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.”
John Barrymore as Beau Brummell and Independent TD Mick Wallace
Further to calls for a new dress code in the Dáil…
Martin McMahon writes:
Complaints have been made about male politicians who dress ‘inappropriately’ we are told. Like Batmen responding to a light in the sky, the Dail Committee on Procedures leaps to action discussing whether to penalise said offenders.
Instead of examining the prejudices and small minded biases behind such ‘holier than thou’ morally obtuse complaints, time and money is squandered pointlessly considering what action to take.
Coincidentally, the origin of the Suit was deeply entrenched in pointlessly squandering time and money on meaningless peacockery. George Bryan “Beau” Brummell is credited with introducing the modern men’s suit, worn with a tie.
Son of a middle class, middle ranking politician, Brummell was an unashamed social climber. During his time as a cornet (the lowest rank of commissioned officer) in the Tenth Royal Hussars, his dandy attire led to him being befriended by the future King George IV who introduced Brummell to high society.
Brummell spent extravagantly money he did not have in his attempt assimilate into gentlemanly society. It wasn’t long before Brummell’s charade fell apart and owing thousands, he was forced to flee to France to avoid debtors prison.
He lived the remainder of his life in French exile, almost 25 years, where he eventually died penniless and insane from syphilis.
As the Dail Committee considers penalties for non suit wearing politicians, one can only laugh at their notion that a suit represents respectability.
A suit was, is and always will be, the attire of cheaters, charlatans and the morally corrupt.
Only difference is that now they enjoy massive pensions instead of syphilis in their retirement.
Independent 4 Change TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality last October
Independent 4 Change TD Mick Wallace, in The Irish Times, writes:
Not surprisingly, the weak legislation establishing the Policing Authority has resulted in a weak Policing Authority in practice. The body was supposed to have responsibility for senior appointments from the outset, but this was delayed till January 2017. In the vacuum, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has appointed more than 40 senior officers.
The Garda Commissioner still remains exclusively accountable to the Minister for Justice, and the Police Authority cannot even issue policy directives. Does that sound independent? Shockingly, after 10 days, the authority broke its silence to endorse the Garda Commissioner, which amounts to an effective slap in the face to Sgt McCabe and other whistleblowers.
…O’Sullivan’s statements in public are at complete odds with her actions in private. In October 2016, she told the Oireachtas Justice Committee that “anyone who brings forward issues and concerns will be supported”.
But Garda Nick Keogh made his protected disclosure on May 8th, 2014, to the then confidential recipient, Judge Pat McMahon. Following that, he was subjected to five internal investigations.
Readers will recall how Garda Keogh has been on sick leave since December 2015.
During Leaders’ Questions, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace named other Garda whistleblowers.
He also claimed that, in early 2014, a journalist contacted Supt Dave Taylor, to tell him that he had been in contact with the family of the girl at the centre of the false abuse allegation against Sgt McCabe.
Mr Wallace said the journalist told Supt Taylor “he had a great story and that it was going to be really damaging for McCabe”. Mr Wallace also said, following this conversation, Supt Taylor contacted both Martin Callinan and Noirin O’Sullivan.
From Mr Wallace’s speech in the Dáil…
“Taoiseach, I think the public inquiry should have a disciplinary, a criminal investigation running in parallel, run by people, policed from outside the country. A lot of bad things have happened.
“You said there Taoiseach that everybody has the presumption of innocence. You’ve a short memory. For several years, according to the Fine Gael government, Maurice McCabe was guilty until proven innocent.”
“Noirin O’Sullivan talked yesterday of a campaign of false accusations against her. Is she saying that Maurice McCabe was lying? David Taylor? Keith Harrison? Nick Keogh? Sinead Killian? Eve Doherty? Dermot O’Connell? And others? Are they all liars?”
“If she genuinely didn’t know how whistleblowers were treated. If she genuinely didn’t, she’s not fit for the job anyway, if she didn’t know what was going on in the force.
“With the O’Higgins inquiry, she instructed her legal team to give false evidence to the inquiry until Maurice McCabe’s tape turned it upside down. If she was innocent, why didn’t she sanction or discipline the two guards involved? Why? It’s a long time ago?
