Department of Defence declined cut-price offer to buy two “essentially new” transport aircraft for less than 40% of their purchase price

The Irish military were offered two aircraft that were “essentially new and unused” for less than 40% of the cost of a new plane.

The two C295 transport aircraft had been in service with the UN world food programme, were ready for delivery, and had seen “virtually no active service”.

The Department of Defence however, declined the offer saying that all procurement of goods and services had to follow EU rules.

In previously unreleased documents, it has emerged that the two aircraft were being offered at just 38% of their purchase price and were already configured for carrying personnel and freight transport.

These records were released following a successful appeal by Right to Know to the Information Commissioner.

You can read that decision here and view the documents themselves below:

Ryanair letters complain of “incompetence” of Dublin’s airport authority and requests for “wildly excessive” charges

Ryanair accused the Dublin Airport Authority (daa) of “incompetence” and having caused Ireland international embarrassment during the summer.

In correspondence with the aviation regulator, the low fare airlines said proposed hikes in airport charges were “unjustified” and that they weren’t confident daa could spend any increased budget effectively.

Ryanair also called for the airport authority to be hit with penalties over lengthy queues and said the increased charges they were seeking were “wildly excessive”.

In a letter to the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), Ryanair said the Dublin Airport Authority were now looking for what in real terms would be a 91% increase in the price cap.

It said: “DAA wants airport users to pay additional sums in airport charges for its own lack of foresight and resource planning.”

Ryanair accused the airport authority of being unprepared for the bounce-back in air travel this summer, which had resulted in chaotic queues.

The letter, which was sent in early July, said: “DAA’s ongoing security queue issues are exclusively down to poor management and must not be conflated with an incorrect perception that the price cap needs to increase in order to solve the security queue issues.”

Damage to “priceless” tomb, graffiti, and church windows shot at with an air rifle among vandalism incidents at national monuments over past year

More than sixty cases of damage to national monuments were reported over the past year with grave slabs broken, medieval churches graffitied, and an air rifle believed to have been shot through the windows of another historic site.

The Office of Public Works said wilful vandalism to sites was an ongoing problem with five separate cases at a single castle complex over the past twelve months.

They said fencing at Carlow Castle had been damaged on four separate occasions, while in another incident the lock and latch of a gate to its tower was broken off.

A megalithic cemetery at Carrowkeel in Sligo was defaced with chalk graffiti while somebody inscribed their initials on a lintel stone at the site.

Graffiti was sprayed on to the wall of both the historic Roscommon Abbey and St Mary’s Church in New Ross, Co Wexford.

At St Mary’s Church in Gowran, Co Kilkenny, a large chunk of stone was broken off the top of the Kealty Tomb, according to records released by the OPW, one of two such incidents there during the summer.

In Roscommon Castle, padlocks were cut off the gate and a stone removed from an opening with repairs later having to take place.

“Digging on site” was reported at Killarney High Cross in the summer of 2021 while masonry and structure damage was reported on a “very regular basis” at Raheen-a-Cluig on Bray Head in Co Wicklow.

Locks to two of the country’s most ancient sites at Loughcrew, Co Westmeath and Dowth, Co Meath were cut off with a “power grinder”.

Sharp rise in the number of parents summoned to court because of school truancy by their children

There has been a sharp rise in the number of parents or guardians being summoned to court for repeated absences of their child from school.

The number of summonses issued by Tusla dropped dramatically during the pandemic with home-schooling arrangements and restrictions around attending school with any symptoms of illness, frequently in place.

However, in the first eight months of this year, Tusla has issued 103 sets of proceedings against parents or guardians of children for truancy.

By the end of August, the child and family agency had initiated 66 cases involving primary school children and another 37 involving secondary students.

Nearly 45% of the cases related to just two counties – with 21 cases in Co Limerick and another 25 in Co Galway.

More than thirty gardaí suspended so far this year amid allegations including domestic violence, sexual misconduct, and the disclosure of sensitive information

Thirty-three members of the gardaí have been suspended this year for reasons including domestic violence, sexual misconduct, and disclosing information.

A total of fifty-five officers were also found in breach of garda discipline and were handed out €9,570 in fines, according to information released under FOI.

An Garda Síochána said six officers had been suspended due to allegations related to domestic violence while six more were suspended for “sexual misconduct”.

