Church and State

Fine Gael National Conference 2015


Issue polls

Poll: FG strong on economy and jobs, weak on social issues

Respondents indicate Sinn Féin best on community and protecting vulnerable

unnamed (2)
Fianna Fáil did not lead in any category but it was second in five and its ratings spanned economic and social concerns

Stephen Collins

Sat, Dec 6, 2014, 08:15

Fine Gael outscores the other parties on major economic issues while Sinn Féin does best on community and social issues, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

In the poll people were asked which of the political groups would be best at handling 10 major issues.

Fine Gael came out well ahead of the others on four issues.

They were growing the Irish economy, creating jobs, managing the country’s relationship with the EU and keeping Government spending under control.

Sinn Féin was ahead of other parties for putting money in people’s pockets, lowering taxes, playing an active role in the community and protecting the vulnerable.

The Independents and Others were viewed as best at speaking openly and honestly. They also tied with Sinn Féin as the most likely to reform the way we do politics.

Representative sample

The survey was undertaken last Monday and Tuesday among a representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 per cent.

Fine Gael’s rating for managing Ireland’s relationship with the EU was 26 per cent; creating jobs, 22 per cent; growing the Irish economy, 25 per cent; and keeping Government spending under control, 25 per cent.

Fine Gael’s lead on the major economic issues was based on strong support from middle-class voters and farmers.

For instance, 42 per cent of AB voters, 32 per cent of C1 voters and 44 per cent of farmers felt the party was best at growing the economy, but that view was only held by 12 per cent of C2 voters and 12 per cent of DE voters.

Sinn Féin’s best score was for playing an active role in the community, 21 per cent, followed by lowering taxes, 19 per cent, and an 18 per cent score for protecting the vulnerable in society and putting more money in people’s pockets.

Poorer voters

The party’s score was based on high ratings among poorer voters but it also had a spread across the social classes.

For instance, the party’s best score of 21 per cent for playing an active role at community level was based on a 27 per cent score among DE voters, and it got 20 per cent from C2 and C1 voters and even scored 17 per cent on this issue among AB voters.

However, on growing the Irish economy the party got just 3 per cent among AB voters, 9 per cent among C1, 13 per cent among C2 and 20 per cent among DE voters.

Independents and smaller parties had a similar rating on the economy but did best on speaking honestly and openly.

On that issue the group got 18 per cent among AB voters, 21 per cent among C1, 15 per cent in C2 and 21 per cent among DE voters.

Fianna Fáil did not lead in any category but it was second in five and its ratings spanned both economic and social concerns.

Labour had poor scores in almost all categories but did best on protecting the vulnerable in society.

Age of consent

Minister Frances FitzGerald opposes Shatter’s proposal to lower the age of consent to 16. What is the point in Labour being in government if this is allowed to remain? We are out of step with most European countries. This is a hang over from Rome Rule.

John McNulty – New Seanad candidate for FG


Caught – The incredible Rock – 100 unbelieveable!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FINE GAEL LOCAL election candidate Noel Rock has admitted using around €60 worth Oireachtas envelopes that were donated to him to send out campaign literature.

Rock, who has made a high-profile pledge to take no expenses if elected to Dublin City Council this Friday, admitted that around 100 Seanad Éireann envelopes were used to send out the literature.

“This limited amount of postage, which amounted to €60, was contributed to my campaign in good faith,” Rock, who is running in the Ballymun ward, said in a statement to

He said that the use of the envelopes will be included in his statement of expenditure to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) which just last week warned TDs and Senators not to use pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes for election purposes.

Rock has pledged that he will not take what he claims is “€35,500 in tax-free expenses” if elected to Dublin City Council.

But he has come under fire from those in his own party with his constituency rival Professor Bill Tormey previously describing him as a “tosser” engaging in “a form of egregious abuse to ingratiate himself with the voters”.

Rock wrote about his pledge in a column for this website last weekend and said today that given the unhappiness with his actions he would donate €60 to a charity of their choice.

His statement added: “This donation was given in good faith, and used in good faith, to communicate with a very limited number of people – smaller than 0.1% of my local electorate.

“However, having been contacted by some people who feel unhappy at this, I have decided to donate the equivalent financial value to a charity of their choice of €60, which equates to 100 stamps”.

Property Tax – Remember the grant from the Department of the Environment will really determine the outcome of any property tax deal because the block grant from the DoE can be reduced. Anyway work it out.

