RTE, Land ‘exploitation’ and Social Housing.

It’s hard not to fall into the trap of merely repeating the machinations of RTE yesterday as they created a news story out criticisms of Unite trade union.  Unite complied with building regulations brought in by Labour vis a vis when social housing needs to be considered in redevelopments.

First off, no institution is above criticism and people have every right to ask questions about the choices unions and other organisations make about their assets.  That said, in social media post by Dave Gibney,  its clear that what was happening  was a push back within RTE against a broader movement of HomeSweetHome. I make little distinction between the story RTE ran and the front cover of the Sunday Mail story again seeking to smear the Home Sweet Home movement.

The Home Sweet Home movement that not only dominated media landscape in Ireland for almost 4 weeks, but did so on its own terms. What was striking was just how successfully Home Sweet Home shaped the narrative in its own terms.  And is wasn’t simply a narrative, this was a movement that spoke about law breaking through the lens of care. Of militant transgressions justified outside and beyond neoliberal logic.  And it met with widespread public support and massive levels of direct involvement.

 

 

Richard McAleavey yesterday wrote about how

“The thick strain of right-wing anti-establishment sentiment in Irish political life, tapped into by RTÉ’s reporting here, does not evaluate it at all. It merely barks ‘hypocrisy!’. According to these quarters, the ‘vested interests’, in which the trade unions are always made to figure heavily, have things all sown up, at the expense of the little man. The purpose of such sentiment is to sow disenchantment with trade unions and, consequently, with the defence of workers’ rights, including social rights such as the right to a home.”

You can and should read the full piece here.

So how do I write anything about RTE own involvement in land exploitation and its lack of material contribution to solving a housing crisis that moves beyond RTE’s own cries of hypocrisy.  Perhaps pointing  it out is enough  for now on my lunch break but id like to come back to this again.

 

The Irish government was informed last October 2016 that Dublin City Council passed a motion calling for RTE’s amassed land assets to be used for social housing.

The letter send to Minister Denis Naughton can be seen below. #

Dublin City Council RTE social housing

The Minister replied, essentially washing his hands of any state intervention saying RTE is a fully autonomous organisation.   His reply below here.

 

RTE social housing

In the letter Naughton states

RTE is an independent statutory corporation whose remit and obligations are set out in Section 114 of the Broadcasting Act 2009. Section 98 of the Act provides that the company shall be independent in the pursuance of these objects, subject to the requirements of the Act, and as such I, as Minister, have no function in the management of RTE’s day to day affairs, including matters relating to the management of land assets.

But he also states that RTE is looking to sell and exploit land up to 10 acres in ‘2016/17’  Ive yet to see any report about RTE selling land and how much of this is to be used for social housing.  I doubt we’ll be seeing one any time soon.

 

Martin McGuinness’ Resignation Letter

Sinn Fein have just announced Martin McGuiness is to resign as Deputy First Minister  at 5pm todayin response to DUP’s Arlene Foster “clear conflict of interest” in the RHI heating subsidy scandal. Here’s his resignation letter.

 

maginnes1

sourced from BBC’s Mark Davenport  https://twitter.com/markdevenport

British #SpyCops in Ireland: What is @FitzgeraldFrncs covering up? An interview with Jason Kirkpatrick

I spoke to Jason Kirkpatrick targeted by British undercover police across several countries including Germany, N Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. The officer was Mark Kennedy attached to the UK’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU.) Kennedy operated in many European countries including several deployments to Ireland.

jason_35x45mm_300dpi

Jason Kirkpatrick wants Irish Dept of Justice to explain role of British undercover police spying on him in Ireland

The NPOIU is a political policing unit set up to illicitly disrupt political networks social movements and family campaigns challenging abuses by the police.

The unit was preceded by the Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS) set up in 1968 to infiltrate protest movements opposed to the US war in Vietnam.   Both units not only spied on political organisations and social movements, but on campaigns against police abuses and murder in the UK.

mark-kennedy-undercover-a-007

Mark Kennedy, using the name Mark Stone, from the UK’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit, was deployed multiple times in Ireland. The Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana refuse to cooperate so far with Jason Kirkpatrick.

Jason is currently bringing legal cases in several jurisdictions with an aim of expanding the Pitchford Inquiry into the scope and nature of undercover policing set up by the current UK prime minister Teresa May. Currently this inquiry is limited to undercover policing in England and Wales. Jason and others are pushing to see this expanded to cover all areas that British undercover police targeted them.

It is understood that the NPOIU operated using contractual terms of agreements with several nation states/police units around the deployment of British officers from the unit in those states. It’s likely that some of the information held by the Irish police force includes such an agreement. It is also common practice for information fed back by British undercover police to their units is shared with the police force of the country they are operating in.

Currently the Irish state refuses to publish an existing report into Mark Kennedys deployments across Ireland, or who he was spying on and what information he has supplied to both the British and Irish states. Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald has called for another report from Commissioner O Sullivan, a move that should be understood as a stalling tactic to resist any transparency around some really dodgy policing

Full interview below

More info on the use of undercover police to spy and disrupt black justice movements can found at The Guardian here

Trumps Press Release re Denis O Brien in full

To date, no Irish media reprinted any of the specific content within Donald Trump’s press release about Denis O Brien’s links to the Clinton Foundation,  and Clinton family.

