Bed clothes stained with blood, syringes and drug paraphernalia scattered everywhere, and claims of bullying and assault were among the formal complaints lodged by residents of homeless accommodation.
A total of 68 formal complaints have been logged this year in the Dublin region including problems with a lack of social distancing, residents being locked out of their own rooms, and one person who claimed they were not let leave their centre to attend a work appointment.
There was an average of around six complaints flagged each month, according to records that were released by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive.
In one case in in May, a resident at one homeless provider said they could no longer stay there with bed linen “covered in blood” and a dirty wash area.
The following month, another homeless person said her mattress was stained and that she was being bullied by other residents.
An Excel sheet of the log available here and a PDF below.
The board of Nama said it was “disappointing” they wouldn’t be allowed to pay staff bonuses after the Minister for Finance warned against it.
The agency halted performance-related pay for last year after being told by Paschal Donohoe that running a compulsory redundancy programme at the same time as paying bonuses would not be a “good mix”.
Internal records detail how the board believed this was “disappointing particularly” at a time when they were struggling to keep key staff.
They believed the suspension of payments was a “major risk” to the organisation but that they could not afford to lose the support of the finance minister, according to private session board minutes that were released under FOI.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was warned that any plan to tax farmland which was zoned for housing development was likely to be “politically sensitive”.
Internal Department of Finance records describe how the Department of Housing wanted to exclude agricultural land – when it had been later rezoned for redevelopment or regeneration – from the government’s plan for a zoned land tax.
However, both the Revenue and Department of Finance had “significant reservations” about this and how it might exclude badly needed development land.
They said any attempt to exclude certain agricultural land from the plan could “undermine the whole proposal” in a submission prepared for Minister Paschal Donohoe.
More than 4,100 accidents and incidents have been logged on the country’s busiest motorway since the beginning of last year.
Animals on the road, hazardous chemicals, cars running out of fuel or going on fire were all among a total of 4,159 incidents recorded by Transport Infrastructure Ireland on Dublin’s ring road, the M50.
The figures show a remarkable decline in the number of incidents during the deepest lockdowns of the pandemic when significant volumes of cars were off the road.
In April 2020 during the very first lockdown, there were just 61 incidents logged compared to the average of 222 there has been in each month of this year so far.
The data shows an average of just over six incidents on the road every single day, ranging from minor crashes to serious multi-car collisions.
An Air Corps helicopter took off with one of its doors unlocked after members of the public began to take photos as a critically ill patient was being rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The crew had to ask onlookers to stop taking photographs with an advanced paramedic trying to position himself so that the patient’s head would not be visible.
As the helicopter took off again from the Phoenix Park in Dublin and while flying back to base at Baldonnel, the unlocked door fell off mid-air – luckily only hitting the roof of an unoccupied building.
Other investigation reports detail:
an aircraft that blew out a tyre on landing at Knock Airport.
an incident where a crew member reported hypoxia with his fingernails turning blue and difficulty breathing.
a plane that lined up to land on the wrong runway.
and a “conflict” between a garda helicopter and an aircraft coming in to land at Baldonnel.
Solicitors complained about a lack of privacy when speaking with clients in jail and that they could overhear conversations between other lawyers and their clients.
In discussions with the Irish Prison Service, lawyers also said they frequently made themselves available for video links only to be told their client was not available for a scheduled appointment with no explanation.
Internal records also detail how the prison service wrote to legal advisers asking if solicitors would trim their beards or facial hair before visiting as best practice for the wearing of protective masks.
Apologies in advance for the poor quality of the records … this is the way they were sent to us!
A TD told a member of the Oireachtas Covid-19 compliance team that he would “sooner go to jail” than wear a mask in Leinster House.
Concerns were also raised about a lack of social distancing among ministerial drivers, who would then drive cars on lengthy journeys with Cabinet members.
The details are contained in a new tranche of documents released by the Oireachtas detailing reported breaches of public health guidelines as well as aggression and bullying towards compliance staff in Leinster House and the Convention Centre.
Other concerns flagged include:
a TD who claimed to have secretly photographed members of staff to gather “evidence” they were not wearing masks.
another TD who was aggressive and told a compliance team member to leave a party room.
a member of political staff who “laughed” when asked to wear a mask.
difficulties with gardaí on duty at Leinster House and the Convention Centre.
how a member of the compliance team felt they had to “psych” themselves up to face each working day.
These records – and a previous set relating to similar breaches – are under appeal where we are seeking identification of the politicians involved.
The Department of Public Expenditure lambasted a proposed deal for a new headquarters for the Data Protection Commissioner saying the rent being sought was “exorbitant”.
The department said the planned €1.4 million-a-year deal did not represent value for money and that it seemed like it was the only suitable available premises that had actually been costed by the Office of Public Works [OPW].
They also raised concerns over the impact of the pandemic, the implications of “hot-desking” or remote working by staff, and the decline of the commercial property market.
Internal records also reveal the department were wary of “sensitivity” around the decision given the high-profile nature of the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) internationally.
An internal submission said: “There is a sensitivity attached to this proposal given the significant public, political and media interest and support attached to the DPC and a possibility of a public kick back from any negative, however valid, determination.”
The records explained how 150 staff of the data regulator were at the time spread across three locations in Portarlington, Co Laois and two separate offices in Dublin.
A business case for a combined headquarters had said it was important the DPC had its own offices, which were not shared with other government agencies.
It said: “Sharing a large office building with other tenants, some of whom could be regulated or be under investigation by the DPC could give rise to perceptions of insufficient independence.”
The business case said the Data Protection Commissioner needed to be regarded internationally as a “credible organisation” and providing an appropriate office was key to this.
The Department of Public Expenditure however said they had concerns about the use of “reputational image” as a factor in selecting a location.
They also flagged the estimated €4.3 million refurbishment costs involved at the Pembroke Row property and said that the “own door, central Dublin location selection criteria” was not accepted by them.
Their recommendation concluded by saying: “I consider that a further building search should be carried out and that this should not be restricted to an own door, central Dublin, reputational damage criteria, and cognisant of value for money and attainable staffing levels.”
However, it left the door open for the deal to be reconsidered if “significant savings” could be achieved in rental and refurbishment costs.
Relations between the department and the OPW became frayed after sanction for the deal was refused late last year with officials in the Office of Public Works said to be “clearly irritated”.
One internal email from January said: “They [OPW] advise that our decision has undermined their credibility in the market, that they cannot [and] will not renegotiate unless they can guarantee completion.”
Negotiations for the property then ceased but were later reactivated in early 2021 with the department later sanctioning an improved deal despite continuing “reservations”.
An internal submission said there was now an “improved case” for sanctioning the project and that additional value for money “while not significant” had been achieved.
Improved terms included an additional rent-free month and an “extraordinary rent review” that would take place on year two based on prevailing market conditions.
It said: “We have reservations with regard to the initial consideration of this proposal and the limited criteria applied in terms of an own door and the Central Dublin location and the potential to acquire a suitable property outside of Central Dublin.”
The submission explained how of 38 properties initially identified, only five of them were ever costed – with four of those ruled out for unavailability or unsuitability.
“This was not considered an extensive building search,” it said, “only one suitable building considered as part of the business case is not sufficient.”
Most of these records were only released following an internal review.