Further to the publication last week of An Garda Siochana’s internal inquiry into the number of breath tests that members carried out between 2009 and 2016.
And how they discovered there was more than 1.4millionfake breath tests recorded between 2009 and 2016…
The Garda Representative Association has released the following statement:
The GRA questions why Garda Management required data on the number of negative breath tests at a time when Garda resources were scarce or diminishing.
This data was utilised as a crude measure of productivity – and fed into a culture of competition among senior ranks to improve their promotion chances.
No one can categorically say that it was our members falsifying data – we have numerous examples of supervisors and managers having input into this system.
There was also little or no training and the recording process was obviously flawed. We have to ask who wanted this data recorded in the first place – and what does it purport to show?
Goodhart’s Law states that when a measure becomes a target – it ceases to become a good measure.
During the height of the recession when garda numbers had been significantly reduced, we were told by Garda Management figures – and propagated by Government – that crime figures were falling.
We blew the whistle and said that crime figures were being ‘massaged’ downwards – and we were vindicated by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and latterly the Central Statistics Office.
It is clear in the Report that Garda Management do not wish to be blamed for this debacle – but it is entirely of their own making.
Their obsession with data collection, for no clear and distinct purpose, while our members were issued with endless directives at a time of under-resourcing, no training, increased workloads and an unclear system of collation was a policy of failure.
Our members will not be scapegoated for ill-considered policies – and this should be the focus of political attention.
If the people of Ireland have been let down; then it is in the management and deployment of scant resources to appease the need for purposeless data by those in power.
And so the usual avalanche of meaningless, naïve and uninformed analysis is upon us in response to the latest scandal – the sacking of yet another Garda Commissioner.
Yes, she was sacked, there are many ways to sack a person without actually seeming to do so.
So for those who wish to bypass all the utter bullshit that will be spewed out over the coming weeks in response to this latest episode of police/political corruption – here’s the stripped down truth.
Our police force is an irredeemably corrupt organisation. It will never be reformed from the inside because to do so would mean having to retire, fire and prosecute hundreds if not thousands of police officers.
Real reform would also mean establishing a truly independent police force that would see the severing of the corrupt nexus between the force and the corrupt political system principally made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.
A politically independent police force would mean corrupt politicians would find themselves under regular investigation for their criminal activities.
A politically independent police force would see, for the first time in our history, bankers, property developers, members of the legal profession, civil servants, so-called regulators, judges and even police officers regularly facing justice before the courts.
A politically independent police force will never become a reality until the corrupt political system is first removed from power.
All other talk/analysis surrounding this issue should be treated for what it is – utter bullshit.
The inquiry into the fake breath tests discovered there was more than 1.4million fake breath tests recorded between 2009 and 2016.
Meanwhile, the Policing Authority has hired financial auditors Crowe Horwath to conduct its own independent investigation into the matters and that’s expected to be completed by September 25.
It’s been reported that Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan is due to appear before the Policing Authority three days later on September 28.
Conor Lally, in The Irish Times, reports:
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan released a statement yesterday about the Garda’s reports into inflated breath tests and the fixed-charge notice system. He said he was disturbed by the findings and expected the reports to be published later in the day.
But Garda Headquarters never had any intention of publishing the reports any time soon. It wanted to wait until consultants hired by the Policing Authority to examine the same issues had completed their work.
But the Garda has now been forced to go public with the reports because Mr Flanagan, in public, told Ms O’Sullivan she had to publish yesterday.
And if the Policing Authority’s consultants find anything nasty that the Garda reports overlook, it could be the end of the road for Ms O’Sullivan.
Darragh McDonagh, in The Times of Ireland, reports:
An Garda Síochána is set to spend up to €255,000 on a survey to find out what the public think of the organisation.
The policing authority is seeking a company to provide public survey services over 12 months. The contract is worth up to €255,000 excluding VAT, according to official tender documents.
The documents state that the survey plays an important role in the organisation: “The objective for An Garda Síochána is a top quality survey of public attitudes relating to awareness and effectiveness of garda publicity campaigns, and perceptions of crime at local and national level.”