What’s even more striking, no media outlet even offers a hyperlink in its own self censoring coverage to the actual press release itself.

dob

The press release is in full below.  As we can see, none of it is original content, or even amounts to any sort of political analysis. Its simply copy paste of pieces, mostly uncontested facts already written online. Much of it from within Ireland.

Irish media outlets might consider their choice not to link or include any specifics outlined within  ( eg O Briens donating to the Clinton Foundation whilst getting contracts from the US state department for mobile phone contract in Haiti) as pragmatic.

That I’m afraid is internalised logic, which any observer can see is  based on internalising a fear of O Brien’s power and justifying something politica as a business decision.  And that’s a much bigger news than any copy paste job Trumps team fires out.

Update: 12.49. Hattip to Marcus O’Cuilleanáin for this link

‘Upon legal advice, RTÉ will not be repeating the exact words used in the statement’ – 1:27mins

 

Here’s the presser in full.

Image designed and courtesy of Eamonn Crudden

– September 28, 2016 –

FOLLOW THE MONEY: DENIS O’BRIEN – ANOTHER CORRUPT CLINTON FRIEND

DENIS O’BRIEN IS A BILLIONAIRE “CELL PHONE TYCOON” WITH CLOSE TIES TO THE CLINTONS AND ALSO ONE OF THE “MOST REVILED FIGURES” IN IRELAND

Denis O’Brien Is A “Cell Phone Tycoon” Who Owns Digicel, “A Mobile Phone Network Provider That Operates In Central America, The Caribbean, And The Pacific Islands.” “Cell phone tycoon Denis O’Brien runs and owns 94% of Digicel, a mobile phone network provider that operates in Central America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. The company was supposed to hold its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015 but pulled it in October due to “volatility” in the markets. In recent years, O’Brien has been on a deal-making binge in Ireland, snapping up distressed assets on the cheap and turning them around.” (“#219 Denis O’Brien,” Forbes, Accessed 4/26/16)

  • NOTE: As Of April 26, 2016, O’Brien Is Worth $6.1 Billion USD. (“#219 Denis O’Brien,” Forbes, Accessed 4/26/16)

O’Brien Also Founded The Esat Telecom Group PLC And Is The Chair Of The Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network. “O’Brien also founded the Esat Telecom Group plc. He is a Director on the US Board of Concern Worldwide, a member of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, and chair of the Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network. In addition, he is Chairman and Co-Founder of Frontline, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. In 2000, he established The Iris O’Brien Foundation to identify and assist projects in Ireland and internationally which aim to alleviate disadvantaged communities.” (Clinton Foundation Website, Accessed 4/26/16)

O’Brien Is One Of The “Most Reviled” Figures In Ireland Over Revelations About His Business Affairs. “O’Brien is Ireland’s leading philanthropist – but now also one of the most reviled figures there. It is an extraordinary paradox that surrounds his business success – how he made his fortune and now how he is handling revelations about his banking and business affairs. For a man described by Clinton as changing the world more than anyone else for the betterment of the poor recent negative press provides a dizzying contrast.” (James O’Shea, “Clinton’s Close Friend Denis O’Brien Battles Massive Criticism In Ireland,” Irish Central, 6/8/15)

O’Brien Is A Major Clinton Foundation Supporter And Bill Clinton’s “Friend”

(Clinton Foundation Website, Accessed 4/26/16)

Denis J. O’Brien And Digicel Cumulatively Donated $10,000,001 To $25,000,000 To The Clinton Foundation. (“Contributor And Grantor Information,” Clinton Foundation Website, Accessed 4/26/16)

Bill Clinton And O’Brien Developed “A Close Working Relationship” During Their Work Together In Haiti. “Mr Clinton and Mr. O’Brien formed a close working relationship in Haiti where the former acted as UN special envoy, and where Digicel has become the country’s largest foreign investor ever – pumping $600 million (€443 million) into an economy devastated by the 2010 earthquake.”(Joe Humphreys, “Bill Clinton Visit Cements Close Working Relationship With Denis O’Brien,” The Irish Times, 10/10/13)

  • Chelsea Clinton Thanked O’Brien For His “Tireless Leadership” In Haiti. CHELSEA CLINTON: “And again, I want to thank Denis O’Brien for his tireless leadership, as well as also getting Ruth Messenger a chair – proving indeed that chivalry is alive and well. Without his sort of dogged commitment, I don’t think we would have had the success rate that he is so rightly proud of and that we are so rightly grateful to be part of. So, I want to welcome Adam to the stage to help lead the conversation, but I also would ask all of you to please give Denis who is far too humble a round of applause.” (Chelsea Clinton, Remarks At The 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, New York, NY, 9/27/15)

In 2011 O’Brien Flew Bill Clinton To Ireland On His Private Jet So That Clinton Could Speak At The Global Irish Economic Forum. “In 2011, Mr Clinton flew to Ireland on Mr O’Brien’s private jet to attend the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle, which was hosted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.” (Joe Humphreys, “Bill Clinton Visit Cements Close Working Relationship With Denis O’Brien,” The Irish Times, 10/10/13)

