Tag Archives: Frances Fitzgerald

Clockwise from top left: Lorraine and Maurice McCabe; Frances Fitzgerald, Noirin O’Sullivan, Ken O’Leary, Michael Flahive, Noel Waters


At the tail-end of former Tanaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s appearance at the Disclosures Tribunal.

Ms Fitzgerald said on two occasions that she made a “conscious decision” in respect of an email she received on May 15, 2015, about Sgt Maurice McCabe and the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Readers will recall how the email – originally sent by the then assistant secretary at the Department of Justice Michael Flahive to Ms Fitzgerald’s private secretary Chris Quattrociocchi on May 15, 2015 and then forwarded on to Ms Fitzgerald and others – only emerged last November and largely led to her eventual resignation.

It was only disclosed to the tribunal after it emerged in November.

At the time, when calls were being made for her to resign, Ms Fitzgerald said, ad nauseam, that she couldn’t recall reading the email.

The Dail repeatedly heard from her, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, that she and/or the Department of Justice had “no hand, act or part” in forming the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s legal strategy at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Yet yesterday, in response to the suggestion from Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, that, once she got this email, she basically did nothing and consulted nobody – a suggestion repeatedly put to her last November – she responded to the claim somewhat differently.

She told the tribunal that she wouldn’t frame what happened in the manner Mr McGuinness suggested.

Instead, she said: “I made a conscious decision to obviously not interfere with the Commission of Investigation in anyway because I would have seen it as inappropriate.”

She also said: “I made a conscious decision that Judge O’Higgins would deal with whatever issues, as I expected he would, at the Commission.”

As mentioned above, Mr Flahive sent the email to Ms Fitzgerald’s private secretary Chris Quattrociocchi on May 15, 2015, at 4.57pm.

It was sent following a flurry of messages sent from solicitor Annemarie Ryan, of the Chief State Solicitor’s office to Michael Dreelan, of the Attorney General’s office, who in turned contacted his superior at the AG office, Richard Barrett, who in turn went on to contact Mr Flahive – who then wrote to Mr Quattrociocchi.

[Readers will recall how the tribunal has already heard that Ms Ryan wrote down “political dynamite” in a note about what she saw occurring at the O’Higgins Commission on May 15, 2015, and her knowledge of the situation].

But, going back to Mr Flahive’s email to Ms Fitzgerald’s private secretary.

It was sent after the following sequence of events…

From 3.10pm to 3.36pm: The O’Higgins Commission of Investigation adjourned to allow Colm Smyth SC, for Noirin O’Sullivan and other gardai, get instructions after a row broke out over a line of questioning being taken in relation to Sgt Maurice McCabe when evidence was being given by Chief Supt Colm Rooney.

From 3.26pm to 3.40pm: Noirin O’Sullivan spoke on the phone with the then Secretary General of the Department of Justice Noel Waters for around 14 minutes.

Neither Ms O’Sullivan nor Mr Waters kept notes of this call and neither have any real recollection of what was specifically discussed.

At 3.29pm: Noirin O’Sullivan’s counsel sent her a short “letter of comfort” or written advices to her, via her liaison officer at the commission Chief Supt Fergus Healy, saying: “In particular, we consider it necessary and in the interests of a fair and balanced examination of the subject matter of the investigation, that specific issues be put to Sgt. McCabe regarding his conduct and interactions with senior management following the completion of a formal garda investigation into a complaint against Sgt. McCabe which resulted in a direction by the DPP that no further action was to be taken against Sgt. McCabe.”

At 4.10pm: The O’Higgins Commission adjourned for a second time to allow Mr Smyth get his instructions reconfirmed.

At 4.16pm: The then Assistant Secretary to the Department of Justice Ken O’Leary spoke to Noirin O’Sullivan on the phone for around three minutes.

Mr O’Leary has given evidence that there were two “hurried phone calls” that afternoon but Ms O’Sullivan has told the tribunal that doesn’t accord with her memory or record of events.

There are no notes of these calls.

But Mr O’Leary’s evidence has been that during the first call Ms O’Sullivan told him an issue had arisen at the commission and asked him if there was anything that he believed she should be mindful of.

The tribunal has also heard that in his statement to the tribunal, Mr O’Leary said Ms O’Sullivan called him.

But this week, when he gave evidence, he said he was changing that stance.

He said: “I’m changing it to the extent that I think it may have been that I had been on the telephone to the Commissioner or the Commissioner had another phone, that isn’t included in the records.”

At 4.34pm: The O’Higgins Commission of Investigation resumed and Colm Smyth SC, for Ms O’Sullivan and other gardai, told Judge O’Higgins that his instructions were reconfirmed – which were to challenge the credibility and motivation of Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Mr Smyth also told the commission that afternoon that Ms O’Sullivan was challenging Sgt McCabe’s “integrity” but later, in late June 2015, Mr Smyth told the commission this was an error on his part.


In a nutshell.

The sequence of those communications shows Ms O’Sullivan spoke to officials from the Department of Justice before Mr Smyth’s instructions were reconfirmed..

Both Mr O’Leary and Mr Waters, although they have no notes and no specific recollection, say they would not have given advice to Ms O’Sullivan on how to instruct her legal counsel.

