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« Reacting to Rose | Main | Education cuts »
Monday
Mar182013

The latest from Pat Swords

Pat Swords writes with the latest news from his legal battle to have Irish energy policy declared illegal under the Aarhus Convention.

On Tuesday the case to be heard the next day (13th) went instead into adjournment until the 11th April. There are complex legal issues involved in the case, which I have not yet had the time to finish writing up, but they go beyond the renewable energy issues to the core principle of access to justice and 'who watches the watch keeper'. The lawyers on both sides have agreed to extra time to prepare additional written affidavits. In summary though, due to Ireland's failure to ratify the Convention, I could not have taken my case in the Court until after Ireland's ratification of the UNECE Convention took effect in September 2012. As it turned out, the ruling had by then come through from the UNECE Compliance Committee and I brought it before the High Court and got leave in early November 2012, within the recognised time frame applying post ratification.

The State's position is that the National Renewable Energy Action Plan was notified to the EU Commission on the 30th June 2010 and as it was not then taken into Judicial Review, they have full legitimacy to continue to implement. The detail is not straightforward; the State is doing everything it can to shut out the citizen from challenging it in the Courts; there is no democracy only diktat and they intent to keep it that way. On my side I'm bringing in a UN ruling, which the State is refusing to recognise, even though it both signed and then finally ratified the UNECE Convention. My 'defense' in relation to not being able to bring a Judicial review until after ratification is fully valid but unique, as such circumstances have never happened before. Potentially the case could in time be referred to the European Court, as it is the Judge is being requested to face down the State administration, create precedence and finally open the door for access to justice procedures, which have to date been denied to citizens here.

It is like Animal Farm, the pigs decide and all the animals have to toil building windmills. The only difference now is that the ideology behind it is Green not red and Napoleon's dogs are the lawyers of the State Solicitor's office.

Since your previous post, informing others on how the Secretary General of the European Commission replied to access to information on the environment requests with blank forms, we've had some progress, which as previously is very revealing. You can see the letter which went back to the EU attached, so there was a bit of a surprise when instead of the requested information, the below came back.

Regards

Pat

The EU's response was as follows:

I am referring to the access to documents case "Gestdem 2012/4179", which is presently being investigated by the Ombudsman office. Notwithstanding the outcome of the ombudsman inspection, we would like to propose a meeting with you to discuss this issue.

In this regard, we would like to propose a meeting with you either in the premises of DG ENER in Brussels or otherwise via a video conference, which would be facilitated by the Representation of the European Commission in Dublin. Furthermore, we would kindly ask you to indicate your availability for such a meeting.

In addition we would like to notify you, that the Ombudsman office is informed and welcomes our initiative to hold a meeting on this issue.

Finally we would like to inform you, that we have registered your "Reply to the confirmatory application for access to documents under Regulation (EC) N° 1049-2001 - GESTDEM 2012-4179 - CAULFIELD / Complaint to EU Commission (email dated 04.03.2013) as a new "Access to document" case.

Should you have further question, do not hesitate to contact us again.

Kind regards,


Marija Mrdeza

On Friday, there was some further action as Pat described in a followup email:

...the EU came back again on Friday, see below. Twice in two days essentially. So we have prepared a reply...

 

The EU's response was as follows:

I am referring to my email from 13 March 2013... which is presently being investigated by the ombudsman office..., where we inform you that your letter to the Secretariat General and DG ENER of 4 March 2013 (concerning the filled in questionnaires with regard to projects in question), has been registered as new "Access to document" request...

As your new request also refers to other topics apart [from] the filled in questionnaires, we would kindly ask you to specify all documents you are looking for concerning your new request for "Access to documents". We would also like to remind you that no reply by 21.032013 (cob) will be considered withdrawal of your new request... Please note, that we are currently discussing with all concerned project promoters, which parts of the project questionnaire can be disclosed.

As proposed in our last email, we would kindly ask you, if you agree to a meeting with the Commission and indicate your availability for a meeting either in the premises of DG ENER in Brussels or via a video conference, which would be facilitated by the Representation of the European Commission in Dublin.

Should you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact us again.

Kind regards,


Marija Mrdeza

And the reply sent back can be seen here.

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Reader Comments (14)

This is breathtaking - but Pat Swords' reply is equally breathtaking in its thoroughness and attention to detail. I really wish him well.

