On Friday Senator Norris informed the house that he had been harrassed by a government minister about raising issues concerning matters related to Niall Crowley’s resignation. Specifically the Minister was angry that Norris had raised the matter of the involvement of now Secretary General, Sean Aylward in the investigation of a case taken against the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Minister (as yet unnamed) warned the Senator that he would be ‘politically punished’ if he continued to raise the matters. The relevant piece from the order of business is included below.
Senator David Norris: On foot of newspaper reports, without any personal animus against people whom I do not recall ever having met and about whom I do not know anything, I have raised questions about the way in which the chief executive officer of the Equality Authority was driven out of office. He is a person of the highest integrity. I asked a series of questions. I wish to put on the record of the House that attempts have been made by senior members of Government to intimidate me, to indicate to me that I would be politically punished if I attempted to continue to raise these matters. If that ever happens again, I will name the Minister who did it, and I will not stop in this House. I will do the same outside and I will let anybody who dares to intimidate me or to interfere with the democratic process take his or her chance against me in the courts. I am one of the most litigious people in this land and I have never lost – the worst I had was a draw.
We have indicated that that we will celebrate the first meeting of Dáil Éireann in 1919 and it is perfectly proper, wonderful and honourable that we should. In the context of the attacks upon human rights and the swingeing cuts, the Government should bear in mind these two sentences from the programme of Government for the First Dáil in 1919:
We declare that we desire our country to be ruled in accordance with the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Justice for all, which alone can secure permanence of Government in the willing adhesion of the people…
It shall be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing, or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as Citizens of a Free and Gaelic Ireland.
That is the test against which the Government will be judged.
Senator Terry Leyden: Successfully.
Senator Jim Walsh: Some €45 million has been spent on the Equality Authority in the past decade, which is a considerable sum of money.
Senator David Norris: It is buttons compared with the waste.
Senator Jim Walsh: This year the authority’s funding will enable it to have 38 staff.
Senator David Norris: None of them has any experience.
(Many thanks to Equality Dude for pointing Friday’s matters out to me – I knew David had his engine going earlier in the week on this but I had not realised the house met on Friday never mind the disclosures he had made!)