From top: Mary Boyle; from left: Solicitor Darragh Mackin, Margo O’Donnell, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mary Boyle’s sister Ann Doherty in Government Buildings
Further to the meeting between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Ann Doherty, the twin sister of murdered schoolgirl Mary Boyle…
Gemma O’Doherty writes:
The Taoiseach has sent a personal letter to Ann Doherty, the twin sister of Mary Boyle, acknowledging ‘the pain and distress she has endured through many years.’
It follows their meeting of last Thursday (November 19) in Government Buildings where she informed Enda Kenny of her belief that Mary’s killer has been protected for almost four decades by some people known to the murdered schoolgirl and some members of the Gardai.
Mary was six when she vanished on her grandparents’ farm in Cashelard, Donegal in March, 1977. Her remains have never been found.
Ann believes her identical twin was murdered by somebody known to her because she was going to reveal a terrible secret.
She has also been informed by a number of retired officers that a politician made a phone call to Ballyshannon station in the days after the murder requesting that certain people were not to be considered suspects. Ann believes the investigation was hindered as a result.
Mr Kenny thanked Ann for meeting him and for ‘the honest manner’ in which she spoke ‘from the heart’ about her sister Mary.
‘I cannot begin to imagine the pain and distress you have endured in the many years that have gone by,’ he said.
Mr Kenny said he had sent a report about the meeting and the points made by Ann to the Department of Justice to be forwarded to the Gardai and the Donegal Coroner Dr Denis McCauley.
He also said that he hoped Ann would achieve a ‘resolution on this difficult journey.’
Ann has expressed gratitude to Mr Kenny for taking the time to meet her and has asked that he now publicly endorse her campaign for justice, which she has taken to Brussels, Stormont and Westminster.
Ann attended the meeting with her husband Shane, her solicitor Darragh Mackin and her cousin Margo O’Donnell.
“We had a productive meeting with the Taoiseach,” she said.
“He is now aware of the very serious concerns we have about what happened to Mary and he is also aware that there have been issues of child safety in relation to her killer for almost 40 years.
“I hope he will come out publicly now to support our camapign to find Mary and to encourage the Gardai to finally act and bring her killer to justice.”
Mr Kenny telephoned Margo O’Donnell earlier this week to say he would do all he could to support the women in their search for Mary and would contact her again in the coming days with an update on the matter.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has declared that he will give Fine Gael TDs a free vote on repeal of the Eighth Amendment following a constitutional convention on the matter to be held after the general election. This begs a simple question: why?
Whether Fine Gael likes it or not, repeal of the Eighth Amendment is a live issue in this election; people of all opinions are raising it on the doorsteps, campaigns from both sides of the debate are in full swing, and the Greens and Labour have had the courage to put an actual policy in place.
One does not need a rarefied process of discussion with a small number of “the people” and elected representatives to know there is sufficient disagreement and momentum to justify a referendum on repeal; one simply needs to respond to the demands of the polity.
The last time Fine Gael established a convention to consider constitutional change it held referenda on two of the emerging proposals (marriage equality and presidential age), accepted three more, parked eight, rejected five, gave unclear responses to two, and ignored 20.
Given this track record, can the Taoiseach’s commitment to “considering” repeal of the Eighth Amendment be called a “policy”, not to mention an example of leadership?
Prof Fiona de Londras,
University of Birmingham
School of Law
Mary Boyle’s sister Ann Doherty (left) and Boyle family friend Margo O’Donnell (right), with unnamed solicitor and journalist Gemma O’Doherty (second right) at Pearse Street Garda Station in October
Ahead of the meeting in Government Buildings today, between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Ann Doherty, the twin sister of murdered schoolgirl Mary Boyle, Gemma O’Doherty writes:
[Ann Doherty] will inform Enda Kenny of her belief that Mary’s murder has been covered up by some members of An Garda Siochana and that the killer is still being shielded to this day.
Ms Doherty alleges that Mary was murdered by somebody known to her and also believes she was the victim of a sexual assault.
She is supported in her belief by several former Gardai who worked on the case in 1977.
