Tag Archives: Sean O’Rourke

Lorraine and Sgt Maurice McCabe and A Force For Justice by Michael Clifford

This morning.

On RTE’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

Michael Clifford, of The Irish Examiner, spoke of a book he has written about Sgt Maurice McCabe, called A Force For Justice: The Maurice McCabe Story.

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.”

Listen back to the interview in full here

Leah Farrell, Rollingnews/Easons

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly spoke to Sean O’Rourke in light of Noirin O’Sullivan’s resignation.

From the discussion…

Clare Daly:I think there’s been an attempt here to kind of change the narrative to sort of portray the former commissioner as a sort of a victim. Too many people asking questions, she couldn’t get on with the job – the reason why there were so many people asking questions is that answers weren’t being given. Transparency and accountability wasn’t being delivered.

“And the sad fact is that there was open warfare inside the hierarchy of An Garda Siochana, between the civilian heads and between most of the senior garda management. And sadly, we’ve had a roadmap for how to deliver a modern police service, based on really comprehensive reports that were done by the Garda Inspectorate in previous years which all we need to do is implement them.

“And the problem being that the people at the top of An Garda Siocahana come from the old guard and are not best equipped to deal with that type of change that is necessary to herald in a new type of Garda management.”

Sean O’Rourke: “So you’re talking about, not just a new commissioner but a new top layer of management are you?”

Daly: “I think that’s absolutely necessary and we would be very concerned with some of the recent promotions by the Policing Authority for people who we know have been the subject of serious complaints and investigations by GSOC and Garda management, in example, for harassment of whistleblowers, have actually ended up on the promotion list. And…”

O’Rourke: “So the Policing Authority has to go as well, does it?”

Daly:No, the Policing Authority has to be…”

O’Rourke: “If they’re promoting these people…”

Daly: “What this Government didn’t want it to be – a fully independent body. Let’s remember the personnel of the present Policing Authority were effectively hand-picked by the last government, there wasn’t open recruitment and selection for that. And their hands have been tied and they’ve allowed their hands to be tied even further. I made the example earlier and what happened in Scotland and other jurisdictions, they seem to manage it perfectly well.

“Where a garda commissioner or a chief constable, whatever they’re called, are actually held to account by a proper policing authority. We haven’t go that here. We’ve got a halfway house and the legislation has been there to deal with it.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: Changing Of The Guards

She’s Gone

Absence Of Malice

Conor Lenihan, of Fianna Fáil

This morning.

Former Fianna Fáil TD and junior minister Conor Lenihan was interviewed by Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One.

It follows a report in yesterday’s Irish Times in which it was reported Mr Lenihan is interested in running in the next European elections in 2019.

During the interview, Mr O’Rourke asked Mr Lenihan about an opinion piece written by Fintan O’Toole in today’s Irish Times in which Mr O’Toole focused on an interview in last weekend’s Sunday Business Post in which Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen told the newspaper the party wanted to see the Vat rate for builders and developers cut from 13% to 9%.

Mr Cowen told the Sunday Business Post:

We’re looking at a Vat holiday for a sunset period for the construction sector. We are calling for a reduction in development charges and planning levies. The pussy footing is over. There has to be radical measures for a period to allow the sector get back on its feet. To allow the sector to create affordable homes, to allow local authorities to be given the space to build houses.”

Mr O’Toole wrote:

The party [Fianna Fáil] has a bad case of builder’s bum: when it bends over to help out its friends it reveals the hideous gap between its recent left-wing rhetoric and its true loyalties.

If tax breaks for developers created a stable housing market and good urban planning we’d be living on Paradise Island.

Developer-led get-rich-quick schemes, fuelled by tax incentives, have led only to disaster.

Further to this, Mr Lenihan and Mr O’Rourke had the following exchange.

Conor Lenihan: “I think there’s a very serious crisis here and the current government and the previous government have done very little in this area. We do need emergency measures, we need something that actually gets builders and the constructions sector building houses.

This is not rocket science. We do need to provide incentives to people who are building houses to go out and build them. And if you talk to builders and plenty of us do, it’s very clear that the mixture of taxation on a house, to build a house, makes it very disadvantageous for people to get into building houses.

“So this is a very serious thing that has to be addressed. Now it’s nothing to do with anybody’s relationship with the building industry but I would point out that, notwithstanding the brickbat thrown by the likes of Fintan O’Toole against Fianna Fail in relation to our relationship or whatever, with the building industry that it’s very clear from the data, from 1922 on, from the period after independence, that the amount of social houses built by Fianna Fáil governments, is very consistent. We’ve always built more social housing than any other party in this State. So the record…”

O’Rourke: “Coming back…”

Lenihan: “…is good in terms of one level if you look at the actual data…”

O’Rourke: “Well, I think you’d probably have to go back to the 1950s to find your real achievements…”

Lenihan: “No, the social housing schemes were started in the 1930s by the De Valera government and a time when the previous government had no interest….”