FG to pledge to reduce property tax where possible

Party to launch local election manifesto next week

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: told the Fine Gael Ardfheis that the party’s council candidates would oppose “any increases in commercial rates or local property taxes” if elected to local authorities

Fiach Kelly

Thu, Apr 24, 2014, 01:00

First published: Thu, Apr 24, 2014, 01:00

Homeowners in better-off local authority areas may see their property taxes reduced, under Fine Gael’s local election manifesto.

Party sources last night said the manifesto, due to be launched next week, will contain a commitment to reduce the property tax in areas that have high commercial rates bases.

This will favour urban councils in Dublin and elsewhere, and brings Fine Gael into line with a similar commitment already given by its Coalition partners in Labour.

Councils in mainly rural counties such as Leitrim are less likely to see a reduction, given they will need the property tax receipts to fund council services.

However, the parties committed to reducing the tax must be in control of the councils to implement their policy commitments.

While the majority of property tax collected last year went towards establishment costs for Irish Water, from this year, 80 per cent of all property tax receipts will be retained in the local authority areas where the houses levied are based.

The remaining 20 per cent will continue to go into a national pot and be allocated on a needs basis.

Each council has the power to vary the property tax by 15 per cent, and has been given until September 30th by the Revenue Commissioners to decide what level of cut, or increase, they intend to apply, if any.

However, there is still some confusion among councils as to whether any reduction will be taken from their allocation, or the national pot.

“We’d have to be in control of the councils first but it is more likely in areas around Dublin like Dún Laoghaire, which has the biggest rates base in the country,” a Fine Gael source said.

Earlier this year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Fine Gael ardfheis that the party’s council candidates would oppose “any increases in commercial rates or local property taxes” if elected to local authorities.

The Labour Party has already said it will promise voters in large urban areas a 15 per cent cut in property tax as part of its local elections manifesto.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore confirmed the commitment earlier this year, and said in large urban areas where property values were high, people were paying higher property tax than in rural areas and there was scope for a reduction.

A prayer before dying: IRA took priest to Disappeared victim before murder

Person holding rosary beads
Fr McCoy told the Molloy family that an IRA gang member gave him a set of rosary beads to pray with the victim

The brother of a man who was killed by the IRA in 1975 has described how a Catholic priest prayed with the victim as a gang waited nearby to carry out the execution.

Martin Molloy’s brother, Eamon, was one of the Disappeared – people who were murdered and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

He was 22 years old when he was kidnapped and shot dead due to claims he was a police informer.

Martin Molloy has been speaking about his brother’s final moments as part of a new BBC documentary on the Disappeared.

Eamon Molloy was a Catholic from north Belfast who was abducted from the city by the IRA in May 1975.

From that point on he was officially missing for almost 25 years, until his body was discovered in a cemetery near Dundalk, County Louth, in 1999.

His remains had been placed in a coffin and left above ground in Faughart cemetery, on the instructions of the IRA.

It followed the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the setting up of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains by the British and Irish governments.

Eamon Molloy was the first of the Disappeared whose body was recovered and returned to his family for burial. Seven more bodies have yet to be located.

Speaking to the documentary team, Martin Molloy said that shortly after his brother’s funeral in 1999, they were contacted by a priest who told them he had been with Eamon on the night of the murder.

Irish police remove a coffin with the remains of Eamon Molloy from a cemetery in 1999
 Eamon Molloy’s remains were found in a coffin left above ground in a cemetery 25 years after his death

He said Fr Eugene McCoy had heard a news report about the discovery of a body in Faughart and recognised the name Eamon Molloy.

The priest told the family that in 1975 he was based in a parish in north County Louth and one night in May he answered a knock at his door.

A number of men were standing in the doorway, telling him there had been a road accident nearby and the victim needed a priest.

He went with them, but a short time later the men told Fr McCoy that they were holding a prisoner who they believed was an informer.

They were going to execute him, but he had asked for a priest to hear his confession before his death.

The priest told the Molloy family that he was then taken to a mobile home in a rural part of County Louth and led into a bedroom where a young man was lying, tied up on a bed.

Both his hands and feet were bound. Two or three gang members were inside the mobile home, while up to 10 others were outside, playing football.

The priest said he refused speak to the prisoner unless he was untied.

The young man was distraught, and could barely say his own name audibly, but asked the priest to ensure his wife and his mother received two letters he had written during his abduction.