On The Same Trip, O’Brien Picked Up The Restaurant Tab For His “Mate” Clinton And 23 Others. “He has an honorary doctorate from UCD and is a mate of former US President, Bill Clinton. Indeed, he flew him to the recent Dublin Castle beano in his jet, and later paid the tab for a late-nighter in the Unicorn restaurant with Clinton, the strangely ever-present Séamus Heaney and 22 others.” (“Denis O’Brien: A Complicated Career And Dubious Ethics,” Village, 12/14/11)

President Clinton Named Denis O’Brien As A Clinton Global Citizen In 2012. “The Clinton Global Citizen Awards recognizes individuals from various sectors who demonstrate visionary leadership in addressing global challenges. Carlos Slim Helú, founder of Fundación Carlos Slim; Luis A. Moreno, president of Inter-American Development Bank; Denis O’Brien, chairman and founder of Digicel Group; Pepe Julian Onziema, programme director and advocacy officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG); The Right Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, executive director of St. Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Centre; and Katie Stagliano, founder and chief executive gardener of Katie’s Krops, will accept awards this year.”( Press Release, “President Clinton to Honor Six Recipients at the Sixth Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards,” The Clinton Foundation, 9/24/12)

In 2012, Clinton Rated O’Brien’s Ideas To Make Cash Transactions Available For The Poor Through Cell Phones As The Number One Idea Changing The World. “Former president Bill Clinton wrote in a September 2012 Time Magazine cover story that Irish businessman Denis O’Brien’s move to make cash transactions available for the poorest in the world via cell phones was the number one idea in changing the world. The Time cover story featuring Clinton holding a globe is entitled “5 Ideas that are changing the World” and O’Brien’s idea was rated tops.” (James O’Shea, “Clinton’s Close Friend Denis O’Brien Battles Massive Criticism In Ireland,” Irish Central, 6/8/15)

O’Brien, Described As A Friend, Was The Main Facilitator And Benefactor For Clinton’s Speech At A 2013 Gathering For The One Percent Difference Campaign. “Bill Clinton’s third speaking engagement in Ireland in as many years was facilitated largely by his friend and fellow philanthropist Denis O’Brien. The billionaire chairman of the Digicel telecoms group helped to cover the cost of the visit along with a number of other private donors. Opening his speech, Mr. Clinton thanked Mr O’Brien personally ‘for the invitation.’” (Joe Humphreys, “Bill Clinton Visit Cements Close Working Relationship With Denis O’Brien,” The Irish Times, 10/10/13)

O’Brien Is A “Fan” Of Hillary Clinton’s And Hosted A 2012 Dinner For Her While She Was Secretary Of State

According To A 2014 Interview, O’Brien Is A “Fan” Of Hillary Clinton’s. O’DOWD: “Speaking of politicians, you are a big fan of Hillary Clinton. Do you think she is going to run for the White House in 2016?” O’BRIEN: “I’d say she is going to see what the lay of the land is, like any clever politician, to see who’s there on the Democratic side. I think a year out from the primaries last time, not a lot of people had heard of Obama and never saw him as a serious candidate, so obviously she is waiting to see who’s there. And yes, I am a fan.” (Niall O’Dowd, “Exclusive: Denis O’Brien On Tony O’Reilly, Hillary, Ireland, And Making A Difference,” Irish Central, 9/27/14)

In 2012, O’Brien Hosted A Dinner For Hillary Clinton During Her Visit To Dublin. “There was lots of reminiscing the day before in Dublin too when about 12 of us old-time Hillary supporters sat with her in a Dublin restaurant at a dinner hosted by businessman Denis O’Brien. In the small private dinner setting just off Stephen’s Green in Dublin she made clear that the fire still burns. The affection for Ireland and the desire to serve again was very clear that night.” (Niall O’Dowd, “Hillary Clinton Book Recalls Role In Irish Peace Process,” Irish Central, 6/11/14)

O’Brien’s Company Received Funds Overseen By A Top Clinton Aide To Develop Mobile Services In Post-Earthquake Haiti

In 2011, O’Brien’s Company Digicel Was Awarded a $2.5 Million Award From Funds Overseen By A Top Clinton Aide To Develop Mobile Services In Haiti. “Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, who heads a mobile-phone network provider called Digicel, won a $2.5 million award in 2011 from a program run by the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development to offer mobile money services in post-earthquake Haiti. The firm won subsequent awards. Funds for the awards were provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, while USAID administered the program, with a top Clinton aide directly overseeing earthquake aid.” (James V. Grimaldi, Rebecca Ballhaus, And Peter Nicholas, “Gifts To Hillary Clinton’s Family Charity Are Scrutinized In Wake Of Book,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/22/15)

O’BRIEN FACES CONTINUED INVESTIGATIONS INTO HIS QUID PRO QUO DEALINGS WITH IRISH POLITICIANS

An Irish Tribunal Determined That O’Brien Received Significant Aid From Michael Lowry, The Irish Communications Minister, In Obtaining A Valuable Telecom License

