Unless you insist.
RTÉ’s Philip-Boucher Hayes tweetz:
“My job is weird.”
Thanks James M Chimney
Unless you insist.
RTÉ’s Philip-Boucher Hayes tweetz:
“My job is weird.”
Thanks James M Chimney
On tonight’s episode of What Are You Eating? on RTÉ One at 8.30pm, chef Hilary O’Hagan-Brennan reveals the uncomfortable truth about the meat in many ready meals.
Many people turn to a ready meal for something quick and convenient to eat after a busy day at work – on average twice a week – and the roast dinner is a favourite. But there is a process – not listed on the ingredients – that goes into creating that roast dinner that may surprise you.
Transglutaminase is an enzyme used in food manufacturing to bond – essentially glue – pieces of meat together to create a more valuable “joint” of meat.
From top: Sgt Maurice McCabe; Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan
I’ve spoken to several people who were in attendance throughout, if not the entirety, most of the days that the Commission took evidence and they say that it was if Sgt McCabe was on trial. He said as much when he was under cross examination on several occasions and a serving member of the Gardai – that I’ve spoken to – who was present at several days of proceedings has told me:
‘They tried to blame Maurice for everything and it was bullshit.’
The ‘they’ in this case is the Garda HQ, and what that member of the force was referring to was either individual Gardaí or An Garda Siochana corporately claiming that Sgt McCabe was actually the person at fault in each of the cases that he blew the malpractice whistle on. When of course the judge found out that he wasn’t blamed at all.
You’re not going to find much reference to this in the completed report. Much of the process, the business of the commission revolved around Maurice McCabe having to prove that he wasn’t guilty of the very malpractices that he had highlighted in the first place by bringing them to the attention of the Confidential Recipient [Oliver Connolly] and to [Fianna Fáil leader] Micheál Martin.
In one case, to give example, he was accused by gardai of having given an instruction that was central to one of the cases of malpractice but, after scrutinising his diary from many, many years earlier, McCabe was actually able to offer the watertight alibi that he wasn’t on duty that particular day that he was accused of having done something because he was actually present at the birth of one of his children.
…Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and many of the individual senior officers – be they retired or serving – were all represented by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and acted for, at the commission, by Colm Smyth, senior counsel. So the legal strategy was, in most cases, centralised. The line of attack on McCabe was organised.
RTÉ’s Philip Boucher Hayes speaking on Drivetime last night.
Listen back to his report in full here
Earlier: Who is Misleading Whom
Previously: ‘Something For Everyone’
Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe on duty in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, when he met Enda Kenny while the Taoiseach was canvassing in the town ahead of the local and European elections in May 2014
You’ll recall how High Court Judge Kevin O’Higgins was appointed in 2015 to chair a Commission of Investigation into complaints of Garda malpractice in the Cavan-Monaghan area made by Sgt Maurice McCabe.
The Commission of Investigation was launched on the advice of Sean Guerin SC who initially looked into Sgt McCabe’s complaints.
The O’Higgins report has not been published but it was handed to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald on April 25.
Since then, there has been a drip feed of articles about the contents of the report.
Last night, after having secured a copy of the report, RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher Hayes said the following on RTÉ One’s Drivetime:
It’s a bit of a Late Late Show report – there’s something for everyone in it. It’s the kind of document that doesn’t make a clear determination one way or another so much as it criticises and it exonerates everybody in equal measure. If you were of the view that Maurice McCabe blaguarded his colleagues and exaggerated cases in order to pursue his own agenda, you’d find some substantiation for that in what Justice O’Higgins has to say.
McCabe was “prone to exaggeration at times”. Some of his complaints against his fellow gardaí were “over stated”. Some were described in the report as “unfounded”. And, as evidence of McCabe’s ingenuity, his detractors will point to the allegations which were “withdrawn”.
A picture emerges of McCabe on this reading, as somebody who cried wolf, who dragged the reputations of his colleagues and the entire force through the mud needlessly but that’s a selective reading of what Justice O’Higgins has to say.
He also says of the whistleblower sergeant that he is a person “who acted out of genuine legitimate concern”, that he “was never less than truthful in his evidence”.
The judge says he, “unreservedly accepts his bona fides” and that he had shown “courage and performed a genuine public service at considerable personal cost. For this he is due the gratitude of not only the general public but An Garda Síochána”.”