O’Rourke: “In the Ahern era, and thereafter, it became a question of just leave it to the markets.”

Lenihan: “Yeah, and I think that was a mistake by all parties in Leinster House. We need to have social housing…”

O’Rourke: “No, hang on, you were the guys in Government from 1997 for the next, what was it, 14 years?”

Lenihan: “That’s right. Yes, but there was a, but there was a consensus in the Dail. The Opposition parties were asking for more, more tax cuts, more spending…”

O’Rourke: “Ok, just to come back to where we started…and your potential return to the political fray here, your name being on the ballot paper. Have you spoken to Micheal Martin about this idea?

Lenihan: Of course I have, I’ve spoken to him and I made it clear that I was open and available.”

O’Rourke: “And what did he say?”

Lenihan: “Well he was very encouraging, of course. As party leader, he does not and cannot express a preference for one candidate over another. He has to be respectful to the membership but I was glad to be able to meet him and share my ambition in that regard.”

Listen back in full here


Speaking of ‘sunsets’….

From an academic paper, published in the Irish Political Studies journal in 2011, about the Irish financial crash.

The paper was called Financial and Economic Crisis: Explaining the Sunset over the Celtic Tiger, and was written by Raj Chari, of Trinity College Dublin and Patrick Bernhagen, of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.


Any excuse

Kevin Myers (right_ and Sean O’Rourke on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning

This morning.

On RTE One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Former Sunday Times columnist Kevin Myers spoke to Mr O’Rourke in the wake of his sacking from the newspaper, following his column last Sunday.

From the interview…

Kevin Myers: “…I think I could have been treated with more dignity [by the Sunday Times] but I do understand. I too quickly said and an affirmative to a question I wasn’t expecting, I said ‘yes’. And I don’t think that’s quite right because anyone should have a second chance for making an error of judgment.

“You see I’ve come on air and I’m not fully prepared for what you’re going to throw at me. I haven’t slept in two nights and I’m…”

Sean O’Rourke: “It’s a very tough thing and, on a human level, I think people will empathise or sympathise with somebody losing, you’ve lost your livelihood?

Myers:Yes, I have. But I don’t want anyone else to lose their livelihood. Enough damage has been done. So, you know, it’s happened. I enjoyed working for The Sunday Times and I’m sorry this has happened. I did, I mean…”

O’Rourke: “But I mean even if, if there had been, and again, that’s noble of you to say it but if there are five or six people whose job it is to vet what people write for the paper, prior to it going to print, surely they have to be on the line aswell.”

Talk over each other

Myers:Enough damage, enough misery has been caused. You see, you can have a perch, you can, and a lot of people would love a perch. A nice big witch hunt, lots of victims, lots of lives ruined, lots of mortgages…”

O’Rourke: “It’s called taking responsibility.”

Myers: “I’m taking responsibility for what I wrote. I can’t do anything for anybody else.”

O’Rourke: “OK, and the other thing that’s been much noted and much commented upon is that if there hadn’t been those references to two women presenters in the BBC, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, you would still be a columnist. And questions are being asked…”

Myers: “And, you know, that was just one single a line or two, that’s all.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, but the question is being asked what about the way you would appear to routinely write material which is misogynistic…”

Myers: “It’s not misogynistic, no it’s not misogynistic. I am a critic of political feminism. I am not a misogynist. That’s a term that you might have been, I don’t think you would have used that term about me in different circumstances, Sean. It hasn’t routinely been used about me but it’s a simple way of labelling somebody and that means you don’t have to listen to what they’re saying.”

O’Rourke: “But in terms of why people get ahead professionally and why men more so than women do so, you suggest that a personnel department or a human resources department, as it’s now called, will tell you that ‘men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant. But most of all men tend to be more ambitious, they have that grey-backed testosterone-powered hierarchy-climbing id that feminised and egalitarian-obsessed legislatures are increasingly trying to legislate against’.”

Myers: “Yes, well that’s an observation I would have made on many occasions and I don’t think it would have been the object of such obloquy in different circumstances but I do believe that men and women behave very differently and men are driven by ambition and by urges that women don’t have, generally speaking.”

O’Rourke: “When you wrote as well, in the same column on Sunday, ‘a fairly average female columnist in 800 indignant words of smouldering mediocrity will, without leaving her keyboard, earn more than a cleaning lady or a checkout girl, what they would earn, in an entire week plus Sunday overtime’. Now why refer to a fairly average female columnist there?”

