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Dail Diary

Dáil Diary no 6. 23 Jan. 15

The More Justice, the More Peace…

One of the issues I spoke on this week was the tension in some communities in Northern Ireland due to unease in Maghaberry Prison around a range of matters concerning prisoner’s rights, and the unrest caused by the perceived injustice around the Craigavon 2. I have visited prisons and courts in Northern Ireland on several occasions since I was elected, along with a few other TD’s from different parties. We are not perusing any republican agenda, not interested in same, but are interested in Justice and Human Rights. Here’s my Dáil contribution this week -

“I think everybody in this House is in favour of peace, whether it is in Northern Ireland, Europe or the Middle East, although we probably differ on how best to achieve it.

Given the events of late in Europe, I firmly believe that bombing people or terrorising them through drone attacks does much more for the arms industry than it does for peace.

It would be dangerous for us to become in any way complacent in regard to Northern Ireland and the challenges that prevail. I have been to the North on numerous occasions, mostly to Maghaberry Prison, in the company of a number of Deputies from across the parties. I would be very concerned about the tensions that exist, but I am not aware of any of the parties, North or South, addressing those tensions or taking them seriously enough. It would be unfortunate if we had to wait for some bad incident to occur before we woke up to the seriousness of the situation. There are particular challenges in regard to this prison. We have visited both loyalist and republican prisoners and are aware of a number of outstanding issues. Despite the optimism around the Stocktake Review, there have not been dramatic improvements in the areas of strip searching, control of movement, the isolation unit and use of it, and visiting conditions. Negative tensions within the prison can impact on life outside the prison and the authorities need to be aware of this. It would be unfortunate if they woke up to this too late. Most of our involvement in Northern Ireland is not even remotely attached to any of the politics of any grouping we have visited. We are interested in human rights and believe affairs should be conducted properly. We see huge problems in that regard.

Apart from the prison issue, the Craigavon Two is a stark case that appears to represent an injustice. In 2012, John Paul Wooton and Brendan McConville were convicted of the 2009 killing of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon in Armagh, but the manner in which the evidence was gathered and presented left much to be desired. We attended the appeal case and met the widow of Stephen Carroll. If there has been a miscarriage of justice, it is of little good to her that the wrong people may be in prison for the brutal murder of her husband. The manner in which the authorities dealt with the appeal was very disappointing.

Of late, Dr. Kevin Harty has drawn attention to the fact that the RUC has been asked to look again at an incident that occurred in 1982 and the DPP in Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory, has ordered the reopening of a case involving MI5 interference with evidence. He pointed out that in the case of the Craigavon Two, a conviction was secured against John Paul Wooton and Brendan McConville, despite similar interference with evidence by the intelligence services. During a recent appeal by Wooton and McConville, it emerged that the intelligence services had deliberately deleted evidence from a tracking device attached to John Paul Wooton's car. As the claim that John Paul Wooton was a getaway driver in the Continuity IRA attack that killed PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll is central to the case against Wooton, questions must be asked in regard to what data was deleted from the device and why. One can assume that if the evidence corroborated the apparent guilt of Wooton, it would be produced in court rather than deleted.

This is a serious matter and I believe the Government should take note of it and the matter should be addressed, irrespective of whether people think these people were involved in military activities. If these people are not guilty of what they have been accused of, they should not be in prison for this crime. The Government should push the British authorities to look again at this case, because it is causing unnecessary tension in the community. It will only lead to a bad outcome if we do not deal with the matter in a positive manner.”

Mick Wallace.

 

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Dáil Diary no 5- 19 Jan. 15

When you Terrorize People, it does nothing for Peace…

The Irish Government has agreed to continue with the deployment of members of the Irish Defence Forces in Afghanistan and last week in the Dáil, I got an opportunity to challenge the Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, on the issue. Given that the US and NATO are an occupying force, against the will of the people, you have to wonder what possesses the Irish Government to engage in this mindless, destructive occupation. Given all the talk about the terrible episode in Paris, I think it is time that we take an objective look at how the Western powers relate to the Muslim world.

