‘Rainbow Rebellion’.

VARADKAR’S DUTCH COURAGE

ONLOOKERS IN Dublin will have been pleased with remarks from the Dutch Prime Minister this week as he welcomed Leo Varadkar to bilateral talks in the Hague.

“The Netherlands and Ireland are, as internationally-oriented countries with open economies, often on the same page” tweeted Mark Rutte, along with a photo of both politicians on the red carpet.

While there has been plenty of focus on Ireland’s diplomatic success in getting the border issue bundled within the early phases of Brexit negotiations, there remains considerable anxiety about losing the most dependable and powerful ally around the EU table. As integration plans accelerate, this is going to become very uncomfortable for the Irish way of doing things.

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BY-ELECTION BLITZ

IT NOW looks as though there could be four and possibly five Dáil by-elections within six months of the EU elections. TDs Clare Daly (Dublin Fingal), Billy Kelleher (Cork North-Central), Brendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan) and Frances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid-West) are all expected to win EU Parliament seats, with the possibility of Mick Wallace (Wexford) also taking a seat.

Read more about it in the latest issue out now. 

VARADKAR’S LEGAL PRECEDENT

WHAT AN interesting sequence of events has taken place since the New Year surrounding Shane Ross’s judicial appointments bill. Fine Gael and, in particular, Leo Varadkar appear to realise the down side if it fails to get the legislation passed before a general election. 

Read more in the latest edition out now.

BRENDAN HOWLIN’S ATTACK

DOES Labour leader Brendan Howlin believe he is still minister in charge of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER)? Howlin’s attack on the government for its green light to the €3bn broadband project heard him accuse Fine Gael of “abandoning spending controls” and threatening the “long-term financial stability of our country”. And he chimed in with mandarin Robert Watt, secretary general of his old department, arguing that the government was “ignoring official advice”.

Read more in the latest issue. 

IAN CURLEY’S EXIT

FOLLOWING the announcement of the impending exit of Malin Corp executive chairman Ian Curley, read Goldhawk’s October 2018 analysis of the company’s recent turbulence below. 

BAD MEDICINE AT MALIN CORPORATION

THE SAME week that Malin Corporation had its explosive AGM (September 13), Don Panoz – the founder of its predecessor company, Elan Pharmaceuticals – died at the age of 83. He set up Elan Pharmaceuticals, where New York banker Kelly Martin eventually took charge before selling the company to Perrigo for $7bn in June 2013. The latter’s record at Elan was mixed and shareholders in his subsequent venture, Malin, have had little to cheer. Martin is no longer CEO, but the company looks a very long way from delivering any return.

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MACDARA KELLEHER’S STRONG FOUNDATION
MacDara Kelleher

THE GIANT Apple TV streaming service launching later this year has commissioned the first 10-episode adaptation of sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ series of books, which is to be filmed at Troy Studios in Limerick. Once again, it turns out that the filmmaker MacDara Kelleher is a winner here in what is actually something of a family affair.

Read more about it in the latest issue of The Phoenix

STEPHEN COLLINS’ EURO WOES

EURO WOES for Stephen Collins at the Irish Times where he continues to plead with irresponsible voters to see some sense. Today’s column is the second time he has thundered against the United Left/Nordic Green Left grouping, which counts Luke Ming Flanagan and the Sinn Féin MEPs among their numbers.

Back in January, Collins identified something of a failing in the national character when he lamented that “only four of Ireland’s eleven Irish MEPs support Junker”. Today he has again written up the charge sheet against the “current and former communists” in Europe, but has less to say about the sins of Fine Gael’s European People’s Party (EPP).

In Spain, the Popular Party (PP) have been laid low after it emerged that the party have been enriching themselves through a network of secret bank accounts and rigged public contracts with property developers. Astonishingly, the slush fund has existed since the party was founded during the transition to democracy in 1975 following the death of Franco.

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SENATE DRAMA RELIVED

AS PRESSURE over rural broadband and the National Children’s Hospital continues to mount, Fine Gael spending dramas are becoming reminiscent of a minor scandal in 2014, when party activist John McNulty, who is now contesting local elections for the party in Donegal, found himself on the board of IMMA ahead of a Seanad by-election.

After it emerged that the appointment was made just days before the nomination, the party was accused of an attempt to inflate their candidate’s artistic credentials for the upper house’s Cultural and Educational Panel.

On that occasion, the cries of ‘stroke politics’ and ‘jobs for the boys’ caused a minor crisis for party’s self-perception with ostensibly responsible blueshirts, still not tainted by a full term in government, fretting if they really were any different to the toxic Fianna Fáil.

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BRITISH SOLDIERS TAKE THE FLAK

REPORTS OF the formal interview by police of top Force Research Unit (FRU) spook Brigadier Gordon Kerr got British media headlines last week. The FRU was a British army agent handling unit, which ran both loyalist and republican agents, including the likes of Fred Scappaticci, supposedly the notorious ‘Stakeknife’ in the IRA.

Read more in the latest issue. 

And if that’s not enough, you can read further about ‘Stakeknife’ here and here for free. 

