During the interview, an extract of a statement made by Sgt McCabe’s wife Lorraine in preparation for a legal action against An Garda Siochana, which is contained in the book, was read out by Tara Campbell.
In it, Lorraine describes what life has been like for her and her family for almost 10 years:
“In 1993, I married a decent, honourable and, above all, an honest man. For the last nine years, because of these admirable traits and his decision to challenge the system for all of the right reasons, his life has intentionally, relentlessly and systematically been rendered intolerable for him at every turn.
“This has had a profound and very destructive effect on me, my children, my marriage and on our life as a family.
“It’s usual, in a marriage, to be able to turn to your partner for support. In my case, given the pressure that Maurice has been under, I’ve not felt able to burden him further at times when I would have ordinarily needed support.
“I’ve largely had to cope with other trials and difficulties in our lives, including the death of both of my parents, alone. I’ve also had to shield Maurice from many of the day-to-day family concerns regarding the children and otherwise – what would ordinarily be dealt with together.
“One of the most difficult episodes for me was when Maurice was so low that he was admitted into St John of Gods for help. I’ll never forget the desperation I felt that night, after leaving him and driving home alone and wondering how I could shield the children from this.
“We’ve five children, the eldest of whom is now 21. Tom was only a baby when all of this began. Despite my best efforts, their entire childhoods have been marred.
“Our lives have been destroyed. For years, we lived in fear. And now that fear has turned into extreme anger at what they tried to do and how things could have ended but for the relentless fight we had to endure and the tireless work of our legal team.
“I’m still married to a decent, honourable, and above all, an honest man.
“However, he, I, and our children, have paid a very high price for his honesty and his decision to challenge the system in the interest of others.”
Readers will recall how the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, led by Judge Kevin O’Higgins, looked into allegations of malpractice made by Sgt Maurice McCabe (top).
After it was published, it emerged that claims made by Noirín O’Sullivan’s senior counsel to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation – that Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe was acting out of malice – were proven to be untrue during the commission.
However, these details weren’t included in Justice O’Higgins’ findings.
Further to this…
The Disclosures Tribunal, led by Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton, is looking at allegations that a smear campaign was conducted against Sgt McCabe by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan – with the knowledge of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan – as alleged by the former head of the Garda Press Office, Superintendent David Taylor.
Michael Clifford, in this morning’s Irish Examiner,reported that the head of HR in An Garda Siochana John Barrett has told the Disclosures Tribunal that a member of Garda management told him that they were “going after” Sgt Maurice McCabe in the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.
It’s reported this occurred before the O’Higgins Commission started in 2015.
In an interview earlier today for Eamon Dunphy’s podcast The Stand, Mr Dunphy spoke to Mr Clifford about this claim and about the Disclosures Tribunal.
At one point they talked about the media in respect of the Disclosures Tribunal and about how some journalists have ignored letters sent to them by the tribunal. The letters were a means for the tribunal to get answers about any possible contact they had with Supt Dave Taylor in respect of Sgt McCabe.
It should be noted that Supt Taylor has provided the tribunal with a waiver of any journalistic privilege and is not claiming privilege over his identification as the source of any information to journalists relating to Sgt McCabe, while similar waivers have been signed by Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Mr Clifford said:
“The media are going to come under focus very much and, personally, I think it’ll be a good thing for the media because if there are faults within how the media operates then they’ll be aired and hopefully we’ll be able to address them in some way.”
“But 23 journalists were named the last day, at the tribunal, as having had contact with David Taylor at this time and the tribunal has indicated, there are, what you might call, varying degrees of co-operation being extended from members of the media as to whether or not they’ll help.”
They also discussed the matters pertaining to the Garda College.
From top: Fine Gael TD Damien English, Rosie Leonard, of the Irish Housing Network, and Dr Rory Hearne, of TASC; a Dublin Region Homeless Executive graph showing the number of adults who have accessed homeless accommodation in Dublin since January 2014
On TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne, presented by Michael Clifford.
Fine Gael TD and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English, Rosie Leonard, of the Irish Housing Network, and Dr Rory Hearne, of TASC discussed the occupation of Apollo House by the group Home Sweet Home and the current homeless situation in Ireland.
They also discussed vulture funds with Ms Leonard recalling Focus Ireland’s ‘Vulture Shock’ campaign from earlier this year when it proposed legislation to protect homeowners and tenants from being evicted, via vulture funds.
At the time, Focus Ireland estimated that 47,000 homes in Ireland were owned by vulture funds.
Readers will recall how, in it’s most recent annual report published just before Christmas, the Simon Community said it had worked with 8,297 people – including 897 families – in 2015.
In addition to that, nearly 7,000 are currently using emergency accommodation.
