From top: Alan Kelly and Tony O’Brien this afternoon
Public Accounts Committee
Labour TD Alan Kelly, vice-chair of the Public Accounts Committee, raised a memo sent to HSE chief Tony O’Brien in 2016
Mr O’Brien said that while he learned about the Vicky Phelan case on RTÉ News, he said he was told in the briefing note that a communications process was about to begin to notify patients with cancer about an audit of their smear tests.
“I was aware that an audit was carried out which was good practice. I was aware of a detailed plan to communicate the results of that audit,” he said.
….Mr O’Brien told the committee that he will strive to get a copy of the memo to the PAC today before the meeting concludes…
Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and former Minister for Justice and current Tanaiste France Fitzgerald
Further to questions remaining over what former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the Department of Justice knew of the legal strategy which was employed against Sgt Maurice McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015…
Because, readers will recall, the legal strategy of the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan was outlined at the commission but later dropped after Sgt McCabe proved claims made by the legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan, and claims outlined in a five-page letter by the Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, were untrue…
And how nothing of this abandoned strategy was recorded in the commission’s final report…
And how the Secretary General of the Department of Justice Noel Waters announced he’s stepping down in February – within hours of the Dail hearing of reports of a phone call from Ms O’Sullivan’s office to Mr Waters on May 15, 2015 – the same day Sgt McCabe delivered his first blow to Ms O’Sullivan’s legal strategy…
Daniel McConnell, in the Irish Examiner, writes:
Dáil chairman, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail, is “considering” a fresh complaint from Labour TD Alan Kelly over information he sought over the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
Mr Ó Fearghail yesterday received new correspondence from Mr Kelly and he is now taking the matter under consideration for adjudication, a spokeswoman for the Oireachtas said.
It centred on questions put to the Department of Justice, by Labour TD Alan Kelly, in relation to what knowledge, if any, the department had about the legal strategy employed by An Garda Siochana at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015.
Readers will recall how at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation – which was set up to examine complaints of Garda malpractice made by Sgt McCabe – legal counsel for former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said it would argue that Sgt McCabe made his complaints because of a grudge and that evidence of this would be based on a particular meeting Sgt McCabe had with two other gardai.
This line of argument was dropped after Sgt McCabe produced a recording of the meeting which proved this was untrue.
Mr Kelly has written to the Department of Justice asking what knowledge the former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald had of this legal strategy.
He’s also written to the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the now Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about the same.
He’s now calling for Mr Varadkar to make a public statement on the matter.
He also said he believes that, if the Department of Justice was aware, then the terms of reference for the Disclosures Tribunal – which is being overseen by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton and is examining allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe – need to be widened to include the department.
Further to this…
Mr Kelly spoke to Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio One this morning in which he reiterated his questions.
From the interview…
Sean O’Rourke: “You lay particular emphasis on contacts between the Commissioner’s office and the office of the Secretary General of the Department of Justice on the 15th of May 2015. Why is that date important?”
Alan Kelly: “It’s very important because this is the day that everything changed in relation to O’Higgins and that Maurice McCabe became aware of a different strategy as regards the Commissioner and their legal strategy to him. And, in relation to the whole aspect of whether he had had motives, different motives…”
O’Rourke: “Yeah, a grudge.”
Kelly: “An agenda or had a grudge in relation certain aspects of the gardai and that’s why he acted in the way in which he did. It was proven to be false…”
Kelly: “If they [Department of Justice] come out and say ‘no, they weren’t aware in any way, shape or form, this dies. Because it’s effectively saying look no they weren’t privy to anything. The issue is this: in the questions and answers that I’ve got back from Minister Flanagan, he doesn’t deny that there were meetings. He doesn’t deny that there was something going on.”
Readers may wish to note that, although it hasn’t been mentioned on RTE, Broadsheet previously reported how, at the outset of the O’Higgins Commission, the legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan argued that the reason for this so-called grudge was that Sgt McCabe wanted the directions made by the DPP in 2007 – in respect of a “dry humping” allegation made by the daughter, Ms D, of a guard previously disciplined by Sgt McCabe in 2006 – overturned.
But the DPP’s directions were categorically in Sgt McCabe’s favour.
And what the gardai didn’t know, going into the commission, was that Sgt McCabe had been fully briefed of the DPP’s directions back in 2007 when they were first issued.
These were the DPP’s directions:
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 1st March 2007 together with copy Garda investigation file.
I agree with you and the Guards, that the evidence does not warrant a prosecution. There was no admission. The incident as described by the injured party is vague. It appears that it was only when she was eleven/twelve that she decided that whatever occurred was sexual in nature.
Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault.
Further, the account given to her cousin [redacted] differs in a number of respects to that given to her parents and the Guards.
There is no basis for a prosecution.
And the date Sgt McCabe informed the O’Higgins Commission that he was fully aware of the DPP’s directions, knew they were strongly in his favour and, therefore, had no desire for them to be overturned?
May 15, 2015.
(Readers should note the ‘humping’ allegation mentioned above was revived in 2013 when Ms D went to a counsellor and the counsellor sent a botched referral outlining a much more serious allegation of rape to Tusla.