The public will be asked their “views of the garda organisation and how it can be improved”…
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and other senior Garda staff at the Public Accounts Committee last month
In the Irish Examiner.
Daniel McConnell reports:
“In 2016, when allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe emerged, the spend by the force with the Communications Clinic, owned by Terry Prone, jumped from €10,400 to €92,995, according to figures obtained by the Irish Examiner.
Garda sources denied that the money primarily went on Ms O’Sullivan and senior officers, insisting it mainly went on training superintendents who deal with the media. However, senior officers who appear before Oireachtas committees do receive training in advance of hearings.
…The amount paid by the force to the Communications Clinic and Carr Communications between 2014 and now is €137,626. Just €4,620 of the total amount went to Carr Communications, the figures reveal.
So far in 2017, €28,851 has been paid to the Communications Clinic.
In response to a parliamentary question from Ms Murphy, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said his officials spent €27,313 with the Communications Clinic between 2014 and 2016.”
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke about the late Dara Quigley and her question was responded to by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
Mick Barry, of the Solidarity-People Before Profit party, also spoke about Dara and Fine Gael’s Minister of State for Mental Health Helen McEntee responded to him.
Mary Lou McDonald: “Tánaiste, yesterday, the Taoiseach indicated that you would be more than happy, in fact delighted, it seemed, to come before the House and make a statement on the matters surrounding Templemore and some of the issues that we touched on and Leaders’ Questions. You also indicated that you would be quite happy to take questions in that regard. So I want to know, when you propose to do that.
“And can I also say, Tánaiste, when you take to your feet on that occasion, I would like you also to shed some light on the case of Dara Quigley. A young woman who died by suicide on April 12. She had been detained by gardaí some days previously, under the Mental Health Act. She had been walking naked on a Dublin street when detained and Garda CCTV footage of this detention was posted on Facebook. A really deplorable and revolting turn of events and something that has brought great hardship to her family and clearly brought very, very great distress to Dara. So we mark her passing and when we talk about Garda culture and reform and accountability, I suppose this the rawest end, the sharpest end of deplorable, a deplorable culture of humiliation and disregard for human beings.”
“So, Tánaiste, I hope that you will, as the Taoiseach promised, come before the House, make your statement, take questions and I hope also that you might shed some light on the accountability that will be held for the life of Dara Quigley.”
Frances Fitzgerald: “Well, in relation to the individual case that you mention, deputy. Everybody would be totally disturbed and appalled by the story that has been reported in the media and actions are following on from that. As you know, that has been reported, there is an investigation and there is a GSOC inquiry but, just to say, of course our thoughts are with, are with that young woman’s family, given the appalling and very, very sad sequence of events. No doubt, the business committee can discuss the question of ministers appearing before the Dáil and, certainly, I want to make the point that, I don’t want to cut across in any way the work that the Public Accounts Committee is doing in relation to Templemore.”
Mick Barry: “There has been media comment on the circumstances leading up to the death of the journalist and blogger Dara Quigley. Very serious questions have been raised about the Garda Síochána and their treatment of the most vulnerable in society. I want to leave those questions for another day.”
“Today, I want to ask you a question on dual diagnosis. Dara suffered and struggled with both addiction and mental health problems. She received help from many agencies but what was available was not sufficient. A particular problem was the lack of dual diagnosis services for psychiatric and addiction problems are treated together in a professional and properly funded manner. My question to the Tánaiste: does she see a legislative pathway to addressing this problem?”
Helen McEntee: “Just to join you in offering my condolences to her family and to her friends. This is, you know, it’s an absolutely terrible situation and it’s deplorable what has happened consequently since. The issue of dual diagnosis is something that we haven’t dealt with in the past and we know that in a significant number of suicides, there is a link between drug or alcohol use as well. We’re currently developing a clinical programme on the issue of dual diagnosis.”
“We’ve appointed a national clinical lead who will be working to develop a programme which means that if somebody is suffering from either a drug or alcohol problem that is leading on to a mental health problem, that there will be a clear clinical pathway for our doctors and nurses within our acute hospitals but also in our primary care settings so there’s work well underway and we’d be hoping to continue that into the year.”