Myers: “Actually, because we’re talking about the context of equality. I don’t believe in equality, Sean. I’m not asking you questions. You’re asking me questions. I’m on this programme because Mary, your producer texted me this morning and she’s doing her professional job outside. None of us is equal to one another. I’m arguing in, repeatedly, over the decades…”

O’Rourke: “Why put in the word, if you just wrote ‘a fairly average columnist in 800 indignant words’, I mean why does it have to be a ‘female columnist’?”

Myers: “Because I’m talking about the issue of female equality when women, when feminists talk about, within the BBC, talking about how they should be equal with the men, well actually nobody’s equal so the women who’s making the tea or cleaning the floors or whatever, is not equal to the star presenter. And it just, that was the issue, the context of that…”

O’Rourke: “That applies equally to male as well as female…”

Myers: “It does absolutely. But you see you can actually Sean, without any problem, got through line by line and paragraph by paragraph in that thing and find..”

O’Rourke: “OK, well I want to do one more, actually, if I may, and I don’t want to labour the point. But you say: ‘equality is a unicorn, don’t wait for it or look for favours because of your chromosome count. Get what you can with whatever talents you have and ask yourself how many women are billionaires, chess players, grandmasters, mathematicians, there’s a connection: mastery of money usually requires singular drive, ruthless logic and instant arctic cold arithmetic’. Now, it’s very easy to conclude, reading that paragraph or most of a paragraph that you actually believe that women are inferior to men.”

Myers: “Well you  might have come to that conclusion. If I thought that, I would be an idiot. And I’m sorry that I’ve given that impression but I’ve already told you that I have many weaknesses and one of my weaknesses is a weakness for facile terminology like that. If it irritates people then you’re losing them, you lose them as readers or listeners or whatever. Now, the way you’ve read that out to me, and to your audience, makes me sound like a very unpleasant person. But I’m not a very unpleasant person. You’ve just taken any single paragraph…”

O’Rourke: “By the way, it is the duty of a columnist, I would argue and I’m sure you would as well, occasionally, to be unpleasant.”

Myers: “It is but the point is a single paragraph taken like that, out of context, makes me sound like a villain. But there are very few women mathematicians, there are very few women grand chess masters, there’s on in the top 100, that’s a fact.”

O’Rourke:Maybe they have better things to be doing.”

Myers: “Well that’s the point. That is the point. Now if I had said that, it would be called misogyny.”

O’Rourke: “Now there’s a lot of traffic on our text line [reads out text] “Does Mr Myers apologise for calling the children of single mothers ‘bastards?’.”

Myers: “Well I don;t know why she’s asking that..Is that a woman asking that? I wrote an entire column on that. The column appeared on a Tuesday by Thursday I had written a full retraction and a full and abject apology in which the terms abject and contrite were the two words I used at the end. I knew I had done a bad thing.”

O’Rourke: “Ruth Walsh , I’m not sure if it’s our former journalistic colleague Ruth Walsh is tweeting to observe: ‘Kevin Myers in person is a very likeable but he has made too many throw away remarks over the years. He is not a rookie journalist’.”

Myers: “Well, I’m not going to argue with that.”

O’Rourke: “I’m wondering how do you go about rebuilding or do you at this stage…”

Myers: “Very hard to say how I can say I can recover from this. Personally I’m in a very bad way which is fine, people expect you to suffer if they give you a good kicking and that’s happening. I’m not sure if there’s any redemption for me now which will give a lot of people satisfaction.”

O’Rourke: “And if they read the Independent today, Gerard O’Regan their former editor is writing about how unnecessarily difficult it was for him as an editor to deal with you. I suppose brilliant people are often difficult people to deal with. It could be said you long ago burnt your bridges in the Irish Times, then the Independent and now the Sunday Times…”

Myers: “I didn’t burn my bridges in the irish Times. I left the irish Times. The irish Times didn’t ask me to leave and they actually tried very hard for me to stay. The Irish Independent declined to renew my contract when it was up but there was no strained feelings there. It didn’t happen and the Sunday Times took me on. We now know the Sunday Times relationship is over.”

O’Rourke: “You don’t think there’s any way to argue your way back in there by maybe writing a fresh column. Would you like to be given space to write 750 or a thousand words just to state your position not necessarily pleading for your job back.”

Myers: well there’s no question the Sunday Times are taking me on as far as I can see. Martin Ivens, the editor I amtold – I haven’t been reading stuff online as I haven’t got the constitution to take all that hatred that exists online – that I will never be employed by the Sunday Times in any guise in the future so I have to accept him on his word.

O’Rourke: “In your defence there is the statement issued by Maurice Cohen, chair of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland in which he says branding Kevin Myers as either an anti-semite or a Holocaust denier is an absolute distortion of the facts but he does go on to take issue with…”

Myers: “All the Jews have. I accept that. I was wrong. It was stupid of me this encapsulation of this quite big issue in a single sentence or half a sentence. It’s done me terminal damage but that’s that. It’s what happens in life these days.