There were four suspensions for assault, another for what was described as “improper association”, and three for driving under the influence.

Gardaí said two officers had been suspended for theft, two more for fraud or extortion, and one for “inappropriate conduct”.

The force also revealed that one officer had been suspended for disclosing information and two others for discreditable conduct.

There was one suspension for inappropriate use of garda IT systems, and two for the falsification of statements during investigations.

Another officer was temporarily taken off the force for a drugs incident while one garda was suspended for road traffic offences.

More than €150,000 spent providing secretarial services to two ex-Taoisigh over the past twelve months

JUST over €150,000 has been spent in providing secretarial support to two former Taoisigh over the past year.

The Department of the Taoiseach has been paying around €12,700 each month for secretarial assistance for Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny.

All of the money was paid to a company called Tech Skills Resources Ltd, according to figures released under FOI by the department.

Bills for Bertie Ahern amounted to just under €70,000 while a further €83,000 was spent on secretarial support for Enda Kenny, the figures show.

Supports for the retired Taoisigh had been ended in 2012 by Mr Kenny – when he was head of government – in the aftermath of the Celtic Tiger crash.

However, they were restored by Leo Varadkar when he took office in 2017 with civil servants suggesting the annual cost could run to €300,000 per year.

Right to Know wins key case on access to environmental information from Data Protection Commission

Right to Know has won a case seeking access to records from the Data Protection Commission (DPC) over plans by Irish Water to charge for excessive water usage.

The case is a critical one because FOI effectively does not apply to the DPC, covering only records relating to general administration.

This means that everything relating to the investigations that the Data Protection Commission carries out is off limits for anybody trying to use Freedom of Information.

However, there is no such carve-out for the DPC from the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Regulations.

The DPC unsuccessfully argued that the information sought was not environmental and that even if it was, it was exempt under the regulations.

In his decision, the Commissioner for Environmental Information was critical of how the request was handled by the DPC.

He found the DPC was a public authority for the purposes of requests under the AIE Regulations and that the information we sought should be released.

They now have two months to either release the information or appeal the decision to the High Court.

Bullying, drug dealing, and attack with a knife among complaints made by residents of accommodation for asylum seekers

Residents of direct provision complained of being attacked with a knife, a manager entering their room without notice, and a roommate who was selling drugs.

The International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) said they had received 109 complaints in the first eight months of this year including the theft of personal belongings and being blocked from speaking with a doctor.

A log of complaints from the summer reveals how one person complained that their child’s father was not being allowed to visit his daughter at a centre in Dublin.

In the Midlands, one resident said they did not feel safe in their accommodation and that the “manager is entering his room”.

Another case at the same centre saw a person claim to have been “attacked with a knife” and unhappiness with how centre management dealt with the incident.

In Co Clare, a complaint was logged about a roommate who was “aggressive [and] selling drugs” with the person asking if they could be moved away from them.

Risk register for Data Protection Commission warns of funding challenges and difficulties in recruiting key staff

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) was warned of the risk of getting taken to court and how a “negative outcome” for them could damage their reputation and drain their resources.

The DPC also raised concerns over a potential failure to secure and retain funding for its work and the challenges posed by a rapid expansion in its staff numbers.

The commission – which has previously admitted to being “acutely strained” by data protection cases involving giant multinationals – identified eight separate challenges in its latest risk register.

The risk that scored most highly was difficulty in securing enough government funding and getting sanction for “key items of expenditure”.

Garda data protection officer warns of insufficient resources to carry out role as well as absence of training for staff

An internal audit warned gardaí were at high risk of data breaches involving sensitive information as well as complaints, fines, and sanctions because of a lack of trained staff and resources.

The audit said the data protection officer for the force had warned he did not have adequate resources to do his job and that no comprehensive training had been provided to employees of the wider organisation.

The review identified four areas of high risk for An Garda Síochána in how they handle sensitive personal information like criminal records, CCTV footage, and witness evidence.

It said the absence of up to date polices, procedures, and guidance on processing personal data increased the chances of serious data breaches.

A response from garda management said: “Colleagues in [Garda Internal Audit Service] rightly identify the risks the current policy gaps present to the organisation in respect of breaches, complaints, fines and sanctions.”

It said extra resources were needed to bolster their data protection unit especially around requests for multimedia – like CCTV – which were “complex and resource intensive” to deal with.