Niall Kelly, head of Internal Audit at An Garda Síochána
You may recall the near one million breath tests that gardaí recorded they took between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2016, but, in March, conceded they didn’t take.
Further to this.
Conor Lally, in The Irish Times, reports that the head of internal audit at An Garda Síochána, Niall Kelly, has contacted the Policing Authority about the Garda review of these figures.
Mr Lally reports:
Mr Kelly has pointed out that neither he nor his staff were involved in the review process. Because of that, and also because the formal rigours of an audit process were not followed, he has insisted the process cannot be called an audit.
Senior Garda management have referred to the process as an audit.
At a press conference when the scandal broke in March, Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey referred to it as an audit.
A paragraph Niall Kelly deleted from the final version of a report on the Garda College in 2011, recorded in the 2017 Interim Audit Report into Financial Procedures in the college
Readers may recall how, last week, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and other senior gardai attended a Public Accounts Committee meeting to discuss financial irregularities at the Garda College in Templemore.
Mr Kelly also attended PAC, during which it was discussed a matter mentioned in the Interim Audit Report into Financial Procedures in the Garda College which was given to PAC in March.
This matter was in relation to how, in 2011, he deleted a paragraph (above) from the final version of his Report to the Garda Commissioner in relation to Financial Controls in 2010 – after he was assured that the issues were addressed.
In PAC, Mr Kelly had the following exchange with Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane, in which Mr Kelly said he felt he had been “duped” and that he was caught in the “circling of wagons”.
Micheal Culhane, executive director of finance and services at An Garda Siochana, was also involved in the exchange.
David Cullinane: “Page 14 of the report refers to the Garda Commissioner and 2 March 2011 and contains a paragraph which says “no assurances were given”. That paragraph was removed and deleted and Mr. Kelly said this was because he was given assurances.”
Niall Kelly: “I was provided with a summarised report from Mr Culhane [Michael Culhane, executive director of finance and services at An Garda Siochana] and assurances that the issues were being dealt with.”
Cullinane: “Did Mr. Culhane give the assurances to Mr. Kelly?”
Michael Culhane: “I did not give them directly to Mr. Kelly. It went to the CAO showing the progress that had been made on some of the issues.”
Cullinane: “However, the assurances were given by Mr. Culhane. The CAO was the conduit but the assurances were given by Mr. Culhane.”
Culhane: “I did not give assurances. I gave an update on the report.”
Cullinane: “However, Mr. Kelly saw this as assurances because he said he deleted the paragraph because of assurances that were given.”
Kelly: “Yes. I had conversations with the audit committee.”
Cullinane: “Who gave Mr. Kelly the assurances he talked about?”
Kelly: “I got the report. I spoke to the CAO at the time. I spoke to the chairman of the audit committee at the time. It had gone to the Commissioner. The note had come back from the Commissioner, in the margins of the letter back from the Commissioner, that this report should be provided to me. I had highlighted my issues to the highest level in the organisation. Ultimately, my role is an advisory role.”
Cullinane: “Everyone is passing the buck.”
Kelly: “I am not passing the…”
Cullinane: “I do not say Mr. Kelly is here. He deleted a vital paragraph based on assurances that action was being taken. Who gave him those assurances?”
Kelly: “The CAO primarily.”
Cullinane: “Who did he get them from?”
Kelly: “From Mr. Culhane.”
Cullinane: “That is what I am trying to establish exactly. Mr. Kelly’s view now is that those assurances were not worth the paper they were written on. Would that be a fair...”
Kelly: “That would be true. I would also say that it was a mistake on my part to delete that paragraph.”
Cullinane: “Mr. Kelly is brave enough to accept that he made a mistake.”
Cullinane: “I commend him on that. Does he feel he was duped?”
Kelly: “I do.”
Cullinane: “Does he regret that he was duped in that way?”
Cullinane: “Who does he believe duped him? Perhaps he should name offices rather than individuals.”
Kelly: “I think that is an unfair question to ask. It could be a range of people.”
Vice Chairman Alan Kelly: “In the interest of fairness, does Mr. Kelly feel it was multiple people or one person?”
Kelly: “Reference was made to culture. There was a different culture at that stage. There was a culture of circling the wagons and I got caught trying to bang into the wagons.”
Cullinane: “Does Mr. Kelly agree that the culture of An Garda Síochána up to 2015 was to circle the wagons rather than to accept there was wrongdoing and correct it? Would that be his view as head of internal audit?”
Kelly:Speaking now, having gone through the past five years and writing this report, that is the only conclusion I can come to.”
Set up under Judge Nial Fennelly as a result of disturbing discoveries about the Garda investigation into the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, the commission took three years, nine barristers and 800 pages to come to its conclusions.
We asked ‘Legal Coffee Drinker’, what’s it all about.
Broadsheet: “Legal Coffee Drinker, what’s it all about?”
Legal Coffee Drinker: “It’s about two things. Firstly, the degree to which superior officers in the Gardai were aware of the surreptitious recording of non-999 calls in divisional Garda stations from 1985 onwards.
Secondly, the extent to which surviving recordings of such calls made to and from Bandon Garda station discloses misconduct by police officers in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier investigation.”
Broadsheet: “And what did the report conclude on this first issue?”
LCD: “It confirmed that the recording of non-999 calls had systematically taken place over decades without the knowledge or consent of parties to these calls. It confirmed that among the calls so included were calls between accused and their solicitors.
It confirmed that the Telecommunications Division in Garda HQ was aware that non-999 calls were being systematically recorded, having received at least one expression of concern about this from a member of the Gardai.
However it took the view that this knowledge was not shared by Garda hierarchy, who were entirely unaware that such recording was taking place. It also found that there was no evidence of any general practice of making use of the recordings, although it couldn’t rule out the fact that they might have been so used in specific cases.”
Broadsheet: “But… this wasn’t a practice confined to one particular Garda station?
LCD: “No, the practice of recording non-999 calls was routinely applicable to all divisional Garda stations, for many years, decades in fact.”
Broadsheet: “And Garda top brass didn’t know?”
LCD: “Previous Garda Commissioners gave evidence that they had believed recording was confined to 999 calls only. The Fennelly Commission accepted this and described the situation as ‘an extraordinary picture of almost complete ignorance’.”
Broadsheet: “Was there any attempt to query the assertions of the Garda Commissioners in this regard?”
LCD: “Where there is no documentation, and no member of the force who comes forward to give evidence of knowledge on the part of the Garda hierarchy, it can be difficult to challenge even unlikely assertions. The Commission did struggle a little to find an explanation for the complete ignorance. The suggestion was made to them that perhaps because the Garda hierarchy was based in Dublin, they were out of touch with what went on in country areas.”
Broadsheet: “The old Nuremberg defence (sucks teeth).”
Broadsheet: “What does the report tell us about the Sophie Toscan du Plantier investigation?”
LCD: “To understand this portion of the report, it’s helpful to start with a brief account of the case brought by Ian Bailey against the Gardai in relation to their conduct of this investigation.
He alleged mistreatment of himself and his partner Jules Thomas by a number of Gardai, including the late Detective Sergeant Liam Hogan, whom he alleged told him he would “be found dead in a ditch with a bullet in the back of your head”.
Also giving evidence for Bailey was Martin Graham, who accused Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald of having given him cannabis for information against Bailey. Another witness was Marie Farrell, who claimed that Fitzgerald and others had coerced or induced her into making a false statement identifying Bailey, knowing it to be false, and further coerced or induced her into making further complaints that she was being threatened by Bailey.”
Broadsheet: “Do all these people crop up in the Report?”
LCD: “They do. Hogan, Fitzgerald, Graham and Farrell are clearly identifiable in the Report as Sergeant Alpha, Garda Delta, Mrs A and Mr S respectively.
The calls transcribed in the report include a conversation between Garda Fitzgerald and another garda regarding an assault alleged to have been carried out by Marie Farrell’s husband, Chris, on another man, Mr C.
In this conversation, Garda Fitzgerald suggests the possibility of Chris Farrell making a counter-statement for assault against Mr C advance of Mr C making his complaint. The other Garda (described as Garda Epsilon in the Report) responds by saying:
“Sure we can always pre-date it if it comes to it”.
Detective Garda Fitzgerald says:
Towards the end of the same telephone conversation, in the course of discussing actions open to Mr and Mrs Farrell in the event that Mr C were to make a complaint, the following exchange takes place:
Garda Fitzgerald: “And you can always say that sure he drew a punch and missed as you drew back, you know what I mean. ”
Garda Epsilon: “Yeah.”
Garda Fitzgerald: “He’s a man of the world, he knows what to say and do. ”
Garda Epsilon: “Oh yeah.”
Garda Fitzgerald: “What?”
Garda Epsilon: “Oh, we’ll cover him alright.”
In evidence to the Commission, Garda Fitzgerald said that he was talking about an actual assault on Mr Farrell by Mr C which Mr Farrell had told him had happened. Garda Epsilon indicated that he was not aware of any such assault.
There’s another recording of a conversation between Fitzgerald and Marie Farrell discussing the possibility of a further complaint of assault against her husband Chris by a person who had previously acted as babysitter for their children.
In it, Garda Fitzgerald appears to suggest that Mr and Mrs Farrell could seek to dissuade the babysitter from making a complaint by threatening to make their own complaint that they previously assaulted one of the children of Mr and Mrs Farrell.”
The conversation goes as follows:
Garda Fitzgerald: “No, no, no, but fucking going to the guards, they will in their bollix, ha.”
Mrs Farrell: “Oh, I know she is all mouth.”
Garda Fitzgerald: “She’s only ha? Do you know, put it this way, Mrs Farrell, you could also say we will go to the guards. When you were babysitting that you assaulted [a named child]. Ha?”
Mrs Farrell: “Yeah.”
Garda Fitzgerald: :D’you know what I mean? Be easy for [the named child] to say — or, you know, that he got a belt. Ha?”
When asked about this discussion by the Commission, Garda Fitzgerald said that Mr and Mrs Farrell had previously alleged to him that the babysitter was slapping the children.
He said that he had made the remark about it being easy for [the named child] to say that he got a belt to overcome what he perceived as a general reluctance on the part of Mr and Mrs Farrell to make statements of complaint, by assuring them that it would be an easy matter for the child in question to make a statement if he or she wanted to do so.”
Broadsheet: “Hmm. Was that the only time Garda Fitzgerald came up in the Report?”
LCD: ” No. There’s another reference to a recorded conversation he had with Mr Martin Graham.”
Broadsheet; “The man who alleged he was given cannabis?”
LCD: “Yes. This conversation differs from the other recordings because it was recorded with the knowledge of Garda Fitzgerald. It took place in a car on a journey to Mr Graham’s home, and goes as follows:-
Garda Fitzgerald: “In case you go to pub tonight… I have a bit of money there you know, a little bit of stuff, you know, I’ve a bit – I’ve got a few smokes as well for you.”
Mr Graham: “Have you got some hash?”
Garda Fitzgerald: “I have cash, I’ve cash and I have something in a- and I have a few smokes here in the – you know, you said you were starved, were you.”
Garda Fitzgerald told the Commission that the reference to ‘stuff’ related to cigarettes and plug tobacco which he had purchased in a shop before they met Mr Graham at evening. He suggested that Mr Graham made the reference to ‘hash’ in order to entrap him.
The Commission also heard from the telecommunications technician who had recorded and transcribed the interview, voluntarily adding the words “Lighting a cigarette and laughing” into the transcript immediately after the reference to hash. The Commission felt that the technician had not been authorized to insert these words and they did not feel that Mr Graham was joking.
Broadsheet: “So what then did the Commission conclude about Garda Fitzgerald’s conduct?”
LCD: “It accepted there was a conflict of fact between Garda Fitzgerald and Garda Epsilon as to whether or not Mr C had previously assaulted Chris Farrell. However, it felt that the question of a fabrication of a complaint against Mr C did not ultimately arise because Garda Epsilon had been able to persuade Mr C not to pursue its assault complaint.
As regards the complaint made against the babysitter, it held that, although there were some ‘aspects of concern’, it was not possible to establish whether or not Ms Farrell had previously told Garda Fitzgerald about an alleged assault and therefore whether or not he had been suggesting the fabrication of evidence.
Finally, in relation to the hash issue, while rejecting the suggestion that Mr Graham was joking when he referred to hash, it found that Mr Graham’s request was not evidence that Garda Fitzgerald had expressly or impliedly offered to pay him for hash, in circumstances where the conversation with the reference to hash had been voluntarily recorded by Garda Fitzgerald.”
Broadsheet: “Anything about Sergeant Hogan?”
LCD: Yes. There was a transcript of a conversation between Sergeant Hogan and Garda Fitzgerald, regarding a statement made by one of their colleagues about Jules Thomas [partner of Ian Bailey’. In it, he had written:
“I knew she was making every effort to tell me the truth.”
Sergeant Hogan took issue with this portion of the statement, saying to Garda Fitzgerald:
“Fuck it, she wasn’t anyway…. Ah fuck it, it’s awful. When I see your friend then, like writing them stupid fucking statements, like I mean… what man…”
“Yes, that statement has to get fucking chopped up anyway.”
There was also another conversation between Sergeant Hogan and a further garda (described as Sergeant Beta in the Report) which discussed amending a written statement of a witness who had said that he remembered someone having told him that Mr Bailey was in the pub on a particular night.
In the phone call Sergeant Beta expressed annoyance at the hearsay element of this statement, saying:
“[it] undermines the whole thing… I will take that out so to fuck will I?”
Sergeant Hogan’s response was inaudible.
The Commission Report also contained details of conversations that Sergeant Hogan had had with civilians and journalists regarding the Bailey case, in which he referred to Mr Bailey in pejorative terms.”
Broadsheet: “What sort of terms?”
LCD: “A ‘cunning bastard“, “he’s fucking playing some game at the minute“, “he’s that cute“, “he has a temper threshold that, like he’d snap like that“, “beaten the one he’s living with, sure he’s beaten her to a pulp a few times“, “sex was the fucking motive“, “she did a runner if he got near her, you see, and that was it an the caught her.”
Broadsheet: “Gulp. And what conclusions did the tribunal reach on Sergeant Hogan?
LCD: “That he – and other members of the Gardai – were prepared to contemplate altering, modifying or suppressing evidence that did not assist them in furthering their belief that Mr Bailey was the murderer, but that there was no actual evidence of such alteration or modification having taken place as the statements objected to appeared unaltered on the investigation file.”
Broadsheet: “We don’t have any evidence to contradict their explanations and where no explanation is provided no harm was done?”
LCD: “A bit, yes. As with its conclusion on the systematic recording of tape recordings generally.”
Broadsheet: “So your overall conclusion?”
LCD: “The Garda Siochana is a mysterious place and keeps its secrets close. Also, the Hogan & Fitzgerald modus operandi is a little worrying, to say the least. This wasn’t Sergeant Hogan’s first case. His father commanded the Garda in West Cork for decades. Hogan himself was involved at a high level in the Catherine Nevin investigation and in investigating Martin Cahill. He’s a familiar figure in Irish true-crime books. Presumably there are recordings of his phone calls in other cases. It would be interesting to hear them.”
Broadsheet: “With consequences for appeals generally?”
LCD: “I think this report will have consequences for appeals generally in another respect. Unconstitutional recording of phone calls between an accused and their solicitors raise issues as to the lawfulness of the accused’s detention and any confession subsequently made by them. We done?”
Broadsheet: “Thank you very much Legal Coffee Drinker.”
LCD: “Give me a bit more notice next time.”
Broadsheet: “Of course, sorry. Thanks. Have a great weekend.”