“How can you explain how Nick Keogh – when he reports Garda involvement in the heroin trade in Athlone, how come he faced five internal investigations in that same year and none before that? Why?”
“And the superintendent that Nick Keogh accused of bullying and harassing him, why was he put on the promotion list? Why”
“In 2014, the Garda Commissioner appointed an Assistant Commissioner to look at Keith Harrison’s complaint and the Assistant Commissioner leaked information back to the Superintendent that the subject of the complaint.
“And then, on foot of a different complaint, involving the very same superintendent, the same Assistant Commissioner was asked to carry out an investigation.
“And, if all that wasn’t bad enough, when GSOC, following its investigation into the second matter, asked for disciplinary proceedings to be taken against An Garda Siochana, who does Noirin appoint over it? You’d never guess: the same Assistant Commissioner.”
“A journalist contacted David Taylor in early 2014. He was press officer. The journalist told him that he’d been to the family of the girl at the centre of the sexual allegations of Maurice McCabe. He told her that he had a great story and that it was going to be really damaging for McCabe. Taylor texted [Martin] Callinan, texted [Noirin] O’Sullivan and told them the good news.”
“Callinan texted him, to welcome it. Noirin decided to ring him and have a good chat about it. A good chat about it. Now minister, Taoiseach, this is the woman who said, a couple of weeks ago, on the Sean O’Rourke programme, ‘I’ve absolutely no knowledge, nor was I privy to any campaign to undermine any individual in An Garda Siochana’.”
“The press officer, David Taylor, who was given back his job yesterday, said, this is a quote, ‘everybody in headquarters knew about the campaign against Maurice McCabe’. Everybody, seemingly Taoiseach, except Noirin. What do you think?”
You’ll recall a post from earlier concerning a Dáil debate about the establishment of Commission of Investigation into Nama.
During his opening statement, before leaving the Dáil chamber, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said:
“Throughout the Opposition’s statements today, there may well be bounds for other Nama transactions to be reviewed…I have little doubt that the calls to change Nama’s mandate, or even halt Nama’s activities, will continue. A change of mandate is outside the scope of a Commission of Investigation but it will attempt to summarise the position as, unfortunately, public discourse rarely captures what the agency can and cannot do.”
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Dáil he received a folder on Monday concerning a site in Spencer Dock, Dublin 1.
“That is a site that was originally to be developed, owned by CIE, developed by, it was going to be developed by Treasury Holdings, who couldn’t get…I rang Nama today to try and get the par value of the original loans, pertaining to the site and they couldn’t give me the answer. They said they might get back to me. But the, we’re talking in the hundreds and hundreds of millions.
“And that site is now commencing development again and it’s being talked about as being a €600million development. The developer, although Nama would not confirm this to me, and I asked them on the phone: who bought the site? Because we know from the last act that the original developers were not supposed to get their own loans back. Or that the sites, if you like, that, the sites pertaining to those loans. But the original developer was Treasury Holdings and it was reported, in October of last year, that Johnny Ronan, formerly of Treasury Holdings, was the preferred bidder in the bidding process which was launched last February 2016, where that portfolio, or that site, was put out on the market at a guide price of €50million, owned by CIE.
“But, CIE had an arrangement with Treasury Holdings. An arrangement was very seriously questioned and criticised at the time by Minister [Mary] O’Rourke, subsequently by Deputy [Pat] Rabbitte where there was, in fact, a report ordered by Minister O’Rourke into the whole deal between CIE and Treasury Holdings, on the grounds that Minister O’Rourke, at the time, and others, believed there were serious questions as to whether the public interest had been served in the deal that had been done between CIE and Treasury Holdings – as all CIE were going to get, for their site, was 17% of the sale value of any development or 17% of the rent. The rest was to go to Treasury Holdings, Johnny Ronan, [Richard] Barrett and so on.
“They obviously, they went into Nama – owing I think it was €2.6billion in total for Treasury Holdings, €1.67billion went into Nama.
“Now, the first question I have is: Johnny Ronan exited Nama, apparently paying off his €250million debt, but he now has the site again. Right? €250million, not €1.6billion, I don’t know exactly the breakdown in Treasury Holdings’ debt, but he has the site again.
