Friday 17 August 2018

Liz O'Donnell

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Picture: Collins

Enda can't just settle for blithe pledges that all will be well after Brexit, he needs to fight our corner 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's feisty declaration that he has no intention of vacating the stage is timely. Persistent rumblings by cheerleaders of those eager to replace him as party leader do nothing to reassure citizens that matters are under control. This unusual minority administration has enough to be getting on with, keeping itself together on a weekly basis, without the distractions of a...

'Learning to dance at Halligan's ball'

Politicians' reactions to Europe's ruling on Apple show who is fit to govern State - and who is not 

Like it or not, the European Commission's ruling on Apple's Tax affairs and Ireland has been a defining political event in several ways. It has propelled Ireland's tax law on to the international stage in spectacular fashion by the charge of our State's complicity in tax evasion on a massive scale and prompted a review of our relationship with the European Union. It would be difficult to imagine a...

On a plate? Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton. Photo: Mark Condren

How emotion can skew the picture on polls 

As the General Election looms ever closer, there is no shortage of experts spouting predictions of the make-up of the next Government. Some are so cock sure of themselves as to call exact outcomes in individual constituencies as if it was a matter of a mathematical equation. As a former candidate over four elections, I question the certainties of pollsters, psephologists and pundits, particularly when it comes to the fate of the smaller party in coalitions.

'You are four times more likely to crash while using a mobile phone'

Motorists: this New Year make the resolution to put your phone away 

As the year comes to a close, road safety campaigners can be grateful that fatalities and serious injuries on our roads have decreased over the previous year. This reverses a worrying trend for the two previous years, 2013 and 2014, which showed an increase in fatal road crashes. Really significant and measurable progress has been achieved in making Irish roads safer since the late nineties and, in particular, since the setting up of the Road Safety Authority in 2006.

This picture from 2007 shows, from left, the then Northern Ireland Culture Minister Edwin Poots, Finance Minister Peter Robinson, First Minister Rev Ian Paisley, Ian Paisley Junior and Deputy First Minister and Environment Minister Arlene Foster. Foster is on course to take over the DUP

A new era in the North calls for a woman's voice 

In the week when German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named 'Person of the year' by 'Time' magazine for her role in the Greek debt crisis and her heroic political response to the migrant crisis in Europe, something equally significant happened on our own island. For the first time ever, a woman - Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Arlene Foster - has emerged as the likely successor to Peter Robinson as leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Ronan and Gillian Treacy (pictured) lost their son Ciaran after a drunk driver collided head-on with Gillian’s car – Gillian’s powerful victim impact statement has provoked much-needed debate about our laws and society’s attitude to drink driving.

Don't let the Treacys' tragic loss be in vain 

As chair of the Road Safety Authority, I deal a lot with statistics. Sadly, the only way we can measure the success of our road safety initiatives is by the number of deaths per year on the roads. We benchmark ourselves by reference to these fatality figures each year and measure our performance against the numbers of deaths in other countries. I receive an email each day of road traffic fatalities; a chilling reminder of the toll of death and serious injury on our roads. This ensures that those of us charged with road safety do not become complacent.

A mural depicting SF leader Gerry Adams on the Lower Falls Road in west Belfast

No room in republic for even a 'withered' IRA 

So, despite what Mr Adams and his colleagues say, the IRA has not "gone away." This is a clear finding of both security reports on paramilitaries released this week. The first from the British Government-appointed panel, made for uncomfortable reading, not only for unionists. This independent group comprising three respected individuals was tasked with carrying out an up-to-date assessment of the extent of activities by paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, an exercise prompted by the shock declaration by the PSNI that PIRA members were involved in the murder...