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

THE INCLUSION of proposals for Ireland’s night time economy in Fine Gael’s manifesto can be seen as continued effort by the young leadership to cultivate the image of a modern, urban administration. The party says that it wants to see “the establishment of local committees and night mayors”, which have been adopted in many trendy European cities.

Fine Gael also say consideration will be given to licensing regulations and venue availability and this is where matters will get trickier. Dublin alone has lost a number of clubs and theatres to hotel development in recent years and it has been over a decade since any newly built venue opened its doors in the capital.

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LABOUR’S RENT CONTROL JOURNEY

LABOUR HAVE made housing a central plank of their election launch this week and are keen to emphasise the party’s commitment stretching all the way back to the 1940s. The manifesto, while light on detail, emphatically claims that ‘Labour believes in rent control. Stronger rent control legislation is needed’. Recent history, however, tells a different story.

This public stance is something of a departure and readers may recall that the plight of tenants was only acknowledged by the party after they received a kicking in the 2014 elections.

During that campaign, the policy of rent control was put directly to Emer Costello in an RTÉ Prime Time television debate. Costello deflected to waffle about the European Parliament before the question was put again. Visibly anxious, she began to attack Sinn Féin before presenter Claire Byrne stopped and said: “I asked you a specific question, it seems you are not interested in answering so we will move on”.

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THE INCREDIBLE €240M CASH TAKEOUT OF IFG
Kathryn Purves

AHEAD OF IFG’s final AGM, read Goldhawk’s analysis of the company’s audacious sale in the latest issue below. 

The £200m Elysian Fuels controversy is still unresolved and a further £5m provision has had to be made to cover potential further sanction charges and mediation costs on foot of the group’s dual trustee book, of which only 20% has been reviewed, although these costs are extrapolated from this review. Against this background, it is surprising that the new chairman, Mark Dearsley – who replaced our own John Gallagher in May last year – and Kathryn Purves, the new CEO, who replaced John Cotter last April, have done such a remarkable job. Not only have they worked to clean up the mess but, more importantly, negotiated a fantastic €240m cash takeout of IFG by Alex Fortescue’s Epiris private equity fund. Tony Smurfit could learn a thing or two.

Read the full analysis in the latest issue out now. 

And you can read more about IFG here for free. 

YOUNG BLOOD: CATHAL HAUGHEY
Cathal Haughey

THERE IS an old saying that it only takes three generations to ruin a family business. Cathal Haughey (22) will be hoping it’s just a tired cliché when he makes his electoral debut later this month as a Fianna Fáil candidate for Dublin City Council in the Clontarf electoral area.

Read more about the latest Haughey hopeful in the new issue. 

FG PEMBROKE BLUE BLOODS
Linda Farren-O'Shea

WHAT A stellar trio of candidates Fine Gael has assembled in the local election barony of Pembroke – formerly Pembroke-South Dock – which has been stripped of the jarring, proletarian surrounds of Ringsend and has gained parts of Ranelagh and Rathmines.

Read more about them in the latest addition. 

ROBBO’S FOUNDATION JOINS EXTINCT LIST
Mary Robinson

SO FAREWELL then to the Mary Robinson Foundation (MRF) – the eponymous climate change organisation established by Mary Robinson almost ten years ago. It has just wound itself up.

Last Christmas (see The Phoenix 14/12/18) Goldhawk revealed that Robbo had stepped down from the board of the MRF, where she had been in situ for many years, while remaining as president of the operation (essentially the chief executive role). The 2017 annual report noted that Mary Robinson was stepping down from the board “for good governance reasons”.

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SHADY DATA PRACTICES

READERS WILL have been amused to see Breda O’Brien railing against online political advertising in last weekend’s Irish Times. While referencing the 2008 Obama campaign and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the columnist had rather less to say about technical innovations adopted by the No campaign during last year’s Eighth Amendment referendum.

Shady data practices and ethically dubious modern campaign methods became typical in this jurisdiction as two major anti-abortion groups, Love Both and Save the 8th, employed a host of digital gurus and gimmicky applications in an effort to emulate sensational right-wing victories elsewhere.

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GEMMA O’DOHERTY’S BUSES

THIS WEEK, commuters in Dublin are waking up to the sight of ‘investigative journalist’ Gemma O’Doherty on the side of buses. The European election candidate has spent around 15,000 on 25 advertisements which will criss cross the city over the next three weeks.

Under the ‘Anti Corruption Ireland’ banner, ads carry the slogan that: “It is time to take Ireland back.” From whom it is not clear and O’Doherty has left her colourful conspiracies on immigration, Islam, vaccines, climate change, ‘false flag’ attacks, chemtrails, feminism, 5G, George Soros and shadowy globalists to one side.

While the ads do not carry an inherently racist message, O’Doherty’s views, as expressed by her in the below tweets, have seen accusations of racism labelled against her.

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REBELS AND REACTIONARIES
Ian O'Doherty

THE Extinction Rebellion movement brought civil disobedience on to streets across the world last month in a furious, but carefully planned, response to the twin existential threats of climate breakdown and species extinction. Our national broadcaster’s coverage included posing the following question to a panel of celebrities: “Climate change protesters – saving the planet or just crusty hypocrites?” 

Read more in the latest issue. 

And you can read further about climate change protesters here on Goldhawk’s new free to view blog.