They say the person they consider the chief suspect has never been arrested but is likely to confess if brought in and questioned properly. They also believe the individual will reveal the location of the child’s remains.
These officers along with Ms Doherty claim that another person known to Mary is protecting her murderer.
Ms Doherty also alleges there was political interference in the investigation which has prevented the killer from being brought to justice.
A number of officers who worked in Ballyshannon at the time have confirmed that they are aware of a phone call to the station by a politician in the days after Mary’s disappearance requesting that some individuals not be considered suspects.
Ms Doherty present compelling evidence which appears to have been ignored or dismissed by An Garda Siochana through the years.
She will also speak about a mysterious visit by two Garda officers to her home at the end of 2014, after she had been to Stormont in Belfast to discuss her case with members of the Northern Ireland assembly. The officers arrived at her home without prior notice and made a number of statements which she found disturbing.
In recent years, Ms Doherty has complained to GSOC – the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission – about the handling of her sister’s case but her concerns were dismissed.
Ms Doherty will be accompanied to today’s meeting by singer Margaret (Margo) O’Donnell, a cousin and long-time family friend who has supported her in her fight for justice.
Margo O’Donnell will remind Mr Kenny that she contacted him about the case after he became Taoiseach in 2011. She spoke to him about her concerns and pleaded for his help in finding Mary Boyle but says she was deeply disappointed by his response.
“I asked for his help four years ago and told him what I know about the case but didn’t get anywhere,” says Margo.
Both Ms Doherty and Margo made formal statements to Gardai in Dublin’s Pearse Street station almost two months ago saying they were told the identity of the killer on several occasions by someone who knew Mary.
The women also say they have expressed their concerns to Gardai many times through the years but no action was taken.
As part of Ms Doherty’s campaign to find her sister, she has travelled to the European Parliament in Brussels, and Westminster Palace in recent months, and has received backing from many politicians in Ireland and abroad who support her in her fight for justice.
In the coming weeks, the case will be raised in the House of Commons and the House of Lords in London. She also intends to bring it to members of Congress in Washington early in 2016.
Speaking in advance of the meeting, Ann Doherty said she will be urging the Taoiseach to ask Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan why the chief suspect has not been brought to justice.
“I believe Mary’s killer had political protection and that the Gardai have shielded him for almost 40 years. I am determined that Mary’s remains will be found and that she will be given the decent burial she deserves.
“The Taoiseach must act now and ensure everything is done to find her and bring her killer to justice. Commissioner O’Sullivan is well aware of this case and I am urging her to act now on all the evidence that has been available to her force for almost four decades.”
Ms Doherty is considering a legal action against Ireland, under the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees the right to a prompt, independent and effective investigation after a suspicious death.
She is also seeking an inquest into her sister’s death.
Her solicitor Darragh Mackin of Kevin Winters Law Firm in Belfast will also attend the meeting today.
Mark Tighe, in the Ireland edition of The Times, reports:
Enda Kenny raised the case of a child who has survived past his first birthday despite being born with a large part of his skull missing in response to a question about the eight amendment of the constitution.
A woman, a mother of two who has asked not to be named, told The Times that she confronted the taoiseach about Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws at Dublin airport on Friday, November 6, after the two had gone through security together.
She said Mr Kenny asked her what she wanted to replace the amendment with. He told the woman that he had been researching the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities and recently read about a child that had passed its first birthday even though he had a condition that meant most of his brain and skull were missing.
… A spokeswoman for Mr Kenny declined to comment on the discussion, but admitted that the taoiseach was carrying out research about abortion and fatal foetal abnormalities.
“…The taoiseach is thinking deeply and reading a range of material about the subject. As is well-known, the taoiseach seeks to engage with people, listen to their point of view and inform his thinking with the stories and issues they talk about with him.”
[RTÉ One’s] The Week in Politics [yesterday] did a montage of Enda Kenny’s 40 year political career last night. During his speech after the Fine Gael heave on him in 2010 he appears to be wearing some sort of earpiece. Is it a medical device or did he literally have to be told his words?
From top: Paddy Cosgrave; with Dr Gavin Jennings (centre) and unidentified ‘suit’
Further to tensions between the Web Summit and the government summit founder Paddy Cosgrave appeared on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland earlier to explain why Lisbon will host next year’s event.