In addition, Ms O’Sullivan, despite also not having any specific recollection of these calls, also told the tribunal:

“At no time did I discuss or seek approval/advice from the Department in respect of my instructions or otherwise to counsel. In fact, instructions had already been given to counsel. An Garda Síochána was represented independently from the Department of Justice at the Commission, and as such, the Department have no involvement in any instructions given by me to counsel.”

So where does Ms Fitzgerald fit into this?

And what of the famous May 15 2015 email?


It should be noted that the two Department of Justice officials Ms O’Sullivan spoke to before her instructions were reconfirmed – namely Ken O’Leary and Noel Waters – also got the email.

And not only that, before the email was sent, Mr O’Leary had had a telephone conversation with Mr Flahive – who called Mr O’Leary after he had been contacted by Richard Barrett, of the Attorney General’s office, as previously mentioned.

During that phone call, Mr O’Leary disclosed to Mr Flahive that he had spoken to Ms O’Sullivan on the phone twice – but Mr Flahive didn’t disclose this detail in the email to the minister.

Mr O’Leary said that he himself had been thinking of drawing up an email for the minister but was happy for Mr Flahive to do so, as he felt it was more appropriate for Mr Flahive to contact Ms Fitzgerald.

Mr O’Leary told the tribunal:

“The Minister, in my view, could have had no role in relation to the Garda case at the Commission, and contacts between the Commissioner and the Minister about the Commission, once it was going on, I was a bit uneasy about. But while I was thinking of what I might say to the Minister, Michael Flahive was on to me. His information had come from the Attorney General’s office, and it seemed to me that was, for want of a better phrase, a legitimate route for the Minister to get the information. And we agreed that he’d write an email setting out the conversations that he had or conversation that he had with Richard Barrett in the Attorney’s office.”

Amid talk of inappropriate contacts, it should be noted, during Mr O’Leary’s evidence, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, pointedly noted that:

“She [Ms O’Sullivan] discussed matters with you that had arisen at the O’Higgins Commission in private…On an informal basis, she [Ms O’Sullivan] was happy to discuss it with you…”

But back to the email…

In addition to sending the email to Mr Quattrociocchi, Mr Flahive also cc-ed the now famous 4.57pm email to Mr Waters, by way of a Sec Gen Office group email address, Mr O’Leary and the department’s principal officer for policing Martin Power.

After Mr Quattrociocchi got the email, he bounced it on, at 5.04pm, to, as mentioned above, Ms Fitzgerald, and also to her two special advisors Fine Gael councillor Willliam Lavelle and Marion Mannion.

The tribunal has heard that, in all, ten people received the email.

Of this ten, the following people have been asked if they could recall reading the email.

These were their responses:

Mr Waters said: “I have no recollection of that email, but my private secretary advises that he received that and that he brought it to my attention on the following Monday, the 18th, and that I — he subsequently sent back an email to the writer, to Michael Flahive, to say that I had noted it.”

Mr Quattrociocchi: “I don’t have specific recollection, no.”

Mr Waters’ private secretary Denis Griffin, who was on the Sec Gen Office email group: “No, I don’t actually receiving it” [sic].

Dale Sunderland, a former principal officer and Head of Communications and Corporate Secretariat at the Department of Justice, who also got the email as part of the Sec Gen Office email group, said: “I don’t specifically have a memory of reading it, but I’m quite sure I did read it because I always made it my business to read all my emails.”

Bernadette Phelan, assistant principal officer in the corporate secretariat office in the Department of Justice and Equality, who was also in the Sec Gen Office email group, said: “I don’t recall reading the email.”

Paula Monks, clerical officer in the Department of Justice, who was also in the Sec Gen Office group said: “I don’t, no.”

Mr Lavelle was the only person to recall reading it, saying: “I have a vague recollection of reading it, yes.”

He also said he felt it was a “unique” email and he felt it was “inappropriate” to receive it.

He said he couldn’t recall any other such email from Mr Flahive to the minister that made him feel uncomfortable.

However, he said he never raised it or discussed it with Ms Fitzgerald.

Ms Mannion hasn’t appeared before the tribunal. The tribunal has also heard that she hasn’t given a statement to the tribunal to date.

Interestingly, Ms Leader BL, for the tribunal, pointed out, while Mr Quattrociocchi was giving evidence that, after the  Irish Examiner and RTE reported on the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation almost exactly a year later, on or around May 13, 2016 – Ms Fitzgerald had a meeting with Ms O’Sullivan about the O’Higgins commission of investigation.

There was a comprehensive briefing of the meeting prepared for Ms Fitzgerald but it failed to mention the May 15 email, prompting Ms Leader to suggest:

“It would appear, for one way or another, that the information which was transmitted to the Minister on the 15th May 2015 has been, if I can, wiped from history in relation to this particular briefing,”

But, again, why does this email matter?

Mr Flahive’s email was fundamentally wrong.

It claimed – and it was based on fourth-hand information – that the legal row at the O’Higgins Commission centred on counsel for An Garda Siochana raising Ms D’s IRM complaint about the 2006 investigation into her allegation against Sgt McCabe at the commission.

[The tribunal has already heard that Ms D felt the original investigation into her complaint of 2006 wasn’t investigated properly and thus, wanted it included in the IRM. Ms D also made a complaint to GSOC about the 2006/2007 investigation.]