He also asked Fr McCoy to tell his family that he was not an informer.

At this point the priest spoke to one of the men who appeared to be in charge and demanded that they release their prisoner.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

He was hopeless, he was powerless, there were 12 to 13 men there and I did feel consoled, slightly consoled, that he had the priest with him at the end”

Martin Molloy Brother of IRA victim

“He actually confronted the men and it got a bit heated,” Martin Molloy said, but added that the priest had told him that the gang would not listen and his pleas for mercy “fell on deaf ears”.

Fr McCoy heard the prisoner’s confession, but told the gang that he did not have his rosary beads with him to pray with the condemned man.

“The man who seemed to be in command, or in charge, pulled out a pair of rosary beads and said, ‘there’s a pair of rosary beads, use mine’,” Mr Molloy said.

The family believe that Eamon Molloy was murdered and secretly buried a short time after the priest’s failed intervention.

His brother said that, despite the circumstances of Eamon’s death, they took some comfort from the priest’s account and from the knowledge that someone had tried to help their loved one in his final moments.

“I did feel Eamon’s pain, being there alone, being on his own and obviously knowing he was going to be killed.

“He was hopeless, he was powerless, there were 12 to 13 men there and I did feel consoled, slightly consoled, that he had the priest with him at the end, before he died, that he could make his peace with God.”

Mr Molloy said when his brother’s remains were discovered almost a quarter of a century later he was found to be clutching a small cross in his right hand.

“Obviously he had been holding that when he had been killed. He was holding on, he had his faith.”

Mr Molloy added that the question of why Fr McCoy did not contact the police had “crossed his mind” but added that the situation was “not easy” for the priest.

The clergyman was being asked to hear the last confession of a man who was about to be executed by the IRA, because they believed he was a police informer.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

It’s very hard to reconcile what they were going to do with the fact of a relationship with God, with prayer”

Fr Paddy McCafferty Molloy family priest

Informing the police of such an incident would bring its own risks.

“I’m sure, even in Fr McCoy’s own mind and even after this happened in his own life, that he went through his own turmoil and his own struggle of being suddenly in a situation that wasn’t of his making.

Part of the interview Mr Molloy gave to the documentary team was broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme.

The Molloy family’s own parish priest in north Belfast, Fr Paddy McCafferty, told Sunday Sequence that reporting the matter to police could have had consequences for other victims.

“Indeed the question has been raised,” Fr McCafferty said. “The answer perhaps is that if he had gone to the police, other people in this position like Eamon at that time would have been denied.

“The IRA might have decided ‘well, we’re not getting a priest ever again for any person’ and they would have had to face into eternity alone.”

Fr McCafferty added that Fr McCoy’s account of the night had given consolation to the dead man’s mother, who had spent almost 25 years without any answers about his death.

He said the discovery of his body “certainly brought some closure at that time, but it brought further consolation to know that his last moments on earth were not devoid of comfort.”

Fr McCafferty said that a “dilemma of course existed” for the priest over reporting the matter to police but added that Fr McCoy “would have had no control over what was going on”.

“His main focus, for any priest, would have been to care for this young person who was being threatened with death and to minister to him, that was the crucial matter.”

He agreed that the IRA’s gang’s offer of the rosary beads to the dying man was “grotesque”.

“It’s very hard to reconcile what they were going to do with the fact of a relationship with God, with prayer.”

Fr McCafferty, who as a young Belfast curate had ministered to the Molloy family in the aftermath of Eamon’s disappearance, led the murdered man’s funeral Mass in 1999.

Fr McCoy, who later left the priesthood to get married, died about 10 years ago.

Barry Walsh – Vote Number 1 in FG election

O’Toole on Shatter – Incomplete but accurate

This commentary is accurate but incomplete. The psychological drivers of mateship are ignored in the obvious relationship between Shatter and Callinan. Callinan’s attitudes are obviously infectious. Both should go because the issue is too serious and remember the “Heavy Gang” in the 1970s.

Shatter’s personal integrity makes the reality of this crisis far worse

Opinion: We should not worry that a police force can step out of line but about whether we have the mechanism to deal with this situation



First published: Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 12:01

It would, at this point, be a relief if Alan Shatter were corrupt or stupid or a crawler. We could then say that his behaviour in relation to the accountability of An Garda Síochána was a personal aberration.