Features: lies, hush money and traffic restrictions.
Dr Gavin Jennings: ‘Welcome back to the RDS Simmonscourt where we often bring you election campaigns but this morning is full of Technology trade stands, the smell of coffee, al ot of very young people, very tight jeans and very strange beards. It’s the Web Summit where people who want to make it in the Tech Industry get to meet people who already have. Founders of big companies like Instagram, Pixar and Tinder are here, Henry Ford’s grandson is here, in the huge seated area with a big stage just outside our studio, and Facebook stand where you can try out their oculus VR, take yourself to another world we’re told. Speakers will include author Dan Browne and Tour de France winner Chris Froome. Paddy Cosgrave is the organiser of the event which started in 2010 with 400 people and this year expects over 40,000 visitors. Paddy, thank you very much for coming to our pop up studio.I just see in the welcoming note that you’ve sent to people who are coming here ‘It rains alot in Ireland but rarely heavily. We strongly advise you bring a strong compact umbrella just in case.’Your visitors must be stunned at what they’re seeing here today.”
Paddy Cosgrave: “Oh the weather is absolutely incredible. What a November day.”
Jennings: “You’re also warning about problems with public transport.”
Cosgrave: “Yeah, I think when you bring a huge amount of people from around the world to what is a small city that’s already under strain on a daily basis it’s only going to accentuate the problem so we advise people to walk to and from the venue.”
Jennings: “Why are you not coming back next year?”
Cosgrave: “I think the Web Summit just got too big for the city. I think that over the last two years the strain that the city itself has been under is pretty obvious – you pick it up on twitter and certainly from the feedback from attendees – we just needed to find a bigger home. And we found one.”
Jennings: “The problems that you experienced, that you highlighted, that you wanted worked on, are they any better this year?”
Cosgrave: “Em, I think time will tell. I’m optimistic that there is some traffic calming measures around the RDS. I think that will alleviate traffic both for residents and for people that have flown in to Dublin.”
Jennings: “For those who haven’t followed the story, you released on social media a lot of exchanges between yourself and the department of the Taoiseach. I’m not going to go through it all again now, but you highlighted things that you wanted done and that weren’t done or at least not to your satisfaction and that’s why you say you’re moving to Lisbon next year. Do you regret how that all panned out now?”
Cosgrave: “Well, I actually think it’s a very interesting situation. There are serious issues in this country like homelessness, we’ve a health crisis. I do think this is a very opportunistic tack by the government. Ultimately the Web Summit is not that important at the end of the day to ordinary people’s lives. The way it’s has played out, the way it has been spun out and the lies that have been told the government, I think, are just a useful and practical distraction from the day to day beating that they take from the Irish Media.”
Jennings: ‘What sort of lies?’
Cosgrave: “So if you look actually at the context of the email. Over a great many years we were flagging that we were receiving, as they rightly point out, taxpayers money. They gave us over €750,000 and consistently, year after year, we said that we were ultimately embarrassed that we were given this money to pay for exhibition stands and that the state agencies responsible were doing so little to realise any return on investment. So if you look at the emails you’ll see that ministers from all over Europe have been and are coming to this event without ever being invited. They just know the event is on and they make it their business to be here.
What do they do when they come here? They look to meet with high level attendees, they hold bilateral meetings with them and they try to develop relationships. Why do they do that? Because they’re interested in helping the businesses in their countries ultimately. What has happened over the last four years in the case of the Web Summit is that I have no recollection of an Irish Minister ever meeting with a high level delegate.
Last year the British sent a Minister here for two days. He didn’t look for photos beside Enterprise Ireland or the IDA stand. He said he spent two days doing non stop bilateral meetings. What did No. 10 Downing St. do? They opened the doors of their offices to delegations that flew out of Dublin into London to meet with high level civil servants and politicians. It was all about trade. That has been repeated again here this week. There are Ministers from countries large and small; they were never invited by us, they just show up. They’re here to help their countries. What we received over a four year period in my eyes amounts to nothing more than hush money. We were supposed to accept this and then lavish the government in praise, which we did publicly for four years. What we did behind the scenes was try and push them time and time and again and try to get them to realise that this was an opportunity for Irish Businesses and they did not take that opportunity. I’d be happy to read out further emails that I have not released that go back further than 2015, into 2014 and 2013.”
