The entire cabinet has been told to restrict movements ahead of a COVID-19 test for the Health Minister.

    This morning the cabinet met to approve the COVID-19 roadmap in Dublin Castle, with Ministers spending almost three hours together in a confined space.

    This afternoon the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly began to feel unwell.

    He's contacted a GP for a test and is self isolating.

    The Minister was due to take a session of questions in the Dáil this evening, instead the Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail adjourned the Dail until further notice.


  • The Dail ethics committee has decided to proceed with an investigation into the four Fianna Fail TDs caught up in the voting controversy - including Mayo's Lisa Chambers.

    The Irish Times reports that the Members'  Interests Committee met yesterday and agreed to proceed with the inquiry.

    The committee will now write to deputies Timmy Dooley, Niall Collins, Lisa Chambers and Barry Cowen to ask if they have any further information to add to what they've already told the clerk of the Dáil as part of an earlier inquiry-  which did not recommend any sanctions.

    The ethics committee has the power to recommend a sanction to the Dáil, including a suspension of up to 30 days .

    The controversy emerged when deputy Niall Collins voted 6 times for colleague Timmy Dooley while he was absent from the chamber during Dáil votes.

    Mayo TD Lisa Chambers said she had mistakenly sat in her colleague Dara Calleary's seat and voted, before moving to her own seat and voting again.


  • The Dáil meets today to pass emergency laws to deal with the impact of the coronavirus.

    All stages of the omnibus bill are expected to pass during a 10-hour sitting with reduced attendance.

    It includes a 3.7 billion euro social welfare package, and a temporary ban on evictions and rent increases.

    The Dáil will also elect a Leas Ceann Comhairle - likely to be Independent TD Denis Naughten.

  • The Dáil will this evening begin to debate the emergency legislation that seeks to prepare Ireland for a no-deal Brexit.

    TDs will sit late for the next three nights in an effort to progress the Omnibus Bill.

    The comprehensive legislation, which encompasses nine Government departments, must complete 11 stages before the end of March.

    Fianna Fail's Brexit spokesperson, Mayo TD Lisa Chambers, says the new bill is unprecedented in that it covers a number of departments and sectors - from transport and agriculture to health and finance.

    Deputy Chambers says it's unfortunate, with just over a month till the UK is due to leave the EU, that we still don't know if a Brexit deal will be agreed.

  • The Dáil will debate proposed new laws on abortion for the first time later.

    Health Minister Simon Harris got cabinet approval for the legislation last week.

    He remains confident doctors will be able to carry out abortions from the start of next year, despite concern from practitioners about whether they'll be ready in time.

    Last night the government announced Dr Peter Boylan will be working with the HSE to lay the groundwork for the new service.


  • The Dail will vote today to approve a cabinet re-shuffle by the Taoiseach.

    Richard Bruton will be confirmed as the new Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

    Donegal's Joe McHugh will become the Minister for Education and Séan Kyne from Galway West will take up the role of Government Chief Whip.

    While Independent Galway East TD Sean Canney is set to become a junior minister.

    The changes follow the resignation of Communications Minister Denis Naughten last week.



  • The Dáil voted yesterday by 85 votes to 49 for the Government’s controversial strategic communications unit  to be disbanded.

    The vote follows a two-hour debate on a Sinn Féin motion that the SCU, dubbed the “spin unit” by the Opposition, should be stood down.

    Earlier this week on Midwest News, Sligo Leitrim Fianna Fail TD Marc McSharry dubbed it a “propaganda unit” and called for its abolition.

     Yesterday Fianna Fáil voted with Sinn Féin, the smaller parties and Independents on the proposal to close the government’s Strategic Communications unit, consisting of of 15 staff with a €5 million budget.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar indicated when he replied to the debate on Tuesday that the Government would ignore the motion.

    According to today’s Irish Times, the result is an embarrassment for Mr Varadkar but it is only a symbolic victory for the Opposition as the Government is under no obligation to act on such votes.

    Since the minority Government was formed almost two years ago it has suffered dozens of defeats on private members’ motions.


  • Minister Denis Naughten says he's sorry the controversy over his conversation with a lobbyist from Independent News & Media has taken up 4 days of attention in the Dáil.

    The Roscommon-based Minister insists he did nothing wrong when he told the PR Executive that the proposed INM takeover of Celtic Media was likely to be referred to the Broadcasting Authority for scrutiny.

