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Irish Water, PPSNs and the missing Minister’s agreement

Water Leak

When challenged on how it has the right to ask for people’s PPS numbers, Irish Water has said that it is a specified body under statute. This is a reference to Section 20 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2014. This section did add Irish Water to the list of specified bodies set out in Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. S 262(4) and Sec 262(6) of the same Act are the ones which control what a specified body may […]


The National Risk Assessment for 2014

Suburbs in Texas

The Taoiseach has published the Draft National Risk Assessment for 2014. The good news is that, by implication, there will be another in 2015 and that it is open for public comments until the 30th June. The bad news is that, in briefly harking back to the past, it fails to correctly describe what really happened. Then there’s the tone; the authors never question the possibility that they are not competent to write the Assessment. Presumably, they followed the nostrum […]


Legal Education

Four Courts with moon and snow

When Eoin O’Dell was free to publish his blog “cearta”, one of his perennial topics was that of legal education. He was notable for this; he was writing in a desert. There is probably no perfect or ideal education for a lawyer. In fact, we may need more than one type of person to deliver legal services to the nation and that implies more than one type of education. There is a strong case for having the lawyer-to-be well grounded in […]


Medical Negligence and “Doctor X”

In January 2008 we reported the publication of a book by an anonymous Irish doctor, detailing the failings of the Irish hospital system. See a report HERE. The doctor was running a website and was featured speaking on national radio. The website is now not to be found and the book is not readily available. Medical errors happen everywhere; they are not unique to Ireland. In the USA and the UK, the responsible authorities collect statistics to find out why […]


News, fit to print?

It is easy to become tired. Tired of bad, inadequate newspapers advising us how to choose and buy from a range of corkscrews, or baby buggies, or, inevitably, houses. Then we get quality information, if we search for it, HERE Timothy Snyder, the source of the information, is the author of “Bloodlands”, a history of the part of Europe that lies between Germany and Russia. Of the Ukraine he writes: “The country, Ukraine, was in effect an oligarchy, where much […]


Smoke and Mirrors

The Minister for Health is planning to restrict the advertising of cigarettes. There are good reasons to think he is not moving fast enough. Read this letter of September last from the Association of Attorney Generals (of the USA) asking the Food and Drug Administration to control the promotion of e-cigarettes. This is reminiscent of the great tobacco litigation of the USA beautifully represented by the Statement of Claim of the Minnesota Attorney General. See the documents in that case […]


Irish Water; tears ahead?

I think “public procurement” is the ruling idea currently in the Irish Water revelations. The company is changing the description of the subject of the contracts which it first said were “consultancy” contracts. Now, it says they are “provision of services” contracts. In either event, those contracts are, clearly, of great value and easily qualify for mandatory use of public procurement procedures. It is illegal to award contracts without using the proper and appropriate public procurement procedures. The Department of […]



The title means “Health Service Executive Clinical Trial Indemnity Form”. In Ireland a clinical trial (which covers the testing of proposed pharmaceutical products) must be approved by an Ethics committee (of a hospital, say) and the Irish Medicines Board. Because of the legal complications of supplying products on which, effectively, no assurances of safety can (or will) be given, it is standard practice for “the Hospital”, “the Authority”, “the Investigator” and “the Sponsor” to sign a Health Service Executive Clinical […]


Irish Foreign Policy

It would be really nice and reassuring if we could know what Ireland’s foreign policy is on some important matters. Recently, I heard the minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on the radio; he asserted he was working very long hours and working hard. He said it was a privilege. I was immediately concerned. The assessment of his work is not his to make; it is ours. He should, instead have reported on the issues, not on his workload. With […]



This office will be attending the BT Young Scientist of the Year exhibition in the RDS. I can remember seeing the work of one of the early winners; he had constructed a (working) model of the human digestive system, in glass and chemicals. I was incompetent to judge the work because there was in those days a bias against biology. Biology was not real science. Consequently, I cannot say if the model had a colon or not. I believe it did […]