Jennings: ‘You sound very angry about the way this has all turned out. Is there any way back for the web summit to Dublin?’
Cosgrave:” I’m absolutely of the belief that Dublin is an absolutely fantastic venue for any conference. The fact that we do not have a conference industry makes it very difficult for conferences at scale or conferences of any type to operate in this city. Nevertheless, I think it’s a fantastic city and we’d always welcome any opportunity to come back in to Ireland.”
Jennings:: “I don’t want to go into all the details as a lot of them have been trawled over before but some people will have problems with, I mean you’re a big business man now, and you’re asking for fees to be waived for garda escorts and traffic management, did you really ask for garda escort for VIP millionaires?”
Cosgrave: “No, first of all those escorts were provided and offered to us in the past. So if you look at that email, what happened, and I would call it a very clever move by civil servants, they asked us to give them a wishlist, absolutely everything we thought they could possibly do for us that was reasonable., that was the starting point, that was 2014. If you look at all of the correspondence in 2015 that relates to 2016 at no point, at no point did we ask for any money. Instead we offered the State €1,000,000 euro worth of exhibition space, costs that are paid by other governments all over the world from Mexico to Brazil to Israel. So just to ultimately stress, I believe that this is just a distraction from the real issues that really impact people on a day to day basis. It’s a piece that really is of no consequence come an election, and it’s helpful to distract people, from the government’s point of view. And the idea that a Minister needs a formal invitation to show up here…”
Jennings: ‘You issued an invitation to the Taoiseach on Friday night?’
Cosgrave: ‘Well, first of all he was invited in May and those discussions began in May and everyone is perfectly aware they came to nothing. On Friday every TD, Senator, Minister was issued with an invite.’
Cosgrave: ‘It’s clear from what you describe and from your emails and you said it to me there at the beginning that you felt you have outgrown Dublin, that Dublin wasn’t capable of putting on this event any more. Had you your mind already made up …. ‘
[talk over each other]
Cosgrave: ‘Let me read you an email from 2013 based on my experience dealing with the State Agency Enterprise Ireland, in this country. I can honestly say that I am uncomfortable working with any organisation, in particular one funded using taxpayer money, that seems to have achieved so little yet invested so much time, money and resources in Web Summit. Logos and photos might impress in annual reports but spin can not completely obscure the reality and that reality is in this case somewhat concerning.
That was 2013. Publicly, we always lavished the government in praise, privately we were constantly trying to work to get politicians to do what other governments around Europe were doing at Web Summit and that was quite simply focusing not on photo opportunities but focusing on opportunities to do business and today there are ministers from countries as large as France and as small as Kosovo outside doing the work that they have been elected to do.
Jennings: ‘Do you think that the other governments, like the Portuguese, might be nervous that you put correspondence with the Irish government so readily into Social Media that you might do the same to them if you don’t get what you want from them?’
Cosgrave: ‘So that correspondence was due to be released in any case, the following day, under Freedom of Information requests and FOI applies all across Europe, it’s no different in Ireland.
Jennings: “I’ll come back to what I asked you a little earlier on: Do you see a way back for the event coming to Dublin? It doesn’t sound like it.”
Cosgrave: “So we now have events in Hong Kong, in the United States in New Orleans, and in India all growing faster than the Web Summit, so what we do is build conferences that bring people together all over the world and we started in Dublin five years ago. We’ve got a lot better, we’re now launching conferences in other cities around Europe. I would see absolutely no reason why we would not launch conferences in Dublin. It’s a fantastic city.”
Jennings: “So you think you could come back here?”
Cosgrave: ‘Absolutely, why not?”
Jennings: ‘Paddy Cosgrave, organiser of the Web Summit, thank you very much for speaking with us this morning.’
There are some who accuse the Taoiseach of lying about such matters. I have absolutely no doubt he has not lied. To accuse Mr Kenny of lies is to misjudge the seriousness of the problem.