“The guide price, €50million for that six-acre site. Now, comparisons of similar sites on the open market at the moment will suggest that per acre you should be paying around €20million per acre which is €120million. Not the reported, although I couldn’t get this confirmed by Nama either, the reported €42.5million that Ronan, backed by Colony – a big investment fund – who refinanced Ronan’s loans, are reported to have paid, although I can’t get the answer from Nama which I find extraordinary when I rang them this morning, ‘we can’t tell you how much was paid for the site, we can’t tell you who bought it’.
“But it was reported, in October, that it was €42.5million and it was Johnny Ronan, backed by Colony who bought it. Now if that’s true, if the comparable prices, per acre, are in the region of €20million – then it means we have sold a site, Nama sold a site worth €120million for €42.5million. That’s shocking. Absolutely shocking. And the developer who now has it, is the developer who originally went into Nama back in, when Treasury Holdings were taken over by Nama.
“At the time, just on the valuations, back in 2002, per acre down the [Dublin] docklands was €8m-€14million – that’s in 2002. Right? So, it’s very reasonable to assume that in the last surge in property values since then, that €20million is a reasonable valuation.”
Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace also spoke during the debate, addressing his concerns to Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle (above) as Minister Noonan had left the chamber.
Mr Wallace said he’s seen an affidavit made by former Nama employee Enda Farrell who, last year, was given a two-year suspended sentence after he was found to have leaked potentially sensitive information – and said the affidavit was “worrying”.
Amongst other things.
Mr Wallace said:
“Minister, this was moved from Thursday to Wednesday so Minister Noonan could be here. He’s not here. Now his contribution at the start was pathetic. The contribution that the PAC, chairman, wasn’t much better.
“The notion that the PAC are an investigative body is total rubbish. The C&AG [Comptroller and Auditor General] looked at one dimension of one sale and the PAC are looking at it. They can’t access Nama’s papers. They can’t possibly hold Nama to account. Nama went into the PAC eight times now and they said what they liked. It’s absolute rubbish.
“It’s four months since the Taoiseach agreed to establish a Commission of Investigation into the secret society that’s Nama. Since then, Nama have sold over €4billion in par value of loans to vulture funds and almost €3million worth of this loans went to their good friend Cerberus. I agree that the commission should begin with examining Project Eagle as its first module but the problems in Nama are sadly not unique to Nama’s northern Ireland loan portfolio. It’s imperative that any commission adopts a modular approach, similar to the IBRC investigation.
“The allegations made by Enda Farrell – a former Nama staff member – should be the second schedule. It seems Nama may have internally investigated some of Nama’s officials named by Farrell in his affidavit – who may have leaked confidential information or engaged in malpractice. These internal investigations should be made available to the commission.I have read his affidavit and I can tell you it’s worrying.
“If one looks at the assets they have purchased, the links back to Nama begin to appear. The forum building, the Dublin Observatory building, Harcourt Street, Windmall Lane, New Century House, the Central Quay – all these assets were in Nama and are now in the hands of Hibernia REIT, either through direct purchases or secondary deals.
“A fourth module should consist of an examination of any internal Nama investigations into Nama officials regarding the leaking of confidential information or alleged malpractice. And if the judge sees fit, to investigate any other allegations of unauthorised leaking.
“The Commission of Investigation should provide this initial report on Project Eagle within six months and the remaining modules within 12. And, most importantly, any report that’s made should be made public.
“Before I move back to Project Eagle, I would just like to put on the record that the Comptroller and Auditor General’s role, in relation to Nama, has been abused by the Government. The Taoiseach, at one stage, tried to tell us that the C&AG had staff within Nama, this had to be rebuked by the C&AG who said, ‘an impression being given that everything that moves in Nama is seen by, and examined, by somebody from my office is absolutely incorrect’.
“Minister Noonan recently tried to tell me that the C&AG would have called for a halt to Nama’s activities – had he felt it was warranted. Again, the C&AG rebuked it. He said that it was prohibited from expressing an opinion on the merits of policy.
