Press Releases

“Court intimidation continues in the Taoiseach’s own town,” McGrath



Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Taoiseach to directly ensure that constitutional protections around free access to the Courts by members of the public are secured and guaranteed. Deputy McGrath made his comments after the morning sitting of Castlebar Court was suspended while it was in the process of hearing pleas around repossession and eviction orders:

“What happened this morning in Castlebar is an affront to the basic and fundamental right of access to the courts by members of the public.

The fact that the Court Registrar then moved the suspended proceedings into another vacant court room where access was granted only after each individual was scrutinised by the Gardaí borders on the reprehensible.

This is a continuation of the policy that I highlighted last October where people enduring the trauma of repossessions and evictions were denied the free and unhindered assistance of people who turn up to support them in their fight to retain the family home.

Last year the Minister for Justice told me that where there were “credible threats to the organisation of courts” and “major security threats” in the administration of justice, such actions were permitted.

Now I ask you, does the saying of the Rosary and peaceful objections to the legality of the proceedings constitute this kind of threat?

It is deeply disturbing that we seem to be casting the ‘security net’ ever wider and wider to encompass any kind of resistance to these eviction orders.

I am calling on the Taoiseach, not only as the head of Government, but also as the TD for that area to immediately assure us that when it comes to these kinds of sittings, access to the Courts will not become the exclusive preserve of the banks legal teams,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Community Health Press Releases

“This policy is a direct threat to rural health,” McGrath




 Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that Government unwillingness to support rural GP services has now become an active threat to peoples welfare. Deputy McGrath made his comments following confirmation from the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) that up to 32 rural doctor posts remain unfilled:
 “We are at the stage where a combination of Governments policies now constitutes a serious threat to the health of rural areas. Its unwillingness to support the funding of the Rural Practice Allowance for example has prevented doctors who would otherwise love to practice in rural areas from doing so.
It was always understood, for decades, that rural GP’s needed a modest support structure in place to be able to function in those areas and remain viable at a financial level.

That understanding seems to have vanished within the Department of Health. It is simply not good enough to speak of moving supports to well-funded primary care centres in urban areas and neglect rural communities. Apart from the inherent unfairness, when you couple this approach with the on-going threats to rural transport, it all adds up to a very depressing scenario for small communities who would like and deserve their own GP.
The Government is simply not addressing the full impact of its de facto policy of inaction that is undermining rural health.  These numbers we are speaking about today only serve to confirm that view,” concluded Deputy McGrath

Farming Press Releases

“Low Income Farmers added to Tánaiste’s hit-list,” McGrath



Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton must immediately suspend implementation of changes made to the Farm Assist programme. Deputy McGrath made his comments as concern continues to grow that the new regime has emerged without any meaningful consultation with those most directly impacted by the changes:

“The Minister is telling us that these changes are an attempt to bring farm assist into closer alignment with the jobseeker’s allowance scheme’s treatment of self-employed persons.

What we know however, beyond the rhetoric, is that the most recent attempt by her Department to ‘allign’ other welfare payments such as lone parents, has resulted in significantly reduced weekly incomes.

That process was also carried out without meaningful broad engagement and it ignored the concerns of those the Department did engage with.

I would share the concerns of those who feel that the new assessment procedure is incapable of providing the kind of flexibility which is needed when it comes to means testing farm income fairly.

Indeed It is slightly disingenuous of the Minister to insist that any farmer experiencing lower levels of income can ask for a review of their claim since this does nothing to address the fundamentally flawed initial assessment procedure which is where the real difficulty lies.

There is simply no credible way in which the Minister can expect small low income farmers to swallow the line that this new assessment process is in their best interests.

It is far more likely given past experience that this is simply one more method designed to reduce the flow of support to such families under the cover of a progressive Labour policy,” concluded Deputy McGrath.




Parliamentary Questions Re Local Government Reform

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he was aware that the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland (AMAI) regarding the Local Government Reform Act 2014 and in particular to that part of the Act abolishing Town and Borough Councils which the AMAI are statutorily obliged to represent, relied heavily on legal opinion of Mr Richard Humphreys S.C and if will he make a statement on the matter

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to confirm that the above mentioned Mr Richard Humphries S.C is the same Councillor Dr Richard Humphreys of the Labour Party sitting on Dun Laoighre-Rathdown County Council and if will he make a statement on the matter

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to confirm that the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland, a statutory body receiving public funds, sought (A) the required three quotations for this legal advice; (B) What other individuals or parties tendered for the ‘Advice Project’ and (C) what selection/elimination processes were used to award the project to Mr Richard Humphreys and if will he make a statement on the matter