When he told us some months ago that workers contacted him to ask why they had a little more in their wage packets, we knew it wasn’t true. If you’ve a question about your wages, you don’t ring the Taoiseach, you ring Brenda in Accounts.
Later, he might have got away with his man-with-two-pints story, if he hadn’t repeated it a few weeks later, as though precisely the same thing had happened again.
He boasted about telling Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras how to fix his economy – telling him the Irish Government imposed no income tax, Vat or PRSI increases. Of course, this was nonsense. The Taoiseach was saying things that weren’t true, his explanation for this was threadbare – but it all got glossed over.
There is always something real at the centre of these yarns. Then, Enda elaborates, exaggerates, makes up little scenes, adds detail and dialogue, and in no time, he appears to believe his own fantasies.
Top: Paddy Cosgrave and Enda Kenny launching last year’s Web Summit
Read them and weep.
The culmination of soul-crushing, drawn out correspondence between Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave and people in the the Taoiseach’s office which eventually led to the Web Summit leaving Dublin for Lisbon.
Independent TD Mick Wallace once again raised the sale of Project Eagle by Nama during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil earlier.
And, once again, he called for a Commission of Investigation into the sale.
Mick Wallace: “If they needed any more proof of the need for a commission of inquiry into the workings of NAMA, Members got it at the meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts last Thursday. Deputy McDonald challenged NAMA about redactions in its responses to questions from the Northern Ireland inquiry and in particular, details of Frank Cushnahan’s conflict of interest declaration to the agency. NAMA’s representatives told the Deputy they could not give them to her and were not even obliged to so do. Answers will not be forthcoming without a commission of inquiry. There have been a great number of questions but there have been absolutely no answers and I still am not convinced the Government wants the answers. Members still do not know why NAMA allowed the Project Eagle process to continue despite the involvement of Tughans and Brown Rudnick, which had been involved in the Pimco deal. Members still do not understand how NAMA could possibly tolerate the idea of selling Project Arrow to Cerberus, which is under criminal investigation in America and Britain. How in God’s name can this be the case…”
Peter Mathews: “Hear, hear.”
Wallace: “…apart from the fact it makes no sense to sell Project Arrow in any event, given that 50% of it is residential and the country faces a housing crisis? It has a par value of more than €6 billion and yet NAMA looks to sell it for less than €1 billion. This simply does not make sense and the process should be stopped. If Cerberus is found guilty, what happens with Project Eagle? Will it be null and void? Will the entire process be undone? When Pimco’s potential criminal violation was found, did NAMA seek US legal advice? When NAMA found out, did it approach the Garda under section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act?”
Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett: “A question please, thank you.”
Wallace: “If it did, when did NAMA so do? Did Lazard express views regarding the continued involvement of Brown Rudnick and Tughans or was it satisfied in this regard? Does the Taoiseach have a problem with the fact that Lazard, which ran the process for NAMA, also was involved with the bank that gave the money to Cerberus to buy it? Does the Taoiseach have a problem with that?”
Finian McGrath: “No problems.”
Enda Kenny: “I already have answered questions on this matter in the House, as has the Minister for Finance. The Deputy is aware two investigations are under way in this regard. He is aware of the interest from the United States. The Deputy has made or has been given information that he has brought to the House and he has gone to the Garda, on which I commend him. However, Deputy Wallace also is aware NAMA is responsible, through the Committee of Public Accounts to this House and the Oireachtas. I understand the Deputy has declined to give witness evidence to the aforementioned committee but he should do so. He has information or has been given information: somebody is supplying him with information, which is fair enough. He has used some of that in giving it to the authorities. However, he is making highly specific allegations here and I suggest he should accept an invitation from the Committee of Public Accounts to appear as a witness and give his evidence to the body through which NAMA is accountable to the Oireachtas and have justified the claims he has made or otherwise. I cannot speculate on a court hearing or hearings that are taking place in regard to Cerberus or any other company as to what the outcome of that might be.”