But no one, even among his many enemies, believes that Shatter’s personal integrity is in question. Far from being stupid, he is arguably the member of the Cabinet most qualified for the job he is doing. And far from being eager to please either the general public or the powerful people he works with, one of Shatter’s most interesting characteristics as a politician is his indifference to popularity.

These are all admirable qualities in themselves, but in the context of his disgraceful response to legitimate concerns about the culture of a crucial institution, they make things far, far worse. They leave us without simple, personal explanations and force us to recognise a deeper malaise in the functioning of the State. That malaise is the insidious insistence that everything is fine because those in charge say so.

There is much that we do not know about the intertwined claims of bugging, abuse of the penalty points system, mishandling of serious crimes and ill-treatment of whistleblowers that have created a crisis of confidence in the management and oversight of the Garda. What we do know are two things. One is that the allegations are serious, substantial and made in apparent good faith. The other is that the response of the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and the Government has been consistent and coherent, which is to say it has been consistently and coherently hostile, defensive and belittling.

One thing that needs to be made clear here is that there’s nothing really shameful in a democracy about the existence of some malpractice in the police force. There will always be malpractice in police forces. It is in their nature. They have extraordinary powers and, because they operate under pressure and danger, they have very strong internal codes of loyalty and omerta. This is a perilous combination. It will generate problems in the best-run police forces in the best-governed countries.

The question is not whether some people in the police behave badly. It is whether the force is capable of discovering, stopping and being accountable for that behaviour – and whether, if the force itself fails, other democratic institutions can step in. This might seem to be an abstract distinction but it is actually the fundamental difference between a democracy and an autocracy. Healthy democracies assume that the power of the State will inevitably be abused and conclude that openness, vigilance and accountability are needed to check those abuses. Autocracies, on the other hand, always insist that everything the State is doing is good and that only the malign or deluded could possibly think otherwise.

Over the last month, we’ve seen a glimpse of what it’s like to live in an autocracy. In a functioning democracy, the raising of allegations of misconduct within the Garda would be given a kind of rueful welcome. Rueful because, of course, the reputation of their police force matters greatly to most Irish people. But welcome nonetheless because we’ve all learned the hard way that the best approach to maintaining the reputation of an institution is to be open about its failings. In an autocracy, on the other hand, any suggestion that a key institution has serious problems cannot be entertained.

This is what makes the official response to the current set of allegations so deeply worrying. It has betrayed an autocratic instinct. Running through all the individual responses has been the classic autocratic delusion: we know for a fact that everything is fine and it follows that anyone suggesting otherwise is stupid, ill-intentioned or both. Their motives must be impugned: Sgt McCabe is insubordinate; GSOC is paranoid and foolish; the Committee on Public Accounts is impertinent. There is even a hint of the autocratic desire to airbrush the historic record: Oliver Connolly, the Garda confidential recipient, had to be fired because he would not “repudiate” statements he had made, apparently in good faith, to Sgt McCabe. Perhaps Comrade Connolly might be invited to a self-criticism session?

This is scary stuff. If Alan Shatter and Martin Callinan don’t go, the autocratic mindset will be more deeply entrenched. But even if they do go, we still have to ask how it has come to this, and why the natural impulse at the top is to treat legitimate concerns with such enraged hostility. I suspect the root of the problem lies in the way government and officialdom have become used, in the broader arena, to insisting that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Compulsory optimism cannot abide contradiction.

Noel Rock – Disconnection from the Truth is Unfit for purpose

FG candidate for the Ballymun ward distributed the following in a leaflet in Drumcondra last week.

It was headed ” Rock: I’m taking no expenses saving Dubs €60,000 per councillor”

The text included
” I will be saying “no thanks” to the €60,000 per annum in expenses which is taken by the average
councillor. And that’s just the average councillor, be assured that some take more than that.

Councillors are paid €16,753 per annum plus €583.00 per month (€7000 per year) as expenses.  In addition Councillors can avail of expenses to attend conferences and this figure can amount to between two and three thousand extra per year. So in total City Councillors can avail of a maximum €10,000 and not €60,0000 in expenses.

Rock has engaged in a form of egregious abuse to ingratiate himself with the voters. He obviously lives on Mars because mere earthlings would cop-on that 60k per year in expenses for a councillor would be impossible to justify or sustain.

Ironically, he is paid as a Senate assistant to Senator Catherine Noone. He should tell the voters who pays for his colour brochures and who are his main donors.