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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019

Government buildings are flying their flags at half mast as a nation mourns

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

Yesterday’s tragedy in California means that politics takes a back seat this week. Flags are flying at half mast on government buildings today and the loss of so many Irish young lives in Berkeley is being mourned across the country. The government says it stands ready to provide any assistance necessary to affected families.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan was quick to relay as much information as he had to the media yesterday. In California, the Irish diplomatic mission, led by former Department of Foreign Affairs press officer Philip Grant, has been on the ground assisting traumatised survivors and friends and it will welcome bereaved families to the States in the coming hours.

The possibility of a minister heading to the US has not been ruled out nor has the idea that the government may send a plane to repatriate victims’ remains.

As he often does, the Taoiseach, who received news of the tragedy via text during yesterday’s cabinet meeting, summed up the mood of a nation:

It is truly terrible to have such a serious and sad incident take place at the beginning of a summer of adventure and opportunity for so many young people on J1 visas in the United States…

Source: Video

The agenda

  • 9.30am: Paschal Donohoe is taking questions on transport issues in the Dáil.
  • 9.30am: The banking inquiry hears from two former secretaries general of the Department of Finance. Tom Considine is in at 9.30am with David Doyle, who was the top civil servant on the night of the guarantee, up at 2.45pm.
  • 12pm: Enda Kenny goes head-to-head with his opposition counterparts at Leaders’ Questions. 
  • 1pm: The Gender Recognition Bill is before a select committee on social protection. 
  • 3pm: Senators will make statements on tackling obesity in Ireland.
  • 4pm: The petitions committee’s investigation into US military and CIA use of Shannon airport and Irish airspace continues with Charlie Flanagan due before TDs and Senators, although events in California may change this. 
  • Michael D Higgins is meeting his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella in Rome today. The President is on an official three-day visit to Italy and attended Expo 2015 in Milan yesterday. 

Inside Leinster House

We hear rumours that the mooted new party involving TDs Stephen Donnelly, Catherine Murphy, Róisín Shortall and senator Katherine Zappone could be called the ‘Social Democrats’.
Government TDs are understandably sceptical about the whole enterprise. Several we spoke to yesterday questioned whether four strong personalities could work together. “Who’d be the leader among that lot?” one asked.
Scepticism from such sources is not surprising, but Renua’s lack of progress in the polls illustrates the uphill task any new party may have in convincing voters, as we wrote last week.

What the others are saying

  • Health Minsiter Leo Varadkar is looking for a major alternative to plans for universal health insurance put foward by his predecessor James Reilly, the Irish Times says. 
  • We enjoyed this interview with Lucinda Creighton about her food habits and the shade she throws at her husband, senator Paul Bradford. 

In case you missed it

Kenny Bruton Source: RTÉ

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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