This botched referral would eventually reach Ms O’Sullivan’s office in May 2014 and the false allegation against Sgt McCabe remained on file in the Commissioner’s office until the Disclosures Tribunal began earlier this year).
Combustible Tippperary TD Alan Kelly sat down with Jason O’Toole of Hot Press magazine, on shelves from today.
How did that go?
On political mergers:
“I would like to see the Social Democrats, in particular, and the Labour Party coming together.There should be a natural coming together. They have many fine members. It’s hard to distinguish between Social Democrats and Labour. And there’s others: there’s Independents and people across other parties.
And really for the future of social democrats — which we all are — and the future of democratic socialists, really, there needs to be that coming together to forge a block not just in Leinster House but across the country.”
The 8th Amendment:
“I don’t tolerate the two phrases: pro-choice or the other extreme of pro-life. I’m in favour of getting rid of the Eighth Amendment and I’m in favour of legislating for the rights of women. A lot of these choices should be based on the relationship between a woman and her doctor, in consultation with her family.”
Marijuana for recreational purposes:
“Yeah, I think that’s something we could look at. But under certain conditions: because if you legalise it for medicinal purposes you’re opening a can of worms anyway. So, you might as well look at it in a broader sense. You’d have to look at volumes: what would be allowable and all that.”
“I’d love to be Taoiseach. If you’re going to answer that question: you should also put down what I really mean is that I’d love to maximise where the Labour Party gets to. That’s more important to me. I don’t want another headline: ‘Power is a Drug… It’s Suits Me!’ ‘Alan Kelly Wants To Be Taoiseach!’ For God’s sake!”
“This country is going to suffer as a result of the populist stance of people when it comes to water. Three quarters of people in Ireland were paying for water. And for one spin on the merry-go-round, Fine Gael abandoned all principle and got into bed with the most irresponsible politician in Ireland in Barry Cowen.”
The Dáil debated Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
During the debate, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty spoke about another Donegal Garda whistleblower Kieran Jackson, who is now retired.
Mr Doherty said:
“There are many reasons why Nóirín O’Sullivan should leave her position as Garda Commissioner and there are many Members in the House who have outlined those reasons. I support the motion, obviously, that Sinn Féin has tabled.
I will recall for the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, the case of a former garda in the Donegal division, with whom I have engaged over the past number of years and who has engaged with the Garda Commissioner over that period. In May 2001, a former garda in the Donegal division met two detective inspectors from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation in a hotel in County Monaghan. Accompanied by a witness, the detectives had invited the officer to meet them. During this exchange, the now retired garda disclosed to the interviewing detectives a number of very serious allegations against a former Garda superintendent, since retired, who was also stationed in Donegal. These allegations related to suspected tax evasion, social welfare fraud and persons being in possession of a fraudulent bank account into which thousands of pounds were being lodged regularly. This meeting in Monaghan lasted for over five and a half hours. As the meeting drew to a close, the detectives stated that they would be in contact again with the whistleblower shortly in order to take a written statement. However, this did not happen.
In September 2014, a solicitor acting on behalf of the whistleblower wrote to then acting Garda Commissioner, Noirín O’Sullivan, in which he divulged all of the allegations of criminal wrongdoing suspected of having been committed by the whistleblower’s former colleague. The letter also expressed his client’s alarm at the apparent lack of any follow-up having been carried out on the part of the investigating gardaí. A similar letter, dated 24 September 2014, was subsequently sent to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Fitzgerald, around which time the whistleblower himself contacted me to request that I bring the case to the Minister’s attention, which I did.
On 16 December 2015, the Minister replied to me in a letter in which she stated that inquiries were being made with the Garda Commissioner regarding the whistleblower’s complaint. A further letter, issued in May 2016, declared that inquiries into the claims were ongoing. Then, last September, the whistleblower finally received the news that he had long suspected. The Garda advised him that, following an extensive search of files and records held locally and at Monaghan Garda station, no record of his complaint or of any subsequent investigation could be found. The correspondence went on to say that inquiries made with the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation revealed that no investigation was ever carried out by personnel in respect of the whistleblower’s allegations.
The whistleblower to whom I refer is former Garda Kieran Jackson. His story leads us to one of two conclusions. First, either Kieran Jackson is lying – I have no reason to believe that he is and there are other former gardaí who will corroborate his story – and no meeting between him and the detectives ever took place. The other conclusion is that somebody in An Garda Síochána has gone out of his or her way to cover it up and to ensure that his claims never saw the light of day.
If the latter conclusion is the case, then questions need to be asked as to who took the decision? Kieran Jackson informs me that a failure to follow up or investigate a criminal incident is, in itself, a crime. Questions must be asked about who took the decision to not pursue his complaint. Why has Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan – who has known about this for over two and a half years – done nothing about it?
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Fitzgerald, and her Government say that they have full confidence in the Garda Commissioner. Try telling that to Garda whistleblowers across the State. Try telling that to Kieran Jackson who has had no response from the Commissioner in respect of the allegations he brought forward many years ago, and again in 2014, to the Garda Commissioner and to the Minister, with absolutely no action whatsoever taken.