    It's alleged Mr Naughten’s intervention was insider information and possibly in breach of stock market rules, as it led to the conversation being shared with Denis O'Brien and no other INM shareholder.

    Minister Naughten again apologised in the Dáil this morning:

  • A proper subsidy of 200 euro per cow is the only way that farmers are going to survive in the north west according to Sligo based Fianna Fail deputy Eamon Scanlon.

    He says his party is calling for this level of subsidy per cow and in addition he says the REPS scheme needs to be re-introduced if family farms are to survive.

    Speaking in the Dáil during this week’s debate on the beef crisis, deputy Scanlon called on the government to declare a “crisis in agriculture”.

    He says there are now thousands of cattle that need to slaughtered,and the longer the farmer is forced to wait, reduces further the price he will secure. In addition he says if there is a no deal Brexit, than the price per kilo that the farmer will get from the factory will fall further.

    He again called for the reconvening of talks among all the relevant parties as he says this dispute needs to be resolved with urgency now.

  • The Government has agreed to recall the Dáil early, following the reopening of schools.

    Politicians voted on 31 July to begin their six-week summer break immediately.

    The Dáil was not scheduled to sit again until 15th September.

    The three coalition leaders - Taoiseach Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael and Eamon Ryan of the Green Party - said they had now agreed the Dáil should be recalled "following the reopening of schools".

    The Taoiseach will make this request to the Ceann Comhairle on Monday.

  • A Mayo TD has described maternity facilities in some hospitals across the country as unacceptable.

    Fianna Fail Deputy Lisa Chambers was speaking during a Private Members Motion in the Dail yesterday.

    She said that the difficulty in obtaining foetal anomaly scans was a huge problem, and it can be a postcode lottery with inconsistencies across the country.

    Deputy Chambers said that staffing levels are still much lower than they should be.

    In response Minister for Health Simon Harris said that funding is being made available to hire 28 new sonographers to read scans to provide 100% access to the anomaly scans. He also said that all 19 maternity units in the country will offer full access to the anomaly scanning by the end of this year.

  • The Communications Minister Denis Naughten says he sincerely regrets expressing a personal opinion on what would happen with the proposed INM takeover of Celtic Media.

    But the Roscommon-based Minister insists he did nothing wrong.

    He's come under criticism for allegedly telling a representative of Independent News and Media, Eoghan O'Neachtain, that the proposed merger with Celtic Media would be referred to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for scrutiny.

    The conversation took place before the Minister made that information public, and it's argued this would have given INM a competitive advantage, in breach of stock market rules.

    But Minister Naughten claims he said that sending it to the BAI was likely, not guaranteed:

    Meanwhile Fianna Fail is not calling for Denis Naughten’s resignation, but wants the Taoiseach to explain why he’s happy with the Minister’s explanation of the matter.

    Last night, Leo Varadker said Minister Naughten had given a clear explanation of what happened, but Mayo Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary says the issue is very serious, and the Taoiseach has to explain why he’s happy with Minister Naughten’s explanation.

  • Minister  Denis Naughten is addressing the Dáil this evening in relation to claims that he had discussions with a public relations executive acting for Independent News and Media about his decision to refer the company's proposed takeover of Celtic Media to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

    In his speech, Mr Naughten said he did nothing wrong and did not give inside information.

  • A fresh complaint has been made to the Oireachtas ethics committee about the “voting practice” of Fianna Fáil Brexit spokesperson, Mayo deputy Lisa Chambers.

    According to Independent.ie, Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd wrote to the clerk of the Dáil yesterday asking for an investigation to be launched into a voting session on January 17 this year (2019).

    Deputy O’Dowd’s formal complaint is now likely to be considered by the Oireachtas Committee on Members’ Interests which just last week criticised deputy  Chambers over a separate incident in October last.

    On that occasion deputy Chambers admitted casting a vote using a pad registered to her constituency colleague Dara Calleary.

    Footage has now emerged showing deputy Chambers sitting in a seat assigned to Timmy Dooley during a 50 minute voting session in January of this year.

    Deputy O’Dowd says the revelations, first revealed by the ‘Sunday Independent’, warrant further probing.

    “This further information indicates that Deputy Chambers sat in the seat of and voted on behalf of Deputy Timmy Dooley on seven occasions on January 17 this year.  I understand that votes were also recorded on behalf of Deputy Chambers on this occasion,” the Louth TD wrote in his letter.