To put things in context, I thought I might just a quote from the United National Anti-War Coalition statement from the US, responding in real solidarity with the victims of violence and extremism for freedom of expression and against racism and imperialism. Our Government’s decision to continue deploying a number of our troops in Afghanistan, is not disconnected from the same issue –

Yes, we are for free speech, freedom of expression and democratic rights for all, including the Muslim and antiwar activists who were banned by the French government from street protests in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, or the Muslim women who are banned from wearing the veil. We are for freedom of expression and the right to exist of Muslim Americans, 700,000 of whom have been investigated or interrogated in the U.S. for being Muslim, or the 1.5 million Latino immigrants in the U.S. who are imprisoned, detained and deported, or the entire world’s people who are victims of the all-pervasive high-tech surveillance of everyone’s personal means of communication by the U.S., France and all other so-called democratic nations.

We will NOT join the Paris parades orchestrated by imperialist French President Francois Holland and the heads of state of the world’s “great powers;” nor will we applaud their call for the worldwide “Anti-terrorist Conference” that President Holland has set for Paris. We are saddened at the participation of French working people in these state-sponsored mobilizations, whose objectives are to further war in the Middle East and Africa and to restrict democracy for Muslim communities in France and around the world. Those who participate believing that they can advance freedom of expression, peace and solidarity are being used for opposite ends.”

Here’s part of my exchange in the Dáil with Minister Coveney-

The illegal invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 led to the longest war in US history. The recent pact with the Afghan Government ensures that the US will be there until 2024 at least. The new security pact puts US troops beyond the reach of Afghan law while they are training the Afghan security forces. I do not see for the life of me how the Minister, who is an intelligent man, can argue that the presence of foreign troops from Ireland, America or any other country can be helpful in this situation, particularly in light of the decimation they have carried out in Afghanistan over the last 13 years.

Deputy Simon Coveney:  The point of moving on from the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, mission is to move away from having large numbers of heavily armed foreign troops in Afghanistan and towards the resolute support mission, which is a training mission to help build Afghanistan's capacity to run its own affairs. We are trying to move away from a wartime situation and to create peace and stability in order that there can be a governance structure as well as the military and policing capacity necessary to protect it and populations. We are a part of this. We have seven Defence Forces personnel there. This is a non-combat mission and it is concerned with training and building capacity in order that Afghanistan can look forward to some kind of normalisation in terms of running its own affairs. This is the only motivation for the countries that are remaining as part of the 12,000-strong mission. I named a number of the countries that are in Afghanistan in partnership with Ireland, including many other neutral countries. They are there for all the right reasons, as is Ireland.

Mick Wallace:  I do not accept for one second that the involvement of the US and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya has contributed one iota to improving the lifestyles and conditions of the ordinary people in those countries. It has done the opposite. The more money the US and its allies spent and threw at the situation, the more problems they caused. The Minister has claimed that they are only training local security forces now. For a long time, they were "only training" security forces in Iraq. Many of those people are now working for ISIS. ISIS has captured a great deal of US equipment that cannot be used by anyone who has not been trained by the US military.

What sort of turmoil are we sowing in Afghanistan? Only last year, the Rolling Stone magazine published a video showing Afghan security forces torturing prisoners. I wonder where they learned that? Afghanistan will be a better place when we move out of it. Actually, it is not just us, as our seven personnel are obviously just a token gesture. It is a small number compared with others. It is a token offering to show the Americans we support them. Some people have even suggested that the beef deal was almost in return for that.

Deputy Simon Coveney:  That is a ridiculous thing to say, with all due respect.

Mick Wallace:  I am just saying what has been suggested.

Deputy Simon Coveney:  We need to put things in perspective. The US launched a military campaign in Afghanistan because of 9-11, when there was considerable proof of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Mistakes were made subsequently and there are major challenges in Afghanistan to creating a functional, normalised state, but the idea that pulling all of the contributing non-Afghan troops out would somehow be to the betterment of the broader population when all evidence suggests that the country would simply be taken over by the Taliban again is not sound thinking. We are playing a small part in contributing to an effort to create the capacity in Afghanistan to run its own affairs from governance and security points of view. This contribution is welcomed by the Afghanistan Government in its efforts towards same. As long as we can make a positive contribution, we will continue doing so.

Mick Wallace:  The Minister and I will have to differ on why the Americans bombed Afghanistan. Only one person from Afghanistan was proven to be involved in the 9-11 attack. Sixteen were from Saudi Arabia. Did it dawn on the US to bomb Saudi Arabia? Damn right it did not, as the Americans have interests there. The Minister referred to fears about the Taliban concerning the elections. The last elections were rigged. Warlords and all kinds of torturers are involved in the current regime.

