Members of senior Garda management are fielding questions in the Oireachtas justice and equality committee in light of the Crowe Horwath report for the Policing Authority on the fake breath tests and issuing of summonses.
Readers will recall how, on Sunday, November 27, 2017, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace, while speaking about the gardai, told TV3’s The Sunday Show:
“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.”
Further to this…
At the justice committee this morning, Mick Wallace said:
“Only this week, we met a member of An Garda Siochana, he’s just put in a protected disclosure and he’s out sick for a while due to stress from work.
“And he’s given us incredibly detailed information about things that have been happening, right up unit recently.
“To be honest, we found it hard to believe that such things that he told us about could still be happening. And the way that, when he raised concerns about several issues, how they were dealt with by senior management.
“It was really disheartening for us because you know what, people might think that ‘oh, Daly and Wallace just want to be giving out about things’. But you know what, we won’t be vindicated until we have a police force that everyone will be proud of.
“And we’ve been tackling issues for over five years and if nothing has changed, well, that means, we’re wasting our time and we’ve failed. We want things to be done right.
“But it was really disappointing to look at the information he gave us around this, he’s put in a protected disclosure, we haven’t put it into the public domain yet.
“But, I suppose his basis to it was, not much has changed yet.”
“Now, I still believe, I’m an optimist by nature and I think things will change but sadly not enough has changed. And poor Maurice McCabe…is lucky to still be alive, that he didn’t do away with himself when the pressure was so great at times.
“But it would be very sad for him if nothing changes and very disappointing for him because nobody wanted change in the gardai, and having done his work, than of the people that came forward anyway, than Maurice McCabe.”
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.”
They were there to discuss a penalty points report by then Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney – which found there was no widespread quashing of penalty points.
In addition, the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had appeared at the Public Accounts Committee earlier that day.
During the Prime Time appearance, Mr Shatter accused Mr Wallace of having been stopped by the gardaí in May 2012 and that he had been on his phone while driving.
Mr Shatter claimed Mr Wallace had been advised by the guard who stopped him that a fixed ticket charge could be issued and that he could be given penalty points.
Mr Shatter also claimed Mr Wallace was warned not to do it again.
The claims on Prime Time were made almost a month after Gemma O’Doherty, in the Irish Independent, reported that, in July 2007, a car registered to the then Deputy Commissioner Martin Callinan – who was appointed to the position in January 2007 – was caught speeding on camera.
Ms O’Doherty reported the penalty points in relation to this incident were subsequently quashed.
After Prime Time, Mr Wallace told Pat Kenny that he was neither stopped nor warned.
“I was parked at the lights and a Garda vehicle came up beside me. And I was on the phone…which I know, I was wrong, I shouldn’t have been on it. The guard..I rolled down the window, the guard rolled down his window. There was two guards there. And I said ‘oh’, I just had my hand up and they said ‘it’s OK’. And, left it at that. And we just, we made small talk after for maybe about 15/20 seconds and the lights went green and I drove on straight and they pulled out. The guards were friendly.”
Following what happened on Prime Time, and a subsequent complaint made by Mr Wallace, the Data Protection Commissioner ruled the disclosure made by Mr Shatter breached his duties under the Data Protection Act.
The Circuit Civil Court upheld this decision when Mr Shatter made an initial appeal.
However, Mr Shatter appealed again to the High Court.
Further to this…
Former minister for justice Alan Shatter has won his challenge to a finding that his disclosure of information about Independent TD Mick Wallace on a live TV programme, was a breach of his duties under the data protection act.
…Mr Shatter claimed the then Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes failed to set out the basis for his conclusion the information was personal data and had prejudged that issue and acted in breach of fair procedures.
Mr Shatter’s lawyers said he never had, or saw, any written record of the information communicated to him during a conversation with then Garda Commissioner Martin Callanan.
He said the information was “in his mind” only and what he said did not amount to “processing” it.
On Friday, September 29, 2017, tenants of Northbank apartments on Castleforbes Road, Dublin 1, received letters from their landlord, stating that they had sold their apartment to NAMA and that NAMA would be issuing a 12-month lease to them on their current terms.