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform who was the President of the Association of Municipal Authories of Ireland in October 2012 when the document ‘Putting People First’ was published and if will he make a statement on the matter

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to document all of the correspondences, discussions and minutes of meetings etc that took place between his Department and the Dept of the environment, Community and Local Government and the AMAI since 2012 to date relating to the Local Government Reform Bill 2013, the Local Government Reform Act 2014 and the document ‘Putting People First’ and if will he make a statement on the matter

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to confirm that, conforming with its own constitution, that the AMAI, also abolished, has or must repatriate all its assets to the respective abolished local authorities and if will he make a statement on the matter.

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform what the current assets of the AMAI are and if Revenue are satisfied with the wind up of the AMAI and if will he make a statement on the matter


Health Press Releases Pro-Life Uncategorized

“Geneva Declaration on Perinatal Care is a milestone event,” McGrath


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he will be calling on all members of the Oireachtas to support an initiative being launched at the United Nations to discontinue the use of the phrase ‘incompatible with life’ when referencing unborn children with severe life limiting disabilities. Deputy McGrath was speaking ahead of a press conference he is attending this morning organised by the advocacy group Every Life Counts. Deputy McGrath will be travelling with the group to Geneva this Wednesday to formally launch the Geneva Declaration on Perinatal Care:

“The Geneva Declaration on Perinatal Care will seek to discontinue the use of the phrase ‘incompatible with life’ because it is medically meaningless, offensive and dehumanises unborn children with a disability.

For my part I am introducing a Private Members Bill in the Dáil before the end of this month to amend and broaden existing legislation here and which is aimed at regulating for the prohibition of the term, specifically in a medical context.

The Preamble to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that a child “needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth’.

My PMB is certainly in that tradition as well as in the tradition of the campaign spearheaded by then Senator Mary Robinson who worked tirelessly to have such offensive terms as ‘illegitimate child’ discontinued in the 1970’s.

I hope at the very least that the Geneva Declaration will encourage all of us to look more closely at perinatal care options that exist here and in other countries and which would be well worth advocating as an alternative to a policy which proposes abortion as the only option,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Local Issues Press Releases

“Minister Howlin’s negligence has undermined our democracy,” McGrath

Clonmel Town Hall


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he was stunned to hear the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin publicly describe the abolition of over 80 Town Councils as his single greatest policy regret in over four years of Government. Deputy McGrath made his comments following the remarkable admission by Minister Howlin at the Labour Party conference, comments which were then backed by the current Labour Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly:

“These statements which seem to have been passed over without remark at the national level have exposed a chasm of political indifference at the heart of Government concerning the threat to democratic structures in this State.

Where have the Ministers voices been during this past year and indeed before that when Town Councillors and many others were warning them of the dire impact which the abolition’s would have in terms of facilitating local representation?

It is absurd for this matter to continually go undebated and for it to be relegated to the margins of our political conversation.

I have fully supported the work of Former Local Authority Members Eire (FLAME) who at the time of the so called Local Government Reform Act challenged the constitutionality of the decision to axe the Councils.

I still support that action and would now call on both Ministers to indicate theirs in light of the comments made at the weekend.

Failure to raise this critical matter at the highest levels will clearly demonstrate that the sentiments of Ministers Howlin and Kelly are just one more instance of the pretend concern this Government has when it comes to the erosion of local democracy in this Country.

Minister Howlin admits he took his eye of the ball when all this occurred; well now is the time for him to get back in to the game and fight for the re-emergence of those Town Councils which were so arrogantly dismissed by former Minister Phil Hogan, who in his usual sledgehammer approach left us with havoc at the local level,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Local Issues Press Releases Uncategorized

“Schools now caught in cross-fire between Courts and the Government,” McGrath



Independent TD Mattie McGrath has criticised the decision of the Minister of Education Jan O’Sullivan to press ahead with radical changes to existing schools admissions policy. Deputy McGrath was speaking after accusations that Clonmel’s Christian Brothers High School was guilty of discrimination in its enrolment policy were rejected by the Supreme Court:

“It is a deeply worrying development to hear that the Minister is essentially going to ride rough shod over the ability of a school to determine its own admissions policy.

Both the High Court and the Supreme Court found that the school had no case to answer by refusing to accommodate an enrolment request from a member of the travelling community.

While it must have been very disappointing for the child involved, I would have very serious concerns about the pressure that is going to be placed on schools to effectively surrender their autonomy in this area.

