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“Finger print ID technology could prevent future Dáil voting scandals,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release

22-10-2019

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that urgent consideration needs to be given to the introduction of voting technology in Dáil Eireann that can only be accessed by the individual members finger print. Deputy McGrath was speaking ahead of the statements that are expected to be made later today by the Ceann Comhairle with respect to the scandal that has emerged over senior members of the Fianna Fail frontbench who allegedly engaged in inappropriate parliamentary voting practices:

“The importance of maintaining the integrity of the parliamentary voting system cannot be underestimated.

That is why any action which undermines it must be treated with the utmost seriousness.

There is no doubting however that last week’s revelations and the excuses which have been offered have descended to the level of the farcical.

We are not talking here about an overly complex system; you sit in your seat and you vote Tá or Níl. It really is as simple as that.

If we have arrived at the stage where the people who put us here cannot trust our voting record on any given piece of legislation, then that is a very sad day.

As a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure I am sure we will be giving the issue very serious consideration.

I am suggesting that we investigate the possibility of only allowing voting where a Members thumb or finger print is used to unlock their screen.

This is already widely available with mobile phone technology. There should be no issue in introducing it to the Dáil.

Failing that we could also revert to plain walk through votes, which though they would be far more time consuming would avoid the embarrassing scenarios we saw emerge from last week,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

Categories
Farming Local Issues

“Beef Taskforce Chairman appointment is an attempt to return to ‘business as usual.’”

Press Release

08-09-2019

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said there is widespread frustration and disappointment among farmers at the appointment of former Department of Agriculture secretary general Michael Dowling, as Chairman of the Beef Taskforce. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed confirmed the appointment in response to a parliamentary question on the matter:

“The fact that the Minister has chosen to appoint Mr Dowling – a former Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture and Head of Agri Strategy at Allied Irish Bank, as the ‘Independent’ Chairman is a major blow in terms of establishing initial confidence in the direction that the Taskforce will take.

We have to remember that many farmers will remember Mr Dowling’ in terms of his failure as a senior department official to progress or deliver key commitments outlined in the Programme for a Partnership Government in 2016.

Those Commitments included introducing a framework for Producer Organisations (POs) and the development of POs in the beef sector, to ensure farmers are not just price takers but price makers.

Yet the fact remains that while Mr Dowling was a senior official, there was literally zero progress on those commitments from the departments side.

Indeed, it was a lack of leadership from the department that created so much of the mess farmers found themselves in, and continue to find themselves in.

Despite this, the Minister now wants farmers to accept that the appointment of the former secretary general is a good thing.

What farmers are telling me is that this is nothing more than an attempt to return to business as normal, when what they actually need is someone capable of delivering bold, radical change with a willingness to robustly take on the might of the processors and the retailers,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

END

Categories
Local Issues Social Issues

“European finding highlights the need for my Marine Casualty Investigation Bill,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release

03-10-2019

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he expects to receive wide-cross party support for his Private Members Bill which is to be the subject of a two-hour Dáil debate later today. Deputy McGrath was speaking ahead of the Second Stage debate of his Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2019, which aims to revise the requirements for composition of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board:

“What this Bill seeks to do is to remedy the quite frankly ludicrous position whereby there is no legal obligation whatsoever on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport or his agents to ensure that members of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board have maritime or marine-accident experience.

If this Bill is accepted and passed, it will strengthen the onus on the Minister and his agents to ensure that qualified and suitable candidates are selected for the membership of the board. Maritime experience should be a prerequisite-just as it the case in the UK.

The Bill could not have come at a more appropriate time either given that the European Commission has referred Ireland to the EU Court of Justice for failing to uphold EU law on “impartial” investigations of marine incidents.

As recent media reporting on the matter has noted, this is because the EU has expressed a number of concerns about the independence of members of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) and the presence of the Department of Transport’s secretary general or nominee, and the Marine Survey Office’s chief surveyor on the board.

This clearly represents an obvious avenue for conflicts to interests to occur.

As I understand it the EU in this ruling has also found that the board of the MCIB “lacks the necessary independence” from the Department of Transport and the Marine Survey Office (MSO).

These are exactly the kind of related matters that I have been highlighting for some time now. We need a board where expertise and skill in marine casualty investigation is the priority and not whether or not the members happen to know the Minister of the day,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Link to Deputy McGrath’s PMB and First Stage speech can be found here:

https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2019/54/?tab=debates