Mar 18, 2013 at 9:48 AM | Registered Commentermatthu

You have to have more persistence than the average person can summon (plus presumably a sizeable pocket) to take on this bureaucracy, with its infinite amount of resource (time, money and people). Hats off to Pat Swords; we owe him a great deal.

Mar 18, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Well done.

If only there was a simple way of demonstrating to the man in the street the utter contempt for the man in the street shown in these responses from the EU.

Truly shocking.

We really need a Erin Brokovitch* moment in this debate.

* Yes, I know she's not what the film made her out to be, but you know what I mean.

Mar 18, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Their disregard for the citizen is total. I am amazed they have bothered to reply at all.Until someone takes one person on in the EU administration and make that one person culpable. There will be no change.

Mar 18, 2013 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

We need an Island of Cyprus moment.When the People finally realize they are being ruled by thieves who steal from their own peoples bank accounts.

Mar 18, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Ordinary citizens don't understand how far beneath the respect of their "leaders" they are, until they try to engage one of them directly, one on one, to correct the "leader's" thinking on any point that is important to said citizen. It is the same INSTITUTIONAL dismissal of "outsiders" that has made peer review a totalitarian bulwark against scientific self-correction, for decades in some instances (like climate science) and for a century and a half in the worst case (undirected-evolution theory).

Mar 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

'....no reply by 21.032013 will be considered withdrawal of your new request...'
In an e-mail dated 15th March 2013..?
Not trying to 'time out' the reply, by any chance, would you say..?
All power to Joe Caulfield and Pat Swords - they are up there with the Climategate whistleblower..!

Mar 18, 2013 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Well done Pat!

The attitude of the EU officialdom is completely reprehensible, IMHO.
Public servant is obviously a misnomer.

The time for "plan b", when we put the pitchforks on order, is growing ever nearer - or perhaps we just wind up Farage!

Keep up the good work.

Mar 18, 2013 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

Pat, I take my hat off to you sir. Dealing with these people must be as frustrating as hell (and that is a vast understatement as my real feelings if written would no doubt be rightfully snipped). The sad part about all this is the ordinary citizen has no clue whatever that democracy died years ago.

Mar 18, 2013 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohnbuk

@Pat Swords

Thank you indeed for the quite dramatic update

But, as I know you are fully aware, when unaccountable bureaucrats offer an olive branch, it will be drenched in poison:

"Please note, that we are currently discussing with all concerned project promoters, which parts of the project questionnaire can be disclosed"

Just so. The parts that cannot be disclosed will be the parts we all most want to know, of course

Your clever persistence is absolutely remarkable. Your ancestors finally threw the Poms out, and you are well on the way to booting Brussels in its' backside, hard. Loss of sovereignty is not on

We follow with bated breath ... another 3 weeks. Please keep the updates going

Mar 18, 2013 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/debt-crisis-live/9939296/Cyprus-bailout-live.html

Even the EU might have realized they gone too far.The power to seize innocent peoples bank accounts

They created the Common Market or the EU so Europe wouldn't ever be ruled by Nazis and Commies
and now they have adopted their totalitarian approach.

Mar 19, 2013 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Thanks all for the encouragement. However, there are others out there as well slowly trying to bring accountability to the administrations we now have. The UK 'Edwards' case is very much in this vein, which is now drawing to its conclusion. On the 11th April, the same day I go into the Irish High Court, the European Court is to issue at 9am its judgement on what is 'not prohibitively expensive' in terms of a citizen's right to challenge an act or omission related to the national law on the Environment, i.e. EU or Member State law. See below for more details.

http://tinyurl.com/b4a3g9u

This is an absolutely crucial issue; who watches the watch keeper? An administration is not going to police itself, such as when the CRU in East Anglia had practices in relation to the quality of and access to environmental information, which were not fully compliant with what is required. No enforcement happened. However, what would be the situation if a citizen could take the enforcement action into a legal process, which was 'not prohibitively expensive'? Me thinks change would happen!!

So this is the key to the whole thing, not just on renewable energy. Until we have this access to justice, it will just be one long succession of abuses of the legal framework, which the administration turns a blind eye to, in order to suit its own objectives (and not what is in our best interests).

Mar 19, 2013 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

Good Work Pat Swords. Thank you.

Mar 20, 2013 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

Looking forward to the High Court on Thursday and wishing you the very best in this crucial and defining point in Irish and EU administration accountabilty. Good luck Pat

Apr 8, 2013 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom Galvin

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