Mick Wallace.

 

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Dáil Diary no 4- 17 Jan. 15

We must learn from the Horrors of Paris…

The horrific murder of the Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris was too bad for words- as was the disgusting slaughter of the Jewish victims in the supermarket, picked out for their ethnic identity. There’s been much talk of the need to protect freedom of expression, but it’s a pity that many of those standing up for it now, wouldn’t practice what they preach. To quote Seumas Milne of ‘The Guardian’ –  

“ Holocaust denial is outlawed in France, and performances by the antisemitic black comedian Dieudonné have been banned. But just as there is a blindness in sections of progressive France about how the secular ideology used to break the grip of the powerful is now used to discipline the powerless, the right to single out one religion for abuse has been raised to the status of a core liberal value.

The absurdity was there for all to see at the “Je suis Charlie” demonstration in Paris on Sunday. A march supposedly to defend freedom of expression was led by serried ranks of warmongers and autocrats: from Nato war leaders and Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu to Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egypt’s foreign minister, who between them have jailed, killed and flogged any number of journalists while staging massacres and interventions that have left hundreds of thousands dead, bombing TV stations from Serbia to Afghanistan as they go.”

Here’s my contribution in the Dáil this week on the terrible episode in Paris-

 

“ I, too, would like to extend my sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives in such terrible circumstances in Paris. There is no excuse for the horror that was inflicted on them.

I’d like to quote Mr. Juan Cole, an American novelist who wrote about the incident- 


“The killings in Paris were an appalling offence to human life and dignity. The enormity of these crimes will shock us all for a long time. But the suggestion that violence by self-proclaimed Jihadists is the only threat to liberty in Western societies ignores other, often more immediate and intimate, dangers. The US, the UK, and France approach statecraft in different ways, but they are allies in a certain vision of the world, and one important thing they share is an expectation of proper respect for Western secular religion. Heresies against state power are monitored and punished. People have been arrested for making anti-military or anti-police comments on social media in the UK. Mass surveillance has had a chilling effect on journalism and on the practice of the law in the US. Meanwhile, the armed forces and intelligence agencies in these countries demand, and generally receive, unwavering support from their citizens. When they commit torture or war crimes, no matter how illegal or depraved, there is little expectation of a full accounting or of the prosecution of the parties responsible.”

  

There is talk of President Obama hosting a meeting to fight terror in the United States. However, this is the same President who killed seven people last week in a drone attack in Pakistan. He has also bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries in his time in office. That, too, is terror. The Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu, marched against terror with the French people in Paris last week, but he slaughtered 500 children in Gaza last summer. The attack in Paris is not the first threat there has been to free speech and democracy. The only person in prison for the CIA's abominable torture regime is the whistleblower, John Kiriakou. Edward Snowden is a hunted man after divulging information about mass surveillance. Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for her role in the WikiLeaks revelations. They, too, are blasphemers, but they have not been universally valourised, as have the cartoonists.

 Nothing could ever excuse what happened in Paris, and we will never forget what was done. However, we must examine how the world operates today. We must take stock of the fact that the militarisation of many parts of the world is horrific. The torture being inflicted on people in different locations is horrific. We need to look to and address the source of the sickness we saw last week. As part of this, we must fight any efforts by large powers to militarise the world.”

The Irish Government could start by putting an End to the US Military use of Shannon.

Mick Wallace.

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Dáil Diary no 3- 16 Jan. 15

Much talk of Reform of Policing- But no Substance…

 

It’s over 8 months since the former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter stepped down, since then, there’s been much talk of reform of An Garda Siochana, but little has materialised. It appears that this Government has no appetite for real change to the manner in which we do policing in Ireland, and the political appointments of the new Commissioner Noirin O’ Sullivan and the Chair designate of the New Policing Authority, Josephine Feehily, lacking Independence and Transparency, are very worrying. Here’s part of my exchanges in the Dáil yesterday with the Minister, Frances Fitzgerald-

Deputy Mick Wallace:   I ask the Minister to outline the details of the Guerin commission of investigation and explain the reason she provided it with such parochial terms of reference. The investigation will focus on the Cavan-Monaghan division. Given that the Garda Inspectorate report was the result of an investigation into serious crime only, surely a root and branch review would have provided a template for reform of the entire force.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald:   I established a commission of investigation on foot of the recommendations of the Guerin report. I laid before the House a draft of the order, which includes the terms of reference, proposing the establishment of the commission. I also laid before the House a statement of the reasons for establishing the commission. All of the matters recommended by Mr. Seán Guerin SC for inclusion in a commission of investigation are included in the terms of reference. The draft order specifies me, as the Minister for Justice and Equality, as the Minister responsible for overseeing the administrative matters relating to the establishment of the commission.