Further to this…
From last night’s discussion…
Michael Clifford: “Damien, what do you think of Apollo House and Home Sweet Home?”
Damien English: “Well, look, as you said, there’s great energy there and it’s provided people with accommodation over the Christmas. You know, it is true to say that there is other, there is emergency accommodation there. We generally believe we have, there is enough of a supply there, we’ve increased it by 200. But this, it’s a worthy cause… again, it’s temporary and we are, as a government, as priority number one, to put in place long-term solutions. We can’t fix everything, every item, overnight but we’ve an action plan, you’ve read it yourself and we can talk through that but, you know, what Home Sweet Home are doing is certainly, you know, raised the profile a bit, there’s no doubt about that but for us, in Government, and for anybody involved in politics for the last year or two, it’s been a high priority, priority number one.”
English: “…there is enough accommodation there and what’s happening at Apollo House it’s, again, it’s temporary…
Rosie Leonard: “Then why are people sleeping in doorways?”
English: “Well…I mean, there is enough accommodation. Not everyone wants to choose to use it, for different reasons. I accept all that. But I can say to you, there is enough accommodation there and already we’ve engaged, through the Peter McVerry Trust, with all the members in Apollo House, who are there. That 68 people have been taking up residence there, 42 have left…just to be clear Michael…42 have transitioned out of there now into accommodation.”
Clifford: “OK. Do you have any problem with people, like Home Sweet Home, highlighting this issue…occupying buildings as they…”
English: “I can’t condone the occupying buildings that are illegal, right? I’ve no problem with raising the profile of the issue and on the thousands of people who want to help, absolutely, that’s great. There’s a lot of NGOs, who are doing great work, working with government over the last number of years on this as well. I’m sure they’ll avail of the energy. I can’t say. To me, it’s unnecessary to occupy homes. I believe we’re providing enough emergency accommodation. But apart from that, people are also transitioning out of emergency accommodation. And just to be clear, Michael, people need to know, because Rosie’s right, there’s some hope here – 3,000 people left homelessness this year and went into permanent accommodation but the problem was 3,000 more came…”
Clifford: “Homelessness is higher this year than it has been ever…”
English: “But I’m saying to you, the problem is, many more come onto it. But we have said, and we’re committed to it that, by June next year, there’ll be nobody living in emergency accommodation…we will fix this.”
English: “The trends that we can see are beginning to go the right way…”
Leonard: “They’re not.”
English: “Just…I want to make the point…”
Leonard: “There’s an average of 60 families that are going to continue becoming homeless every month this year…”
English: “From my point of view, from the department, from [Minister for Housing] Simon Coveney, myself and the department, we believe and we are confident, that we will have tackled that end of it by June.”
Rory Hearne: “Nama has been used as a way to show the international markets that Ireland is recovering and the way in which the Government has approached that is, trying to sell off, Nama is selling as much assets as possible, showing we’re paying down the debt. Nama itself being wound up early, returning, making a return to the taxpayer. But the fact, the problem with that approach has been that, in fact, that has worsened the crisis. Because Nama, by Nama selling off the assets so quickly, and in particular I would focus on the Irish ones, the international are different, it has meant that, for example, Nama itself has said that it has sold land that could build 20,000 houses but only 5% of those houses have been built because it has sold them to vulture funds, to investors who are hoarding the land. Also…”
Clifford: “On that, a lot of developers claim that one of the big problems they have is that it’s not worth their while building because of the cost at the moment and that that is much of the reason for the fact that only 5% of those lands have been developed.”
Hearne: “And that is exactly the point that why Nama should have sold that land and the point is it can still…Nama still has the land, it said itself, it can build 20,000 houses in the coming five years which would make a dramatic impact in the crisis but the problem is that those 20,000 houses, only 10% will be social, if even. And the rest will be sold to vulture fund investors because Nama’s mandate – that it’s operating under, under direction from the Minister for Finance – is to maximise the financial return to the taxpayer. The problem with that is it’s just selling assets that could be used for affordable housing and the issue is that Nama now has €3billion in cash reserves; it has paid down the majority of its debt. Those houses could be built as affordable houses if it sold them to local authorities, to housing associations and I think what has happened is the Government have looked on the housing system and the housing market and seen recovery in property prices as part of feeding into the narrative of economic recovery, rather than actually looking at how are we providing affordable housing and I think Nama is one key way that things could be done differently and can still be done differently.”