Those who were previously persuaded that Maurice McCabe wasn’t the victim of discrimination will find evidence in the support this belief. McCabe said he “had reason to believe that he was being set up and wrongly implicated” in some of the cases of which he had complained. Attempts were being made to point the finger of blame right back at McCabe where he had cried malpractice.”
The judge said that such a belief was “unproven” so McCabe wasn’t being persecuted for coming forward on this reading. Yes, except the report also says that there are five instances where there were attempts by the force to “blame Mr McCabe for malpractice or poor policing”. And, in each of these cases, the judge decided that “the sergeant was being wrongly blamed”.
So, simultaneously, Maurice McCabe wasn’t being persecuted for blowing the whistle but was being wrongly blamed by fellow gardaí for doing things that he didn’t do.
Another headline Maurice McCabe’s detractors point to is his allegation of corruption made against Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Mr Callinan is “entitled to have his reputation vindicated” and that allegations made against him by Maurice McCabe “were unfounded and deeply hurtful” says the judge. Proof again that McCabe was pointing an unjustified finger of blame.
But in the same paragraph, where this appears, it’s also made clear that McCabe never accused Callinan of corruption – “He had not intended to make allegations of criminal conduct against the Commissioner but rather of an abuse of power only.”
Frustrated that he was being ignored by Garda management, Maurice McCabe had found a device that would ensure his complaints which, the judge affirms, would get a hearing.
“The complaint was in part a device to make sure that it came before the minister. At that time a complaint against the Commissioner had to be referred to the minister.”
Again the judge offers something for all sides to say they had been unfairly maligned and simultaneously vindicated.
Anyone reading the accounts of the report that Maurice McCabe withdrew his allegations could reasonably infer that he knew he was on shaky ground in some of the things that he was saying.
On the contrary though it emerges in the transcripts of the commission that Sgt McCabe withdrew one complaint against an officer whom he felt should have been more critical of the shortcomings of a junior officer.
When he was presented with the testimony of the senior criticising his junior, McCabe withdrew the complaint saying that this “was the first time I’ve seen this”.
Justice O’Higgins had to plot his way through a great deal of, he said, she said. But what was at the root of all of this was McCabe’s allegations of Garda incompetence or malpractice. Here, he finds repeatedly that the Gardai didn’t do their jobs properly.
He says, of Lorraine Brown, and her allegation of assault that she “under went a harrowing experience and was entitled to have the matter dealt with competently and professionally by the gardaí. Unfortunately, as is evident from the findings of the commission, her legitimate expectations in this regard were not met.”
Of Maurice McCabe’s claim that gardai were failing to prosecute motoring offences and impose penalty points, the judge finds that “there was a clear pattern of members of the public being stopped for having no insurance or some other deficit in their documentation. In a number of those offences, the member of the public recorded as having admitted the offence. However, the examined print outs reveal a failure to prosecute in many instances.”
Of the investigation into the assault at the Lakeside Manor Hotel, the judge says “the investigation of this incident was characterised by delay and error. Sgt McCabe correctly identified the deficiencies in the investigation and the steps necessary to rectify them”.
And of the most tragic of all of the cases, highlighted by Maurice McCabe, the murder of Sylvia Roche Kelly, by Jerry McGrath, the judge concludes that McGrath shouldn’t have been out on bail and wouldn’t have been were it not for a failure on the part of gardaí in Cavan.
He says that there can be no excuse for “a misclassification of that assault and a failure to communicate effectively within AGS [An Garda Siochána] to ensure accurate and relevant information was shared.”
Any report this long is going to lend itself to being read from in a way that supports one narrative over another. Even more so in the case of this report which offers something for everyone to support their case.
But so too does it support many of the allegations of incompetence, poor practice, malpractice and failure to serve the public that were at the heart of what Maurice McCabe first alleged.
Listen back in full here
Previously: Lest We Forget
Lucia and Jim O’Farrell with a picture of their late son, Shane
Lucia O’Farrell’s 23-year-old son, Shane, was killed in a hit-and-run in Carrickmacross in Co. Monaghan by Zigimantus Gridziuska, from Lithuania, on August 2, 2011.
Gridziuska was acquitted of dangerous driving causing death. He pleaded guilty to failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of the crash and he received an eight-month suspended sentence in on February 28, 2013, on condition that he leave the country within 21 days.
Judge Pat McCartan, at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin, gave Gridziuska the choice of serving the with months or leaving the country and he chose the latter.