This wasn’t the case. As mentioned above, the legal row at the commission centred on the line of questioning being taken by Mr Smyth when Chief Supt Colm Rooney was giving evidence at the commission and said Sgt McCabe wanted the DPP’s directions – which exonerated Sgt McCabe – challenged.


Even though the claim made about the row in the letter was wrong, many have been wondering why Ms Fitzgerald didn’t become concerned – or why alarm bells didn’t ring out – when she saw the claim about Ms D’s IRM complaint being raised at the commission, given the IRM counsel had ruled in November 2014 that the matter was not to be included in the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Yesterday, the tribunal heard that GSOC sent a nine-page report to Martin Power, a principal officer in the Department of Justice, outlining that it found nothing wrong with the investigation into Ms D’s complaint on May 21, 2015 – six days after the famous May 15, 2015 email.

GSOC specifically asked for Ms Fitzgerald to be told of this.

When Mr Power gave evidence yesterday, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, asked Mr Power when he gave this to the minister.

Mr Power said he couldn’t recall.

Mr McDowell also asked him he would have made a link between the May 15 email and the May 21 GSOC report in respect of the Ms D matter and Sgt McCabe.

Again, like many witnesses before him, Mr Power said he couldn’t recall and state if he made the connection at the time.

But then.

The hearing was briefly adjourned when Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal interrupted to say Mr Power had signed an affidavit of discovery in May 2017 and that documents discovered to the tribunal related to this GSOC report.

After the brief adjournment, Ms Leader explained that these documents discovered showed the GSOC report was sent by Frank McDermott, assistant principal officer in the policing division at the Department of Justice, to Ms Fitzgerald’s private secretary Chris Quattrociocchi on the very same day it was received – May 21, 2015.

Suddenly Mr Power remembered.

The tribunal then heard the document that was sent to Mr Quattrociocchi had also been forwarded to Noel Waters, Ken O’Leary, Michael Flahive and Martin Power.

And, furthermore, it heard that an 11-page submission – written by a Mr English, also of the garda division within the department and containing the nine-page GSOC report – was sent to Minister Fitzgerald on May 27, 2015.

The tribunal hear Mr Power wrote a covering submission for that submission which was entitled “Complaint by Ms. D, alleged cover-up by Gardaí of assault allegation against Sergeant Maurice McCabe.”

The covering submission was for Michael Flahive whom, it appears, saw it on June 2, 2015 – based on a handwritten note on the document.


In the covering submission, Mr Power wrote: “I think the alleged sexual assault was referred to in a particular context during the recent, initial hearings of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation”.

Ms Leader asked Mr Power what he thought that referred to.

Mr Power told the tribunal: “I think certainly it’s a reference to the email of the 15th May, wherein the initial reference was made to the issue that had arisen at the O’Higgins Commission that day, and I suspect that either on foot of that then at that time or when this report came in I inquired as to whether there was a link, and clearly — well, I say I think it refers to that”

In turn, Mr McDowell asked Mr Power if it was just “forgetfulness” that caused him to say he couldn’t recall making the link.

Mr Power said: “I simply didn’t recall this submission at that time. But I am happy to say that it’s clear that at the time I sought to make the link, if it was appropriate to make the link and bring it to Michael’s attention who would have certainly been able to make the link if it was an accurate link..”

[Incidentally, May 21, 2015 was the same day Ms O’Sullivan held a private consultation with Colm Smyth SC in her office – a meeting of which there are no notes and, despite taking place just six days after the legal row at the commission, Mr Smyth said they didn’t discuss instructions or the row. Ms O’Sullivan can’t recall any specifics about it.]

Ms Fitzgerald hasn’t been asked yet about her knowledge of the GSOC investigation’s conclusions in May 2015 – but it’s likely she’ll be asked the same question that Mr Power was asked: would she have linked the GSOC report with the May 15 email and would it not have caused her some concern or prompted her to take some action?

Yesterday, she gave about two hours of evidence.

Half of that involved counsel for the tribunal asking her about the email of May 15, 2015 and her lack of a response to it.

Mr McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, asked her, repeatedly, why it didn’t set off alarm bells for her?; why she didn’t ask herself ‘what is going on?’; why, if she didn’t feel she had precise details, did she not speak to Mr Flahive about the matter?; why, if she didn’t think it appropriate to ask questions, why she didn’t ask the Department of Justice’s counsel to speak to An Garda Siochana’s counsel?

Ms Fitzgerald responded in the same way as last November: she didn’t think it was appropriate and that she felt it was a matter for Judge O’Higgins.

She said she never consulted with Ms O’Sullivan, Mr Waters, Mr Power, Mr Flahive, any of her advisors, or anyone else copied into the email.

She said she wasn’t aware of the phonecalls between Ms O’Sullivan and Mr O’Leary and she also wasn’t aware of the solicitor Annemarie Ryan’s “political dynamite” concerns about a judicial review.

And then, at the end, she said she made a “conscious decision” not to do anything.


Ms Fitzgerald will resume questioning this morning at 10am.

Previously: Disclosures, Discrepancies And Noirin

Disclosures Tribunal on Broadsheet



Former Tanaiste and Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald this morning

Today, the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald will give evidence to the Disclosures Tribunal.