O’Rourke: “Would there have been a sense though, subconsciously or otherwise, that I can toss out these lines and observations and sure look there’s half a dozen people to rein me in if I go overboard and I can push the boundaries, push the boundaries..

Myers: “I am the Master of my soul and the author of my own misfortune. I cannot blame anyone else”

O’Rourke: “What would you say to Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman this morning?”

Myers: “I am very, very sorry. I really mean this because I’m not rescuing anything. It’s over for me professionally as far as I can see. I am very, very sorry that I should have so offended them and I do utter an apology not for any reason other than out of genuine contrition for the hurt I caused them but I did so out of respect for the religion they come from and for the religion I still hold in regard, particularly the irish members of that religion who have been so forthright in their defence of me generally. Not just Maurice [Cohen]. Others who have been contacting me privately and I am so grateful for their support.”

O’Rourke: “Kevin Myers, thank you for coming in today.”

Myers: “Thank you, Sean.”

Listen back in in full here

Sunday: Kevin’s Gate


On the same day that Sunday Times columnist Kevin Myers’ article was removed from the Sunday Times website, an apology was issued and it was announced that Mr Myers will not write for the newspaper again…

Rabbi Julia Neuberger and Sunday Times columnist, Kevin Myers, sit next to each other at the West Cork History Festival in Skibbereen.


Via Jackie Keogh




Readers may wish to note the apologies issued yesterday by Martin Ivens, editor of The Sunday Times; and Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Irish edition of The Sunday Times, following the publication, and subsequent removal of Kevin Myers’ article…

Via Miqdaad Versi

Previously: Kevin’s Gate


From top: Dublin’s Lord Mayor Brendan Carr on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland; Dublin City Councillor, with the Green Party, Clare Byrne; and a graphic from mediator Kieran Mulvey’s report on the agreement to the Minister for Health Simon Harris

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr, spoke to Cathal MacCoille, following last night’s meeting of the board of the National Maternity Hospital where a motion re-endorsing the agreement for it to move to the St Vincent’s site was passed.

Mr Carr was one of three members who opposed the motion.

During the interview, Mr Carr told Mr Mac Coille:

A number of people stressed to me last night when that initial decision was made, they took it under duress. I thought, what I’m saying is last night, my opinion, right, I stress this is my opinion, the manner in which some members of the board were treated last night was done in a very bullying and intimidatory way. That’s my opinion.”

Following Morning Ireland, Labour party leader Brendan Howlin and two board members of the National Maternity Hospital, Sinn Féin councillor Micheal MacDonncha and Green party councillor Clare Byrne, both of whom were at last night’s meeting, spoke on Today with Seán O’Rourke.

During the segment, Ms Byrne said she understands the Religious Sisters of Charity “will have no representation on the governance” of the new hospital.

From the interview

Clare Byrne: “In three years, as a board member, that’s the first time that I’ve sat at that table with the Lord Mayor. So, he was coming to a meeting discussing an issue that has been repeatedly discussed for a number of years. He didn’t attend any of the special meetings that were called. So, it was terse meeting, there’s no denying that. But, of course it was, I mean it’s an extremely important decision that’s being made. And, obviously, it’s important to consider the opinion of the public…”

Sean O’Rourke: “And…”

Byrne: “…which we made very clear over the last week also.”

O’Rourke: “What do you make of Peter Boylan, his reason, I think, for resigning. Just to quote from him, ‘I can’t remain a member of the board that is so blind to the consequences of his decision to transfer sole ownership of the hospital to the Religious Sisters of Charity and so deaf to the concerns of the public which it serves’. You’re all deaf. And blind.”

Byrne: “No, I certainly don’t think I’m deaf and blind to the concerns of the public. I’ve listened very carefully to, and I’ve had a number of people contact me over the last few days, in particular. And I do share their concerns. Absolutely. But look, the reality is, is that we need this hospital and this is the only site that was being offered. There has been little or no support from this government or the previous government, which Brendan [Howlin] you were a member of, to do anything to end the marriage between church and State. There’s been little support for the board for this move which is a crucial service that we need for the women of Ireland. I had my child in Holles Street last year, I received an impeccable level of care but how they do it, in those conditions, is nothing short of a miracle on a daily basis.”

[Can hear Ms Byrne’s baby in background]

O’Rourke: “And the baby is obviously thriving, we’re glad to hear. There’s no doubt about it.”