The Minister complains that she has heard no compelling reason why schools should be allowed to reserve a certain portion of their places for past pupils, but this only highlights how woefully out of touch she is.

Many parents rely on the perfectly reasonable expectation that their children can attend the same school that their siblings attend.

This kind of policy facilitates the smooth integration of new students who can be encouraged by the presence of family members in the same school.

It also allows many parents to avoid the stress of commuting to various different schools instead of being able to drop their children off at the one location.

I would urge the Minister to actively engage with parents and schools on this issue instead of ratcheting up the bullying language of Departmental authority,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Community Press Releases

“Tipperary talent will shine at the Eurovision,” McGrath


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has extended his warm best wishes to Tipperary teenager Molly Sterling who has been chosen to represent Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna this May. Deputy McGrath was speaking after 16 year old Molly, originally from Nenagh, was selected following her performance on the Late Late Show’s Eurosong programme at the weekend:

“I want to wish Molly and her family all the very best as she prepares to represent Ireland at the Eurovision in a few months’ time. Her excellent performance and obvious talent made her a very worthy winner on the night. Along with her fellow song writer Greg French I am sure she will do Tipperary and the whole Country proud whatever the outcome,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Press Releases Social Issues

“Property insurers are escalating homelessness crisis,” McGrath


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has sharply criticised property insurers who will not provide cover to landlords willing to accept tenants receiving rent allowance. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he had it confirmed that some of the major insurance providers here have an active policy of withholding cover until the landlord finds employed or retired people as tenants:

“This strikes me as bordering on active and completely unjustifiable discrimination.

After contacting the main property insurance companies in the State I was told that the companies underwriters are not prepared at the moment to cover properties that have unemployed tenants.

Is it any wonder then that despite the endless trawl for accommodation there are still desperate people continually coming up against notifications of ‘rent allowance not accepted.’

This puts landlords who are willing to rent to unemployed people in a very onerous position given the fact that if the proceed to allow tenancy they will be massively exposed at the financial level.

Effectively what this means is that landlords who have had no problems with rent allowance tenants are now being penalised for having a social conscience.

In the middle of an enormous catastrophe in social housing and a national crisis in mortgage arrears, this is an aspect of the debate that has been entirely overlooked.

I will be calling on all relevant Ministers, particularly the Minister for the Environment given his tough words at the Labour Party Conference, to immediately intervene in this situation and demand from the Insurance companies and their underwriters a full explanation as to how they can justify such blatant discrimination.

As things stand this a policy that can only contribute to prolonging the unwarranted and ridiculous stigmatisation of families on rent allowance as well as keeping them in unsuitable or impractical accommodation ” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Social Issues

Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015: Second Stage

I am delighted to speak to this Bill today. The Bill provides for, among other things, a parent, spouse or partner to acquire guardianship, meaning that, on a practical level, those who care for children will have the legal authority to take decisions on their upbringing. Similarly, the Bill enables a relative to apply for custody of a child in certain circumstances and grandparents – I am delighted with the provision in that regard – and other relatives will be able to secure access to children more easily where the parental relationship has broken down. Deputy Ross has just referred to the matter. I have met very sad grandparents who do not get any access at all.

They are all good measures in themselves but the fact that the Minister for Health spoke yesterday morning on the radio about the introduction of entirely new areas of legislation that were originally intended to be covered by the Bill demonstrates the complexity and overly ambitious nature of the legislation before us. The interview with the Minister for Health, Deputy Varadkar, was unprecedented. I believe he was attempting to stave off what he expected to come later yesterday from the former Minister, Deputy Shatter, a member of the Fine Gael Party in government. He ridiculed the Bill. Deputy Shatter has taken to the airwaves all over the country today to ridicule the Bill. He is a Government backbencher and former Minister who said he did 90% of the work on the Bill. The Minister and the previous Minister are not even together on that. One of the most disturbing elements of the Bill is that it is being continually touted as child-centred, when in many cases that is very far from the truth.

According to the Department, donor-conceived children were not consulted on their experience at any time during the process. They were excluded. Their views were not important. The same happened with regard to the legislation which went through last year. People who wanted to speak were not allowed to appear before committees. This makes a mockery of the claim we are learning from other jurisdictions where experience of assisted human reproduction has descended almost entirely and operates with few ethical matters. We need to hear the voices of those warning the Bill is not child-centred and caters more for adult-centred wishes. This is a view born of the hard experience of monitoring other jurisdictions where similar legislation was attempted with safeguards which proved utterly dissatisfactory. In the UK, the authority regulating practices has stated it wants to make sperm and egg donation as common as blood donation. This is completely farcical and misunderstands the gravity of what is occurring, which is the creation of a new human life.