Five days later, on Wednesday, October 4, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace claims that the tenants learned from a newspaper report that the entire apartment had been put on the market by NAMA at a price of €33 million for 124 apartments.
Mr Wallace also claims that NAMA have confirmed that they purchased individual apartments within the block before putting it on the market, stating that:
“The recent purchases by NAMA were required to consolidate the entire block, hence increasing the value of the overall property in preparation for its sale as a single lot.”
Further to this…
Mr Wallace writes:
“This is a frightening development. We are in the middle of housing crisis, and NAMA are now buying apartments, in order to sell them on to vulture funds. NAMA have now become property speculators.
“It beggars belief that Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour, and now even Sinn Féin, believe that NAMA have the expertise to solve our housing crisis. NAMA are part of the problem, not part of the solution.”
“What makes it even worse is, tenants have informed me that within the apartment block, there a vacant units, some sitting idle for over three years.
“How can NAMA justify this when we are struggling with a housing crisis? These apartments, along with the rest in the block, will be no doubt purchased by a US vulture fund, and rented out for outrageous prices.
“Clearly, doing business with vulture funds, is more attractive to NAMA than helping to fix the housing crisis.”
“It is time for the Government to suspend the work of NAMA immediately, and start with this apartment block.
“The vacant apartments within the block could be given to the local authorities. If we keep selling apartments and houses in large blocks to vulture funds, we will continue to have a housing crisis for many years to come.”
The new Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland met for the first time.
At a media briefing, when asked about calls for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to stand down, head of the commission Kathleen O’Toole – who was on the panel which appointed Ms O’Sullivan to Garda Commissioner in 2014 – said:
“I don’t think it would make a difference whether it was Nóirín O’Sullivan or someone else. I think this management team inherited a poison chalice. And I think we need to get beyond the finger-pointing and the name-calling. We want to look to the future.”
Further to this…
During Leaders’ Questions, taken by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace spoke about Ms O’Toole’s comments and, later, revisited the protected disclosure made by whistleblower Garda Nick Keogh.
Readers will recall how Garda Keogh, in May 2014, as a member of the drugs squad in Athlone, made a formal complaint to the then confidential recipient Judge Pat McMahon about a garda in the drugs squad and their alleged involvement in the supply of heroin in Westmeath, Offaly and Longford.
Garda Keogh also claimed a State mobile phone was supplied by a senior garda to a suspended garda whom Garda Keogh alleged had links to the drugs trade in Co Westmeath.
In November 2014, Mr Wallace told the Dail that since Garda Keogh had made his complaint, he had been subjected to constant harassment by senior management, manufactured complaints were made against him, and his activities were monitored. In December 2015, Garda Keogh went on sick leave.
In 2016, John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reported that an internal investigation found evidence to substantiate “many” of Garda Keogh’s claims.
However, Garda Keogh still has to see any report of this investigation and it’s understood none has been published.
In addition, Mr Mooney reported that the DPP toldGarda Headquarters that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute those implicated, but that a senior garda and a drugs squad garda in Athlone would face disciplinary proceedings.
Readers may also recall how, in January of this year, GSOC requested to oversee the disciplinary investigation of the two gardai but Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan refused GSOC’s request.
From today’s Leaders’ Questions…
Mick Wallace: “Tánaiste, yesterday Kathleen O’Toole confirmed the suspicion of many, that the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is a fig leaf to divert attention away from the crises in Garda management. She said that their task is not to scrutinise the performance of individuals and that Garda management inherited a poison chalice. What she forgot to tell us is that the present commissioner was part of the poison when she got the job in 2014. Why did they appoint someone that was part of the problem?”
“Head of GSOC [Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission] Mary Ellen Ring said last week, I would have thought you could have this commission done and dusted by December the 1st, if they just sat down and read the [Garda] Inspectorate’s reports and that there was no guarantee that the report delivered by the Commission on the Future of Policing in September 2018 would be acted upon.”
“As the head of the Garda Inspectorate Robert Olsen, previous reforms identified had not been implemented. No one, he said, had made the change happen. In the last few weeks, things have got so bad at Garda Headquarters that a decision was made to grant a barrister and junior counsel to both the Commissioner and her most senior Assistant Commissioner, at the expense of the State. They can’t even be in the same room without being lawyered up.”