We hear time and again, however, that the Tánaiste and the Commissioner embrace whistleblowers. The results are clear. There is only one course of action left for the Government, namely, to express no confidence in the Commissioner.”
Many distilleries and breweries, including micro-breweries, are tourist attractions and welcome visitors on guided tours. Under the Licencing Acts, however, unless the owners acquire a pub licence or an off-licence, it is not possible to sell those visitors the product that is made on the premises.
The purpose of this short Bill is to rectify that situation by permitting the sale by distilleries and breweries of their own product to tourists and other visitors. The Bill also covers the making of cider and perry.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Martin Hayden, chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, at the party’s think-in in Newbridge, Co Kildare this morning, and the audio of an interview Mr Kenny gave to KFM Kildare this morning
On Saturday, Pat Leahy, in the Irish Times, reported that the C&AG found that hundreds of millions may have been lost in the sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland property portfolio, Project Eagle, to US investment firm Cerebrus.
It was reported that this loss may have been due to what the C&AG found to be “shortcomings” and “irregularities” in the sale.
The C&AG report is due to be published on Wednesday.
The report about the C&AG study followed a BBC Northern Ireland Spotlight programme into Project Eagle broadcast last week, which followed an earlier Spotlight programme in March – both of which made serious allegations about the Project Eagle sale.
Readers may recall how, on June 1, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil:
“There has not been any allegation of wrongdoing against NAMA”.
“Nobody has presented me with evidence of wrongdoing by Nama”.
Further to this.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke to Shane Beatty, of KFM Kildare, this morning, ahead of the Fine Gael’s knees-up think-in starting today in Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge, Co Kildare.
The C&AG report into NAMA was discussed.
From the interview…
Enda Kenny: “If I find… if I find, and our colleguess in Government, find that there is a case to be examined well then I won’t be opposed to that.”
Shane Beatty: “But viewers of BBC’s Spotlight will say we’ve already seen a case that I think we need to have an inquiry, why do we have to wait until Thursday?”
Enda Kenny: “There are two criminal investigations going on in a different jurisdiction.”
Shane Beatty: “None here.”
Enda Kenny: “None here, and the National Crime Agency in the UK have confirmed that there is no case that they have, or are in pursuit of, in repsect of NAMA down here. So, the C&AG’s report is about a ‘value for money’ audit and you, as was pointed out on many occasions… depending on the process you follow for valuations, you might get different results.
“If you, for instance, were to dispose of the properties now with the devaluation of Sterling you’d get a different result also. But I think this is an extensive report, we do need to read it, everybody needs to reflect on it. And if there are questions arising from the Public Accounts Committee’s engagment with NAMA, they are due in before them very shorty [September 22], I’m not adverse [sic] to taking action, but I need to know what is we are taking action on.
Shane Beatty: “Did you watch the Spotlight programme?”
Enda Kenny: “Yes I did, and I saw that, and I found it quiet incredible, but you know, Shane…”
Shane Beatty: “Incredible, how?”
Enda Kenny: “Nothing suprises me at the kind of activites that take place in politics. And in that sense I found it extraordinary to hear the audio report of engagements and meetings of certain personnel.”
Labour TD and vice chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Alan Kelly was interviewed on This Week by Colm Ó Mongáin following the reported findings of the C&AG report.
During the interview Mr Kelly said, in recent days, he was approached by a senior member of Nama ahead of Nama’s appearance before PAC on September 22.
From the interview…
Alan Kelly: The [C&AG] report on this should be released, and obviously then, Nama will come before the PAC. It’s a matter for Nama whether they want to make public statement on it, I believe they should, I believe they’ve been quite naive to a point in relation to this.
Even this week, a senior member of Nama contacted me to brief me before they met before the PAC. I redirected him to the chair of the PAC. I was not comfortable that selective briefings was the way to go to be appropriate given the situation we find ourselves in. But that just shows another level of naivety, I believe, in relation to Nama.
Colm Ó Mongáin: These briefings that were offered by Nama, how was that approach made and by whom?”
Kelly: “Ah well, I won’t, eh, get into individual, but, ah, just a call during the week to meet up. Look, I just explained the Public Accounts Committee is a different committee to every other committee, you know, it has different powers. And it wouldn’t be abnormal for other organisations to brief committee members of other committees but, in relation to this scenario, I think selective briefings wouldn’t be the way to go. And, obviously, I referred to the chairman in relation to this. But, for me, I didn’t think it was appropriately the way to deal with things.
Ó Mongáin:Is it your understanding that all members of the committee were offered these briefings?”
Kelly: “I have no idea, I was going to raise it with my committee colleagues when we meet. I doubt it, but I don’t know so I wouldn’t like to say indefinitely. But I will say this, I don’t think there was necessarily anything malicious or intentional in that way in relation to that contact… It’s another sense of naivety, I feel on the part of Nama in relation to how they do things. It gave me some concerns.”
Ó Mongáin: “Well, what did they want to tell you?”
Kelly: “Well that’s a matter for Nama. I understand that they’re in front of us in the coming weeks and I suppose they wanted to brief us on various different actions, but that would be a matter for Nama to state because obviously I don’t know because I didn’t meet them.”