Readers will recall how Ms Fitzgerald resigned in November 2017 following the publication of emails she was in receipt of pertaining to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015 – which examined allegations of poor policing in the Cavan/Monaghan area made by Sgt Maurice McCabe.

It’s likely Ms Fitzgerald will be asked, among other matters, about the following…

Her exact knowledge of Ms D’s allegation made against Sgt Maurice McCabe in December 2006 which was found to have no basis by the DPP in April 2007.

– Her exact knowledge of the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s understanding of Ms D’s complaint – given Ms O’Sullivan has given evidence to say she received a false referral alleging Sgt McCabe stood accused of rape in May 2014 and was never told this was incorrect.

– Her knowledge of Ms D’s complaint about the 2007 investigation into her allegation.

Her knowledge of the Independent Review Mechanism’s counsel involvement/contacts with Ms D and/or complaint about the investigation.

– Her knowledge and understanding of who and what her predecessor Alan Shatter was talking about when he told the Dail on June 19, 2014:

“If the statutory inquiry [which eventually became the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation] is to be comprehensive, it should include all cases dealt with in Bailieboro Garda Station which had given rise to complaint.

There is a matter which has been the subject of articles in the Irish Independent, which included a report of Deputy Micheál Martin meeting an individual who alleges she was the victim of a sexual assault and her complaint was not recorded on the Pulse system and did not result in a prosecution.

I understand from the newspaper report that Deputy Martin was to provide information on this matter to the Taoiseach and I presume he has done so. This case should clearly form part of any statutory inquiry.”

– Her knowledge of GSOC’s investigation in December 2014 which eventually found there was no issue with the original investigation into Ms D’s allegation of 2006/2007.

Her knowledge of the consideration given to including Ms D’s complaint about the investigation in the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

– Her knowledge of members of the Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana orchestrating the Ms D investigation file being given to the IRM counsel for their examination.

Her knowledge of the IRM counsel deciding – in November 2014 – that, after examining the Ms D file, that her complaint should not be included in the O’Higgins Commission of Investigatioj

– Her reaction to the email of May 15, 2015 which sent from Michael Flahive, the then Department of Justice assistant secretary, to Christopher Quattrociocchi, Ms Fitzgerald’s then private secretary and cc-ed to the Department’s General Secretary Noel Waters, among others.

This email wrongly claimed that the legal row at the O’Higgins Commission centred on counsel for An Garda Siochana raising Ms D’s IRM complaint about the 2006 investigation at the commission.

Mr Flahive later said this was a coded reference to the IRM as a means to avoid explicitly describe Ms D’s complaint against Sgt McCabe.

But, as mentioned above, Ms Fitzgerald was informed in November 2014 that Ms D’s complaint would not be included in O’Higgins.

Her communications with Noirin O’Sullivan and Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, in May 2016 after reports about the legal row in the commission first emerged in the Irish Examiner and RTE.

– Her decision not to publish the “letter of comfort” Noirin O’Sullivan got from her legal counsel on the afternoon/evening of May 15, 2015 – after she requested it via her liaison officer Chief Supt Fergus Healy – after the legal row broke out. The tribunal has already heard that Ms O’Sullivan asked Ms Fitzgerald to publish the short letter but didn’t.

– Her appearance on Prime Time on May 17, 2016.

Her speech given to the Dáil on May 18, 2016.

Olga Cronin will be tweeting from  the tribunal today.  Follow her here.

Previously: Disclosures Tribunal on broadsheet


Clockwise from top left: Former Secretary General of the Department of Justice Noel Waters; Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Last Friday.

At the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle.

Evidence was heard from the former Secretary General at the Department of Justice Noel Waters and Head of Legal Affairs at An Garda Siochana Ken Ruane.

Mr Ruane is scheduled to continue giving evidence today and will be followed by Annemarie Ryan, of the Chief State Solicitor’s office.

On Friday, it also heard of Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, say although nobody was suggesting that somebody was going to ask Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation if he ever abused a child,  “there was consideration, God knows by whom, given to the question of putting Ms D’s allegation firmly in the middle of the table at the O’Higgins Commission”.

It also heard of communications between the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the bizarre drawing up of statements by the Department of Justice for the Garda Commissioner to make to the Department of Justice.

That particular matter prompted  Judge Charleton to recall Myles na gCopaleen and ask: “If the Garda Commissioner is writing to the Department of Justice what the Department of Justice wants to have written to it, what in heaven’s name does that mean in terms of any genuine progress in terms of attitude?”

It also heard of a draft speech Ms O’Sullivan sent to Ms Fitzgerald on May 18, 2016 –  after the Irish Examiner broke the story in May 2016 about the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation and the strategy employed against Sgt McCabe – and in which she suggested Ms Fitzgerald tell the Dail, among other things, “I have interrogated this matter in detail with the 22 Commissioner of An Garda Síochána and now present to the House the outcome…I wish to state here now that I have full confidence in the Commissioner” (more about these communications in a later post).

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From top (left): Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic; former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan; a response journalist Ken Foxe received from An Garda Siochana on foot of an FOI request

You may recall a previous post about the Communications Clinic and how it was hired by both An Garda Siochana and the Department of Justice in both 2015 and 2016.