“As a result of the failure to resolve issues around the complaints made by the same Assistant Commissioner, including interference in the interview process for the Commissioner’s job back in 2014. Despite the expenditure of tens of thousands in consultancy payments to a company to investigate the issue – a job that was never tendered.”
“Interestingly, that same interview panel that trawled the world before deciding that Noirin O’Sullivan was the best person to replace Martin Callinan, involved not only Josephine Feehily, who in her role as head of the Policing Authority has failed to recommend the removal of the Commissioner; Kathleen O’Toole, who yesterday indicated that she wanted to take the heat off Noirin; but also Vivienne Jupp, a former executive of global management consultancy Accenture, a company which benefited from multi-million euro contracts with An Garda Siochana.”
“Vivienne Jupp was also instrumental in establishing Cyril Dunne as Chief Administrative Officer inside An Garda Siochana who was among the first to be made aware of the Templemore scandal.
“Yesterday, the outgoing Taoiseach said if a minister were in charge of a calamity, like that in the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement, they’d be immediately sacked. Tanaiste, you might find yourself heading up a different department in a few weeks time, the present commissioner has given more than enough proof that she is not the person to bring An Garda Siochana forward.”
“Minister, Tanaiste, this might be your last few weeks in justice, would you not consider doing what needs to be done in the best interests of An Garda Siochana because the legislation allows for you to remove the commissioner when it is in the best interests of An Garda Siochana and it certainly would be.”
“The house that is known as An Garda Siochana is falling down around her ears. While scandals, which can only be described as white collar crime continue to escalate around Templemore, at the other end of the scale, the plot thickens around the Garda involvement in the heroin trade in Athlone.
“On the 19th of May, 2017, presiding Circuit Court judge Keelan Johnson expressed his displeasure, annoyance and frustration at being seriously misled by a garda. The judge outlined, in public, in open court, that, on the 7th of June, 2016, while sentencing a woman on drug offences, committed on the 2nd of June, 2015, a garda purposefully, and deliberately misled him and the court.”
“The same drugs operation, for which other gardai have been found to have had an involvement in, as a result of the protected disclosure of Garda Nick Keogh three years ago, yet, nobody’s been arrested, nobody’s been charged, three years later. Why? Because some of Noirin’s inner circle are being protected.”
From top: Deputy Commissioner Dónall O’Cualáin, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality; Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace; Noirin O’Sullivan
In light of the latest Garda controversies.
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, along with Deputy Commissioners Dónall O’Cualáin and John Twomey, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality.
Readers may recall a post from yesterday in relation to Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn’s announcement last week that Superintendent Pat Murray from Athlone had been appointed to carry out the “fact finding” internal investigation in relation to the near one million false breath test figures and 14,700 wrongful convictions.
The post drew attention to the fact that, previously in the Dáil on December 15, 2015, Independents 4 Change TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly spoke about Superintendent Pat Murray.
Mr Wallace said of Superintendent Murray: “This is an individual who has harassed and bullied a Garda whistleblower to an awful degree for a long time.”
He also said that he would give the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald proof of Superintendent Pat Murray reclassifying crime figures.
During this morning’s meeting of the justice committee, Mr Wallace asked about Superintendent Pat Murray and the Garda’s internal investigation.
From the exchange…
Mick Wallace: “Senior garda indiscipline is not under the remit of the Policing Authority, right? But, Commissioner, it is within yours, right? And would you agree that there’s a problem around how Garda indiscipline is dealt with? Now, in line, in tune with the question, I wanted to ask if Superintendent Pat Murray had any involvement in the internal inquiry? You might answer that for me?”
Noirin O’Sullivan: “Deputy, or chair again, I’ll take your direction on this. I don’t think it’s appropriate to speak about individual members and, you know, I’m not sure what the question specifically relates to but I’m happy to answer a question on a broader issue if you wish.”
Chairman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: “Deputy Wallace, can you maybe rephrase? Maybe relook?”
Wallace: “I just read a press report that Superintendent Pat Murray was actually involved in a, but I don’t know if it’s true or not. And I just wanted the commissioner to confirm if yes or no…”
Ó Caoláin: “Is their a relevance to you raising it….