The Irish Moriarty Tribunal Concluded “Beyond Doubt” That O’Brien Had Received Substantial Help In Obtaining A Lucrative Mobile License From Then Communications Minister Michael Lowry. “The Moriarty tribunal’s second and final report has found that Michael Lowry assisted Denis O’Brien in his bid to secure a mobile phone contract for Esat Digifone. It concluded it is ‘beyond doubt’ that then minister for transport, energy and communications Mr Lowry gave ‘substantive information to Denis O’Brien, of significant value and assistance to him in securing the [mobile] licence.’ It said Mr Lowry and Mr O’Brien had at least two meetings during the bid process at which the former minister ‘imparted substantive information to Mr O’Brien of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence.’” (“Moriarty Says Lowry Helped O’Brien Win Mobile Licence,” The Irish Times, 3/22/11)

O’Brien Transferred A Substantial Amount Of Money To Lowry And His Party Around The Time His Firm Was Seeking A Mobile License

O’Brien Gave Lowry’s Political Party A €50,000 Donation The Year The Contract Was Granted. “The minister was then a member of the Fine Gael party, which was also offered a donation amounting to €50,000 (£43,400) from O’Brien in the year the contract was granted. The-then prime minister, John Bruton, later sent the money back.” (Henry MacDonald, “Former Irish Minister Michael Lowry Accused Of Collusion Over Telecoms Bid,” The Guardian, 3/22/11)

  • The Moriarty Tribunal Found That The Payment Was Made “On Behalf Of Esat Digifone At The Instigation And Promotion Of Denis O’Brien.” “It said this payment was ‘made in a manner which, having regard to its false and misleading documentation, the initial payment to an offshore Jersey account, and the eventual delays and misrepresented form of transmission to Fine Gael, was secretive, utterly lacking in transparency and designed to conceal the fact of such payment by or on behalf of the donors.’ ‘The tribunal has found that the payment, although not one ever intended for Mr Lowry personally, was nonetheless one that technically falls within its terms of reference and was a payment to Fine Gael, on behalf of Esat Digifone at the instigation and promotion of Denis O’Brien.” (“Moriarty Says Lowry Helped O’Brien Win Mobile Licence,” The Irish Times, 3/22/11)

The Moriarty Tribunal Concluded That O’Brien Transferred €150,000 To Lowry In Several Secret Transactions. “‘Clandestine’ money transactions took place between O’Brien and Lowry in return for the minister’s support, according to Mr. Justice Moriarty, the tribunal’s chairman. The report said that at one stage, while Lowry was communications minister, he received a sum amounting to €150,000 from O’Brien.” (Henry MacDonald, “Former Irish Minister Michael Lowry Accused Of Collusion Over Telecoms Bid,” The Guardian, 3/22/11)

Over The Course Of Four Years, O’Brien Would Provide An Additional £720,000 In Payments And Loan Support To Lowry. “Within four years of this first encounter, O’Brien had, the tribunal tells us, donated almost IR£1m in ‘clandestine circumstances’ to Lowry through loan support and payments. These came in three separate instalments; the first happened to occur less than seven weeks after the mobile phone licence had been granted. It included IR£147,000, Stg£300,000 and a ‘benefit equivalent to a payment’, in the form of loan support, of Stg£420,000.”(Elaine Byrne,“So Who’s Afraid Of Denis O’Brien? Enda Kenny Is,” Sunday Independent, 10/16/11)

O’Brien Tried To “Spoof” A Company Executive Into Releasing Funds For A Payment To Lowry That O’Brien Wanted To Make. “Some time afterwards Mr. O’Brien told Esat executive Barry Moloney that he’d tried to make a payment to Mr. Lowry but the payment had ‘got stuck’ with an intermediary. Mr. O’Brien later told his Esat colleagues that this was a spoof designed to get Mr. Moloney to release some funds Mr. O’Brien wanted released.” (Colm Keena, “Next Moriarty Report Focus On O’Brien, Lowry,” The Irish Times, 1/8/07)

O’Brien’s Company At The Time Was Seeking A Mobile Phone License, Which Was Later Sold Off To British Telecom. “At the time O’Brien’s Esat Digifone conglomerate was trying to gain a mobile phone licence which had been put out to public tender in 1995. O’Brien later sold that licence to British Telecom, netting his business hundreds of millions of euros.” (Henry MacDonald, “Former Irish Minister Michael Lowry Accused Of Collusion Over Telecoms Bid,” The Guardian, 3/22/11)

The Moriarty Tribunal Described O’Brien’s Transactions Were “Demonstrably Referable To The Acts And Conduct Of Mr. Lowry.” “The final Moriarty tribunal report was published in March 2011. It found Mr Lowry ‘secured the winning’ of the State’s second mobile phone licence competition for Mr O’Brien’s consortium, Esat Digifone. It also found Mr O’Brien made payments to, and supported a loan to, Mr Lowry and that the transactions were ‘demonstrably referable to the acts and conduct of Mr Lowry.’ The two men have said the tribunal was wrong in its findings.” (Colm Keena, “Cab Seeks To Question Denis O’Brien On Tribunal Findings,” The Irish Times, 1/9/16)