“On an aside, I’d like to tell the minister that Cormac Butler, a financial consultant and a member of the Namaleaks team, has pointed out that Nama may not even hold a legal title to the assets transferred over from the Irish banks in 2009, given that when a bank is insolvent, the ECB automatically acquires control of its assets. If that is the case, it would mean that the ECB, not Nama, is the owner of the loans.
“We’ve been raising some of these issues with the minister and his department since last August but to little avail. Cormac Butler has also been making the point that when Wilbur Ross – Donald Trump’s secretary of congress nominee – purchased Bank of Ireland shares in 2011 and then flipped them in 2014, for a profit of €477million, he did so with the advantage of having access to the financial position of the bank which was not in the public domain, information which was not available to smaller shareholders.
“I’d like the minister to confirm or deny that his, that his officials are now aware that the activities of Wilbur Ross and his sale of Bank of Ireland shares is the subject of an investigation in the US. They do an odd one over there. They’re a little bit more fond of it than we are.
“To go back to Project Eagle. The sale stinks from start to finish. In late 2016, we travelled to Asia to meet a businessman named Barry Lloyd who had contacted us through our whistleblower site, Namaleaks.
“As early as December 2010, Frank Cushnahan had been trying to sell the Nama loan portfolio in one lot. He met with Barry Lloyd and told him he had been heavily engaged by Nama and that there were very substantial opportunities for major returns for anyone who could access international funds to acquire blocks of development assets from Nama.
“Barry continued to meet and engage with Cushnahan and representatives from Tughan’s solicitors throughout 2011 – with a view to secure Asian investors – but the proposed deal eventually fell through in April 2012. Barry Lloyd has signed an affidavit in the last week in Dublin and has met with the NCA [Britain’s National Crime Agency].
“In November 2012, Brown Rudnick met Cushnahan and Ian Coulter at Tughan’s office. By February 2013, they were sitting down with [Northern Ireland’s] Finance Minister Sammy Wilson. April 2013, Pimco were on the scene. By May 2013, they were meeting Peter Robinson. When Pimco was informed by Brown Rudnick that it was the northern Irish government’s preferred purchaser of Nama’s northern Irish loan portfolio, and still not even a price on it.
“We’re told that they didn’t meet Ronnie Hanna until September 2013. By December 2013, Hanna was haggling for an exclusive deal with Pimco, I wonder why. We then had some role-playing, pretending that it was going to be an open process.
“Lazard brought in, to supposedly manage the sale, they weren’t even allowed to value the portfolio. They weren’t even allowed to control the data room. And when Pimco pulled out, Nama didn’t even tell Lazard the reason, why? And they didn’t even attend the meeting in late March between Cerberus and Nama, why? But they were paid €4.3million for a few months’ work? A lot of money just for a bit of back combing.
“Hogan Lovells were brought in for legal advice. But Nama didn’t even ask them their advice, following Pimco’s admission of a fixer’s fee for the boys. Nama didn’t even ask their advice when they discovered that Cerberus had gone ahead and paid the €15million fixer’s fee anyway.
“Nama says they had a problem with Pimco, paying a fixer’s fee, so why didn’t they have a problem with Cerberus paying one? Just because the boys took Cushnahan’s name off the list? Seriously?
“Why did Nama refuse our FOI requests regarding their correspondence with Hogan Lovells? Nama agreed to pay Hogan Lovells €290,000 – ended up paying them €1.1million, for what?
“That Frank Cushnahan, Ronnie Hanna and Dave Watters were a cabal, making it all happen in the background is now beyond question. Frank Daly told the PAC [public accounts committee] last September that our key decision was to set a minimum price of €1.3billion for this portfolio. But they didn’t, Pimco set the price. Dave Watters did the business plans, Cushnahan pulled the strings and Ronnie Hanna fixed the price in Dublin.
“The reason that Nama fell foul of the C&AG was because the task of retrofit in the price led to them breaking their own rules. Of course, when Frank Cushnahan became unbackable, Nama decided to throw him under the bus and distance themselves from him as much as possible.
“But why did it take Nama until April 2016 – two years later – to even report him to SIPO. Why didn’t they report him under section 19 of the Criminal Justices Act or did they at all?