Byrne: “He is, he is. But the reality is, is that building is not fit for purpose. And they’re in situations where they’re literally shoving beds in between beds and you may have a woman who has just lost a child having to recover surrounded by women who are celebrating the birth of their children. To me, that’s not fair. I think it’s cruel. That needs to change. This move to Vincent’s will provide the level of maternity care that women of Ireland…”

Brendan Howlin:Everyone is in agreement that we need a new hospital. I walked every inch of it with Dr Rhona Mahony. I went back and immediately spoke to [former minister for health] Dr James Reilly, we allocated the money to do it. Nobody is arguing that there shouldn’t be a new national maternity hospital. But we have to think generationally into the future. That it would be democratically controlled and…”

Byrne: “But Brendan with all due respect, you know that that land was owned by the Sisters of Charity when you walked the site back then, so why didn’t you do anything about it when you were in government?”

Howlin: “Because I would have insisted, had I been in government, that the control and ownership would be exactly the same as in Holles Street. That’s what I understood was going to happen.”

Byrne: “Well, my understanding from the board meeting back in November and, again, last night, is that the Sisters of Charity will have no representation on the governance or input into the clinical [inaudible]…”

Howlin: “But they will have four out of the nine members of the board…why would they want to, if they don’t have any influence, and would the sensible, sane and rational thing now to do would simply be to hand over the land, including getting compensation, getting…”

Byrne: “But that’s not a matter for the board to decide. That’s a matter for the minister to decide. The ownership…”

Howlin: “No, but the governors are the future of the hospital. Maintaining the ethos that you praised within Holles Street is a matter for the board to decide. And, you know, the notion that you’re going to have a legal agreement that [inaudible], that give you assurances, that all sounds well and good but let’s put it beyond doubt now, let’s have ownership..”

Talk over each other

Byrne: “Well, hopefully, when the minister signs off on the final memorandum of agreement, that will be put beyond doubt. And it’s up to him to ensure that that’s what happens now.”

O’Rourke: “I just want to…”

Byrne:I’m satisfied from the current governance structure that the Sisters of Charity will have no input into clinical decisions made in that hospital…”

Howlin: “Why do they want to own it then?”

Bryne: “And of course I’m concerned about that for the women of Ireland. I want to see a repeal of the Eighth Amendment. I raised those concerns repeatedly during the meeting and I’m satisfied from the responses that I received from the negotiating team, and the legal team, that that will not be the case.”


Howlin: “Kieran Mulvey was brought in and I’ve dealt with Kieran Mulvey for 20 years, to broker deals between parties in dispute. So the fact that there was a dispute between the Sisters of Charity and the National Maternity Hospital indicates that what was brokered was a settlement…”

O’Rourke: “And it was one side had ownership and the other side had control.”

Howlin: “Well, that’s the point. I don’t think it’s right that people should…”

O’Rourke: “And the minster has a veto…”

Howlin: “Well, I mean there’s going to be a board of nine, four of them are going to be appointed by the Sisters of Charity, four by the National Maternity Hospital and, if you like, the casting vote or the deciding vote is to be an eminent person, in the field of…”

Byrne: “[inaudible]…by St Vincent’s.”

Howlin: “I beg your pardon.”

Byrne:Four will be appointed by St Vincent’s

Howlin:No, no, the St Vincent’s trust, which is the Sisters of Charity.”

Byrne: “Well, my understanding is…”

Howlin: “It’s the St Vincent’s trust who are the Sisters of Charity, is that not a fact?”

Byrne: “My understanding is that the Sisters of Charity will have no input into who’s elected onto the [inaudible]”

Howlin: “You’ve attended all the meetings, you’ve said to us that the…the St Vincent’s trust is the Sisters of Charity. And so they would nominate four, maybe you haven’t a full grasp of that. And maybe…”

O’Rourke: “Just to come back Micheal MacDonncha, do you want to enlighten us on that?”

Micheal MacDonncha: “Yes, I mean, that is, what Brendan Howlin is saying there is correct and let’s remember that, from day one here, the aim of the St Vincent’s Trust was complete control. Their original approach was that they wanted to subsume the National Maternity Hospital into Vincent’s and that was the starting point and, hence, there was deadlock and hence there was negotiations and that has been revealed by the Lord Mayor. It was stated at the meeting last night that members themselves that they were under duress to endorse the agreement back in November…there was duress in the sense that it was a Hobson’s choice. It was either this agreement or no hospital.”

Listen back in full here

Thanks Ian


From top: Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton at the graveside at Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, Co Tipperary at a private memorial for her son Anthony Lee (Michael Anthony Hess)

This morning.

On Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton spoke to Mr O’Rourke in light of the ‘significant quantities of human remains’ being found at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.

Readers will recall how, in 1952, Philomena gave birth to her son Anthony [Michael Anthony Hess] at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary.

She was subsequently forced to give him up for adoption and he was sent to America. He died in 1995.

Philomena was portrayed by Judi Dench in the movie Philomena.

From this morning’s interview:

Sean O’Rourke: “Jane, good morning to you.”

