An Bord Bia records on the impact of Brexit on the food industry in late 2020 and early this year

This is a large upload of records from An Bord Bia covering issues for the food industry arising from Brexit.

There are multiple records in here and you can find them as follows:

  • Page 1: Brexit Update from 3 December 2020.
  • Page 84: Brexit Update from 10 December 2020.
  • Page 168: Brexit Update from 18 December 2020.
  • Page 173: Brexit Update from 22 December 2020.
  • Page 205: Internal Brexit Briefing Document from 8 January 2021.
  • Page 232: Internal Brexit Briefing Document from 15 January 2021.
  • Page 261: Internal Brexit Briefing Document from 22 January 2021.
  • Page 293: Internal Brexit Briefing Document from 29 January 2021.
  • Page 326: Internal Brexit Briefing Document from 5 February 2021.
  • Page 360: Internal Brexit Briefing Document from 12 February 2021.
  • Page 398: Internal Brexit Briefing Document from 19 February 2021.
  • Page 436: Internal Brexit Briefing Document from 26 February 2021.
  • Page 461: A log of issues raised by Irish exporters.
  • Page 469: CEO Report February 2021 (non Brexit material redacted)
  • Page 526: Driving Growth Post-Brexit – February version
  • Page 577: Driving Growth Post-Brexit – January version

Rotunda Hospital received less than half the funding requested last year for replacement of ageing and out of service equipment

The country’s busiest maternity hospital secured less than half the funding they sought last year for replacement of ageing, and sometimes failing equipment.

In some cases, equipment had reached end of its service life in 2014 and 2015 while some items were described as “technically obsolete”.

Other pieces of laboratory kit were said to be “causing lots of problems” while in other cases, management were warned they “cannot afford” for certain aging critical equipment to begin to fail or start creating issues.

A replacement programme list detailed €1.87 million worth of equipment that was in urgent need of replacement during 2020.

However, the hospital said the funding received from the HSE for the replacement programme last year had been €816,000.

A statement from the Rotunda said that there was traditionally a shortfall in funding and that they needed to “manage and mitigate this”.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin not to blame over repayment of €1,000 donation to Fianna Fáil amid confusion over party’s registration as a corporate donor

Fianna Fáil’s finance director told the Standards Commission (SIPO) that Taoiseach Micheal Martin was not to blame for wrongly accepting a €1,000 donation from his own party.

David Burke wrote to SIPO to say that Mr Martin had followed his advice at all times asking if this could be taken note of by the commission.

Records obtained under FOI reveal how Fianna Fáil told the Commission they had an “exemplary record” on compliance with electoral law over the past ten years.

However, they said they regretted the “unintended oversight” of having allowed the Taoiseach and Senator Malcolm Byrne to accept donations of €1,000 and €2,900 from the party which were not allowed.

Under electoral legislation, if a party wants to contribute to a member of their party, they are first supposed to register as a corporate donor.

However, two of the government parties – Fianna Fáil and the Green Party – did not do this and were subsequently asked to return donations that had been made to a number of members.

A data-dump of nearly €3 million in Department of Foreign Affairs spending on three consular refurbishment projects

The Department of Foreign Affairs spent nearly €3 million on three major refurbishment projects of Irish embassies and consulates.

The programme of work included spending of just over €800,000 at a new consulate in Mumbai, India, €1.3 million on the recently opened consulate in Vancouver, Canada, and €828,000 in expenditure at the Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand.

At the Wellington Embassy, €1,736 was spent on a designer handmade rug called a Teadra Round, according to a database of expenditure released under FOI.

Another €2,263 was paid out for what was described as “wool Donegal tweed” with €5,593 paid to a company for interior design and layout services.

The bulk of the €828,000 spent went to construction firms for the actual fit-out with €5,850 paid out in professional fees for logistical and technical support.

In the Vancouver consulate, just over €6,000 was spent on artwork including €1,790 paid for a triptych called Golden Reeds Winter by the artist and photographer Hugh MacConville.

Garda internal audit discloses payment of €270,000 VAT bill to Revenue and latest on controversial lease of OPW lands in Templemore

Gardaí have made a payment of nearly €270,000 to the Revenue Commissioners in settlement of a VAT bill for the restaurant and shop at their training college.