The Irish Criminal Assets Bureau Continues To Investigate O’Brien After Gathering “Further Material” Regarding His Telecom Bid

The Irish Criminal Assets Bureau Will Be Interviewing O’Brien Over The Moriarty Tribunal’s Findings After Gathering “Further Material” About The Matter. “The Criminal Assets Bureau will look to interview businessman Denis O’Brien about the findings of the Moriarty tribunal report after it has gathered further material, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. While a number of relevant witnesses have already been interviewed, an interview with Mr O’Brien has yet to take place but will be sought, according to the source.” (Colm Keena, “Cab Seeks To Question Denis O’Brien On Tribunal Findings,” The Irish Times, 1/9/16)

  • NOTE: The Criminal Assets Bureau Is “The Agency That Identifies Money Gained Through Serious Crime.” “Denis O’Brien, Ireland’s largest media owner, is being investigated by the country’s Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), the agency that identifies money gained through serious crime.” (Roy Greenslade, “Denis O’Brien Under Investigation By Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau,” The Guardian, 1/11/16)

O’BRIEN’S PURCHASE OF A DEBT-RIDDLED COMPANY COST IRISH TAXPAYERS €110 MILLION

In 2012, O’Brien Purchased A Company Whose Debt, Caused By “His Endless Buying And Selling Of Property” Was Partially Offset By Irish State Funds. “In 2012 O’Brien acquired for €45.4 million, Siteserv, a construction company that was buying up numerous other property companies during Ireland’s short lived economic boom. At the time of purchase, O’Brien owed IBRC, the state owned-bank, hundreds of millions of euros. Siteserv, like many companies who went bankrupt during this financial apocalypse in Ireland, pace 2008, were previously allowed to run riot on a never ending spending spree, supported by Anglo Irish Bank. By purchasing Siteserv, another company riddled with Anglo Irish Bank-fuelled debt, O’Brien was effectively buying from the state an asset riddled with debt–much of which he helped create through his endless buying and selling of property.(J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

“The Sale Of The Company To O’Brien Therefore Cost The Irish Taxpayer €110 Million.” “The sale of Siteserv to O’Brien also had another favorable condition: IBRC agreed to write off over €100million of Siteserv’s debt. And shareholders received €5million from the sale. The sale of the company to O’Brien therefore cost the Irish taxpayer €110 million.” (J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

O’BRIEN ATTEMPTS TO SILENCE POLITICIANS AND JOURNALISTS WHO CRITICIZE HIM

“O’Brien Has Previously Injuncted Or Initiated Defamation Proceedings 24 Times Against 42 Media Outlets.” (J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

In 2016, O’Brien Sued The Irish Revenue Commissioners And Claimed They Breached His Privacy By Providing Details Of His Tax Liability To The Media. “Businessman Denis O’Brien is suing the Revenue Commissioners claiming they breached his privacy by providing details of his tax affairs to the media. He claims the alleged disclosure arose from a document Revenue provided to certain news organisations during a case arising out of his tax liability for 1999/2000 relating to the sale of his shares in Esat Telecom to BT Hawthorn Ltd. Revenue deny his claims and say almost all the information came from a public High Court hearing.” (“Denis O’brien Sues Revenue For Breach Of Privacy,” The Irish Times, 3/16/16)

In 2015, O’Brien Succeeded In Getting An Injunction Against Media Outlets Reporting On A Speech In The Irish Parliament That Criticized His Banking Arrangements. “As I wrote in May this year, most of Ireland’s media were silenced after O’Brien obtained a Dublin high court injunction against the country’s main broadcaster, RTÉ, in order to prevent it reporting a parliamentary speech. That injunction was eventually ‘clarified,’ which allowed the speech to be reported.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

O’Brien Sued The Parliamentary Committee That Cleared The MP Who Criticized Him For His Banking Arrangements. “The speech that upset O’Brien was made by Catherine Murphy TD, who raised questions over his banking arrangements. When she was cleared of having abused her parliamentary privilege by a Dáil committee, O’Brien then started legal action against the committee.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

  • The Irish Times: O’Brien’s “Case Is Ill-Judged And Dangerous, A Regrettable Move By A Wealthy Serial Litigator.” “That is also the clear purpose of the writers of the Constitution. Any other interpretation, however tempting to judges instinctively distrustful of the imperfection of political decision-making, will set the judiciary on a course of confrontation with parliament that it will rue, irrespective of the merits of Mr O’Brien’s cause. His case is ill-judged and dangerous, a regrettable move by a wealthy serial litigator. He should withdraw it.” (Editorial, “In Defence Of Privilege,” The Irish Times, 8/5/15)

 

  • O’Brien’s Injunction Was Branded As A “Constitutional Crisis.” “But numerous journalists and politicians branded this particular injunction as a constitutional crisis. The Irish Constitution allows for all statements that are made in its national parliament to be protected by parliamentary privilege. By gagging his critics, O’Brien was potentially creating a precedent in Ireland where a private individual was dictating what could and could not be reported from the national parliament to the press.” (J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

 

“In August, He Threatened To Sue A Satirical Website, Waterford Whispers, For Running A Spoof Item About O’Brien. The Post Was Duly Taken Down.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