I have a number of concerns about the Bill. While the Government has been at pains to state the Bill and the referendum are completely separate, I do not believe it to be true. I received the Bill last Thursday. Normally a Bill does not come to the House until two weeks after it is published. Other Deputies have referred to this, as has a former Minister of State. This time allows us to take advice and read and study the Bill. The Bill has 172 sections. When the previous Government was in office, the then Minister, Deputy Ó Cuív, introduced in animal welfare Bill with 40 sections which took a full year to pass through the Houses. I was very involved in it and I know the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Coveney, was meticulous when in opposition, and rightly so. The rush on this is inexplicable and dangerous. Rushed legislation is bad legislation.

Deputy Ó Cuív referred to Mothers and Fathers Matter. We must listen to this organisation. I do not accept the comments he made about it. The people involved are genuine people with genuinely-held views. We must accept all sides in the debate because if we do not, we will start with the wrong premise. Keith Mills is a gay activist who is totally opposed to the Bill. I have heard him on radio and television and I have met him and others.

The Bill is being rushed with indecent haste which is very dangerous. The former Minister, Deputy Shatter, states he was the main architect of the Bill. One would think he was still in government the way he is dealing with it. He is on the warpath and is not happy at all with the Bill. The Minister knows this better than I do, as she was here yesterday when he literally savaged her.

The timing of the Bill and the referendum does not help the situation. The Government has once again decided it wants to railroad a Bill through the Dáil with very little time. This is dangerous. No doubt it will use the Whip if it has to and it will use its large majority. This has been a disaster with regard to Irish Water and many other issues.

I am concerned about other elements of the Bill, and the majority of people who have contacted me have done so on these issues. The rights of the child are paramount. A child has a right to a mother and father as far as practically possible. We know there are circumstances in which this cannot happen, such as accidents and other diverse reasons. The State has a responsibility to vindicate this right as far as practically possible. It is an onus on the State but it is not doing so. I fundamentally believe that all other things being equal, children should not intentionally be denied a mother and father. In my view this is what the legislation will do.

In anticipation of a “Yes” vote in the referendum, the Bill will remove the preference for an actual family comprising a mother, father and child, and this is of most concern. Why not postpone the referendum? The Government states we are confusing both issues but we are not. We need reasonable time to discuss the Bill. We had been promised it for months but it did not come. Deputy Ross spoke about the promise he received. The issues will be conflated and this is the way the Government wants it.

In my role as a public representative I meet groups on all sides and I am open to meeting anyone else who wishes to meet me to discuss these issues. Genuine concerns are held by a large number of people and it would be wrong of me to deny these issues exist or fail to raise them on behalf of my constituents who have expressed these concerns to me. I hope these issues will be fully addressed during the debate on the Bill, but time will be a problem. The Government has chosen to race the Bill through the Dáil prior to the referendum, with the result these very serious issues are not being given sufficient time to be debated. Those who are concerned will have no option but to use the referendum for the wrong reason and vote “No”. The Minister is making her bed and she will lie on it. She is making a very bad bed because she is rushing this legislation which is six or eight months late, and the former Minister, Deputy Shatter, will probably go on tour around the country to savage the Bill.

I had suggested the referendum be delayed to allow these issues be fully addressed so the legislation and the referendum would not be intertwined, but the Government decided to railroad the Bill through the Dáil. This is despicable, disgraceful and sad. The Bill was only published last Thursday and we are debating it this week. Normally there are two weeks between each Stage of a Bill being taken but the Government wants it all hallelujah done and dusted.

I warn the Minister other issues have been raised about the rights of fathers which are also of concern but do not relate to the same-sex issue. I am totally opposed to the idea of the Bill being rammed through without sufficient time. I intend to table amendments and I hope we will have time to discuss them and that they will not be pushed over.

I contest any suggestion these views are due to being homophobic or a bigot. We need calm and reasonable debate on this. Such comments help no one and certainly do not help to sway those with genuine concerns. I welcome the good parts of the Bill, and some of its provisions do not go far enough with regard to grandparents and fathers’ rights of access. We must listen to all sides and have a reasonable debate. Thankfully, we live in a democracy and all sides should be allowed to debate the issues openly and freely without fear of being abused or threatened. I am open to meeting anyone who wishes to discuss these matters. My office is always open.

