A daring mission by Irish soldiers and sailors on the high seas, gardaí investigating suspected international drug smuggling from South America, and a haul of cocaine perhaps worth more than €100 million.
It is no surprise then that the work carried out by a joint taskforce comprising of the Naval Service, gardaí and the Revenue Customs Service – working with the Air Corps and the elite Army Ranger Wing (ARW) – dominates the news today.
Independent TD Cathal Berry, himself a former senior ARW officer, spoke of the elite group’s involvement in the mission – which saw soldiers “fast rope” from a helicopter on to the deck of a large vessel, the MV Matthew.
He told RTÉ's Morning Ireland: “Obviously it was a very kinetic operation but it’s well within the comfort zone of the Army Ranger Wing… they’re basically the Jedi Knights of the Army really.”
As Lally and Roche report on our story, the Panamanian-registered MV Matthew – was attempting to flee when the Naval Service’s LÉ William Butler Yeats and Air Corps helicopters closed in on it off the Co Cork coast on Tuesday.
Weapons systems on the LÉ William Butler Yeats were fired twice as warning shots to deter the crew from persisting with their attempted escape.
After the rangers, took control of the vessel, gardaí and customs officers were able to also go on board.
The Garda and Defence Forces were tracking the vessel on suspicion it was carrying cocaine and making deliveries of the drug to much smaller vessels at sea.
One of those smaller vessels was the Castlemore trawler, which ran aground on a sandbank about 12km off the coast of Blackwater, Co Wexford, late on Sunday night.
Two men – from the UK and eastern Europe – were eventually winched to safety from Coast Guard helicopter R117 in the early hours of Monday morning and on to the LÉ William Butler Yeats. They have since been arrested under anti-gangland legislation and were still in Garda custody in Co Wexford on Tuesday night.
Despite the successful operation there are concerns over Ireland’s ability to patrol its own waters.
Last month, The Irish Times reported that the Naval Service was left with just two ships to patrol Irish waters due to a manpower crisis.
In his analysis today, Lally outlines how Ireland’s lack of naval patrols makes it an appealing route for drug smugglers.
Jennifer Bray has the latest on budget preparations outlining how Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has warned there is a “risk” that overspending in the Department of Health could jeopardise Budget 2024 spending plans. Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman meanwhile has continued to dampen hopes that the full 25 per cent cut in childcare costs previously flagged by the Government will take place in the upcoming budget.
In her column, Miriam Lord dubs the childcare providers rallying at the Dáil on Wednesday as “Ordinary Decent Protesters” in contrast to last week’s chaos outside Leinster House.
Harry McGee reports on the autumn legislative programme and how two referendums will be needed to replace the constitutional provision on “women in the home”. The referendum was originally planned to be held in November but O’Gorman said at the weekend that the poll would take place in the new year. The new programme proposes two separate Bills to provide for two separate referendums to repeal article 41.2 of the Constitution and to give effect to the recommendation of a Citizens’ Assembly, which recommended the article should be repealed.
There is much happening in politics Stateside. Donald Trump and his family business were found liable for fraud on Tuesday by a New York judge in state attorney general Letitia James’s civil lawsuit accusing the former US president of illegally inflating his assets and net worth. The decision was issued by Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York state court in Manhattan. A trial is scheduled for October 2nd, and could last well into December.
Meanwhile, our US correspondent Martin Wall details how US president Joe Biden has become the first occupant of the White House in modern times to walk on a picket line with striking workers.
He joined General Motors workers who were on strike at a facility west of the city of Detroit and, speaking through a bullhorn, backed their claims for better pay and conditions. Just a day after Biden walked the picket line with striking workers, Trump is scheduled to speak in Michigan to current and former union members – in what is being dubbed in some media in the US as the “showdown in Motown”.
Dáil proceedings begin with questions on “Topical Issues” at 9.10am.
A People Before Profit-Solidarity motion on the Eviction Ban Bill 2022 will be debated from 9.58am.
Leaders’ Questions is at noon.
Government Business in the afternoon, from 2,50pm, and into the evening includes the second stage of the Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Agency Bill 2023 and the final stages of the Control of Exports Bill 2023.
The weekly Dáil votes are due to take place at 9pm.
Fianna Fáil Senators will put forward a motion on crime and policing in the Seanad at 2.30pm.
There will also be a motion from the Irish Women’s Parliamentary Caucus to deliver a rights-based care economy in Ireland debated in the Seanad from 5pm onwards.
It’s a busy day in committeeland.
Representatives of the Department of Health and HSE will be before the Committee on Health to update TDs and Senators on the implementation of the cross-party Sláintecare reforms from 9.45am.
There will be a discussion on “all aspects of read safety” with senior gardaí and the Road Safety Authority, among others at the Committee on Transport at 1.30pm.
Coimisiún na Meán, the Media Commission, will be before the Committee on Media, also at 1.30pm.
AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and the Banking and Payments Federation will be quizzed on general banking issues by the Committee on Finance, again from 1.40pm.
Minister for Finance Michael McGrath and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe will face pre-budget questions from the Committee on Budgetary Oversight at 5.30pm.