An Garda Siochana paid the the firm €10,400  and €92,955 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The Department of Justice paid the Communications Clinic  €756 and €24,221 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The post drew attention to the fact two separate attempts made earlier this year, by journalists Ali Bracken, of the Irish Daily Mail, and Ken Foxe – to obtain details of An Garda Siochana’s hiring of the Communications Clinic, under the Freedom of Information Act – were rejected.

Specifically, Mr Foxe sought “copies of any emails between the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and PR consultant Terry Prone or the Communications Clinic during the period in which those services were provided to AGS.”

An Garda Siocana refused Mr Foxe’s request on the basis that there were no emails that were subject to FOI (see docs above).

Further to this…

Last March, Mr Foxe also sent a similar FOI request to the Department of Justice for “copies of all correspondence – both written and electronic – between the Minister Frances Fitzgerald and/or her private office and any of the following people or companies: Terry Prone and/or the Communications Clinic. “

Mr Foxe’s request was eventually refused on the basis that there were no records.

He then appealed this decision.


Mr Foxe tweeted what he wrote in his appeal and the response he got from the Department of Justice…

Via Ken Foxe

Previously: Noirin’s Prone Position

This morning.

In the Irish Examiner.

Michael Clifford and Cormac O’Keeffe reported on an answer to a parliamentary question put down by Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall to the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.

The answer, published on Tuesday, revealed that the email accounts of the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and her special advisers were not looked at as part of the “trawl” for documents in the Department of Justice relevant to the Disclosures Tribunal.

The tribunal, overseen by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton, is examining allegations of a smear campaign against Garda whisteblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

On the same day, Mr Flanagan, in an answer to a separate parliamentary question, revealed the Disclosures Tribunal issued discovery orders on the Department of Justice in February, April and September of this year.

Readers may wish to note that, in response to the question asked by Ms Shortall, the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said:

While the email accounts of the then Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality and her advisors were not specifically examined as part of the recent trawl for documents, I can confirm that the email accounts of officials working in relevant areas of the Department were searched and that this exercise would of course encompass emails sent from or to the then Minister and her advisors on any such matters.

“I would point out that all discovery orders issued by the Tribunal were complied with fully. The Department has also made extensive voluntary disclosure of other matters including three protected disclosures, reports from the Garda Commissioner under section 41 of the Garda Síochána Act and, most recently, the two email threads that were uncovered following a trawl of documents in the Department.

“In acknowledging receipt of the emails, the Tribunal made reference to my Department’s already extensive discovery which has allowed the Tribunal to place the current documents in context.

I am assured that in the event of further documents being located that may be of relevance to the Tribunal’s work that these will of course be furnished to the Tribunal and I would point out that, the Deputy will be aware, the Taoiseach has announced that there will be an external examination of the way in which my Department fulfilled its obligations in relation to discovering documents to the Tribunal, to conclude before Christmas. That is a step I welcome.”

“I can assure the Deputy that any further Discovery Orders to be made by the Tribunal will also be complied with in full and the Tribunal has been assured of my full and ongoing support in that regard.”



After the a meeting of the joint Oireachtas committee on justice and equality, which was attended by Deputy Secretary General at the Department of Justice Oonagh McPhilips…

In the Dail…

Labour TD Alan Kelly said to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:

“There is an element of denial about what is going on. I spent a period of time at the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality this morning and genuinely ask the Taoiseach to ask his colleagues, Deputy Colm Brophy and Senator Martin Conway, who made good contributions about what happened. It was extraordinary.

“Given everything that has gone on and the information we have received through persistent questioning and with help from the media, we still have departmental officials coming to the committee to state the Department provided the information that it had been requested to provide during discovery.

“That is it – nothing has changed. The meeting was deeply worrying. I asked a specific question. I asked if private email addresses that potentially had been used by senior officials for departmental business and mobile phone records had been provided for the tribunal. The answer was that they had not been asked for them.

I had to ask the officials to ask Mr. Justice Charleton if he wanted this information. Is that not crazy? Has anything changed? We were also told that the information provided had been provided based on the questions asked and that there might be other documentation available.

In effect, they are acting as judge and jury and as a filtering system in providing information for the Charleton tribunal. The trawl has not changed anything. The culture has not changed.

“There are three specific issues. First, the way in which parliamentary questions are answered has not changed. The Taoiseach made a commitment in the Dáil that it would. I have evidence from yesterday. I am receiving far more text, but I am not getting answers in seeking facts, not speculation.

“Second, when it comes to the information being provided for the Charleton tribunal, we need a volte-face in attitude. The Department needs to provide everything. It needs to err on the side of providing too much. Information on the specific issues I have raised has not been sent.

“Third, I note that last week the Taoiseach was provided with a summary under section 41 by the acting Garda Commissioner. What is he going to do about this? It has to be acted on immediately. It is not a case of writing back and asking more questions.

The tribunal will be live for the next couple of months and we need this unit to be dealt with. We need answers quickly because it is having a dramatic impact on the operations of the tribunal.

The Taoiseach should remember that the Department has received lots of correspondence from certain witnesses who have issues and concerns about this issue, on top of the 29 parliamentary questions from me.”

