A fake Irish Covid-19 poster spread rapidly around the world as far afield as New Zealand and South Africa while also appearing on bus shelters and in toilets around Dublin.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) had been in receipt of queries from international media and members of the public from around the world asking about the poster, which falsely claimed there was a risk of “sudden death” from taking a Covid-19 vaccine.
Internal emails detail how the HPRA said it was “almost impossible to prevent this type of thing” and that it had been flagged with Twitter and Facebook, where it was circulating widely.
Right To Know sought copies of contracts between Cork City Council and any companies charged with maintenance or caretaking of traveller accommodation.
One notable company was Four Seasons Promotions Limited trading as “Animal Collection Services” (ACS), which is a curious name for a company providing maintenance and security company at Traveller accommodations sites.
Our specific request sought:
1. Any and all contracts between the council and contracted companies/individuals for the provision of general maintenance repairs & caretaking works at Traveller Specific Accommodation in the period 2016 to 2021 inclusive, for all sites for which the council has contracted those works out via Tender award or otherwise.
2. Any other contracts (security or other) between the council and third parties in relation to Traveller halting sites in the city for the period 2016 to 2021 inclusive.
3. A copy or breakdown of any and all invoices/payments made to those companies/individuals under any contracts for the years 2021, 2020 and 2019 inclusive.
Payments were broken down by year, but specifics of invoices were refused:
Payments 2019 – €174,949.05
Payments 2020 – €139,188.19
Payments 2021 – €202,768.36
Cork City Council has encountered serious criticism for its relationship with the Traveller community in recent years, in particular in relation to the Ombudsman report into Spring Lane Halting Site.
The contracts with different providers, and their obligations under those contracts are detailed here:
The IDA flagged concerns that data centres were being “scapegoated” for a crisis in electricity supply that had led to warnings of power blackouts.
An internal briefing note based on international investor feedback said data centres were being portrayed as the “culprit for current electricity problems” when supply issues were “clearly” the cause of the problem.
In other internal records, the IDA explained how an electricity supply crunch had been expected in Ireland, but not until around 2026, and that supply issues were already “impacting on investment decisions”.
The Defence Forces lost or wrote off as damaged beyond repair more than €46,000 worth of equipment over the space of two years.
Among the items that went missing in action or were damaged so badly they could no longer be used were body armour, a night vision device, GPS devices, and even badminton racquets.
The Defence Forces had originally released only a partial list of the items with close to half of the entries redacted on security grounds.
They had claimed release of details relating to some lost or damaged items “could be used by criminal elements, paramilitaries, or other state and non-state actors to counter a specific operational capability the Defences Forces uses at home and/or overseas”.
In an internal review decision, they said there was a risk of “serious harm, or indeed loss of life” and that the chance of this happening – while unlikely – could “potentially be catastrophic” to the Defence Forces, its personnel, and even the state. That decision was subsequently appealed to the Information Commissioner, at which point the Defence Forces opted to release the list in full.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was advised to highlight the “wisdom” of imposing a salary cap on a controversial tax relief scheme even though the cap had been lifted just a few years before by his predecessor Michael Noonan.
Mr Donohoe had announced a €1 million cap for the Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) in 2018, a controversial scheme that provides generous tax benefits for multinational staff moving to Ireland.
However, a cap was simply being reintroduced having been abolished by Mr Donohoe’s party colleague, the then Finance Minister Michael Noonan in 2015.
Its removal had led to “significant unanticipated costs” for the taxpayer and the use of the scheme by executives on multi-million salaries for aggressive “advance tax planning”.
A briefing for Minister Paschal Donohoe last summer on the latest data from the Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) said the reintroduction of a cap had led to a significant improvement in how much it cost to support jobs under the scheme.
It said there had been a decrease in the cost for each job supported by the scheme to €44,000 in the latest annual figures, compared to €73,000 the year before.
In a briefing for the minister, department officials said the scheme was likely to be the subject of commentary from opposition politicians.
The submission said: “In such an event, the point can be made that the data in the Revenue report serves to reinforce the wisdom of the decision to impose the salary cap in Finance Bill 2018.”
Government ministers and politicians from the three main political parties were among those reported to have breached public-health guidelines in Leinster House and the Convention Centre.
In one incident, a minister was dismissive of the compliance staff who had asked a large group of TDs to keep their distance.
A log of the complaint said: “I approached Minister [redacted] regarding this who pointed at her colleagues and told me jokingly it was them I needed to police.
“I told her that we were only two people and that we needed their help in managing this.”
That complaint detailed how there had been a significant group of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael ministers, along with backbenchers, gathered too closely together in the Convention Centre on 7 October 2020.
An email said: “In total, we visited this area over eight times in the half hour, with at least four verbal interactions asking them to separate.
“It was clear in some cases, those seated had moved their tables and chairs out of line to be closer to each other. This was evident between Minister [redacted] and Minister [redacted] although we couldn’t be certain which of them had done the moving.”
In another reported incident, a member of Sinn Féin was part a group of TDs who were told to leave greater distance between each other on an escalator in the Convention Centre.
According to an Oireachtas log from October 13 last year, the Sinn Féin member was alleged to have said: “Sure what difference does it make. We haven’t got it.”
They then added: “We’ve all had it at this stage. It’s been here since Christmas.”
The Information Commissioner has ruled however, that the identities of the politicians should not be disclosed.
In a decision, they said that the right to know of the public did not outweigh the right to privacy of the elected representatives involved.
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Tax income from cigarettes and tobacco had remained steady no matter how often the price increased in the budget, according to Department of Finance records.
A submission prepared for Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe also suggested a decline in airline travel had led to an increased tax haul from tobacco sales throughout this year.
It said that a 50-cent increase on the price of a pack of cigarettes had now been implemented six years in a row, with Minister Donohoe opting for yet another price hike in October’s budget.
The submission said tobacco excise receipts had been €1.2 billion last year and were forecast to rise to €1.262 billion for the entirety of 2021.
“This suggests a continuation of a longer-term trend of tobacco excise receipts remaining stable at around €1.1 billion per annum, with the effect of rate increases balanced out by the effect of volume reductions,” it said.
The submission also speculated that revenue from cigarette taxes had risen because of the pandemic due to lower levels of airline travel.
Normally, up to 10% of cigarettes consumed each year are brought in from EU member states that have much lower taxes and prices.
Also available in this upload are discussion on tobacco duties, and submissions on alcohol and carbon taxes.