“We then began to hear NAMA tell us about how insignificant the NIAC was, so Cushnahan didn’t really matter at all. But Minister for Finance [Michael Noonan], on the 18th June, 2012 said:
‘I would like to thank Frank Cushnahan and Brown Rowntree for agreeing to continue serving on NAMA’s NIAC. I see this committee as having a very important role in assisting NAMA meet its obligations on both sides of the Border.’
“Then NAMA told us that Cushnahan had no access to confidential information. So why did NAMA ask him to return it or destroy it, if there was no value in it?
“Frank Daly was still trying to distance himself from Cushnahan when asked about joining the board of the religious charity Corani, of which Cushnahan was a long-standing member.
“Frank Daly said:
‘I think it was a pure coincidence. It’s a charity operated by Redemptorists. He was on the board for quite some time. I know some Redemptorists in Dublin and I was asked whether I would join the board. It was not a month later. As far as I know, it was probably the best part of a year later.’
“The truth is, it was a month later – not a year later. Cushnahan joined the NIAC on the 13th May, 2010. Frank Daly joined Corani 32 days later on the 14th of June, 2010. Can we believe anything that he tells us? The Project Eagle sales process was a textbook disaster.”
Acting Ceann Comhairle asks Mr Wallace to withdraw calling Mr Daly a liar. Mr Wallace said: “I didn’t say he was, honestly, I didn’t. I asked can we believe what he says, I didn’t say he was a liar.” Mr Wallace then continues:
“The Project Eagle sales process was a textbook disaster: Short time span for possible bidders; limited information; a one-bid process; no local valuations allowed. This all suited PIMCO, and later Cerberus, who bought the same info from the boys. It was never a competitive process. PIMCO’s gig only, became Cerberus’s gig only. And NAMA’s ridiculous decision to sell it in one lot, suited the fixers just fine.
“Did Ronnie Hanna declare any conflict he might have had with Northern Ireland connections from his Ulster Bank Northern Ireland days? Why did NAMA treat business people in the Republic of Ireland almost four times less favourably than those in Northern Ireland? Is it possible that Frank Cushnahan or Ronnie Hanna might have had anything to do with that?
“During his employment at NAMA, as Head of Asset Recovery, how many connections did Ronnie Hanna approve enforcement against? All of these need to be investigated to ascertain whether there was favouritism or motivation of any sort.
“In the BBC northern Ireland Spotlight programme, Frank Cushnahan clearly states that he went to Ronnie to make sure that John Miskelly’s ‘lights wouldn’t be put out’. ‘Me and Ronnie are thick as thieves,’ Cushnahan said. The entire Miskelly file needs to be investigated. All northern Ireland debtor and Project Eagle files need to be looked at, to discern whether there was favouritism or influence.
“In October 2015, I asked Nama if Ronnie Hanna, along with Frank Cushnahan or Dave Watters ever met with any investment fund personnel? NAMA said: ‘No, Mr Hanna had no such meetings with these individuals.’ That is not true. I know for a fact he did.
“When I said in the Dáil in July 2015, that £7 million of Cerberus’s money had ended up in an Isle of Man bank account, Nama claimed that it was the first they heard of it.
“Cerberus said it was informed by Brown Rudnick in April 2015, about the Law Society of northern Ireland Investigation into Ian Coulter’s conduct regarding the fee Cerberus paid to Tughans, through Brown Rudnick. Is it credible that no one told Nama?
“Well, for the Government’s sake, let me tell you that I’ve met an individual who was asked to look into the same matter in January 2015. On behalf of who? On behalf of Nama.
“The British National Crime Agency knew that all was not well. So, they commenced an investigation. The Security and Exchange in the US knew that all was not well. They, too, started an investigation. They were exercised by the possibility that Cerberus personnel Jon Snow and Dan Quale may have abused their former office. And they were looking at any possible bribing or inducing anyone for gain.
“All the while, NAMA were in denial – ‘everything’s grand, we’re doing a great job’. The Government and Department of Finance, and the Minister for Finance were the cheerleaders.