The fear of being put off the road having reached the limit of penalty points on one’s licence is a highly effective, preventative measure

Use of 'poor box' for driving offences makes a mockery of the law 

Making our roads safer is a challenge. We have made remarkable progress in reducing death and serious injuries on our roads over the last three decades. This has come about by Government and State agencies taking a cross-sectoral, strategic approach. Better legislation, enforcement by gardaí and a concerted move by local authorities and the NRA in road improvement have been crucial elements of this strategy. The Road Safety Authority, which I now chair, was established in 2006 with a remit to make Ireland's roads safer.

Outgoing Greek Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis leaves on his motorcycle with his wife Danai after his resignation at the ministry of Finance in downtown Athens this week

All's changed, changed utterly in Syriza aftershock 

It has been a long-running saga but this week edged us closer to the finale of the Greek financial crisis. The country's banks and the economy have been on life support thanks to emergency funding capped at €88.6 billion from the ECB. But missing the deadline for repayment of the IMF loan plunged the country into potential bankruptcy and exit of the eurozone, a calamitous scenario which persists if the terms of a third bailout cannot be agreed tomorrow.

Pictured at the Women’s Executive Network Ireland’s Most Powerful Women Awards are (left to right) Caroline Keeling, Chief Executive Officer of Keelings; Pamela Jeffery, Founder of the Women’s Executive Network; Louise Phelan, Vice President of Global Operations at PayPal; Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft; and Christine Heffernan, Director of Corporate Affairs at Tesco

The inspirational women blazing their own trail 

Having more women leaders is a serious societal goal. The dearth of women in politics at the time of Mary Robinson's ground-breaking election as President of Ireland was what prompted me and a handful of others to run for election. Frances Fitzgerald, now Minister for Justice, was, like me, involved in the women's movement in the early nineties, and we crossed the bridge from private to public life in electoral politics with a certain amount of trepidation. Since then the number of female TDs has remained stubbornly low at around 15pc and out of line with the participation of women in...

Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who this week announced a Commission of Investigation into the Sitserv deal and other IBRC transactions

How the perfect storm came to break over the Four Courts 

Politics, like King Lear's thankless child, can be "sharper than a serpent's tooth." The Government must be sickened by the week's events. Only last weekend the Coalition parties were flying high in the polls. Brendan Howlin had secured a wage deal with the public service unions; there was even speculation about an early election. Unemployment, at 9.8pc, was lowest since 2009 and tax revenues were way ahead of projections. But to quote Pat Rabbitte: "Bond yields butter no parsnips."

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness during a visit to St Patricks Church on May 21 in Belfast, Northern Ireland

We all need to forgive - but never forget 

Perhaps one should not be surprised that the handshake with the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, dominated media coverage of the historic visit this week by Prince Charles to Ireland. It was, of course, a significant event in strengthening Anglo- Irish relations and the peace process; following on from the State visit to the UK and the Queen's visit. Such events are hugely important in rebuilding British- Irish relations, given the legacy of our troubled past. But the exaggerated media focus on Sinn Féin at each fragile turn can be overplayed.

Karen Buckley

Society's approach to domestic abuse needs to change 

Just as the horrors of the Graham Dwyer trial recede, violence against women has again come calling. The agonising four-day search and tragic discovery of the body of young Irishwoman Karen Buckley in Glasgow plunged all parents of young adults into a state of dread and heartbreak. With so many of our young adult children in far-flung cities, making their way as emigrants, the plight of the Buckley family resonates with thousands of Irish families.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny (second right) stands beside Jean-Pierre Thébault (first right) Ambassador of France to Ireland, after signing the book of condolence at the Embassy of France in Dublin for the victims of the shootings at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. PA

We, of all people, should know about restraint 

There was an important gathering in Dublin Castle this week when ambassadors and heads of Irish missions in 80 locations worldwide convened for a major conference on Irish foreign policy. 'The Global Island: Ireland's Foreign Policy for a Changing World' sets out the "core values" of Ireland's engagement in such areas as international development, human rights, disarmament, UN peacekeeping and the search for peace in the Middle East. Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Flanagan said "in the world of 2015 nothing is entirely foreign or wholly domestic".