Transcripts via Oireachtas.ie

Email trawl for Charleton Tribunal omitted Frances Fitzgerald (Irish Examiner)

Yesterday: ‘The Minister Would Have Done Nothing Wrong If She Had… Expressed Her Dissatisfaction With The Approach’


Frances Fitzgerald through the years and (above) a near prang with photogrpahers while leaving government buildings this evening.

“Today I made the decision to tender my resignation to the Taoiseach, stepping-down with immediate effect as Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve in Government, but I believe it is necessary to take this decision to avoid an unwelcome and potentially destabilising general election at this historically critical time.

Throughout my career I have always sought to act with integrity and responsibility, and that is why I have decided on this occasion to put the national interest ahead of my own personal reputation. I have always believed in fairness and equality and these principles have guided my work as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, as Minister for Justice and Equality, and now as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

I would like to thank the Taoiseach for showing the same courage and determination to protect my good name that he displayed three years ago when he stood-up and defended the reputation of Maurice McCabe. What I admire most about the Taoiseach is that he has always believed in doing what was right – not what was popular or politically expedient. I will always be grateful for his confidence and support and for giving me the opportunity to serve in a Government that is making a real difference in people’s lives at a critical time in our history.

However, I decided that my continuation in office risks destabilising that good work, and so I have decided to step-down so that this work may continue and the country can be spared an unnecessary election. It will also allow me to vindicate my good name at the Charleton Tribunal, without causing any further distraction to the work of the Government. I have always believed in due process and I believe that in the current situation that is becoming increasingly difficult for me. I acted correctly in difficult circumstances and, in fact, did everything that I could to support the search for truth and protect whistleblowers.

I would like to thank all those who have worked with me over the years and I am so grateful for the incredible support I received from family, friends, supporters, staff, and my constituents in Dublin Mid-West. And I look forward to continuing to serve all the people of Dublin Mid-West.

I have no further comment to make.”

Frances Fitzgerald, this afternoon.

“This morning, Frances Fitzgerald came to me to offer her resignation as Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. She is doing so to avoid an unnecessary and early General Election that could have left the country without a functioning government and Oireachtas for several months at a crucial time for Ireland.

Over the next few weeks and months, the government will need to focus on the Brexit negotiations, both phase one and phase two. We have a Finance Bill and Appropriations Bill to enact. Legislation to pass for public sector pay restoration and pension and social welfare increases. We also have the important work of the committee on the 8th amendment to complete paving the way for a referendum next year. All of these would fall in the event of a general election.

The work of the government and the parliament must not be interrupted during this important period. So, it is with deep regret that I have accepted her resignation.

It is my strong view that a good woman is leaving office without getting a full and fair hearing.

Frances has been an exemplary member of Government and a loyal colleague. She established the Department of Children and Tusla, changed the constitution twice to enshrine in it children’s rights and the right to marriage equality. She was one of the most reforming Ministers for Justice we have ever had setting up the Independent Policing Authority chaired by Josephine Feehily, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority and bringing in a raft of reforming legislation including the Sexual Offences Act. She always supported whistle-blowers, and enshrined a code of ethics in An Garda Síochána to protect them.

In the past few days a drip-drip of information may have made certain things seem greater than they are. There was a feeding frenzy, and it became impossible for her to get a fair hearing based on the full facts. I hope that will change in the period ahead.

While all of the facts still remain unclear, there are a few things that we do know. Frances had no hand act or part in the former Commissioner’s legal strategy, did not devise or guide it in any way. She was advised by her own officials that she had no function in the matter. The Attorney General has since confirmed this advice and further advised that she would have been acting improperly and inappropriately if she had sought to interfere with the work of the O’Higgins Commission.

We know from the e-mails, that Frances Fitzgerald had no knowledge of it until the Commission’s hearing were already underway and that her knowledge of the detail was limited.

I hope calm, measured reading of the evidence will show that the Tánaiste acted appropriately, and I hope the Charleton Tribunal will establish this conclusively in the weeks ahead, and that she will have her good name vindicated. I expect her to continue to play a full role in political and public life including at the highest level.

Throughout her career, the Tánaiste has been a champion of women’s rights, and equal rights, she has been a pioneer when it comes to supporting children, and fighting against all forms of inequality and injustice.

The events of the past few days have exposed major problems once again within a dysfunctional Department of Justice, including the way important emails were not found and therefore not sent on to the Charleton Tribunal during discovery. I am directing that there will be an external inquiry into that to report before Christmas. Systemic problems within the Department were identified in the Toland Report. Minister Fitzgerald began the process of implementing the Report, and this has continued under her successor Charlie Flanagan. These reforms will now be accelerated, and the government is planning radical action to restore public confidence in the Department of Justice.

An independent and change implementation group will be established to:

a) assess progress in implementing the recommendations of the Toland Report;

b) review the culture of the Department, make recommendations for change, particularly in the light of evidence of a continued siloed and secretive culture and a failure to provide accurate information to me and the Oireachtas;

c) examine in particular, the relationship between the Department and the Gardaí, to ensure that the relationship is appropriately structured, is understood in both organisations and operates in such a way as to ensure accountability and better performance;

d) draw on the expertise of the Policing Authority in conducting its work;

The Government will in the coming days provide further details on this. The Minister and Secretary General of the Department for Justice & Equality will ensure that all future PQs are replied to as fully and openly as possible, subject to Dáil Standing Orders and the law. All recent PQs asked by any Deputy relating to Maurice McCabe will be reviewed and it will be ensured that they have been answered as fully and openly as possible. Any additional relevant additional information will be provided to Deputies as quickly as possible.