During the sentencing of Gridzisuka, Ms O’Farrell claims Judge McCartan asked if there was anything coming up in the pipeline for Gridziuska and that the State solicitor failed to notify the judge that – over the five months before Gridziuska’s trial – a file had been prepared in relation to insurance fraud charges against Gridziuska.
Ms O’Farrell repeatedly requested for this file to be compiled and completed so that it could be included in the proceedings of the case of dangerous driving causing death.
But it wasn’t.
On March 6, 2013 – just days after he was ordered to leave the State within 21 days – Gridziuska appeared in Carrickmacross District Court for insurance fraud and he was jailed for five months by Judge Sean MacBride in relation to three policies of insurance fraud, one of which covered the day on which Shane was killed. Judge MacBride also banned him from driving for ten years.
On February 6, 2013, Lucia O’Farrell sent a letter to Fiona Downes, prosecution solicitor of Circuit Court Section at DPP office, stating:
‘Thank you for your reply dealing with my conversation yesterday, Tue 5th February 2013. I asked if those charges of fraud relating to the insurance held by the accused could be included in the trial commencing on 11th of February 2013. Your letter states that you are waiting on the file from the Garda and therefore the decision to prosecute can not be made yet.
‘On Friday, 1st February, I was speaking to the investigating officer. He informed me that the investigation is complete except for the interview. I informed the gardaí on the 17th of September 2012 to formally request to have his insurance checked. It is now February 2013 (almost five months ago). In view that it is almost five months since I brought it to their attention, I fail to understand why there is a delay now – when we know the file is complete. This is very relevant to a charge of dangerous driving causing death. The judge should have this information. It’s not as if he is up for burglary.’
‘The gardai failed to formally request and check the accused’s insurance within the six months [of Shane’s death] and now I question who’s benefit the delay is for. I spoke with [redacted] yesterday, Tuesday, 5th [February] pm and he informed me the delay was ‘Dublin’. The DPP are informing me it’s the Garda. Which is it? And why?
‘I am confused as to why the insurance of the accused has to wait until after the trial. What is in the file that the judge will have in front of him? Will it state or imply that the accused had valid insurance? Will it state or imply that the accused’s insurance was checked and in order? Can he be charged with the fraud offence before sentencing? – so as not to mislead the court that he had valid insurance on the evening of August 2, 2011. This is the duty of the State to inform and not mislead the judge. I am formally asking you that he be charged with fraud before sentencing. Thank you again for all your assistance.”
On March 11, 2013, Ms O’Farrell wrote to Supt Gerard Russell, from Carrickmacross District Division of Cavan/Monaghan, stating:
On September 7, 2012, we brought formally to your attention requesting to have the accused’s insurance checked, for the date of August 2, 2011 when my son was murdered by a Lithuanian who was on bail at the time. We also requested the insurance details of this evil man, this was over a year after Shane was cruelly and inhumanely killed, and five months before the trial.
‘As you are aware the Gardai failed to formally request to have this insurance checked. When this was brought to your attention (by our family, one year later) it was statue barred, so therefore the accused could not be charged or convicted for not having valid insurance. The garda had failed in their duty, to Shane and to our family. We also formally asked the gardai and raised several issues on October 26, 2012 regarding the accused’s insurance. Travellers Insurance stated to me that ‘we are waiting for the gardai to formally request to have this insurance checked and this has not been done and we can’t tell the gardai how to do their job’.
‘On December 13, 2012, I wrote a four-page letter [sent by registered post] to you requesting each and every insurance policy held by the accused and each and every related insurance policy held by the accused (including current policy) to be checked since he came into the country. This letter was CCed to GSOC. We have been informed that the fraud relating to insurance policies was being checked. We were informed that this is an indictable offence, under the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001. We were told by you that this indictable offence would be dealt with in a circuit court in front of a judge and jury. We were also informed that the “penalty for this is five years and that the facts will speak for themselves”. Why then did you agree to have this heard in a district court? (Where you know that the maximum he would get would be six months).
‘As you are aware we asked for the insurance fraud to be included in the proceedings of the case of dangerous driving causing death of our son Shane…This was not included, as to do so would have highlighted the fact that the Gardai failed to have the insurance checked in time, within the six months (after he killed Shane).’