In 2013, O’Brien Won A Defamation Claim Against A Paper That Covered His Earthquake Relief Efforts. “In February 2013, he won €150,000 damages in a successful defamation claim against the Irish Daily Mail over an article published in 2010 about O’Brien’s Haiti earthquake relief efforts. The Mail’s solicitor said after the verdict that it was a sad day for freedom of expression in Ireland.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

In 2012, Transparency International Voiced Concerns About O’Brien’s Legal Actions Against Journalists. “In November 2012, an organisation called Transparency International Ireland voiced concerns to the United Nations over the number of O’Brien’s legal actions. It cited figures compiled by the National Union of Journalists that listed actions, or threats of actions, against 17 journalists and media groups by O’Brien since 1998. Among the most high profile were those against some of Ireland’s best-known commentators, such as Vincent Browne, Sam Smyth and Elaine Byrne. TI Ireland’s chief executive John Devitt said at the time: ‘The use of litigation and legal threats denies journalists and editors the human right to freely report and comment on matters of public importance.’ ‘Journalists also have a duty to report or comment on issues in the public interest – even if they have a negative impact on Mr O’Brien’s reputation.’” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

RIA, Direct Provision and State Violence

Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.” 
― Simone Weil

A woman living in direct provision, who gave birth to her second child just three month ago, was served with an eviction order by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) from Mosney direct provision centre earlier this month. The eviction notice came days after the company running the centre refused to serve the woman food

This is letter she received. I’ve change the woman’s name for obvious reasons.

Bed Management Letter

Dear Jane ,

For operational and bed management reasons your present accommodation arrangements have had to be reviewed by the Reception and Intergration Agency. As a consequence it has been decided to transfer you to

Knockalisheen Accomodation Centre

Limerick Road

Meelick

Co. Clare

Your new accommodation will be available to you from Thursday 8th September, 2016”

Mosney RIA letter.png


Short and succinct, the letter itself was dated the 6th of September, just two days before RIA intended a forced removal. It’s signed by Killian J Morgan. There are many things striking about the letter. What jumps out immediately is the absence of any reference to either Jane’s three month old baby or year and a half old sibling

RIA does not outline any specific rationale, or detail any of the particulars why ‘accommodation arrangements’ needed to be reviewed in the first place. Nor does it outline what the process of review involved. Its a defacto decree with any means to official appeal.

It begs the question why was Jane was not given ANY information that might offer ANY grounds for understanding the basis of RIA intended eviction?

Sure, it’s dressed up in a sterile language less damaging to the sensitivities of Killian and other RIA bureaucrats. Who would lose sleep writing letters to evict people seeking refuge in Ireland were its just about “bed management”?

Yet it remains unmistakable. What we are reading – and what this letter is – is the exercise of arbitrary power over a family without the slightest attempt of providing any meaningful justification. It is the text book definition of authoritarianism. Written in a style and manner you would associate with long dead Soviet obfuscation.

At is core a threat issued by the state to someone seeking asylum in the state. That might seem melodramatic or perhaps challenging concept to some. However when you listen to the voices and experiences of people living or who have lived within direct provision you quickly find this is their understood reality. And a reality that is in no way lessened by ignoring it or pretending not to know.

 

So even on its own terms, this letter sent by RIA, is deeply problematic and reflects at the very least antipathy toward the circumstances of people living with direct provision. Many would argue that this antipathy, the lack of any sense of empathy, is itself rooted in institutional and state racism. I’d agree. Institutional and state racism is both the cause and response of direct provision.

However its gets worse. Much worse.

This letter sent by a government agency needs to be contextualised by earlier events in the Mosney Center. Jane spoke on Tuesday on Joe Duffy’s Liveline on RTE 1. Leaving aside Duffy’s tendencies to embrace people as victims but reject attempts to address structural causes, the two shows this week gave voices to the experiences of many people who live in direct provision. It was powerful, necessary and deeply uncomfortable listening.

Alongside those voices of were other voices from the ‘outside’ validating the experiences of people in direct provision. Former workers employed in direct provision centre spoke about persistent systemic degrading treatment on a daily basis. Of making people queue and beg for rationed toilet rolls. Of other employees refusing to give toiletries to individual adults, arguing one bottle of shower gel between three people in a room is sufficient.

Petty violence after petty violence, micro aggressions from management and employees as a tool of social control against people denied the basic anatomy to work for themselves and their families. Processes which cause genuine emotional traumas, depression and in some cases suicide.

This was posted on Facebook by MASI – Movement for Asylum Seekers In Ireland on 7th September.

Woman refused food in Mosney Accommodation Centre:

We have noted with concern the ill treatment of the mother of two babies (3 months and 1 and half year) in Mosney Centre. A woman who is also breast feeding was issued with a written letter stopping her from accessing food from the kitchen since the 29th August 2016, due to her behaviour according to the management. It’s been 10 full days now since the woman has been deliberately starved by the management. Apparently the management is punishing the poor lady just because she demanded one more burger. To make it worse the officials from RIA, the agency that controls these centres, on Wednesday the 7th September issued a letter forcing the lady to take a transfer to another centre in Limerick.