Kenny: “I suggest to Deputy Wallace that while we can continue this kind of dialogue here on a weekly basis, he has been given or supplied with information and evidence…”
Mathews: “Which the Deputy has given to the Taoiseach.”
Kenny: “I suggest he take that information himself…as a witness before the Committee of Public Accounts…where NAMA can reply to the Deputy in the committee… That is what Deputy Wallace should do… Deputy Wallace can deal with the Chairman, Deputy McGuinness, and ascertain whether his allegations or evidence stands up…That is what Deputy Wallace should do… and the Deputy might well serve the national interest in a major way because whoever is giving him his piece of information, he should then test them as to whether they stand up.”
Clare Daly: “Is the Taoiseach going to allow Project Arrow?”
Barrett: “Deputy Wallace.”
Wallace: “I have been to the Garda and to the National Crime Agency. I have come into the House and put stuff before the Taoiseach who is ignoring it. What is he going to do about it? He is the leader of this country and he is ignoring serious questions and serious problems I am raising. Why does the Taoiseach not wish to do something about it?
Barrett: “Will the Deputy put his supplementary question? Thank you.”
Wallace: “At this stage, there is a strong belief that Cerberus was earmarked to get this project hail, rain or snow; that the whole thing was fixed up in order that it would get it. NAMA is involved in that and the agency cannot distance itself. The sales process is not much better then the purchase process.
Barrett: “Sorry, please put your question, thank you.”
Mick Wallace: “Are you satisfied that there was no collaboration with Cerebeus by a Nama insider, based in Dublin? Because I’m not. And you, if you want the answer, don’t bother your barney asking Nama for the answer because they’re not going to give it to you, no more than they’re not giving answers to the PAC. The PAC members themselves admitted last week that they do not have the authority or power to hold Nama to account. A Commission of Inquiry is the only way that you are going to get the answers we need. The Irish people have not been served well by Nama. It stinks to high heaven and you are involved in the cover-up because you refuse to do anything about it.”
Enda Kenny: “You make the point that the Cerebus was earmarked for this project. You make the point that this was all fixed up, you make the point that somebody based here in Dublin was got at. Now, I think Deputy Wallace, these are pretty serious allegations. You make the point, ah yes, Taoiseach I’m involved in some kind of cover-up here and this is a situation that can only be resolved by a Commission of Investigation. Now, you’ve been to the guards, you’ve been to other authorities, I suggest to you now that you elaborate on the information you’ve given here and the allegation that you make in front of the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.”
Certain RTE political correspondent said today”for reasons only known to” @WallaceMick, he’s not going to PAC. Mick’s been abundantly clear.
From top: Mary Boyle, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil this evening
In the last hour, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald raised the case of Mary Boyle in the Dáil.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil he passed on certain information about the case to gardaí.
Mary Lou McDonald: “Ann, the twin sister of Mary Boyle, a six-year-old girl who disappeared close to her grandparents’ home in Donegal in 1977, Ann firmly believes that there was both political interference and a garda cover-up in Mary’s case. Taoiseach would you be willing to meet with Mary’s sister Ann to listen to her concerns regarding the Garda handling of the case.”
Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett: “That’s not really a matter for the Order of Business now but if the Taoiseach wishes… There are things that are allowed in the Order of Business and things that are not.”
Enda Kenny: “The Garda Bill is before the committee tomorrow. I’m aware of the case, of Mary Boyle. It’s many years ago now. I’ve had some contact about this, quite a number of years ago, which I brought to the attention of the gardaí and I can’t say whether they, the allegation was followed up or not but I brought it to the attention of the gardaí. It’s quite a number of years ago, deputy. I don’t have any objection to meeting, when I get a chance, with Mary’s sister, I’d be happy to do that. But clearly, the operational matters for the gardaí, on a day-to-day basis, are a matter for the Commissioner of the gardaí. The new independent policing authority will bring new powers and new opportunities here as indeed does the changes brought about to GSOC, being chaired by a High Court judge. All these are important and, actually, represent the most fundamental changes to the structure of the Garda Síochána since the foundation of the State. So the answer to your question is: yes. When I get an opportunity, send me the contact numbers for Mary’s sister, I’d be happy to talk to her.”