The payment was made as a “technical adjustment” according to a garda audit and without any penalties being applied.

Confusion had arisen over how goods sold at the restaurant and shop in Templemore should be charged for VAT, according to the report.

The audit also discusses the resolution of issues around the controversial lease of OPW land in Templemore by gardaí where rent was never passed on to the Office of Public Works.

Records on witness evidence, data protection concerns, and the evidence of the confidential committee of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission

The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) wrote repeatedly to the Mother and Baby Home Commission raising concerns about the handling of sensitive survivor testimony and delays in responding to queries.

The DPC also said they were “disappointed” that the Commission had not quickly responded to one of their letters and warned that failure to respond to their concerns could be a breach of their duty of cooperation under data regulations.

In response, the Mother and Baby Home Commission said they had been given insufficient time to deal with the queries and said issues were being “conflated” in the letters.

The DPC said answers to their concerns should have been “immediately to hand” and that the tight deadlines were necessary given the commission was going to be wound down at the end of February.

A letter said: “This of itself unfortunately raises issues about the Commission’s compliance with its GDPR obligations.”

Streams of urine, open drug dealing, threats and intimidation – letters to Dublin City Council from Portobello residents about anti-social behaviour

A city council shut down a popular plaza after local residents wrote to complain of “streams of urine” on their streets, people offering money to use their bathrooms, open drug dealing, along with threats and intimidation.

Dublin City Council faced a backlash after deciding to close down Portobello Plaza because of large crowds gathering in the area at weekends.

However, correspondence to the council reveals local residents wrote of “pure hell” living beside the canal harbour and one said they had been forced to sell their home.

The council also received a large number of representations from those opposed to the closure. You can read them all in full below:

Department of Defence sensitivities over installation of “defensive aid suites” in order for two new €110 million aircraft

The Department of Defence recommended spending over €15 million adding defensive equipment to a new aircraft order but were worried it might be seen as policy approval for use in “possible hostile scenarios”.

Internal memos – released by the department – reveal how there were high-level discussions over whether two new C295 aircraft should be fitted with a suite of equipment to protect it in the event of attack.

However, the Department were at pains to say this was not confirmation that the two maritime patrol aircraft might be used in “possible future deployments to conflict zones”.

The two airplanes are currently on order from Airbus Defence and Space manufacturing facilities in Spain with planned delivery dates of March and July 2023.

These submissions were released to Right to Know following an appeal to the Information Commissioner.

You can read the decision here; it makes some important points about public bodies over-reaching with exemptions for cabinet confidentiality.

A database of €3.69 million in expenditure by the Mother & Baby Home Commission over the course of two years

A restaurant bill of €123.75, spending of €36,946 on travel, and more than €140,000 in costs for excavation of a former home were among the costs run up by the Mother and Baby Home Commission over the past two years.

Legal costs of more than €380,000, as well as €263,000 in fees and expenses for commissioners and the inquiry’s confidential committee, were also incurred.

A detailed breakdown of more than €3.69 million in costs including staff salaries paid out during 2019 and 2020 also reveals a near half a million euro spend on consultancy projects and services.

A database of expenditure – released under FOI – provides the most detailed glimpse yet at costs involved in the controversial Commission, which has cost the state at least €13.5 million.

The Department of Children had originally refused to release the breakdown of costs. However, that was appealed to the Information Commissioner by transparency group Right to Know and the data was subsequently provided.

Behind the scenes of Department of Agriculture efforts to introduce rapid Covid-19 testing at meat processing plants

The Department of Agriculture spent more than four months trying to convince public health authorities of the merits of introducing rapid Covid-19 testing for workers at meat processing plants.

However, they were met with “negative sentiments” and a “continued unexplained reluctance” to endorse their plans to try and tackle outbreaks in the meat industry, according to internal records.

The Department had been involved in a pilot study of a factory last year, which found particularly high risks of infection in areas where meat was cut.

It discovered that 60 of the 100 workers who tested positive for Covid-19 had been working shifts in the boning hall where chilled air was being recirculated to keep conditions cool for food hygiene reasons.

As part of its recommendations, the report said the possibility of introducing rapid testing for meat processing plants should be considered.

Internal records reveal how the department began writing to the HSE as last September recommending “mass testing of the workforce in food businesses”.