“The other issue is that they’ve promoted the introduction, the influx of real estate investment trusts. The Government introduced a tax break in 2013 which allowed real estate investment trusts write off a certain amount of their profits for rent because the Government has been about bringing in these investors to buy up the property, to give the impression that Ireland’s property bubble, crash has been dealt with…”
Hearne: “Kennedy Wilson [US investment fund] it’s been shown by the Freedom of Information Act, wrote to the government in 2014 and 2015, when there were talks of introducing rent controls…they were against the introduction of rent controls and the 4% increase in rent that’s been put in the rental strategy, there’s no evidence behind that. Why 4%? Why was it not inflation [Consumer Price Index]? And 4% is a yield to attract in private investors…at the heart of the problem is that the Government has not gone about approaching the housing issue with providing housing as a human right and a home. If you look at the action plan, the right to a home is not mentioned once in that plan.”
Leonard: “There’s no…another thing to add to that, there’s no preventative measures to stop the homeless figures from increasing. For example, there was an amendment proposed by Focus Ireland, into the new rental strategy bill. Focus Ireland have said that a third of all families being made homeless and presenting to them are because they’re in buy-to-let houses, the owners are selling up and they’re being forced out, evicted, because of terms of sale. And there was an amendment put in by Focus Ireland – to stop the terms of sale being used as the cause for an eviction in a buy-to-let house and that was voted down by Fine Gael. That would have immediately stopped a third of families who are becoming homeless and the 60, a month, on average, who are becoming homeless next year and that’s not even including people who are sofa surfing, who are hidden homeless, who are living in overcrowded situations and you declined that. So you’ve actually, you’ve actually said no to preventative measures that would have eased off the number of…”
Clifford [to English]: “Deal in general with the idea that Nama is not being used predominantly for the social good, as it could be, and it would tackle this issue, rather than as a vehicle to generate money to show the international community that the economy is doing well. Just deal with that issue.”
English: “I’ve heard that commentary and I’ve read a lot of what Rory has written on this aswell and it actually isn’t true…”
From top: Michael Clifford, Colette Sexton and Gavan Reilly; Vincent Browne
Further to the statement Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan released last night – in which she stated:
“I want to make it clear that I do not – and have never, regarded Sergeant McCabe as malicious.”
Vincent Browne discussed the matter with his panel on TV3’s Tonight With Vincent Browne last night.
The panel included Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford, who last week reported that Ms O’Sullivan’s senior counsel Colm Smyth told Justice Kevin O’Higgins – during his Commission of Investigation into Sgt Maurice McCabe’s complaints – that McCabe told two officers he was acting out of malice.
The allegation was proven to be false after Sgt McCabe produced a recording of his conversation with the two Gardai – and the episode wasn’t included in the final report.
Mr Clifford reported:
The documents show that, at the commission, Mr O’Higgins asked the commissioner’s lawyer whether “you are attacking his [McCabe’s] motivation and attacking his character”.
The reply from Colm Smyth, SC, was: “Right the way through.”
He told the judge that he was acting on instructions.
This morning, Mr Clifford reported that after he received a draft of the O’Higgins report, he threatened to get an injunction against the publication of the report – because the episode wasn’t included.
Colette Sexton, of the Sunday Business Post and Gavan Reilly, of Today FM were also on the panel.
Grab a tay…
Gavan Reilly: “On the question of who was acting on whose instructions, by the way, Vincent, it’s worth bearing in mind that the senior counsel involved in this particular exchanged that formed Mick’s story on Friday. Not only were they hired and instructed by the Chief State Solicitor but they were the same legal team that represented not only Noirin O’Sullivan but the two former commissioners Fachtna Murphy and Martin Callinan and all the other members of the Gardai who were implicated by Maurice McCabe’s allegations the whole way down so…”
Talk over each other
Vincent Browne: “That makes it even more confused because it could have been somebody else that…”
Michael Clifford: “No, the counsel was specific on whose instructions he was representing.”
Browne: “On what basis are you saying, are you asserting this?”
Clifford: “I’m asserting… it was in the story on Friday. He was asked was it the Commissioner that wanted to follow this line and he said, he was operating on instructions.”
Browne: “I know but where do you get this from?”
Clifford: “It fell off the back of a lorry, I mean what do you expect me to say to that?”
Browne: “Have you two…have you, I assume that it fell, let’s assume it fell off the back of a lorry. But then did you, did you independently confirm that what fell off the back of the lorry was true?”
Clifford: “I am 100% secure and confident in the veracity of that story that was published.”
Browne: “All right, tell us about this story that you have in the Examiner tomorrow, the ‘McCabe threat to injunct inquiry report’. What’s that?”
Clifford: “This is, when the draft report, as I understand it, was released, Sgt McCabe was, as I understand it, very perturbed because he felt that it was entirely imbalanced and that one of his main issues with that was the fact that this matter was not included, at all, in the draft report. As a result of that he was minded to take a legal action, to injunct the report. We saw something similar in the Moriarty draft report, where there was a similar scenario. Now, ultimately, they didn’t do that because the costs would have been so prohibitive. But I think it just demonstrates how perturbed he was that this matter in particular, I think there may have been a few others but this was one of the main reasons…”
Browne: “Which matter are you talking about?”