What kind of treatment is this that a woman with a three months baby, breastfeeding can be deprived food in a direct provision centre? How is she expected to survive? Even in prison when the inmates had a fight and are put in solitary confinement, they are given food at least to eat. This is just an example at how cruel and inhumane this system of direct provision is. The woman is currently under unreal stress with all what is happening to her and her children. At the same time she has to stay calm and focus for the sake of her two babies. We recently are still grieving from the loss of a woman who took her own life just two weeks ago. But we still have management who just don’t care about the welfare of women and children for that matter. Shame on you Mosney management, your heartless attitude is really shameful, we cannot sit back and watch you destroy yet another life. Sometimes punitive measures are not thee way to deal with such situations. This shows lack of capacity from all of those in charge.

In solidarity with the woman and the residents in Mosney, there will be a peaceful protest outside the Mosney centre on Thursday the 8th September 2016 at 11:00am. We call upon anyone who can make it to Mosney to go there and demonstrate peacefully until the management agrees to give food to this woman and don’t transfer her unwillingly to Limerick.”

I’ve spoken to several people close to the woman and other residents of Mosney. What’s clear is that the woman is breastfeeding her three month old and like many mothers is simply much hungrier than when not breastfeeding.

At this point its worth remembering how food ‘works’ in Direct Provision. Its commonly understood that people in DP receive to €19 odd a week. This is to cover clothes, travel, and everything you need to have a life. It’s also meant to cover private rental, should someone find a place to rent for what’s left of €19 after you bought everything else.

However on the receipt issued for the €19.10 received it states clearly that the payment is the normal payment an unemployed person would get, €188, but with a deduction taken at source that goes directly to the center owners.

So whilst successive governments present DP as a choice people can make – the line “we dont force people to live in DP centres” is common – the reality is people seeking asylum are forced to do precisely that. All the while awaiting a decision on their asylum claim, with a sense of suspension and insecurity and the real fear of being physically taken and forced onto an airplane to be brought back to a place they were fleeing.

At the end of April this year there were 4,400 people living in the direct provision system across 37 geographically disperse privately managed for-profit businesses.

 

Food is mass cooked for people, removing the dignity and pleasure of preparing dinner for yourself and family, friends or each other. And like toilet rolls and other toiletries, food is rationed -per individual – by companies. The type and forcefulness of rationing across direct provision as described by former workers, seems to be shaped by a few factors. Profit seeking of by centre owners and authoritarianism and control by centre management.

And so we get to situation were a breastfeeding mother, asks for an extra burger because she is hungry. This is hardly surprising as many women have commented online.

https://twitter.com/msleedy/status/773859682075238404

https://twitter.com/elliekisyombe1/status/773831650593611776

And in that moment of refusal the woman crossed the serving counter and took another burger for herself in order to have enough food to eat. She began giving more burgers out to other behind her. Like anyone in that situation, you can empathise why she was pretty pissed off and decided to sort this for herself and her kids.

Yet instead of reviewing how its rations food to hungry people, the centre chose to sanction the woman. Rather than address the fact its food rationing demonstrably didn’t provide the energy and nourishment she needed, the centre barred her from the kitchen.

This is the letter sent to Jane by Mosney Center management.

Mosney management letter.png

Before I address the letter have some interesting facts about Mosney

Mosney is owned and run by multimillionaire Phelim McCloskey. Last year his personal wealth was estimated at €46 million.

McCloskey is a donor to Fianna Fail. In 2008 the Irish Examiner reported that Mosney Holiday village donated €6,500 to the party that set up the direct provision system.

However on top of that 2008 donations statements furnished by Fianna Fail to SIPO showed that McCloskey donated a cheque for €5,500. So in 2008 alone McCloskey gave €12,000 to Fianna Fail.

In 2009, Mosney’s accounts showed a donation of €4,050 to Fianna Fail.

That worked out ok for McCloskey and the company as successive governments – mostly under Fianna Fail has given him back over €100 million in state contracts for running the Mosney centre.

And surprise surprise Phelim McCloskey sat on a RIA working group in 2008 whose sole purpose was to look at how to deal with “complaints and instances with the reception and accommodation centres.” The working groups sought to set out House Rules and Procedures. So McCloskey no only gets to profit from this inhumane system, he has been part of designing its implementation. No people actually living in the system have been afforded a seat at the governments table like this.

Mosney’s accounts have since been harder to find, since they moved offshore much like Google, Apple etc. The primary purpose for such moves is to avoid paying taxes. Taxes that would be due on profits arising directly from our taxes handed out to McCloskey in the first place. Handed out by the political organisations he helps fund. Pretty sweet huh?

That’s worth remembering the next time you hear someone say “we should look after our own first” Because that is precisely how the Irish state is run. Rich folks who fund the big political parties are looked after first before anyone else.

McCloskey has been given over €100 million to run centre housing people in the most precarious of positions, many fleeing political violence or religious or other forms of persecution. You would expect that there is at least some proper system of governance around management. The first question in RIA’s own inspection report of Mosney in 2015 ask if Mosney has *any* type of accepted Quality Management System. And the answer to that?