‘Coincidentally, Shane’s case finished on the last day of February 2013, and the file (which was over five months being prepared) was submitted the very next day. How convenient. This file on serious fraud “where all the facts will speak for themselves”, and which was five months being prepared, was submitted on March 1, 2013, to the DPP office so as to separate it from the tragic killing of Shane. It would not look good to link this serious insurance fraud with the death of Shane.’
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has ordered a panel of barristers to review Shane’s case and 220 others where alleged garda inadaquecy, competence or corruption are involved. One of the Senior Counsel overseeing the process is Conor Devally, who defended Gridziuska.
On Drivetime last night, Ms O’Farrell told Philip Boucher Hayes:
“Two weeks ago, I attended the Macgill Summer School and I listened to the debate on openness, transparency and accountability. And they’re quick to use these words, they flow off their lips – a new era and openness and transparency. And I raised a question, I raised Shane’s question about his death and his unlawful killing, and I wanted a public inquiry. I shouldn’t have to drive to Donegal, to the Glenties to get, to raise a question. I have been trying for days to ring the department but there’s nobody willing to speak. They’re not at their desk or they’re at a meeting.
“I think families have been failed hugely. I think Nigel Rodley said, very rightly, in Geneva a few weeks ago that Ireland’s answer to every scandal and when will they stop, replying to every scandal with, first, delay, then deny, then lie, then cover-up and then eventually they’re forced to throw money at it and hope it goes away. They talk about openness and transparency and accountability, they don’t mean a word of it, there’s no evidence of that.”
Meanwhile, the following is a short timeline of some of the Gridziuska’s criminal history which shows how – had his bail been revoked at numerous points – he may not have been driving the car on the day Shane died.
May 9, 2011: Gridziuska gets a four-month suspended sentence at Ardee District Court in Co. Louth for five counts of theft. The charges are in relation to him stealing five times, over five consecutive days, from Lidl. His sentence is suspended for two years. At this point, Gridziuska is already supposed to be adhering to a condition of good behaviour in relation to a case that was adjourned for a year, in Monaghan Circuit Court in January 2011.
July 6, 2011: The Garda Drugs Squad pull over Gridziuska and find on the dashboard what they believe to be the charred remains of tinfoil and heroin that somebody had been smoking. After taking the remains, Gridziuska is waved on. The car has no NCT at the time.
July 14, 2011: Gridziuska is arrested in Newry, Co Down, for three counts of theft. He pleads guilty to each count and receives a five-month sentence for each count, suspended for two years. The PSNI contact the gardaí to confirm Gridziuska’s address. At this point Gridziuska is already on bail for theft charges in Co. Cavan and isn’t supposed to leave the jurisdiction. He is also supposed to be signing on at a garda station daily.
July 27, 2011: The charred remains are sent to a forensic lab. It’s later confirmed that the remains contained heroin.
August 2, 2011: The Garda Drugs Squad pull over the car that Gridziuska is travelling in, along with Paulius Paplauskas/Petrosas and Edgars Zelenousy, on suspicion that they had drugs in their possession. Zelenousy is driving the car when it’s pulled over. The O’Farrell family understand the gardaí asked the men to get out of the car, searched them and then got Zelenousy to switch with Gridziuska, thus resulting in Gridziuska being behind the wheel. Zelenousy has no insurance. The car is then waved on.
Later that evening, Shane O’Farrell is killed in a hit-and-run, in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, by Gridziuska.
August 3, 2011: Gridziuska is arrested and the car he was driving is found concealed in bushes.
August 4, 2011: Gridzuiska is brought to Dundalk Court for a special sitting. Gridziuska’s suspended sentences are not activated and the gardai do not object to him getting bail.
August 12, 2011: Gridziuska is found in possession of heroin.
September 15, 2011: After being arrested at Craigavon, Co. Armagh, Gridziuska is sentenced to two weeks in jail at Belfast Magistrates Court, after the pleads guilty to two counts of theft. At this point Gridziuska is supposed to be signing on at Carrickmacross Garda Station in Co. Monaghan three times a week but he isn’t missed by gardai.
GSOC are currently carrying out a public interest inquiry into the case of Shane O’Farrell.
Ive interviewed a woman who fell into one of the Tuam burial plots. Upsetting but it significantly advances our knowledge of what’s there — Philip Boucher-Hayes (@boucherhayes) June 12, 2014
Eoghan Regan writes:
“I am a freelance journalist based in Dublin and myself and a colleague Joseph Conroy have put together a 2:30 minute video package of the Tuam Babies march yesterday afternoon…”