Clifford: “The matter about the….”
Browne: “The malice issue, yeah.”
Clifford: “The attempt to impugn his character that this hadn’t been included in the report and I have to say, just looking at it, there’s a question there for Kevin O’Higgins. Let’s for example assume that he had, Sgt McCabe didn’t have a tape recording of that and that officers came in and said he had expressed malice, would that have been in the final report? Would it have…we’d have had a very different report, remember, completely. You’d have had a report that suggested that McCabe had brought forward these allegations on the basis of malice and therefore they had to be treated on that basis and seen in that light. That’s the kind of report you’d have had if hadn’t protected himself with a tape recording. And would have that have been included? And if so, why was it not included as it emerged here.”
Reilly: “It does raise the other question though as to whether the inquiry would have been allowed to include that, if, as you mentioned, that if it was included on the basis of arguments by lawyers and not by evidence from witnesses. That if this was something that was brought to the tribunal only by lawyers chatting among themselves really..”
Clifford: “Oh yeah but surely…”
Talk over each other
Clifford: “There’s an indication that there’s going to be evidence to that effect, and then the tape recording was produced, surely it was still incumbent to hear the evidence to see what was going to be said…”
Browne: “OK, we gotta take a break but I think, just before we go to a break, it’s fair to say that yes, questions arise, further questions arise that the Garda Commissioner has got to address but I think it’s fair to say that, given her record and given her stature and known integrity, that it’s very unlikely that she is telling a lie about a matter as central as this to the whole O’Higgins’ report.”
Journalist Michael Clifford spoke to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning following his articles in today’s Irish Examiner about the anonymous penalty points garda whistleblower.
It has emerged that the sergeant – whom Mr Clifford describes as WB – was subjected to disciplinary action in relation to a computer suspected of containing child pornography images which was seized from a paedophile priest Michael Molloy in Kill, Co. Cavan but subsequently went missing from Bailieborough Garda Station.
This happened after he attempted to highlight what he believed was malpractice within the gardaí.
WB had nothing to do with the initial investigation and was the only officer subjected to disciplinary action in relation to the loss of the computer.
From the Pat Kenny Show:
Pat Kenny: “Listening to all of this, it leaves me with the impression, reading what you wrote this morning, and in this conversation with you, it’s kind of: ‘that’ll teach to whistleblow’.”
Michael Clifford: “You could easily..”
Kenny: “I mean that’s the conclusion that I’m left with, I may be wrong.”
Kenny: “That’s the conclusion: that you actually stick by your colleagues, you don’t rock the boat, you don’t create scandals, you don’t damage the force and, if you do, you know, you pay a price.”
Clifford: “I’ll put it to you this way, to you Pat. In today’s piece, I quoted legal opinion that was obtained by sources, associated with the whistleblower and the legal opinion of having reviewed the case, suggested that it seems, the whole thing was connected with this man whistleblowing and it was described as shambolic.”
Meanwhile, ‘WB’ will go before the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday to discuss the amount of money he and fellow whistleblower, and former garda, John Wilson believe the State has lost as a result of the quashing of penalty points.
Last year a box of evidence was sent to PAC which apparently contains thousands of examples of multiple terminations for individuals.
Last Saturday, the Irish Independent reported that the Garda Commissioner, who will also go before PAC on Thursday, intends to refuse to answer any questions about the box of evidence.
John Wilson, Michael Clifford and John Devitt will be on TV3’s Tonight With Vincent Browne at 11.05pm tonight.
The issue involves prima facie evidence that at least one crime may have been committed by serving TD and former government minister, Michael Lowry…
…In a proper democracy, the police force and Revenue would investigate the contents of the Lowry Tapes with extreme urgency. Confidence in the criminal justice and tax systems would demand no less. If there is even a whiff of favour towards a member of parliament in a criminal justice matter, then democracy is undermined. And right now, in light of all that is going on, democracy is not in a healthy condition.
…There has been nothing from Enda Kenny to suggest that he takes the tapes issue seriously, or has consulted his Minister for Justice on the matter. Nothing from Alan Shatter to show that he takes his ministerial brief seriously. It would appear that Kenny et al are gambling that the public doesn’t appreciate the seriousness of what is at issue, and intend to keep their heads down until it blows over…
…The function of the media in a democracy has also been strained by the Lowry tapes. The Irish Examiner, Irish Times, Newstalk FM and TV3’s Vincent Browne Tonight have all covered the story in a manner befitting its seriousness. However, the national broadcaster has not.”
Michael Clifford in today’s Irish Examiner, about apparent inaction by gardaí, Revenue, the government and RTE over The Lowry Tapes.