Mick Wallace The situation in #Venezuela is very difficult and people are leaving in their droves - but conditions are directly… https://t.co/2XAdoIn1dY
Mick Wallace Palestinian Authority still talks of a 2 State Solution for #Palestine despite the extent of illegal settlements. I… https://t.co/RrH6sq8hHz
Mick Wallace @SoySeanTio Yes, my mistake. Thanks..
Mick Wallace The #US does nothing for world peace by reneging on the #JCPOA with #Iran - The totally irrational decision by US… https://t.co/67Csu7Aee1

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"I do not believe the Bill would achieve its stated aim of improving the democratic accountability of the Garda Síochána. The 2005 Act provides that the Commissioner is accountable to the Minister for the performance of his functions and those of the force. In turn, as Minister I am accountable to this House. As Members will know, I frequently answer questions, take part in debates and generally respond to concerns raised in this House relating to the Garda Síochána, and that has always been the case with my predecessors. I simply cannot accept that the case has been made that transferring key oversight functions to a separate statutory body - such as the appointment and dismissal of senior Garda management and the approval of policing policy - would enhance democratic accountability. In terms of accountability, it is worthwhile recalling that, in addition to the Minister of the day being answerable in this House for the Garda Síochána, the Garda Commissioner is, under the 2005 Act, the Accounting Officer for the Garda Síochána. In that capacity he is liable to appear before the Committee of Public Accounts. In addition, the 2005 Act established the independent Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, which is empowered to carry out independent investigations into Garda conduct. That Act also established the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, which provides expert advice on achieving the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness in the operation and administration of the force. The accountability of the Garda Síochána has, through all these measures, been significantly strengthened."

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This has been a long running saga. After meeting the Garda whistleblowers in September 2012, we tried to raise the issue of penalty points in the Dáil and we had to break the rules to share the shocking stories we had been told. The response from the Minister for Justice and Equality was to minimise and dismiss the claims, the whistleblowers and the Deputies involved. He made personal attacks against those of us who dared to raise the issue. When we held a press conference we were written off as the Buswells four. An internal report was subsequently produced and our challenges were again rubbished. The Minister chose to publish personal information about Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan on the same day that the report issued just to muddy the water. In January 2013, Deputy Clare Daly had the privilege of spending several hours in jail. The more serious recommendations contained in the report of the Garda professional standards unit have not yet been implemented. On "Prime Time" he rubbished any notion that he might not have behaved properly in sharing information about me of a personal nature. None of his ministerial colleagues criticised him for this. He refused to allow GSOC to investigate the Roma children affair. Prior to the Minister's appointment, GSOC asked to investigate matters relating to the Corrib gas project under section 106 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. We asked him to reopen that case after we visited the Corrib area and heard about local people's anger at the way they had been treated. A record number of complaints have been submitted to GSOC regarding Corrib gas activities but nobody has been charged for any misdemeanour. Maurice McCabe, who appeared before the Committee of Public Accounts, was undermined. An investigation into penalty points was eventually commissioned under section 102 of the 2005 Act but the Minister refused to act under section 106, which would have allowed GSOC to investigate practices, policies and procedures. Speaking before the Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions, the Minister has just made a big issue of allowing GSOC to access the PULSE system. When the new protocols between GSOC and the Garda were introduced in September, he refused to permit GSOC full access to the system. It was only after political pressure in recent weeks that he eventually granted access. The issue of GSOC surveillance has been one muddle after another. Decisions are not being made to garner the truth. For the past 18 months, there has been no appetite for proper procedure or the truth. That is very sad and I do not know how the Government can think it is acceptable to act in this way. Public confidence in GSOC, the Garda Síochána and the Minister is low. The dogs in the street know things are not the way they are supposed to be. Throughout these affairs, the Minister's tactic has been to minimise and dismiss allegations. There was much talk in advance of the last election about accountability and transparency but we are now getting the opposite. How much longer can this continue? Does the Cabinet believe the Minister remains fit for office? I do not think he is fit for office and if the question was put to a vote among the Irish public I am afraid he would not come out too well.

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mick penalty points
I watched Panti’s speech at the Abbey Theatre last weekend – it is powerful. It is very powerful. One would think that RTE has an obligation to facilitate free and open debate – in this instance, it failed miserably. Some people are more offended by the word ‘homophobia’ now, than by homophobia itself. It is censorship. In a press release last week Minister Rabbitte said the term ‘homophobe’ is “too loaded a term to be used to categorise those who hold contrary views on what is a matter for legitimate public debate.” I would point out that it is not for heterosexuals to define what homophobia is. We do not have the right to tell gay people what does, or doesn’t, constitute homophobia. This was eloquently summed up by Panti Bliss in her Abbey Theatre speech last weekend: “So now Irish gay people find ourselves in a ludicrous situation where not only are we not allowed to say publicly what we feel oppressed by, we are not even allowed to think it, because our definition has been disallowed by our betters…the word "homophobia" is no longer available to gay people. Which is a spectacular and neat Orwellian trick, because now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia – homophobes are.” Does the Minister think these “contrary views”, as he calls them, have no impact? Does he believe there is no link between discriminatory comments about gay people and physical attacks on gay people? Where does the Minister think those who commit physical acts of violence against gay people get their ideas from? To quote Breda O’Brien “equality must take second place to the common good” – does the Minister honestly think these words have no impact on gay people? You say Minister that RTE is an independent broadcaster. RTE depends on the good favour of the government of the day. RTE depends on big business for advertising. I don’t think it’s so independent. I received an email from Ross Golden Bannon today, who said – “Our community and our supporters now face into a campaign for the referendum on marriage equality in 2015 with one hand tied behind our backs. The most distressing part for those of us now silenced from using the word 'homophobia' is that the mainstream media don't see how they have been played with the legal hand.” Does the Minister agree that the manner in which RTE have dealt with this does not inspire confidence as to how they will deal with the upcoming referendum on marriage equality? Today, I heard Colm O’Gorman say - “As a result of RTE’s capitulation, it is going to be more difficult to challenge positions adopted by those who oppose equality, more difficult to question if prejudice and discrimination underpin their opposition to a fundamental human right…” We would do well to remember that without a properly informed citizenry, there is no Democracy. Mick Wallace.

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Mick Wallace Budget 2016 Speech.

Mick Wallace discussing Ireland's response to the current Refugee crisis.

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