Jane Libberton: “Good morning, Sean.”

O’Rourke: “And thank you for coming on the line. Now, we know, just looking, particularly, a lot of interesting reporting, invaluable reporting done on this by The Irish Examiner [Conall Ó Fátharta], but in 2011, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart who operated the Sean Ross Abbey, they gave figures to the Health Service Executive [HSE] showing there were 269 deaths at that home between 1934 and ’67 – a period of just over three decades. Now, the paper has reported that some of those buried in the plot on the site, they are not on that register. So, the number may be higher. So I’m just wondering do you support the view that maybe there should be excavations also at Sean Ross Abbey?”

Libberton: “Yes, I do, absolutely. In fact, I think they should be conducted in all mother and baby homes. We’ve been there, to the plot, several times, and we recently spoke to a young man, there was a man, sorry, in his younger days, he was a gardener there. Now, he said that, years ago, him and I think maybe his father, or some other chap, they’d gone to clean the angels’ plot as they call it now. And he went in there and they started to dig the place and they said that they came across bones, you know, not very far down, three or four inches down in the ground.”

“And so, they didn’t know what to do about it, at that time. And I think they didn’t say anything at that time because I think that they wouldn’t have been believed.”

Listen back in full here

Names of dead infants at Bessborough and Roscrea were given to the HSE in 2011 (Conall Ó Fátharta, Irish Examiner)

Pics: Mark Stedman/Photocall and Adoption Rights Alliance

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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone

This morning.

On RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone spoke to Mr O’Rourke about several matters.

These included the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes; Sgt Maurice McCabe; Taoiseach Enda Kenny telling RTE about a fictitious meeting with Ms Zappone prior to her meeting Sgt McCabe; and the results of yesterday’s Comptroller and Auditor General’s report which showed 18 religious congregations have, up to 2015, paid just 13% of €1.5billion redress costs associated with the compensation scheme for victims of abuse at religious residential institutions.

They began discussing the announcement Ms Zappone made yesterday that a scoping exercise will be carried out to examine calls for an expansion of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes’ terms of reference “to cover all institutions, agencies and individuals that were involved with Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children.”

Sean O’Rourke: “When will you announce an extension or a broadening of the terms [of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes]?”

Katherine Zappone: “It’s a, it will be a number of weeks I expect. One of the first things that my department is doing is pulling together the ways in which the country dealt with these issues when the Commission of Investigation was established in 2014, looking at these issues about what institutions, what settings should be included and what should not.”

“At the time it was decided that it was appropriate to have a sample representative of settings but I suppose, in light of the discovery of, in terms of Tuam and the ways in which we are all trying to come to terms with this and Sean, you know, in the last number of days, I’ve listened to so many people, trying to reflect on the meaning of what has gone on in our history.

“And I have had, you know, many grown men come to me and cry in my, in my presence, trying to come with an understanding of what this meant for unmarried women and their children but also, you know, who is responsible, what was it about our society, how could people behave in this way. So, I’m sorry, I’m just trying to come to terms back to, you know, you’re saying how long will it take?

“There were decisions made in terms of the terms in 2014. Now that we’ve had this discovery, we’re trying to come to terms with it, as a nation. We need to look again at whether or not we need to include other institutions.”

Sean O’Rourke:Does every person who has a story to tell, and wants that story to be told, have a right to have it heard?

Zappone: “And so, yes I think so. And so, as the minister for children, another thing that I’ve identified that I would like to progress is not only perhaps to look at the extending the terms of reference of the Commission of Investigation but also to initiate a process throughout the country whereby there may be other ways in which we can keep the victims and the survivors at the centre of our attention to provide them with opportunities maybe for publicly to speak their truths which so many of them wish to do. And isn’t a possibility in the context of the Commission of Investigation.”

O’Rourke: “You spoke in the Dáil yesterday about museums of mercy, for instance, of memory, I beg your pardon, in Argentina and Chile. I think reference as well to South Africa – what model might you be thinking of?”

Zappone: “I’m referring to what’s known as a transitional justice approach to dealing with, now that we’re coming to terms with the fact that there was a wide scale large scale human rights violations on behalf of unmarried mothers and their children throughout the country, four decades. Is it enough? Is it enough to have a legal process of Commission of Investigation? It’s very important that we have that. But, in other countries, when they try to move on from what are considered to be repressive regimes, into a new era, they know that there maybe other ways in which there are opportunities for people to tell their truths, to remember what happened. Or to commemorate, a national day of commemoration, would be an example. Or other people are suggesting, perhaps the State ought to acquire some of the properties of where unmarried mothers were affectively put in against their will.”

“And to use that in other ways, as we try to, as a society, cope with, understand and move beyond and to heal, to a new way and a new time where we wish to be.”

