Restoration of dome of Four Courts has cost over €4 million so far and is not expected to be completed until early 2022

A project to restore the iconic dome of the Four Courts has cost more than €4 million after unforeseen complications in the project.

The project to restore the dome began in January 2015 but is not now expected to be completed until at least early 2022, according to the Office of Public Works.

After scaffolding was put in place, the OPW inspected the capitals [the decorative top part of each column] that supported the dome structure and found they were severely decayed.

As well as damage to the edges, examinations found that the “load-bearing core” of the supports had also deteriorated significantly over the course of the decades.

A copy of a report on a surge in anti-social behaviour in an inner city area of Dublin that included racist attacks

This is a report looking at the root causes of a summer of anti-social behaviour in the Dublin community of Inchicore in 2018.

Racist attacks, assaults and robbery of cyclists and pedestrians along the canal, shoplifting, and vandalism were all being reported.

The report set out to identify the number of adolescents and children involved in the anti-social activity, their family circumstances, and what was being done to engage with them.

This record was kindly provided to Right to Know by Ashley Glover and is made available here in the public interest.

Many of the issues raised in the report persist in this, and other, deprived areas of Dublin.

A breakdown of €2.5 million in costs incurred by the IBRC Commission including legal fees of €1.7 million, hotel stays, flights, and other bills

A five-star hotel bill in Jerusalem, and an air ticket from Thailand to Dublin for a banking expert were among the costs incurred by the IBRC Commission over the past year and a half.

The inquiry, which has been operating for five years, was originally expected to cost around €4 million but the final bill is likely to be at least ten times that.

A breakdown of expenditure by the Commission details more than €2.5 million of those costs, including hotels, flights, and over €1.7 million in legal bills.

Separately, staff costs for the inquiry for the period January 2019 to June 2020 were €453,959, according to details released to Right to Know under FOI.

Department of Finance believed organised campaign on pandemic wage subsidy scheme would “undermine” them in run-up to Budget

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was forced into a u-turn over rules on a pandemic wage subsidy scheme after being warned an orchestrated campaign was likely to “undermine” him in the run-up to the budget.

One of the country’s most senior civil servants admitted backing down on changes to the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme would be a “bad signal” but that the department would eventually be forced to “give in”.

The Department of Finance was particularly worried it would end up the subject of publicity that would “undermine him [Minister Donohoe] in the run into the Budget”.

The minister had been the subject of a campaign from TDs and business interests over the exclusion of so-called ‘proprietary directors’ from the terms of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).

You can read the full set of documents below:

Irish Freedom Party pays back €101 donation they say was “mischievous” and intended to force an investigation

The Irish Freedom Party was forced to pay back a €101 donation but they claim the contribution was made deliberately to force an investigation under electoral laws.

Party treasurer Michael Leahy said they had asked for the money to be given to charity and that they still don’t know exactly who made the “mischievous” donation.

The saga began in May 2019 when the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) made contact with the party saying they were investigating a payment the party had received.

“The Commission has been made aware that a donation of more than €100 has recently been made to the Irexit Freedom Party,” said an email, released under FOI.

In response, party director of finance Michael Leahy said they had received five donations that exceeded €100 but that none “constitute a prohibited donation”.

In a later email exchange, Mr Leahy said they had received one specific donation of €101.

He wrote: “I assume this donation was sent mischievously and I assume it was notified to you by the parties who sent it to us with a view to putting us in a situation where we would have a legal requirement to register as a third party.”

Tusla expresses concern over bringing itself into compliance with recommendations after being fined €115,000 for a series of data breaches

Child and family agency Tusla expressed serious concerns over whether it would be able to bring itself into line with recommendations from the Data Protection Commissioner following a series of serious data breaches.

The agency was levied with a €75,000 fine in May this year after personal details of three vulnerable children were disclosed to unauthorised parties, including in one case to an alleged abuser.

Internal records show how the organisation was struggling to deal with data protection issues and their chief executive Bernard Gloster warned the Tusla board they would struggle to achieve compliance.

In a note to the board, Mr Gloster wrote: “While a task force across the organisation has been established to pursue the implementation agenda, I remain concerned at capacity and ability in respect of achievement.”

You can read the documents in full here:

A database of anti-social behaviour, accidents, assaults, and near-misses on Irish Rail services in the first half of the year

More than 500 incidents of anti-social behaviour or assaults on staff or passengers have been reported by Irish Rail this year.

Another 62 incidents involving accidents where passengers were hurt, after falling onto platforms or getting hit by dislodged luggage, were also reported.

There were also 12 near misses with trains narrowly avoiding trespassers on tracks recorded by Irish Rail on a central log it keeps of incidents of concern, which has been released under FOI.

Nine assaults were recorded including a mass brawl at Drogheda station which left “quite a bit of blood”, and an attack on a state employee who got rammed by a bicycle.

The fight at Drogheda in January involved around a dozen people fighting in the station with gardaí arriving too late to arrest those involved, who had fled by train or towards the town.

You can read the records in full for yourself below:

A datadump of tens of millions of euro in expenditure on personal protective equipment and Aer Lingus PPE flights

These are two recent FOIs giving a detailed breakdown of expenditure on personal protective equipment during the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first set of records was obtained by Ashley Glover and shared with Right to Know. We are making it available here in the public interest.

The second record was released to journalist Gordon Deegan, and Right to Know sought a copy of it.

If you ever do read an FOI story that interests you … you can always get in touch with the public body involved and ask for a “re-release” of the records that underpinned it.

This is usually pretty straightforward. Anyway, here are the documents.

CervicalCheck: Submissions from the Supreme Court case involving campaigner Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul

These are the submissions from the Supreme Court case involving the late Ruth Morrissey and her husband.

In July, Chief Justice Frank Clarke extended his “deepest sympathy” to the family as the judgment was published.

Right to Know is hoping to publish submissions from other important Supreme Court cases in the coming months.

With thanks to the Courts Service for providing the records:

Records on the management of the Covid-19 outbreak at a controversial direct provision centre in Co Kerry

These are 200+ pages of records on how Covid-19 infection was dealt with at the Skellig Star direct provision centre in Cahersiveen.

The records have been provided to Right to Know by the group Solidarity with Skellig Star Hotel Residents.

They detail how one doctor described the accommodation as “totally unsuitable” for residents who were trying to self-isolate.

Dr Anne Sheahan wrote: “I am concerned that this location is totally unsuitable to accommodate these residents for the next fourteen days while they try to self-isolate – no place to exercise or get fresh air and if they need to go out they cannot practice social distancing.

“From a public health perspective, I would urge you to consider seeking alternative accommodation for residents immediately.”

The records are in two separate files below: