Tag Archives: Clare Daly

From top: Justioce Peter Charelton: Clare Daly in the Dáil last night

Yesterday evening.

In the Dáil.

Independents 4 Change TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace – who have championed Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe’s cause for years – spoke about Judge Peter Charleton’s report into the Disclosures Tribunal.

Judge Charleton found former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and former Garda Press Officer worked “cheek by jowl” in a “campaign of calumny” against Sgt McCabe.

He couldn’t determine how a document outlining a false rape allegation against Sgt McCabe – which was never made – was circulated from TUSLA to gardai in May 2014.

And he found it “inappropriate and extraordinary” that former Chief Supt Jim Sheridan forwarded the false rape referral to Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny in the knowledge it was false.

Judge Charleton also found it “disturbing” that Mr Kenny then forwarded it to Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and, after he was definitively told it was incorrect, never corrected the matter – with the false rape referral remaining in Garda HQ until February 2017.

Judge Charleton heavily criticised members of An Garda Síochána and the “incompetence” of TUSLA but he did not find they colluded with each other against Sgt McCabe.

Giving her statement on the matter to the Dáil last night, Ms Daly said:

“I do not have enough time to do justice to Mr Justice Charleton and his team, who have done a great public service. I had the good fortune to attend the tribunal on several occasions. I was struck by Mr. Justice Charleton’s patience, sharp intellect and wit.

Some people have said he has indulged himself a little in this report. He was perfectly entitled to do so given some of the nonsense he had to sit through and listen to.

“The Charleton report is a searing indictment of several State institutions, in particular, An Garda Síochána and Tusla, and the media. Mr Justice Charleton castigated a number of journalists for frustrating the work of the tribunal and the public will.

He castigated the public relations companies, which he has characterised, correctly as far as I am concerned, as a hideous development in Irish public life given the domination of spin.

“In some ways, we could say Mr Justice Charleton has probably been a little polite in his language regarding some of the individuals who appeared before him. The implications are clear, however.

Many of those who gave evidence at the tribunal need what Mr Justice Charleton referred to as a cultural shift that requires respect for the truth. In other words, he was told a whopping amount of lies.

“The Disclosures Tribunal was established publicly to find the truth and Mr Justice Charleton has laid bare a vast amount. This report is a real education for the people in that regard.

First and most important is the total vindication Mr Justice Charleton has given to Maurice McCabe. This cannot be understated.

“Sergeant McCabe is a fine policeman and a man of integrity who was repulsively denigrated. The best thing about how Mr Justice Charleton handled Maurice McCabe is that there are no ifs or buts.

“This was crucial for Maurice and his family, for his wife Lorraine and his father, the two rocks who stood behind him on this very difficult road.

“I am delighted that everybody is patting Maurice on the back now and that he is the people’s hero, but it was not always so.

“Mr Justice Charleton pinpointed that “The facts do not amount to an exoneration of the gardaí in their treatment of Maurice McCabe”.

“He said that his complaints generated considerable animosity, which continued over years. The station was divided. People did not want to get involved.

A total of 430 former and current senior gardaí were written to by the tribunal. Only two replied [with relevant information], and not one of them ever heard anything derogatory about Maurice McCabe.

That is improbable, to use Mr Justice Charleton’s words. He said that when Maurice was “seeking a better level of policing standards, there were plenty of people who said there was nothing wrong”. I absolutely know that is the case.

Arguing that was a long and lonely place in the early years, and while the terms of reference concentrated on particular aspects, it was never supposed to be a definitive account of policing in Ireland.

In many ways, Mr Justice Charleton picked up on this at the Committee of Public Accounts [in January 2014], which was the culmination in some ways of the first round. It was not the start of this issue but came on the back of approximately two years of raising issues in this House.

“Mr Justice Charleton has dealt with the issues very well. We do not have the time to go through all of them but, in terms of the former Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, I note the Taoiseach tweeted that we should apologise to Deputy Frances Fitzgerald.

Neither I nor Deputy Wallace joined the baying hyenas here this time last year who were looking for the head of the then Minister.

We made many points over the years about her handling of issues in the Department of Justice and Equality but not about people coming up in 2017 supposedly criticising her for knowledge she had in 2015 of the Commissioner’s dealings at the O’Higgins commission, knowledge they all had in 2016 and did not do anything about.

I do not believe I need to give an apology in that respect.

“What those emails did show, however, is that what was going on at the O’Higgins tribunal was not normal. It was a big deal. There were emails, calls and frantic efforts to contact the Commissioner, and while Mr Justice Charleton did not find that Nóirín O’Sullivan relied on false sex abuse allegations to discredit Maurice at the O’Higgins commission, we never said that she did or believed that she did.

What was being said, however, and what was shown was that evidence was being produced at the O’Higgins commission to question his motivation.

We had the words of Colm Smyth and, critically, the letter of 18 May and the complaint against Superintendent Michael Clancy.

While Mr Justice Charleton said that the letter “went off the rails” and that it was strange, he put it down to a mistake.

Ultimately for him, the only issue was whether that had anything to do with Nóirín O’Sullivan, and as other people said it had not, he did not want to go there, but it still happened.

For me, it is convenient to put it down to a mistake. What would have happened if Maurice had not had the tape?

“People talk about poor Nóirín O’Sullivan, and I note the Taoiseach referred to people who precipitated her early demise. We are a long time on the record as saying that Nóirín O’Sullivan did not go quickly enough. That is nothing personal.

“She should never have been appointed in the first place but did she hear about Templemore? Did she hear anything about false breath tests, the treatment of other whistleblowers or any of that good stuff, all of which was going on in the background?

“While Mr Justice Charleton accurately stated that she had no hand, act or part to play in the campaign of the then Commissioner, Martin Callinan, and Dave Taylor, that is not the same as saying that she had no case to answer. In fact, he did not accept her evidence on the lack of engagement with her legal counsel or on her dealings with Noel Waters, whose evidence he did not accept either.

He went on to make many comments contrary to her evidence, that her evidence was disappointing and so on. He also talked about it being improbable that she could not but have known what was being said about Maurice McCabe and, in essence, did nothing in that regard.

“The report accurately condemns the then Commissioner, Martin Callinan, and Dave Taylor. That has been well aired, but they were not the only ones involved.

“A number of retired gardaí were criticised as being inappropriate and extraordinary in their behaviour, including Assistant Commissioner Kenny, Superintendent McGinn and Chief Superintendent Sheridan, but what about serving members?

Detective Superintendent O’Reilly was promoted since the tribunal started, but Mr. Justice Charleton is quite critical that his decision to introduce Paul Williams to the D family caused further and completely unjustified pain. What will be done to him?

“What will be done to John Barrett, the head of human resources, whose evidence was described by Mr. Justice Charleton as preposterous?

He said he was not satisfied that the conversations alluded to by John Barrett, allegedly with Cyril Dunne, ever took place. He did not believe his evidence in terms of Maurice McCabe either. That is very serious stuff.

“I refer to the false rape case being an unbelievable coincidence. I accept fully the judgment of Mr Justice Charleton on that.

“Rian counselling service came out well in the report but, my God, what an indictment of Tusla. The report refers to error upon error, complete misinformation, and files being randomly selected.

Mr. Justice Charleton said it was not a coincidence that Tusla opened Maurice McCabe’s file. They filleted a file that went to the historical sex abuse team and replaced the file when it came back. Those are points we do not have time to deal with.

“Mr Justice Charleton said he had a dreadful struggle to uncover the truth. I believe he uncovered an incredible amount of it. He said it is a cultural and an attitude problem and that reform of An Garda Síochána and coming up with new structures will not deal with it. I agree with him on that.”

Mick Wallace said:

“I have read the report. I would like to have an hour to make my contribution but I have only a few minutes.

On 8 June, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said “I know that an awful lot of people haven’t been telling me the truth”. I welcome Mr Justice Charleton’s report. He had a very difficult job. He said it was a dreadful struggle, but he has done incredibly well.

“We attended more than 25 of the 102 days of the tribunal hearings. Chris Noonan, my parliamentary assistant, attended most days. At times, it was a depressing experience.

It was hard to listen to public servants, in some cases retired Secretaries General, and Garda Commissioners, take the stand and be so economical with the truth.

“I have no intention of being critical of Mr Justice Charleton’s report. It is excellent.

While he was merciless in much of his report, and rightly so – he certainly did not spare Tusla or the Garda Síochána organisation – there were times when I thought his kind nature got the better of him.

With any tribunal or commission of investigation, before one looks at the final report, one must look at the terms of reference and analyse how these may confine what the judge can examine.

Aside from being limited by the terms of reference, things were made immensely more difficult for him on this occasion due to the fact that so many people refused to tell the truth.

“Former press officer David Taylor was not spared, and rightly so. Mr Justice Charleton is someone we have come to admire very much, and one of his more admirable features is his intolerance for those blatantly lying to him. David Taylor was one of them.

Both I and Deputy Clare Daly met David Taylor in his living room shortly after he made his protected disclosure.

Just why he decided to go into the tribunal and give a different version of events from that which he had given us is beyond us. It was a serious mistake on his part, and he has paid a high price for it.

“When the former Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality, Noel Waters, stated that he could not remember a 14-minute phone call between himself and Nóirín O’Sullivan during the O’Higgins commission, Mr Justice Charleton referred to it as improbable.

It was more than improbable.

“Mr Justice Charleton lambasted David Taylor with his ridiculous excuses regarding the two phones he did not cough up, so to speak.

I would have liked him to grill Nóirín O’Sullivan about the five phones she refused to cough up.

“Maurice McCabe requested a tribunal so that events would be examined in public rather than in private. He was right to do so.

“Mr Justice Cooke is investigating NAMA’s sale of Project Eagle. I can only imagine the lies he is being told.

Obviously, Mr Justice Charleton was told buckets of lies too, but it was in public, and the difference is that the public got the opportunity to see it. The Charleton tribunal has lifted the lid on how the establishment has no problem with lying.

“He has been slightly written out of history but people forget that Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill was originally tasked with examining the disclosures of David Taylor and Maurice McCabe.

“He recommended that a commission of investigation be set up and drafted the terms of reference, the majority of which were used by the tribunal.

The ones he did not draft caused the most trouble, in particular, term of reference (e), which tasked Mr. Justice Charleton with examining the O’Higgins commission and whether false allegations of sexual abuse or any other unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by Nóirín O’Sullivan to discredit Sergeant McCabe.

“That was too narrow, and it did not allow Mr Justice Charleton to examine some of the other critical issues that played out during the O’Higgins commission.

He was only allowed assess Nóirín O’Sullivan’s role in regard to the O’Higgins commission, specifically whether she used a false allegation of rape to discredit Maurice.

We never alleged that or believed Nóirín O’Sullivan to be guilty of it. We did allege many other things, and with good reason.

“The famous letter of 18 May handed to the commission setting out the motivations of Maurice McCabe has fallen through the cracks.

“Mr Justice Charleton said it was accurate to a point and then it went off the rails. It is much worse than that; it is a pure work of fiction.

“In respect of the letter of 18 May, Mr Justice Charleton found that there was no deliberate attempt to write a series of quite silly mistakes by way of a submission undermining Maurice McCabe to the O’Higgins commission. I beg to differ. If mistakes were made and accepted, why did they always go against Maurice McCabe?

“If Chief Superintendent Rooney and Superintendent Cunningham had nothing to hide with regard to their input into the letter, why did they claim privilege in respect of it when they were before the tribunal?

“With regard to the role of Nóirín O’Sullivan in the smear campaign, Mr Justice Charleton found that she had no role in it, but also found that it was improbable that she did not know it was happening.

I would have liked him to build on that finding. A deputy commissioner of An Garda Síochána has a duty of care to all of its officers, and Nóirín O’Sullivan knew what Commissioner Callinan was doing, yet she failed to act.

“As I said, there was much that Mr Justice Charleton could not comment on due to the terms of reference, and that is a pity.

There has been a rewriting of history by both the media and the political establishment with regard to the story of Garda malpractice and how the issues came to light.

This Chamber was a lonely place in 2012 and 2013 when we were highlighting the penalty points issues and other Garda wrongdoings.

“Mr Justice Charleton referred to the O’Mahoney report and stated that the report found no evidence of crime, corruption, deception or falsification. Obviously, he could not make findings on that report. Although it is now completely discredited, when the report was published, it was heralded.

“The former Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, went onto the plinth of Leinster House and abused the whistleblowers, and Martin Callinan told the Oireachtas committee that Assistant Commissioner O’Mahoney’s report was credible and factually correct and that it was based on fact. That is not true.

Those lines were accepted by the media at the time without any scrutiny and our protestations were rubbished.

Mr Justice Charleton also touched upon a letter Chief Superintendent Rooney passed around to local gardaí in the Cavan-Monaghan division in 2011, congratulating everyone involved in the Byrne-McGinn inquiry on their good work.

Chief Superintendent Rooney apologised for this letter at the tribunal and Mr Justice Charleton stated that the apology was belated. It was more than belated; it was a disgrace of a letter.

“On the media, the Charleton report stated that the tribunal had the greatest difficulty in getting any information from journalists and that journalistic privilege has two parts, the entitlement to assert it and the right of society to override it in the interest of a pressing national concern. I have not noticed many journalists quoting Mr. Justice Charleton on that.

“…In his conclusion, Mr Justice Charleton states that a tribunal, having completed its work, might hope that thereby some improvement could occur.

He states that a tribunal should speak freely and should in no way be trapped by the temptation of cynicism that nothing may change. I

believe that this tribunal was worthwhile. I believe things will change for the better.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton has done the State a great service, unlike so many who went up to Dublin Castle to tell him lies.”

Yesterday: The Tribunal Wrote To More Than 430 Officers. Two Replied With Relevant Information

The Media And Maurice

Meanwhile…

“In terms of the media coverage of the events at Dublin Castle, Olga Cronin from broadsheet.ie, Sean Murray of thejournal.ie, and Mick Clifford [Irish Examiner] deserve to be singled out for praise. Some of what was written would certainly have prevented Mr. Justice Charleton from enjoying his breakfast if he had the misfortune to have read it.”

Mick Wallce in the Dáil last night.

G’wan the Olga.

Previously: Legal Coffee Drinker: Charelton Report Conclusions

From top: Frederick Street removal: Mick Wallace; Joan Collins; Claire Daly and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan in the Dáil today.

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Further to the eviction of housing activists from a vacant property at North Frederick Street last week…

Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan who authorised members of An Garda Síochána – who wore fire retardant hoods – to attend the eviction.

Joan Collins, also an Independents 4 Change TD, asked Mr Flanagan on what basis were the gardai asked to attend.

Ms Collins referred to the mater as “very, very sinister”.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly then said:

I think we have to be very conscious that this incident has set back public confidence in An Garda Síochána considerably. That’s actually my starting point on this issue.

We have, at the backdrop, an unprecedented housing crisis. Where people are homeless, families are homeless. And that the Garda organisation, whose motto is supposed to be ‘to protect and serve’, rallies around to carry out an eviction – resonates really badly with the Irish public and you can call it politically with a small ‘p’.

It was lunacy whoever made the call.

“And, like Deputy Wallace, I don’t believe it was the Commissioner [Drew Harris].

“The minister says the gardai were only upholding the law. Well my neighbour’s house was broken into and they called the guards and they didn’t’ see one for love nor money. That’s their job, as well.

“They chose to take sides in this incident. There was no signal that they were going to be public order problems of the scale that merited masks and balaclavas and all this type of carry-on and palaver which was really intimidatory.

“And it does deserve an investigation. It particularly deserves and investigation, given that concrete evidence has been produced that shows that the security firm were breaching the law and yet the perception was that the gardai were there to protect them and not actually the public.”

Mr Flanagan, in his response, said:

“I would reiterate again, that the gardai present faced a most difficult task, managing protest, in enforcing the law. There was a matter of abuse, including racial abuse, online threats and intimidation, came to light at the weekend.

“Such threats are utterly unacceptable, rightly being investigated. Gardai work on our behalf. They need support from the public, not intimidation, not abuse. As I’ve said Commissioner Harris has made a statement in relation to the protest. I understand he’s requested a report from Assistant Commissioner DMR, to see what lessons can be learned from the event.

“I can assure the house my department continues to work closely with all stakeholders including An Garda Síochána, to further enhance the safety of the public at such events, while safeguarding the fundamental right of people to protest.

“Of course if people have concerns about the way the garda behave, which I’ve just heard, if people have those concerns, in relation to this or, indeed, any other matter, there are established procedures for pursuing such matters. Deputies are aware of the role of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission [GSOC] in this regard…”

Previously: What’s Going On Here?

This afternoon/evening.

Leinster House

Independent TD Clare Daly (top) responds to the Eighth Amendment Referendum result with a rebuke to recent converts to the Yes side, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health minister Simon Harris (pic 2).

Thanks Orla

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly spoke to Sean O’Rourke in light of Noirin O’Sullivan’s resignation.

From the discussion…

Clare Daly:I think there’s been an attempt here to kind of change the narrative to sort of portray the former commissioner as a sort of a victim. Too many people asking questions, she couldn’t get on with the job – the reason why there were so many people asking questions is that answers weren’t being given. Transparency and accountability wasn’t being delivered.

“And the sad fact is that there was open warfare inside the hierarchy of An Garda Siochana, between the civilian heads and between most of the senior garda management. And sadly, we’ve had a roadmap for how to deliver a modern police service, based on really comprehensive reports that were done by the Garda Inspectorate in previous years which all we need to do is implement them.

“And the problem being that the people at the top of An Garda Siocahana come from the old guard and are not best equipped to deal with that type of change that is necessary to herald in a new type of Garda management.”

Sean O’Rourke: “So you’re talking about, not just a new commissioner but a new top layer of management are you?”

Daly: “I think that’s absolutely necessary and we would be very concerned with some of the recent promotions by the Policing Authority for people who we know have been the subject of serious complaints and investigations by GSOC and Garda management, in example, for harassment of whistleblowers, have actually ended up on the promotion list. And…”

O’Rourke: “So the Policing Authority has to go as well, does it?”

Daly:No, the Policing Authority has to be…”

O’Rourke: “If they’re promoting these people…”

Daly: “What this Government didn’t want it to be – a fully independent body. Let’s remember the personnel of the present Policing Authority were effectively hand-picked by the last government, there wasn’t open recruitment and selection for that. And their hands have been tied and they’ve allowed their hands to be tied even further. I made the example earlier and what happened in Scotland and other jurisdictions, they seem to manage it perfectly well.

“Where a garda commissioner or a chief constable, whatever they’re called, are actually held to account by a proper policing authority. We haven’t go that here. We’ve got a halfway house and the legislation has been there to deal with it.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: Changing Of The Guards

She’s Gone

Absence Of Malice

Readers may recall the recent controversy over Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

And the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan refusing to say if Ireland voted for or against this inclusion.

Yesterday.

In the Dáil.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly suggested that Ireland did vote for Saudi Arabia’s inclusion and that it did so because of the arms export licences that Ireland issues to Saudi Arabia.

Clare Daly: “It is clear, despite that it has not been publicly acknowledged by Government, that Ireland voted for Saudi Arabia to be part of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The question beggared belief with many people, given Saudi Arabia’s record on women’s rights and human rights.

Maybe the answer lies in the question in front of the Minister about the massive spike in the licences issued – documented in the report published by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation about arms exports – in 2015 and the first six months of 2016 to the Saudi Arabian alliance, which has been involved in the bombardment of Yemen.

“What is going on in a neutral country, particularly when all of the weapons involved are in category ML5? It includes very serious activities, such as bombing computers, gun-laying equipment, weapon control systems and so on.”

Mary Mitchell O’Connor: “The EU has a range of sanctions in place in respect of countries engaged in conflicts. All licence applications are considered having regard to these measures. Sanctions can include arms embargoes and various restrictive measures including prohibitions on the provision of targeted goods and services. My Department observes all arms embargoes and trade sanctions when considering export licence applications. There are no EU sanctions in place in respect of Saudi Arabia.

All export licence applications, whether for dual-use or military goods, are subject to rigorous scrutiny, and are considered in the light of the spirit and objectives of the 2008 EU Common Position on Arms Exports. My officials are in regular contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on export licensing issues. They consult with that Department in respect of all military export licence applications. My officials seek observations on any foreign policy concerns that may arise in respect of a proposed export. Such factors are subject to review in the light of developments in a given region.

“Any observations which may arise from this examination are considered in the final assessment of any licence application. My Department may refuse an export licence, following consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other EU and non-EU export licensing authorities, as appropriate. As indicated in the annual report, my Department issued one military export licence with Saudi Arabia as the ultimate end-user. This was in 2015 in respect of category ML5 military products, which includes electronic control devices and components.

Daly:There has been no movement since I asked the Minister the question last time, except for the 1,200 dead Yemeni children, the tens of thousands injured and the 4 million suffering from acute malnutrition.

“I asked the Minister about the EU Common Position on Arms Exports, which prevents sale of arms to a country if there is a clear risk that the military technology or equipment to be exported might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law. We know that the British Parliament, on a cross-party basis, has recommended the suspension of arms exports to Saudi Arabia, until a UN-led investigation into violations of human rights is concluded.

“The UK is not even a neutral country. We are.

“We should be leading on these matters, particularly when it is also the case that we should be careful about selling arms to countries with links to terrorism. We know from Ms Hillary Clinton’s emails, no less, that Saudi Arabia arms ISIS. It is ridiculous that we continue to issue arms export licences to this country which is involved in war crimes. It is not good enough.

“I did not ask the Minister about an arms embargo and do not want to hear about it. Why, against that backdrop, would we not institute a presumption of denial policy, which could be brought in overnight and put us to the forefront on these very important human rights issues?

Mitchell O’Connor: “The Deputy mentioned export licences. I said one military export licence was issued. We do not export arms. The key consideration in dealing with military export licence applications is to establish if there are concerns with the end-user or proposed end-use. This process may include consultation, as I outlined earlier.

“My Department consults with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In addition, end-user certificates are always required as a further control measure. End-user certificates provide information on the proposed transaction. They certify that the company will be the final recipient of the goods being exported and include an undertaking that the goods will not be used in connection with weapons of mass destruction.

“Individual licences are valid for the export of a specific quantity of goods to a specific end-user within a 12-month period. A new application must be made for any exports above that provided for on the original export licence. All new and repeat licence applications are subject to the full export licensing scrutiny process. All licence applications are considered in the spirit and objectives of the 2008 EU Common Position on Arms Exports.”

Daly:Does the Minister presume that it is a coincidence that we have gone from zero arms sales to Qatar and declining arms sales to the UAE to a significant uptake in both of those figures in 2015? All of the arms exports to Saudi Arabia were in the category of ML5. That category includes weapon sites, bombing computers, gun-laying equipment and weapon control systems.

These are not incidental bits of hardware. The issue of the destination and final end use actually makes no difference to our obligations under the EU common position, which states that if there is a risk of this military technology or equipment being used in the violation of human rights, then they should not be exported. That is the question that is being asked.

“It does not really matter if the weapon components stop off in another country on their way to Qatar. Our obligations in that instance are the same. I ask the Minister to look at the issue of a presumption of denial within the Department whereby, even as an interim measure, we could take a step and institute overnight that if anybody from these countries applies for a licence to export arms to Saudi Arabia, they can be refused. The Government has not dealt with that. I must ask the Minister about it. We are talking about lives, war crimes and a violation of human rights.

Mitchell O’Connor:The information I have in front of me outlines that there was one military export with Saudi Arabia as its final end user destination. These were not for the production of arms. Sometimes they are components for helicopters and Jeeps. I do not think the Deputy can jump to the conclusion that we are exporting arms or components for arms. I do not think that the Deputy can do that at all…”

Daly: “That classification is there.”

Mitchell O’Connor: “…because our Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade take an extreme view and make sure that the applicants are denied if there are any questions to be asked in that instance.”

Transcript: Oireachtas.ie

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 15.28.29

Last night.

In the Dáil.

Sinn Féin’s motion to ensure the new National Maternity Hospital has “legally-guaranteed independence” from all non-medical influence in its clinical operations was carried.

During a debate on the motion, Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly spoke about maternal deaths in Ireland, and the lack of inquests for the same.

She said:

“Regardless of the justifiable public outcry over the handling of the new national maternity hospital and the prospective ownership of that facility being given to a religious order, this motion is incredibly timely. There is no doubt that our maternity services are in desperate need of reform. It is something that we need to discuss. The best response that the Government can come up with is that we compare favourably to other countries. Do we, and if so, which countries? I would not like to be compared to them.

Let us look at some of the facts. Between 2011 and 2013 there were 27 maternal deaths. These were otherwise healthy women who went in and lost their lives in childbirth or shortly afterwards. There were inquests in only three of those cases.

In 2014, there were 365 reported cases of severe maternal morbidity, but our data is incomplete because not all of the maternity hospitals participated in that.

Between 2007 and 2015 the HSE incurred a staggering €66million in legal fees arising from maternity cases involving serious injury or death to women or babies. During the same period the HSE, through the State claims agency, paid out an even more staggering €282 million in damages in maternity cases. That is 116 times more paid out in legal settlements and fees than the extra €3 million that is being given to the new national maternity strategy. Unless that culture of litigation, denial, lack of accountability and lack of oversight is dealt with our problems will continue.

There is no doubt that one of the key reasons for our problems is the significant under-staffing level of midwives and doctors across the State. Meanwhile, reports and reviews into adverse incidents are either not made available publically or they are badly delayed. The review of adverse incidents in Portiuncula hospital, for example, was supposed to be available by mid-2015. We still do not have it.

We did discover last week, however, that the hospital was carrying out a secretive review of care, with a doctor even ignoring advice and saying that he did not see the reason why there should be any review at all. We have to deal with these issues, because our maternity services are consistently running at sub-optimal levels, which is undoubtedly leading to trauma for women and their families and to catastrophic outcomes because of the lack of accountability and the completely inadequate and non-binding HSE open disclosure policy.

What we need is a statutory duty of candour in order to deal with these cases. It is more than urgent. It is one of the reasons why I moved the Coroners Bill 2015 and why that is so critically needed, yet we still do not know whether the Government has passed a money message even though the Committee for Justice agreed more than six months ago that it would go to committee stage next week.

We need accountability and openness if our services are going to improve. The widowers who lost their wives and the mothers of their children can testify to the failures of our maternity services and the need to change.

We know from the eight inquests held between 2007 and 2015 into the deaths of women in our maternity services that vital information was withheld. They were often not privy to internal investigations and reports until the HSE was ordered to produce them in public hearings by the Coroner’s offices.

Although hospitals and the HSE indicated that they would change procedures and protocols, those were not implemented and carried through. That is utterly devastating for those families.

It is not an exaggeration to say that if the HSE recommendations issued on foot of the tragic death and inquest into the death of Tanya McCabe had been made enforceable national policy then Savita Halappanavar may not have died.

If the inquest into Dhara Kivlehan’s death had not been delayed for four years – she died in 2010 and the inquest was in 2014 – then Sally Rowlette, who died in 2013 in the same hospital of the same condition, leaving four children, may not have died. These are very urgent issues that need to be addressed. It shows systemic failures and a lack of openness in our system.

We know that there are countries across the EU which have much better health outcomes than we have. We need proper audit and genuine open disclosure. We have to have automatic inquests into maternal deaths in order for maternity services to improve.

It is unforgivable that in this day and age that fetal abnormality scans are not available as a matter of course to women. The Minister has told us over and over again that all hospital groups offer such scans, but the reality is that the scans have to be implemented by doctors. Women outside of major centres have to travel, and the consequence is that abnormalities are not always picked up. It is not good enough.

I welcome the motion, but it does not go far enough. That is not a criticism, it is a point of observation. The national maternity strategy is far from flawless. The language in it is feeble. We talk about woman-led care, when there has been a deliberate decision not to have midwifery-led care because there is some seemingly mythical and highly polarised debate out there about midwifery care. I reject that. I would say that it is far more likely that expensive private obstetric practices are the ones who are worried about midwives. No one else is.

Midwifery-led care is the way forward. In Scotland, they have 18 free-standing or along side midwifery-led units serving a population the same as Ireland, yet we have two pilot schemes in Cavan and Drogheda.

There has not been a single sod turned to provide even one midwifery-led unit in Ireland, despite the national maternity strategy making promises on the issue over 14 months ago. The Scottish national maternity strategy provides that every woman will have continuity of care provided by a primary midwife who will provide the majority of her antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care. The input of an obstetrician is an addition, but the provision of care is centred on the midwife, which is best for the State, health outcomes for women and the public purse.

The national maternity strategy is non-statutory, which is a huge problem. It is only the third national document on national maternity services since the early 1950s, but because it is non-statutory, it is not binding. We can refer to A Vision for Change which is a lovely vision, but it does not tally with the reality.

The Government has one month in which to look at the maternity hospital and we will see what happens, but St. Vincent’s University Hospital was built with public money. Is it not ironic that, in 1972, Noel Browne was questioning the funnelling of public money and cash into a hospital for the Sisters of Mercy? There should be no debate on this issue. It has to be sorted out as it is a public hospital which was built with public money and should be publicly owned.

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 10.23.23

A Garda checkpoint

Further to the near one million false breath test figures and 14,700 wrongful convictions…

And Taoiseach Enda Kenny telling the Dáil yesterday that the Government has agreed to an external investigation into the matters – the details of which have yet to be decided.

This external investigation will be on top of an internal Garda investigation and one carried out by the Policing Authority.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, who held a press conference on the matter last week, said Superintendent Pat Murray from Athlone had been appointed to carry out the “fact finding” internal investigation.

Further to this…

On December 15, 2015, during a Dáil debate, in the presence of the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, on the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2015…

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly said:

“…the current treatment of whistleblowers is absolutely dire. Subsequently, the position of Garda Keith Harrison has been vindicated by the State pulling out of a High Court action it had taken against him at enormous personal and emotional cost, not to mind the cost to the taxpayer of a ludicrous, vindictive action. It is worth saying that the judge in that case was the senior counsel during the Morris tribunal. It is quite clear that from his stance, nothing has really changed in the sense that he awarded full costs to Garda Harrison.

“This is important because why else are we here discussing a policing authority? It is to have independent scrutiny and accountability of the gardaí.”

“It would be entirely appropriate for the Minister to comment on the Garda Inspectorate’s report which has obviously shocked people. It has also vindicated everything we have said – that nothing has changed inside the ranks of the Garda Síochána, except the faces at the top. I am surprised that people have not called for the current Garda Commissioner to resign because she is standing over a situation that is at least as bad, if not worse, than what the former Commissioner Callanan stood over. It is worse because the scale of the knowledge that is in the public domain has not been addressed.”

“The previous Garda Inspectorate’s report gave a damning account of gardaí massaging the crime figures, for example. That resulted in the analysis of crime figures having to be withdrawn for a period. It is a very serious matter.

We know for a fact that the massaging of the figures is still continuing. In recent weeks, in Superintendent Pat Murray’s station in the midlands and in Athlone, we have seen direct evidence of at least eight cases where crimes were written down so that the original crime was reclassified as a more minor matter.

There is clear evidence of massaging the figures – for example, changing burglaries to criminal damage, which is reclassification.”

In addition, during the same debate, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace said:

“First, the Minister asked for proof of what Deputy Daly actually said. Tomorrow morning, I will give the Minister proof of district officer, Superintendent Pat Murray, reclassifying crime figures. This is an individual who has harassed and bullied a Garda whistleblower to an awful degree for a long time.”

Good times.

Dail transcript via Kildarestreet.com

Rollingnews.ie

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 16.00.22

You may recall how, yesterday, the Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath withdrew the proposed terms and conditions of a commission of investigation into ‘Grace’ and the alleged abuse she suffered at the home for 20 years.

His decision to remove them came immediately after stinging criticism of the proposed terms and conditions by Fine Gael TD John Deasy, from Waterford, and Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness.

Mr Deasy alleged that there was a cover-up by the HSE, saying: ‘this was a concerted and organised attempt to hide information and conceal the truth by a clique of HSE managers‘.

Mr McGuinness recounted the experiences of other alleged victims of abuse who lived at the foster home and said if Mr McGrath’s terms and conditions didn’t include the 46 other people who stayed at the home, the State would be “heaping further abuse” on the families affected.

Specifically, Mr McGuinness said, before Grace, a 12-year-old girl was taken out of the home – after the school she attended told the girl’s mother she would attend school bruised, battered and beaten. Mr McGuinness said the girl’s mother made a complaint to the South Eastern Health Board in 1992 but was “… told to shut up. She was told not to repeat those stories. And she was threatened legally”.

This morning, the Dáil unanimously agreed expanded terms of reference which state the 46 other cases will be examined in a second module of the commission of investigation.

But it’s being reported that families of the 46 other cases and the whistleblowers remain unhappy with the revised terms.

RTE reports:

“The whistleblowers added that while the revised terms state that phase two will undertake an investigation of the recommendations in the report of Conor Dignam SC, the terms omit Mr Dignam’s recommendation to look at “allegations of cover up”. This, they say, is of serious concern.”

Further to this…

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly TD spoke about the matter in the Dáil this morning.

And she raised concerns about the connection between law firm Arthur Cox, the HSE and Resilience Ireland, which last week published a 2015 report it was commissioned to do, by the HSE, on the Grace case.

Ms Daly said:

“Minister, I have to say, the entire manner in which this has been addressed has been utterly shambolic and wholly unacceptable and I really hope that this does not come back to bite us.

“And the reason why it is particularly important that we get things right in this case is that we know that the backdrop is, at best, I suppose, economical-with-the-truth information being given, but, at worst, deliberate misinformation around these issues in previous attempts to resolve them so forgive us if we’ve trust issues where the HSE are concerned: we think they are legitimate.”

“Now, yesterday, we went into the meeting with yourself. We wanted to raise the issue of the draft order – the statutory instrument upon which the terms of reference were based. The first response we got was, ‘well, sure, God, nobody else raised that’. We want to address the terms of reference. We had to commission legal opinion from Eame’s solicitors to explain why the order had to be changed and that the terms of reference could be ultra vires if you didn’t do that.”

“We then went on to actually submit changes to the terms of reference – none of which were included I might add.”

“Now, no doubt, minister, you will argue that the order and the terms of reference, in the manner in which they have been changed, will allow us to address all of the issues that we have raised and that is possibly the case. And I seriously hope that that is the case.”

“But I found it ironic this morning that one of the amendments that we specifically had posed was the problem that was highlighted by the PAC [public accounts committee] – the fact that earlier attempts by people to get to the truth, including Government ministers and Oireachtas committees were deliberately thwarted by persons or persons unknown in the HSE. It’s an absolute fact.”

“In terms of the information put out, that the gardai were blocking publication of the reports – not even allowing ministers see them – we know it now that that’s not true.”

We know in the case that I raised with Minister [Leo] Varadkar about a vulnerable person remaining in that facility up to 2015, the minister efficiently asked: are we sending anybody to this? And the answer, very cleverly, he got was: don’t be worrying, Minister. We’re not sending anybody, it might be a private placement but that’s sorted.”

“It wasn’t sorted. So they didn’t actually care about the truth or the person at the centre of it; it was all about covering up for the organisation. And against the backdrop of the Devine Report, which had been hugely discredited, the Resilience Ireland report terms of reference drafted by Arthur Cox who were the legal team that represented the HSE in the Grace case. You couldn’t make this up. Heads have to roll over this.

“I really hope that the changes have got it right and that we be proven wrong on this but there’s a lot hanging on it.”

Anyone?

Previously: ‘Examples Of What Is And Was A Cover-Up’

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 18.05.20

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly in the Dáil yesterday

Earlier today.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly spoke with Michael Reade on Louth-based LMFM.

In the course of the interview, Ms Daly said the following:

“I suppose, it’s worth saying, there have been other dealings with Tusla in relation to other Garda whistleblowers as well, that we know of…”

Thud.

UPDATE: Second garda whistleblower says senior officer behind another Tusla referral (Katie Hannon, RTE)

Meanwhile…

Separately…

Readers may recall how the terms of reference of Justice Peter Charleton’s commission of investigation into allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe were published earlier this week.

And that one of the terms of reference calls for the investigation to find out if “Commissioner [Noirin] O’Sullivan, using briefing material prepared in Garda headquarters, planned and orchestrated broadcasts on RTE on the 9th of May, 2016, purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O’Higgins Commission Report, in which Sgt McCabe was branded a liar and irresponsible”.

This was in reference to an interview between RTE journalist Fran McNulty and RTE’s Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds on Morning Ireland on the morning of Monday, May 9, 2016 – about the then as yet unpublished O’Higgins report.

The O’Higgins report wasn’t published until Tuesday, May 11, 2016.

Mr Reade also asked Ms Daly about what she said in the Dáil yesterday, concerning the inclusion of this report in the terms of reference.

Ms Daly told the Dáil yesterday:

I welcome some of the other terms of reference. I am delighted to see RTE included, because I actually made a complaint about that broadcast. RTE wrote back to me and gave out about the personal nature of my complaints and their hostile tone. It claimed they were without foundation and would be defamatory if I repeated them to a third party.

During the LMFM interview…

Michael Reade: “You told the Dáil yesterday that you made a complaint about the broadcast to RTE. RTE wrote back to you and gave out about the personal nature of your complaints and the hostile tone and I know that because I saw you saying that on RTE News last night. But that’s where the report stopped. And what I didn’t see on the news was what you went on to say, which was that, RTE claimed, that what you were saying was without foundation and would be defamatory if you repeated it to a third party. Was RTE threatening to sue you?

Clare Daly: “No, I don’t think so. I think they were objecting strongly or the person from RTE who wrote it, like, was saying that, you know, if I was to repeat what I said in the complaint to a third party, it might be construed as defamatory which was just utterly ridiculous, as far as I was concerned. It was in the context of the news report and coverage and the complaint had been about the coverage by Paul Reynolds and, basically, the person who wrote back from RTE was making that remark to me, in the context of defending Paul Reynolds, telling me what a wonderful journalist he was and how he knew him well and…”

Reade: “But to say it’s defamatory,..”

Daly: “Yeah, I know.”

Reade: “…is that not suggesting you were making libellous statements which means they could choose to sue you?”

Daly: “Yeah, I mean, look it, I thought the choice of words was incredible and, as I was saying in the Dail, I was really glad that Justice O’Neill had included that coverage because a lot of people took exception to it, it was incredibly one-sided and it gave a very inaccurate account of what was actually in the O’Higgins’ report which is why we put in the complaint at the time…”

Listen back to the interview on LMFM in full here

Thanks Eamonn

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 19.57.13

You may recall a post from last week concerning Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison.

It included excerpts from a letter sent by Mr Harrison’s solicitors to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on May 20, 2016, outlining how he had been subjected to harassment and continued attempts to smear his reputation and undermine his credibility.

It was one of 14 such letters sent to Ms O’Sullivan by Garda Harrison’s solicitors.

Last October, during a meeting of the committee on justice and equality, Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly repeatedly asked Ms O’Sullivan if she was privy to any information about allegations of mistreatment of Garda whistleblowers and Ms O’Sullivan repeatedly replied:

“I’m not privy to, nor did I approve, nor would I condone any campaign of harassment…”

Further to this…

Last night, Ms Daly returned to the matter of Garda whistleblowers and what Ms O’Sullivan knew, and when, in the Dáil. She told how she’s been in contact with 10 Garda whistleblowers – all of whom, bar one, are currently out sick.

Ms Daly was speaking during a debate on a report on Garda oversight and accountability compiled by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality.

She said:

This report is not just aspirational, containing ideas we have circulated for the craic; these are serious observations, made in part on the basis of the engagement we had with the oversight bodies and the Commissioner and her team and in part from our experience over recent times. In that context, I welcome the fact that the Minister will take on board some of the committee’s recommendations.

“That is a very welcome development. Without in any way being churlish, I believe it is an awful pity some of the recommendations were not taken on board previously.

It is a matter of record that many of the recommendations contained in the report and the Minister’s Bill were made by us a number of years ago during the debate on the first GSOC and Policing Authority Bills. I am not saying this to score points, but people have suffered as a result of some of these provisions not being available during the two years since the most recent GSOC Bill was implemented…

“…We must be realistic about why the concept of oversight has gained popular currency and is being talked about by the dogs on the street. There is just one reason, that being, the heroic stance of a number of Garda whistleblowers who shed a light on an insular blue wall of silence, an organisation in which, contrary to what the Commissioner says, dissent was deemed to be disloyalty and punished accordingly. The order of the day was rats, death threats and serious intimidation of people who tried to do the right thing.

The public perception of what a whistleblower is has been stood on its head. Now, being a whistleblower is identified as a position to be lauded, and one that makes a valuable contribution to improving the situation for all gardaí and members of society. There are many good gardaí and, for some time, they have believed that the situation will change. They stepped forward accordingly to join the ranks of the whistleblowers and improve matters.

We have engaged with ten serving members of An Garda Síochána who have made protected disclosures of one sort or another. Under a change in the previous legislation, GSOC is now the confidential recipient and the vehicle through which gardaí make complaints. That service needs to be beefed up radically because GSOC does not have the time or resources to provide it adequately. It does not have the legislative power to compel Garda co-operation that it needs.

Many cases have stalled because of delays in the Garda handing over material that GSOC needs to conduct its investigations. This non-co-operation continues today. It can be covered up as administrative delays and so on, but it impacts on the work being done.

A number of the whistleblower cases in question are in the public domain, but others whose cases are with GSOC – in the instance of Keith Harrison, for more than two years – have had relatively limited meaningful engagement with GSOC because of delays with documentation and so on. In Nicky Keogh’s case, the GSOC investigation has practically concluded and disciplinary recommendations have been made, but the Garda has not agreed to GSOC’s involvement.

“These serious matters are ongoing. One must ask, if the situation is improving, why all these gardaí bar one are out sick. All have made allegations about bullying and harassment since coming forward, which is in direct contrast with the public statements of the Commissioner that she does not know of any harassment.

“We know that she has been directly informed of that harassment, as has the Minister. Most recently, serious allegations were made, and were widely covered in the provincial media, during an assault case after Christmas. In open court, evidence was produced of doctored witness statements. The people involved in the assault were also involved in a case in which a garda had been accused of involvement in the drug trade and so on. Criminal prosecutions are being impacted.

The situation cannot be right if so many people are out sick. The case of the only garda who made a protected disclosure but who is not out sick is appalling. It involves a family law case. He received information to the effect that the judge, who was a family friend of his former wife, had held a meeting before the court case and then granted a protection order against him. He then made a complaint to the Garda. Not only was his complaint not investigated, but the senior garda involved initiated criminal proceedings against him for interfering with the judicial process when the circumstances clearly did not meet the criteria.

“That person, albeit a member of the Garda, was a victim, only to be revictimised by what the senior garda did. To add insult to injury for him and a number of other Garda whistleblowers, the very man who did that was brought by the Commissioner to attend our committee’s hearings into oversight as a witness for An Garda Síochána. Confidence among serving members is not developed if this type of behaviour is happening.

The Minister will see from the committee’s recommendations that we want the Policing Authority to have more control over the Commissioner. This is not a new idea.”

Transcript: Oireachtas.ie