“Recently, Transparency Ireland stated that Irish people’s perception of corruption rose in 2016, owing to the controversies surrounding NAMA – but it doesn’t stop there. We have received very worrying information through Namaleaks regarding the behaviour of some real estate auctioneer firms,where individuals were looking for cash to be placed into an offshore account before agreeing to sell properties, belonging to Nama and other financial institutions. Some of these individuals are well known and have reached positions of high authority in this country.
“I’ve met a developer who told me that he paid large amounts of cash to an individual, a former employee of Nama, who held a very serious position in Nama, a very serious one. A lot of money has changed hands.
“Back in 2015, I mentioned the payment of €15,000 in a bag, by an individual, to a NAMA employee, to garner favour. Not sure where the Gardai are with their investigation into this, but I can tell you I’m more certain that ever, about what happened – they go their MOU, out the gap and away, and doing very well for themselves now.
“These ‘new kids on the block’, their newfound fortunes are built on the proceeds of crime. One of them is working in the higher echelons of Cerberus, who have been responsible for taking control of small businesses, family farms, and forcing people out of their homes and onto the housing list.
“We must be one of the best little countries in the world, to do business in. What in god’s name is wrong with us that we don’t like the truth? What in god’s name is wrong with us that we don’t want to hold State bodies to account? What’s wrong with us that we don’t want the truth about Nama?
“Is it because it’s too distasteful? Because you won’t like it? Because you’ve stood over what’s happened for the last five or six years? Is that why you don’t want the truth to come out about it?
“Nama is rotten to the core. And you know what? I actually believe that the minister [for finance, Michael Noonan] knows it. I don’t believe for a second that he thinks they’re clean. There’s problems right through the workings of Nama. The dogs on the street know it. Are you going to pretend forever that they’ve done a great job? And lied to the people?
“The people are tired of being lied to. That’s why politics is changing. That’s why the Americans elected an eejit called Trump, cause they were tired of being lied to but he likes of Obama and Clinton and Bush before him. Well, you know what? They’re going to get tired of you lot lying to them as well.
“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have engaged in deception, in dealing with the people of Ireland and they’re tired of it. You are not going to get away with it forever. The social media has changed things. People are waking up to what you are up to and to how disingenuous you are about how this country is run and how we organise society. This is such a frustrating place, it makes my blood boil.”
Mattie McGrath describes Tipp developer in NAMA going off to Poland during the Crash and “last weekend” say they’ve bought their assets back
Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace raised the Garda whistleblower controversy again with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
It follows a report in The Irish Times this morning which says the Government will launch a Commission of Investigation into claims made by former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor following a review of his claims by retired high court judge Iarlaith O’Neill.
Supt Taylor has claimed there was an alleged campaign within the gardai to ruin the reputation of Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Readers will recall how, last October, Trevor Collins, the solicitor of fellow Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison, raised concerns about Mr Justice O’Neill’s remit.
Mr Wallace raised the cases of Garda Harrison and Garda Keogh and the conflicts of interest that have emerged in relation to the investigations of their claims…
And he told how, just last week, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald received a letter from a whistleblower about a witness statement being doctored by gardai in an assault case. Mr Wallace said the background to the case involved the planting of drugs by a garda.
From Leaders’ Questions…
Mick Wallace: “We read today that you’re about to commence a Commission of Investigation into certain Garda matters, following the O’Neill report. Yesterday, the Garda Commissioner [Noirin O’Sullivan] was on the airways, telling us how wonderful everything is and how wonderful she is herself – bombing us with doublespeak.”
“Meanwhile, Taoiseach, the harassment of whistleblowers continues. The Tánaiste last December said to me, in reply to a question, the Garda Commissioner is entitled to her good name, as indeed are people making allegations entitled to theirs, unless facts properly established prove otherwise.”
“Well, Taoiseach, David Taylor, who was interviewed for 21 hours, a file sent to the DPP in September 2015, 2015 – and there’s no decision yet. Nothing has been proven against him. Is the Garda Commissioner allowed to ride rough shod over fair procedure in this area? The commissioner said yesterday: ‘I have absolutely no knowledge nor was I privy to any campaign to undermine any individual in An Garda Siochana’.”