O’Rourke: “It’s been quite a tumultuous month, not just for the Government, or the country, but also in particular for you, as minister for children and youth affairs. It was, I think, the 9th of February, when Katie Hannon had that report on Prime Time about the shocking allegations, false allegations, made against Maurice McCabe and then there was a political crisis

Later – speaking about the confusion over who knew what when in relation to Sgt Maurice McCabe 

O’Rourke: “You seemed to want it both ways at a certain point. A statement was issued on your behalf saying, initially, that you had informed relevant Government colleagues about the meeting, and then, subsequently, the position was oh it would have been highly inappropriate to brief Cabinet colleagues about matters pertaining to a protected disclosure. To what extent did you yourself add to the confusion?

Zappone: “Well, as you indicated there, I was out of the country for a very brief time. A long-standing family commitment. So I was not able to, I suppose, add my own voice, to offer the clarity in the way that I think I normally do in terms of issues that arise and coming to the media to address that. And so, given the time difference, distance, sorry the time differences, and the geographic distance I wasn’t able to be there, be there myself in order to offer that clarity about what happened, why I made the decisions and I think still, those decisions, I accept that, I have learned from, in terms of the way that we operate as a Cabinet. To perhaps be more explicit with information that one carries in the decisions that are being made. I said then, as I continue to say now, my prime concern was the protection of the McCabes and my understanding was that, with the information that I had shared, particularly with the Taoiseach, that their concerns would be incorporated into the tribunal of inquiry.”

O’Rourke:Did you fear, at a certain stage maybe, in the earlier part of this week you were still away, that your own membership of the Government was on the line. That you might have to leave Cabinet?

Zappone: “I, no, I, I didn’t think that, Sean?”

O’Rourke: “Or be forced out?”

Zappone: “Sorry?”

O’Rourke:Or be forced out? That you might have been sacked?

Zappone:Oh, ok, I’ll tell you, what, again, no, what was most on my mind was to ensure that a way of responding to this kept us moving to an appropriate response to the McCabes and I think, as you know, things have continued and certainly, under my own direct, sense of powers, as minister of children, I have, I ordered the establishment of a statutory investigation by HIQA, in terms of the way in which Tusla manages child abuse allegations, and I’m very pleased to say that I….

Speak over each other

Zappone: “…terms of reference have been agreed within the last week and that investigation will be initiated.”

O’Rourke: “And that’s an important part, perhaps the most important part of the bigger picture. But to go back to the politics of this for a minute. What did you think of what emerged afterwards to have been a fictitious account given by the Taoiseach on [RTE’s] This Week about having met you before you met the McCabes and told you ‘be sure you take a good note’.

Zappone: “Well, as you’ve already indicated. I was in the States when that programme [Prime Time] happened. When I came back, I responded to the media, I put on the record in the Dail, in terms of what happened. And that I know now, and I think everyone else knows that the Taoiseach has agreed with that account.”

O’Rourke: “At the same time, by all accounts, and his own not least, he’s been forced into a position where he’s brought forward, and significantly, it would appear, the date of his departure as leader of Fine Gael and as Taoiseach.”

Zappone: “I suppose, Sean, those are issues and decisions in relation to the Fine Gael party. I, as a Cabinet minister and engaging with this very,very, very difficult issue in relation to the McCabes, obviously, had a history, a complexity, my focus was on them. I behaved in relation to a concern for them. I communicated with the Taoiseach in a way that I thought that was appropriate. And what happened after that is outside of my control.”

O’Rourke:Should you have been more explicit in Cabinet. And I know there’s a constitutional bar on you giving details of Cabinet discussions but could, and should you have been more explicit about insisting Tusla needs to be brought into much more, front and centre, into the terms of reference of what was originally setting out to be, or being set up, as a Commission of Investigation?”

Zappone: “I suppose everything we do at the Cabinet table, Sean, comes as a result of a discerning process. And as I said, I have learned some lessons from this in terms of, you know, maybe bringing to the table things that before I might have felt were appropriately kept with me. But, at that particular moment, my discernment, as I said, my understanding and my reading of the terms that were in front of me, my communication with the Taoiseach was what I knew, from the McCabes, would be part of the investigation. And the judge who was leading that subsequently confirmed that, even before we actually enlarged the terms of reference.”

O’Rourke: “I suppose we have so many strands to the, our relationship with our troubled past and talking about, particularly, where children are concerned for now. We’ll talk politics later but, that are on the agenda at the moment, not least what’s emerged about the amounts of money being paid as part of the whole Redress arrangements which cost now over €1.5billion. The expectation, hope that it would be a 50:50 split between the State and the Church, mainly the Catholic Church, hasn’t materialised. What do you think should happen?”