Wallace: “There is yeah, it’s connected to…”
Ó Caoláin: “…To be careful again, in the context of what I cautioned members about, at the outset of the meeting, I’m not privy to what is in your question…”
Wallace: “I’m referring to a new internal investigation that the Commissioner is setting up. And I’m just wondering in light of the problems in dealing with indiscipline in the force, I’m wondering if, whether Superintendent Pat Murray, who has, is under, is the subject of a protected disclosure. And I’m wondering if he got a job involved in the internal investigation or not. Yes or no.”
Ó Caoláin: “Commissioner I, again, I’ve no advance indication of the questions such as this presenting. I appreciate that there are subliminal issues involved. You’re free to answer as you deem appropriate and, if the matter is inappropriate, in your opinion, I would accept that that is the case and we’ll move on.”
O’Sullivan: “Well, chair, thank you. Deputy, what I can tell the committee here today is that commissioner Michael O’Sullivan is appointed to conduct the investigation and to establish the facts.”
Wallace: “So you’re saying that Pat Murray is not involved?”
Ó Caoláin: ” That, I think, I think, with respect, the Commissioner does not believe that that is appropriate in the context that you’ve raised. And I’m respecting that, deputy Wallace. Is that, that is your position, Commissioner?”
O’Sullivan: “Yes. The assistant commissioner is in charge of the investigation. There is nobody else in charge of the investigation.”
Wallace: “So is he not involved in it?”
Ó Caoláin: “Deputy Wallace, I ask you…”
Wallace: “All right, ok..”
Ó Caoláin: “Can we move on please?”
Wallace: “Right, I’ll move on. I realise it’s hard to get answers.”
Further to the near one million false breath test figures and 14,700 wrongful convictions…
And Taoiseach Enda Kenny telling the Dáil yesterday that the Government has agreed to an external investigation into the matters – the details of which have yet to be decided.
This external investigation will be on top of an internal Garda investigation and one carried out by the Policing Authority.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, who held a press conference on the matter last week, said Superintendent Pat Murray from Athlone had been appointed to carry out the “fact finding” internal investigation.
Further to this…
On December 15, 2015, during a Dáil debate, in the presence of the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, on the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2015…
Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly said:
“…the current treatment of whistleblowers is absolutely dire. Subsequently, the position of Garda Keith Harrison has been vindicated by the State pulling out of a High Court action it had taken against him at enormous personal and emotional cost, not to mind the cost to the taxpayer of a ludicrous, vindictive action. It is worth saying that the judge in that case was the senior counsel during the Morris tribunal. It is quite clear that from his stance, nothing has really changed in the sense that he awarded full costs to Garda Harrison.
“This is important because why else are we here discussing a policing authority? It is to have independent scrutiny and accountability of the gardaí.”
“It would be entirely appropriate for the Minister to comment on the Garda Inspectorate’s report which has obviously shocked people. It has also vindicated everything we have said – that nothing has changed inside the ranks of the Garda Síochána, except the faces at the top. I am surprised that people have not called for the current Garda Commissioner to resign because she is standing over a situation that is at least as bad, if not worse, than what the former Commissioner Callanan stood over. It is worse because the scale of the knowledge that is in the public domain has not been addressed.”
“The previous Garda Inspectorate’s report gave a damning account of gardaí massaging the crime figures, for example. That resulted in the analysis of crime figures having to be withdrawn for a period. It is a very serious matter.
We know for a fact that the massaging of the figures is still continuing. In recent weeks, in Superintendent Pat Murray’s station in the midlands and in Athlone, we have seen direct evidence of at least eight cases where crimes were written down so that the original crime was reclassified as a more minor matter.
There is clear evidence of massaging the figures – for example, changing burglaries to criminal damage, which is reclassification.”
In addition, during the same debate, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace said:
“First, the Minister asked for proof of what Deputy Daly actually said. Tomorrow morning, I will give the Minister proof of district officer, Superintendent Pat Murray, reclassifying crime figures. This is an individual who has harassed and bullied a Garda whistleblower to an awful degree for a long time.”