Public Sector Standards Bill submission

23 Dec 15

Public Sector Standards Bill can be accessed here

Presentation and debate on the Bill at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform can be accessed here


Submission to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform on the Public Sector Standards Bill by Dr. Elaine Byrne, governance consultant to the European Commission.

November 2015

1. Register of Liabilities
2. Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner – Canada
3. Three additional reforms
• Independent Commission on political funding
• Financial compensation for whistleblowers
• A review of Ireland’s oversight agencies.

1. Register of Liabilities

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Con Lucey letter to Eddie Downey on remuneration

23 Nov 15

Mr Eddie Downey, President IFA 18/8/2014

Dear Eddie,
Further to my letter to you on 11 August and our subsequent discussion on the phone on 13 August, I have decided to stick to my decision to resign as chairman of the IFA Audit Committee. I acknowledge the views expressed by you, and also by the General Secretary, Pat Smith, that my concerns would be addressed and that I should reconsider my decision. However, I think it is preferable to appoint someone with qualifications and experience in Accountancy / Auditing. All that study, qualifications and work experience of people in that profession must account for something! Such a person also has the advantage of being independent from IFA and its personnel, both voluntary and staff.

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Con Lucey letter of resignation to Eddie Downey

23 Nov 15

Mr Eddie Downey
President IFA


Dear Eddie,
I wish to inform you that I am resigning forthwith as Chairman of the IFA Audit Committee.
The immediate reason for this decision is what I consider as unacceptable interference by the General Secretary, Pat Smith, in the work of the Committee. The first significant working meeting of the Audit Committee (AC) was fixed for the 22nd July to deal with three items. On 18th July I received a phone call from IFA at the direction of Pat Smith requiring that the meeting be deferred until he had the opportunity to review the material prepared by the Financial Controller for the meeting.

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The Golden Law

19 Oct 15

First published in the Sunday Business Post 18 October 2015

A friend once told me a story. The man next door used to beat his wife, usually in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He heard everything. His deliberate footsteps as he walked toward her and those ugly pitched pleading cries in anticipation of what was to come. Him dragging her across the wooden floor by her hair. The blows. The begging. The things he said to her. The screams reduced to muffled cries as she desperately tried to appease him.

When he called the Guards it made things worse.They would come and knock on his door, enter the house, check on her and try talk to him. She never made a complaint. The Guards would park outside the house for a while and every now and again drive slowly by.

He would hit her harder when the Guards were gone. He knew who had called them and he let him know by shouting through the walls in between his kicks and punches. My friend could tell the difference by the sound of the impact. He was a vicious bastard who relished in the idea that he had an audience.

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Government must not block access to justice

29 Sep 15

First published in the Sunday Business Post 20 September 2015

Why is the government once again attempting to deny Irish citizens access to justice?

A government source confirmed to Pat Leahy in last week’s Sunday Business Post that it would introduce legislation to copperfasten Ireland’s ban on third party litigation funding.

This obscure doctrine of champerty was introduced in Ireland during centuries ago under the Maintenance and Embracery Act 1634. The support of someone else’s legal claim in exchange for a share of the potential damages is a criminal offence in Ireland. Champerty was abolished in England and Wales in 1967. Third party litigation funding is standard practice in Australia and the US.

Ireland is an outlier within common law jurisdictions. Why does the government want to buck this international trend of making the justice system accessible to all, regardless of access to financial resources? For now it is not said. But it would essentially undermine one high profile case that is imminent.

The Persona/Sigma consortium was a runner-up in the 1996 competition for the mobile phone licence, which was awarded to Esat Digifone. In a long running High Court case, Persona/Sigma is challenging the decision, arguing it should have been the winner.

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Rent controls will make things worse

23 Sep 15

First published in the Sunday Business Post 23 August 2015

Peter McVerry is wrong. Rent controls are not the answer to Ireland’s homelessness crisis.

McVerry called for new legislation to freeze rents on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland last Wednesday. The situation was “beyond crisis” he said, noting that the number of families in emergency accommodation had risen from 410 in January to 659 in July. Threshold, Focus Ireland and Simon Community have also made the clarion call for rent caps.

You’d have to be a hard bastard not to empathise with mothers staying up all night keeping watch over her children as they slept under a tree in the Phoenix Park. But tragic stories allow emotional rhetoric to cloud rational policy making. So why is McVerry wrong?

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Fennelly and Irish governance

22 Sep 15

First published by the Sunday Business Post 6 September 2015

The interim report of the Fennelly Commission is a contemporaneous account of how Irish political power really works.

This is the first time in the history of the state that official sanction has been given to reveal the internal apparatus of the state when the administration under investigation is still in government. The Taoiseach’s decision to give the Garda Commissioner no other option but to retire happened just eighteen months ago.

In the normal course of events, the Irish public is only granted this insight every Christmas when National Archives release Departmental and Cabinet files after the statutory thirty year period. The Mahon and Moriarty Tribunals reported decades after matters under investigation had happened.

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My first Ironman

15 Sep 15

Published in the Sunday Business Post 13 September 2015

Ironman 70.3 Dublin  1.9k swim : 90k cycle : 21k run

“The zip is from the top down.” Ok, yeah, no problem. He was the third guy to get me to lock him into his wetsuit.

I was smearing myself in Vaseline to prevent my wetsuit chaffing at the neck. Triathlons have that tendency for the intimate. The gear changes in the open mean inevitable nakedness. You get over that pretty quickly. The real intimacy is exposing the fight against yourself in public. Admitting to strangers your personal struggles.



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Why can’t Renua and the Social Democrats make the breakthrough?

14 Sep 15

Published in the Sunday Business Post 13 September 2015

Why can’t the new political parties make the breakthrough?

What do we want? A new political party! When do we want it? Now! So went the refrain in Irish public life since the troika took control of Irish decision making in 2010. It was assumed that the answer to the failure of establishment politics was the establishment of new political parties.

Political polls have consistently shown that almost a third of the electorate are prepared to vote for Independents or Others. Yet, the formation of Renua and the Social Democrats has failed to make any indelible impact. Both parties will justifiably argue it is still early days and that they are on a steep organisational curve without the same access to state funding as Fine Gael, Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail or Labour. Nonetheless, Renua and the Social Democrats have only managed to capture less than five per cent of a vote which is actively seeking an alternative. Why?

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What is Michael D. Higgins’ presidency for?

27 Aug 15

Published in the Sunday Business Post 26 July 2015

What is Michael D. Higgins’ presidency for?

With four years of a seven year term almost served, future historians may struggle to identify what impact Higgins made as President.

No one is allowed say this out loud. Michael D., as he is affectionately known, is a nice man. His popularity is measured by his 1,007,104 votes received on the last count of the 2011 Presidential election, making him Ireland’s first ever ‘political millionaire.’

His raw passion and absolute certainty in his ideological viewpoint took no prisoners. American tea party advocate Michael Graham discovered this to his cost in a Newstalk radio debate which has amassed over two million YouTube views.



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