 It is important to note that a resolution approving the draft order must be passed by each House. As such, the terms of reference will shortly come before the House for discussion and approval, possibly as early as next week. This will provide Deputies with an opportunity to discuss the terms of reference and work of the Guerin commission…


…the Guerin commission examined a particular set of circumstances. When I decided to establish a commission of investigation I also took the initiative to refer the Guerin report to the Garda Inspectorate. The inspectorate's recent report included a chapter on the Guerin report which addressed many of the issues raised by Mr. Guerin. The inspectorate's report is to be implemented by me and An Garda Síochána and will not be the subject of a further commission.

Deputy Mick Wallace:   On that issue, it was disappointing that the new Garda Commissioner did not welcome all the points raised in the Garda Inspectorate's report. She denied, for example, that crime figures were being massaged, which is completely at variance with the conclusions of the inspectorate's report.

I raised a point regarding the parochial nature of the terms of reference of the Guerin review. The Minister is correct that Mr. Guerin's investigation was confined to the Cavan-Monaghan area. Little progress has been made since the introduction by the then Minister, Mr. Michael McDowell, of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 in response to a case in County Donegal. The 2005 legislation was clearly not the answer to all of our problems. We know from what has occurred in recent years that serious problems persist in the Garda. We are receiving information from three new Garda whistleblowers and it is frightening to note what continues to take place. Things that have gone on in the Midlands, Cork and Limerick are every bit as bad, if not worse, than what went on in Cavan-Monaghan. The Minister has an opportunity to carry out a complete root and branch of the Garda and how it operates. A failure to introduce root and branch reform will result in sticking plasters being used to tackle serious problems.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald:   As the Deputy stated, a considerable amount of analysis has been done at this stage. It is important to act now to bring about change and the Government has taken action to address the issues the Deputy outlined. A commission of investigation was established on foot of the Guerin report and will be led by Mr. Justice Kevin O'Higgins. We have also established the Fennelly commission, which is examining aspects of the behaviour of members of An Garda Síochána. These commissions will provide further information. It is very important that we also get on with introducing change and reform. We have established an independent police authority and appointed a Garda Commissioner through a new and independent process. We are amending the legislation governing the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to give it greater powers to initiate investigations. I hope Second Stage of that Bill will conclude next week. The new Garda Commissioner is committed to change in the force.

The concerns have been well analysed, including in the Garda Inspectorate's report. The Deputy is correct that serious issues arise and the inspectorate's report is clear on that matter. A series of actions are being taken to address these issues. This process cannot be completed overnight but many processes are in place that are making a difference in respect of the points the Deputy outlined.

Deputy Mick Wallace:   I wish I could share the Minister's optimism that things will be different. To cite one example, on the watch of the Garda Commissioner, Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan, an assistant Garda Commissioner, Mr. Donal Ó Cualáin, is examining certain serious allegations made by a serving Garda whistleblower. The investigation, which has been ongoing for nine months, does not appear to be making any progress and no reports have been forthcoming. The handling of this matter is extremely worrying. I am not so sure things have changed much. As I have stated previously, we should have examined the approach taken to policing in Northern Ireland where an active effort was made to clean out the old hierarchy and start afresh. This has not been done here.

On the independent review mechanism, the Minister went to great pains in her previous replies to refer to the independence and objectivity of the mechanism. We must remember that the various positions were not advertised, the review's terms of reference were not published, the individuals who made the complaints have not been interviewed and have not received feedback and the mechanism does not have judicial status and, as such, is not subject to an appeal mechanism. As far as the individuals in question are concerned, it is akin to a kangaroo court. While I do not want to prejudge the final outcome, the way in which this matter has been handled is worrying.

Mick Wallace.

Good health is a result of proper food and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are various. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the unimprovable treatment option for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to bear in mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile malfunction, including many blood tension medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may include erectile disfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

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