“Taoiseach, 14 times, Keith Harrison wrote to her, detailing his harassment and bullying. He’s out sick since May 2010. He’s on €188 a week and there’s three kids at home. Nick Keogh has got nothing but grief since he reported malpractice.
“The commissioner yesterday was boasting yesterday about taking part in the fight against heroin. But she’s protecting the Chief Superintendent who’s been involved in the heroin case in Athlone. And last year, she placed a superintendent on the promotion list who has been accused on numerous occasions of harassing a whistleblower. ”
“In June 2015, the Garda Commissioner appointed an assistant commissioner to carry out an investigation into the allegation surrounding the chief superintendent and the garda for the drugs squad in Athlone. But it was the same assistant commissioner accused of earlier leaking information back to the super who was the subject of the complaint.
“In October 2015,the commissioner stated that she had commenced an investigation into this alleged conflict of interest. October 2015. Not a word of it since. I wonder where is it, Taoiseach?”
“Following the investigation into the matter, GSOC have asked for disciplinary procedures to be taken against them. Who does Noirin appoint to look after it? Yes, the very same assistant commissioner. Who also happens to be retiring in April so he probably won’t even get to the end of it and delay it all even further.”
“This month, GSOC asked to oversee the disciplinary procedure. GSOC’s request was refused. Taoiseach, when are you going to publish the report? Are you going to include the protective disclosures of all whistleblowers in the investigation, because if you don’t, it’s only a case of kicking the can down the road because we’ll eventually have to do it. And Taoiseach, do you intend to leave the commissioner in place while the investigation goes on because it will make a mockery of it if you do.”
Enda Kenny: “Mr Justice O’Neill was asked to review the allegations of wrongdoing. He was also asked to include any recommendations which he considered appropriate. The report, I understand, sets out in detail the allegations contained in the protected disclosures. I’m sure that the House will appreciate that in the view of the nature of the allegations, and the fact that third parties are mentioned, the Tánaiste referred this to the Attorney General for advice on how to proceed, including the question of what material might properly be put into the public domain, having regard for the rights of all concerned.”
“I understand that the Attorney General has given some response to that but has some further matters to conclude on. And I also understand that the specific proposals will come to Government shortly, including putting the conclusions and recommendations of Mr Justice O’Neill to the public domain, Deputy Wallace.”
Wallace: “Taoiseach, you haven’t answered any of my questions. Now while the Government sat on the O’Neill report, which you still haven’t told me when you’re going to publish, GSOC had to go to the High Court to force the Commissioner to hand over the transcripts of the O’Higgins Report – almost eight months since the Tánaiste requested GSOC to investigate the same.”
“Only last week Taoiseach, the minister got a letter from a whistleblower regarding a witness statement being doctored by garda, the gardaí, in an assault case. The background to the assault case related to the planting of drugs by a garda.”
“Taoiseach, I’ll ask you again: when are you going to publish the report? Do you intend to lead the commissioner in place? Because it will be laughable if you do. And, Taoiseach, if all is so well as the commissioner likes to tell us. Can you explain to me, or can the commissioner explain to me: why are so many whistleblowers out sick? Why aren’t they at work?”
“Why doesn’t Noirin O’Sullivan ring the whistleblowers? How come she’s never even rang… she’s rang none of them. Taoiseach, would you consider asking the commissioner to ring the whistleblowers that she says she cares so much about? Because, Taoiseach, it’s a bit scary. What she says in public is one thing. The reality, on the ground, couldn’t be much different.”
Kenny: “The [protected disclosures] act protects gardai, if they make a report – either to GSOC or the commissioner – for having their identity revealed, protection from dismissal and protection from being penalised in their employment as a result of having made a protected disclosure. That’s the law of the land. That’s what the act says protects whistleblowers for. You mentioned, of course, that the minister did receive the report from judge O’Neill. There are third parties mentioned in this report and it’s only right and proper that we return to the Attorney General for advice as to in what form and what element it should be published. And, in the ministers engaging with the Attorney General on that matter, my understanding Deputy Wallace is that this will come back to Government very shortly including proposals to implement the findings that Justice O’Neill has, has recommended, following his report being sent to the minister.”