No. In Mosney there is no recognised quality management system.

And so we come back to the letters. One from a belligerent business seeking to punish a hungry mother. Another a shortly after from a state agency dishing out more punishment and without the slightest attempt at justification or process. Because its just “bed management”

This isn’t the first time RIA has used Kafkaesque language. A 2010 report “Without Rights or Recognition” from the Irish Refugee Council states

On 29th June 2010, 109 residents at Mosney, Julianstown, Co. Meath, an

accommodation centre within the ‘Direct Provision’ system, were issued with

letters requiring them to transfer to another place of temporary residence, Hatch Hall accommodation centre in Dublin. Residents, many of whom had made Mosney home for a number of years, were given one week to prepare themselves for departure. The reasoning cited for the transfers and the short period of notice was vague, with the Reception and Integration Agency invoking “operational and bed management reasons”

RIA should be recognised for what it is. It is a state agency that seeks to operate with absolute impunity and regularly makes threats to people who resist its bullying tactics.

The provision of services to you under the direct provision system runs in parallel to the consideration by other agencies of the State of your claim for international protection and/or humanitarian leave to remain.”

The above was contain in a letter to of the 109 those resisting movement from Mosney to centres with even worse conditions. The threat is implicit. You keep making noises about conditions or our ability to move you as we see fit, and we will screw your claims over.

Working with The Live Register in 2012 I interviewed Fonong Fevant. At that stage Fonong had been in direct provision for seven years. He had been waiting for three year for a High Court ruling on his status. Over that time he was moved to seven different centres around the country. He spoke about over that time people got moved for being “rude” because they wouldn’t beg to get toothpaste. The very act of speaking out about the conditions leads to management writing letter to RIA about individuals, and invariably RIA issues an eviction letter to them. At no point do people have any official input into this processes that see them moved at the whim of the system itself.

You can watch the interview with Fonong and others speaking out below bottom.

RIA impunity however is most definitely not absolute. Self organisation amongst people in the direct provision system and support and solidarity alongside is key to ensuring institutional racism is abolished. There is no place for profit seeking in the movement of people. It’s hypocritical to criticise two dimensional “traffickers” assisting and often exploiting people fleeing wars, yet be silent and passive when this state allows companies and owners to exploit those same people seeking refuge here. That’s simply bullshit.

There is no justification in allowing RIA to continue to threaten people at the whim of centre management.  The RIA, like direct provision, should be abolished. And the bureaucracy’s letter writers held to account.

Drowning Not Sailing.

My Indoor Voice

Last Week I listened to broadcaster Olivia O’Leary talk about her experience of depression at the age of 24 on RTE Radio. At about 10 minutes in, she said something that made me need to lie down. When she realised she needed help, Olivia contacted her sister who brought her to a “terrific psychiatrist” and here’s where I needed resuscitation:”he used to take me out sailing”… “and god we had great fun”. Olivia O’Leary went sailing with her psychiatrist. This sentence just about summed up my entire experience of growing up in Ireland. Aged 24 she got the best and most personal treatment available and she recovered.

Since the interview went out Olivia O’Leary has been lauded for her bravery and praised for raising awareness. You know the script. We’ve heard it a lot lately.  Beautiful, successful people are queueing up to tell us all about their struggles and how…

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Reporting On The Refugee Crisis : Daniel Trilling

Recording of a talk by Daniel Trilling in Dublin in March 2016 organised by Solidarity Against Racism and Fascism. For the past 2 years Daniel Trilling, has been reporting on irregular migration at the borders of the European Union. His previous reporting focused on right-wing extremism in the United Kingdom, and he published “Bloody Nasty People: the Rise of Britain’s Far Right” (Verso Books) in 2012.

 

Daniel Trilling, racism, fascism, refugee crisis

 
The arrival of a record number of refugees from outside the continent has been met with a small but significant wave of violent actions by far right groups and their sympathisers. Others have attempted to build broader anti-immigration protest movements, with varying degrees of success. How has media coverage of immigration and the far right affected the development of these groups? And what approaches can journalists take when reporting on such sensitive topics? Is it right, for example, to take a “netural” position when far-right groups clash with their anti-racist opponents?

 

“Love Must Prevail,” says Assange on the eve of Lauri Love’s court appearance

The Cryptosphere

Lauri Love screengrab from RT YouTube Lauri Love screengrab from RT YouTube

Lauri Love, the 31-year-old activist, Cambridge electrical enginnering student, Cryptosphere contributor, and alleged hacktivist, is in court once again in a few hours, continuing his fight against UK and US government overreach. This case? It’s personal. It’s political. And it is deeply problematic.

Lauri Love statement on Tuesday hearing, from Facebook Lauri Love statement on Tuesday hearing, from Facebook

In the statement from the Courage Foundation Love linked to is the following quote:

The UK is already one of the worst jurisdictions in the world in which to practice the basic human right to privacy, but it may be about to get even worse. In the case of Lauri Love, the National Crime Agency is making a grab for even more police powers. If it succeeds, anyone who uses encryption will be considered suspect under the law – a breathtaking reversal of the presumption of innocence. Lauri Love is fighting…

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