    He noted a radio interview in which Ms Chambers said the Calleary incident was the only time she had voted inappropriately.

    “That was clearly not the case,” Mr O’Dowd said.

    “In relation to the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 I would contend that this new information is extremely important to the investigation carried out by the Clerk of the Dáil into the Calleary complaint, and previous repeated voting for a colleague by Deputy Chambers should have been brought forward during the Calleary complaint.”

    He alleges the failure to disclose this previous incident is serious and “is one of significant public importance”.

    “I would therefore appreciate it if this matter could be investigated by the Committee on Members Interests,” Mr O’Dowd concludes.

  • The HSE's decision to suspend the allocation of new Home Help hours will hit the counties of Mayo, Galway and Roscommon hardest, as demand in the West is far greater than anywhere else in the country - that's according to Roscommon Independent TD Denis Naughten.

    Deputy Naughten has called for the Dail to be suspended this week to discuss the HSE's decision to close the home help scheme to new entrants, which he says will trap carers in their homes and leave them unable to get a break from the 24 / 7 care they provide.

    He says it will also lead to families being left with no choice but to admit older people to long-term nursing home care.

    The Roscommon TD told Midwest News that the HSE's decision must be reversed immediately....

  • A Roscommon TD has called for immediate action to ensure that the money provided by Dáil Éireann for home help is used to increase hours available to support older people in their homes, not spent on administration.

    Independent TD Denis Naughten raised the matter in the Dail last night and said the decision by the HSE to suspend the allocation to home help hours to older people and their carers for the next five months, contradicts the €140m increase in funding for home help since this Government took office and the all-party Oireachtas Health Committee report, Slainte Care, on the reform of the health service in Ireland.

    He said we now have a situation where Government policy and Dáil Éireann are at complete variance with the policy actions by the HSE and we are told by the Taoiseach that Minister Daly is scrambling to gather the facts and is only set to meet with the HSE managers next week.

    Deputy Naughten says the HSE is completely unaccountable, making up its own policy and this has to put a stop to and the first step should be reversing these cuts immediately.

    He said there is far greater demand for home help hours in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo than anywhere else in the country so any decision to restrict the allocation of home help hours will have a disproportionate impact on local families and older people.

    Deputy Naughten spoke on the matter in the Dail last night.

  • A Sligo TD has been accused of anti-Semitism after remarks made in the Dáil this afternoon.

    Fianna Fáil's Marc MacSharry took aim at the government's Ireland 2040 plan, accusing them of acting like Nazi spin-doctor Joseph Goebbels in the way they launched it.

    One Minister described it as a disgraceful Holocaust slur.

  • Roscommon based Minister Denis Naughten is under pressure after revelations that he gave information to representatives of businessman Denis O'Brien about a takeover bid by INM.

    Mr O'Brien is the largest shareholder in Independent News and Media, which tried to takeover the Celtic Media Group in 2016.

    The Communications Minister informed someone working for INM that he planned to refer the bid to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for examination, two months before he made that information public.

    The state's corporate watchdog has raised concerns that this being passed to Mr O'Brien is a case of insider information and a breach of stock market rules.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar defended Minister Naughten in the Dáil this afternoon.

  • A national tractor protest will take place tomorrow (Tuesday) outside the Dail, on Kildare St in Dublin.. Farmers from across this region will be travelling to the capital to take part and voice their concerns over the future of farming.

    Aontú candidate in the General Election in Mayo, Paul Lawless told Midwest News E today why farmers across the county and country feel that their livelihoods are under threat, and believe that the government is not taking adequate action in addressing the crisis in farming.

  • The Transport Minister has launched a scathing attack on what he calls 'the lunatic fringe' in Leinster House opposed to tougher drink drive laws.

    Shane Ross has suggested any government Ministers who criticised the enforcement of the laws were 'unfit for office'

    Transport Minister Shane Ross is today responding to intense criticism from some rural TDs over tougher new drink drive laws.

    In particular some have raised the issue of an increase in the number of driver breathalyser tests being carried out in the morning across the country.

    Over the New Year period 43 people were arrested between the hours of 9 am and noon on suspicion of drink driving, out of a total of 445 people.

    Writing in today's Sunday Independent, Minister Ross slammed TDs who criticised the new drink driving laws, referring to the lunatic fringe in Leinster House.

    He also told the paper that any government Minister's who criticised the enforcement of the laws were unfit for office.