These events have reminded us of some of the ways Maurice McCabe was undermined, when he shone a light in some very dark places. As Taoiseach I am determined to shine the brightest of lights into the darkest of places, so that we arrive at the truth and have true accountability.

I continue to believe that the Tánaiste acted throughout in a way that was appropriate. But these are matters that will now be investigated and adjudicated upon by a tribunal.

In the meantime, the Government will continue to work for the good of the country. We will focus on the challenge of Brexit, and deal with the many other problems we are facing. We will not be distracted as we strive to do what is in the best interests of all the people.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, this afternoon.

‘I’m resigning by my own volition’ – Frances Fitzgerald tells Cabinet (Niall O’Connor and kevin Doyle, Independent.ie)

Earlier: Endgame



Ah here.

Via Pol


So it begins…



From top: Assistant Secretary to the Department of Justice, Ken O’Leary; Former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan

The release of a series of emails from the Department of Justice last night included how, on Saturday, July 4, 2015, RTÉ journalist John Burke sent a press query to the Garda Press Office.

Mr Burke asked about the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s counsel questioning Sgt Maurice McCabe’s motivation at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Subsequent to this, in an email from the Department of Justice Secretary General Office Assistant Secretary Ken O’Leary to the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Mr O’Leary stated Ms O’Sullivan phoned him “to let me know they had received queries from Colm O’Nongain [sic] about Sgt McCabe”.

Mr O’Leary added that the Garda Press Office was asked “was it the Garda Commissioner who had instructed counsel to adopt an aggressive stance towards Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission”.

He told Ms Fitzgerald: “The Gardai are not commenting.”

He then went on to advise Ms Fitzgerald, who was scheduled to appear on RTE’s This Week on Sunday, July 5, 2015, to say the following:

“Both the Garda Commissioner [Noirin O’Sullivan] and myself have made it clear that Sgt McCabe is a valued member of the Force.”

She was also advised to say she couldn’t comment on the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation and that:

“…it would be wrong of anyone to make public comment which might interfere with or attempt to influence those proceedings in any way.”

In addition, Mr O’Leary also told Ms Fitzgerald that she could say:

“It would be wrong of anyone to make public comment which might interfere with or attempt to influence those proceedings in any way. The Commission clearly has to be let take its course.”

In the end, Ms Fitzgerald wasn’t asked about the matter when she appeared on RTE’s This Week on Sunday, July 5, 2015.

In addition, the emails released last night weren’t sent to the Disclosures Tribunal – which began its work in February – until yesterday.

Further to this…

Last night…

Ms Fitzgerald tweeted…

And this morning…


Last night: Adduce This

Previously: Unredacted

In DPP Trouble


This morning.

Government Buildings, Merrion Street, Dublin 2

From top: Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Employment and Social protection Regina Doherty, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrive for a cabinet meeting dominated by the possibility of a snap General Election.

Earlier: Derek Mooney: Fake News, Leo Style



You guys.

From top: Michael Flahive, of the Department of Justice; Frances Fitzgerald with William Lavelle in 2011; Yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday (click to enlarge)

The Irish Mail on Sunday analysed the email sent to Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald at the centre of the current political crisis.

Michael Flahive, the Department of Justice assistant secretary, sent the email to Christopher Quattrociocchi, Ms Fitzgerald’s private secretary, on Friday, May 15, 2015, at 4.57pm.

Mr Flahive also sent it to three other people: the Secretary General of the Department of Justice Noel Waters, the Department of Justice Secretary General Office Assistant Secretary Ken O’Leary and principal officer (policing) Martin Power.

In the email, Mr Flahive said he received a call from Richard Barrett, Deputy Secretary General in the Office of the Attorney General, and that, according to Mr Barrett, a disagreement had taken place at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation between the legal counsel for Sgt Maurice McCabe and the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

Mr Flahive claims Mr Barrett told him this occurred because the counsel for Ms O’Sullivan wanted to introduce a complaint that the 2006 investigation into Ms D’s ‘dry humping’ allegation against Sgt McCabe wasn’t investigated properly.

Mr Flahive outlined that Michael McDowell, SC for Sgt McCabe, objected to this being raised and asked if Ms O’Sullivan had authorised the argument that this claim was relevant to Sgt McCabe’s motivation.

Mr Flahive explained that Mr Barrett said Ms O’Sullivan had authorised this approach.

As can be seen from the email, within around seven minutes of receiving this email, Mr Quattrociocchi forwarded it to three people, including Ms Fitzgerald.

The other two people were Ms Fitzgerald’s special advisors William Lavelle, a Fine Gael councillor, and Marion Mannion.

On Tuesday night, Sgt McCabe told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the alleged events outlined in this email never happened and that the transcripts of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation will prove this.

Sgt McCabe also told the Taoiseach that what was at issue at the commission, on May 15, 2015,  was the fact he had been accused of wanting the DPP’s directions – in respect of a ‘dry humping’ allegation in 2006 – overturned.