I hate to contrast the two, but when Deputy Ó Cuív introduced a Bill on animal welfare which comprised 40 sections, it took 12 months to pass through the Houses. Other Bills with fewer sections take a long time. How will we deal with the 172 sections of the Bill? I believe 20 of them are technical but the others are very serious. I am sure several amendments will be tabled to all of the sections. I believe the deadline is St. Patrick’s Day. It is being done in indecent haste and I have major concerns. I do not like when people here attack groups such as Mothers and Fathers Matter. It is a group of individuals, some of whom are gay activists who are not happy with the Bill and do not want segments of it. We must have a reasonable and calm debate and we must have time. We are often accused of making bad decisions, and often we have done so, but how will we discuss a Bill this size, understand its sections and receive advice?

I welcome the fact that I received a briefing on the Bill, but I was whisked out of the office with indecent haste after approximately 12 minutes. The questions I asked could not be answered and the official, whose name I do not have and I thank him for meeting me, was called out twice and then we were told the office was needed. I was brought to the Minister’s side office, where I thought I would have half an hour. The three people with me and I were whisked out with indecent haste. We would not have been whisked through an airport as fast if the plane was on the tarmac and about to leave. This is not good. I do not know who gave those instructions or who said the office was needed. Surely we had been booked in for at least 30 minutes as the Bill has 172 sections, but we were whisked out after 12 minutes following three interruptions by another official.

Is that any way to treat a public representative who is trying his best to understand the Bill, or trying to address, welcome and support the good provisions, although I have problems with other provisions? That is not good. Let us contrast this with most legislation debated in the House. This happened in the United Kingdom as well. People there spent 930 hours discussing a rural pursuits Bill but only 30 hours discussing a Bill similar to this. We are copying what they did over there. Why? We are meant to be a democracy. We are elected by the people to debate and scrutinise legislation. We are expected to do that to the best of our ability. We need a little space and a small window to understand the Bill and to try to put forward amendments and have them submitted correctly to the Bills office. I thank the staff of the Bills office for their co-operation as well. I am not blaming the officials in the Department for the fast ending of my briefing last week. Someone gave instructions. They were only doing what they were told. They were courteous and helpful, but it was the fastest briefing that I have ever received in my seven years here. We were hardly in the door when we were out again. That is not a briefing.

People who have been affected by sperm donation and the children in those situations were not consulted. Why? We are meant to have a consultation with the people who matter and the people who have been affected by these situations.

The former Minister, Deputy Shatter, has spectacularly undermined and attacked the Bill. I am no fan of his and I was not a fan when he was in government, but he is quite embarrassing. This is a mess the Government has created for itself. I wish the Minister for Justice and Equality no ill will, but I am unsure who is going to control Deputy Shatter. It is not the only issue, but he wants more stuff in the Bill. The Minister for Health came out yesterday morning to confuse matters deliberately. He has enough issues to deal with in the health area, telling us that he is exercised by the trolley situation and that it will get worse before it gets better, besides making this strange intervention. It was bizarre. He must have known from the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting that there was trouble coming from the renowned former Minister, Deputy Shatter. Deputy Varadkar tried to run the gauntlet and disarm him by speaking out, but he was only confusing the situation and disturbing more people. The people out there have to be consulted.

Will the Minister for Justice and Equality give a commitment that the process will be unlike that for the children’s rights referendum? We voted in the House to give the independent Referendum Commission a sum of €3 million to run the referendum, but those in the Government interfered. They put their hand in the till, took out €1.1 million and misspent it. I am not saying that; the High Court and the Supreme Court made a unanimous decision that money was misappropriated. Yet the referendum still went ahead. There was no debate in this House. I have called for it a hundred times. I have asked the previous Minister and the current Minister for it. Are they going to shamefully interfere again with the so-called independent commission? We will have to vote money for the commission if it is to run the referendum. That is important. The commission has a job to do and it should be left to do it. A citizen took the case and the case was vindicated in the Supreme Court by unanimous decision. That was not even discussed in the House. No one was charged or arrested for that. That was daylight robbery, the same as robbing the bank. They had their hand in the till and they took the money. They were found with their hand in the till.

I want assurances that this will not happen again in our democracy. We will be celebrating the centenary of the 1916 Rising next year, but this is the kind of treatment the Government gives to money voted by the Oireachtas for an independent commission. They clearly robbed it and stole it. There are no simpler words. While the Supreme Court did not put that description on it, that was the import of their decision. No one acknowledged that or dealt with it.

No one was sacked or questioned on it or anything else.

This is a democracy.