Sgt McCabe explained to Mr Varadkar that this couldn’t possibly have been the case as he was very pleased with the DPP’s directions and had no desire for them to be overturned.

In any event…

Ms Fitzgerald was Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, which oversees Tusla, from March 2011 until May 7, 2014 – when the then Minister for Justice Alan Shatter resigned.

Ms Fitzgerald became Minister for Justice from May 8, 2014.

The Disclosures Tribunal has already heard that, in May 2015, she received a lengthy report from GSOC which stated the 2006 investigation into Ms D’s complaint was carried out correctly.

Readers will recall Ms D made her retrospective ‘humping’ complaint in December 2006, 11 months after her father, a guard, Mr D “lost his position and was reverted to other duties” after Sgt McCabe “caused the institution of serious disciplinary procedure against” Mr D in January 2006.

After the DPP investigated Ms D’s complaint, a letter from the DPP’s office was sent to the State solicitor for Cavan Rory Hayden on April 5, 2007, which stated:

“Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”

Mr Hayden verbally briefed Sgt McCabe of the full DPP’s instructions but Sgt McCabe didn’t tell anyone this.

Ms D’s 2006 allegation resurfaced during a counselling session seven years later in the summer 2013, in Cavan, with RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy.

An erroneous allegation of rape against Sgt McCabe ended up being attributed to Ms D when Ms Brophy sent a botched referral to Tusla in August 2013.

On April 30, 2014, Tusla social worker Laura Connolly allegedly plucked Sgt McCabe’s file randomly from a cabinet which contained unallocated cases and sent a notification of Sgt McCabe’s file to the gardai even though she said she was aware the 2006 allegation had already been sent to the gardai and DPP had ordered for no charges to be brought.

Ms Connolly combined both the 2006 allegation, which was found to have no foundation by the DPP, and the 2013 allegation of rape pertaining to a Ms Y which had nothing to do with Ms D but was wrongly recorded by counsellor Laura Brophy as an allegation Ms D was making against Sgt McCabe.

On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, Supt Leo McGinn, the district officer in Bailieboro, wrote a letter to Chief Superintendent James (Jim) Sheridan with Ms Connolly’s botched referral attached.

It was May 6, 2014, a day before Supt McGinn received Ms Connolly’s referral, when Sean Guerin SC recommended that a Commission of Investigation be held into Sgt McCabe’s complaints.

This gave rise to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Ms Fitzgerald, in May 2015, received the aforementioned report from GSOC after a complaint was made by Ms D, which was discussed at the Disclosures Tribunal when Irish Independent journalist Paul Williams gave evidence.

When Ms D gave a statement to GSOC, on July 3, 2014, Ms D told GSOC Mr Williams told her senior members of An Garda Siochana and Government were aware of her allegations.

When asked about this, Mr Williams said it was a “throwaway remark” that the then head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor said to him and that he later relayed it to Ms D.

Readers may recall Ms D’s father also made a statement to GSOC.

When they gave their statements, neither Ms D nor Mr D told GSOC about the “monumental cock-up” by RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy and Tusla in relation to the elevation of a ‘dry humping’ allegation to an allegation of rape.

The Disclosures Tribunal has already heard that, after looking at Ms D’s complaint, GSOC reported, in May 2015:

“GSOC established that Inspector Noel Cunningham carried out appropriate inquiries and uncovered no evidence of any criminality on the part of him in the investigation or any other Gardaí and how the investigation was conducted.”

Readers should note Marion Mannion was seconded from Tusla to the Department of Justice on May 8, 2014.

William Lavelle was re-elected to South Dublin County Council in 2014 and would have held this position when he received the email.

And Martin Power has “responsibility at Principal Officer level for ensuring support for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and the Garda Síochana Inspectorate to enable them to carry out their mandates”.

Earlier: The People Have Spoken

‘Stuff That Would Make The Hair Stand On Your Head’

Previously: Unredacted

Meanwhile…That email and the Department of Justice (Katie Hannon, RTÉ)



The Attorney General’s office did not provide Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald with legal advice in 2015 when it contacted her then department about a legal dispute relating to the treatment of Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission, RTÉ News has learned.

….This evening, the Department of Justice confirmed to RTÉ News that the contact from the Attorney General’s office was for information purposes only and “not legal advice”.

Politicians on the Government side have defended Ms Fitzgerald claiming she could not have intervened on the basis of what they said was the Attorney General’s legal advice at the time.

There you go now.

Attorney General’s office ‘did not provide legal advice’ to Tánaiste (John Burke, RTÉ)



Oh dear.

Presenter Sarah McInerney, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace, Irish Times political reporter Sarah Bardon, Fianna Fail TD Stephen Donnelly and Fine Gael TD Peter Burke on yesterday’s The Sunday Show


On TV3’s The Sunday Show, presented by Sarah McInerney.

Ms McInerney spoke to her panel – Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace, Irish Times political reporter Sarah Bardon, Fianna Fail TD Stephen Donnelly and Fine Gael TD Peter Burke – about the email and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

During their discussion, Mr Wallace said:

Myself and Clare Daly have some new stuff to break very soon that would make the hair stand on your head about stuff that’s happening at present.”

Watch back in full here

Previously: Unredacted

In DPP Trouble

Absence Of Malice