Zappone: “I would be very much in agreement with my colleague, Minister [Richard] Bruton and support him in his re-engaging with the religious orders in order for them to make contributions to the redress scheme. Because they do share the burden of the responsibility. And I will support him in those discussions.”

O’Rourke: “And what about something that Micheal Martin, the Fianna Fáil leader, said to us on the programme a few days ago. That he felt it would be appropriate, now it wasn’t exactly in the context of redress, that the Catholic Church should hand over its hospitals is what he identified specifically to the State?”

Zappone: “Yes, I, you know, I reflect on that. I think, underneath that recommendation, is that the desire for all of us to ensure and to see that people are held accountable for what has gone on and in terms of the abuses that were done in relation to children, as well as women over the last number of years. Who is responsible? And if those people who are responsible? How much of they pay? How much should the State pay? Should we extend terms of reference, even for the Commission of Investigation that I’m overseeing and supporting and does that, does that mean that, ultimately, those people, the survivors, who are looking for compensation, ought we, the State, the religious orders, who ought to pay for that and how do we make those decisions. It’s all part of that space, Sean. And, I think, you know, if people are offering solutions on how to move forward, I’m listening to those. But I think we need to spend time reflecting on how to do this in the best possible way.”

O’Rourke: “The Taoiseach said, briefly, if possible, you might respond to this. That during the week, ‘women did not impregnate themselves, nuns did not reach into family homes and take babies out’. Do you think in any truth-telling process, you would set up, there’s any possibility, remote or otherwise, we will hear from men in large numbers, other than those who have suffered in the institutions? About what they knew? What they did?

Zappone: “That’s a great question, Sean. You have asked it. And I hope that the men here, you as a man, asking that question, I would love to see that happen.”

Previously:  ‘They Exclude And Stall While We Die’

‘Running Out The Clock’


15/9/2009. FF Day 2. L to R. Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fail, Brian Cowen and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin are joined by Dr Michael Woods TD after the family photo, on the second day of the Summer 09 FF Think-In at the Hodson Bay Hotel outside Athlone. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Dr Michael Woods (Right) with Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen (left) and Micheál Martín at an FF Think-In in 2009

The June 2002 deal between Fianna Fáil and 18 religious orders, brokered by Michael Woods while serving as Minister for Education, awarded indemnity against all legal claims if the orders paid €128m in cash and property.

The agreement was made by Mr Woods, a devout Catholic, on behalf of Fianna Fail, before the 2002 General Election and cabinet approval was never sought. It was also never run past the Attorney General of the day [Michael McDowell].

At the time total liability to survivors was estimated at €300m even though no detailed analysis was carried out by any government department. Total liability is currently estimated at €1.5bn

On this morning’s Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martín was asked about the deal.

Seán O’Rourke: “Should the Government now, given what was revealed in Tuam, revisit the deal that was done in 2002 between the church and the then Fianna Fáil government? You were part of it. There was the minister [for justice], Michael Woods giving the religious orders a €128million or 128million pound/punt indemnity. And, since then, the State has paid €1.5billion in restitution for the abuse. I’m not sure if the €128million, such as it was, has actually ever been delivered?

Micheál Martín: “Well, first of all, there’s two elements of that. There’s the payments to victims of industrial schools at the time. And the redress board that was established – that would have had to be established irrespective of any deal with the church, Sean. The church would never had been coming up with €1.5billion and the legal advice at the time, and I remember speaking to the late Rory Brady who was the Attorney General [Editor’s note: Mr Brady was appointed Attorney General after the indemnity deal was struck], he was adamant that the State would always, because of its involvement, from the inspectorial regime at the time in industrial schools – it was culpable. And so the choice was: does one, would you leave the victims waiting and those who were in, the survivors, sorry, of industrial schools, would you leave them waiting or would you allow them have to go through the courts for years to get their justified compensation. Or would you do…”

O’Rourke: “Are you saying that was the best deal that could be done at the time?

Martin: “No I’m saying it was the most humane thing that could have been done in terms of the redress scheme. In terms of the Church in my view a better deal could be done. and, for example, I think all the hospitals in the state should be given over by the churches to the state. I think the state has invested hugely in them anyway but I think issues like that could occur but in terms of actual pure cash I don’t think you were ever going to get to a situation the where the church would be coming up with the  1.5 billion. I would respectfully suggest the state was culpable, we were told the state was culpable. Demonstrably so. The state inspected these schools.”

O Rourke: “Of course the church is not neatly identifiable entity. it has different if you like manifestations a lot of which are independent of one another. Dioceses are different from religious orders…so how do you actually tie it all down?”

Martin” Well I think you engage with all the various orders one by one, you engage with those who have particular responsibilities, some more than others it has to be said. And of course religious orders are very much in decline in terms of nuns and brothers and that who would have been running industrial schools way back then and indeed the mother and baby homes..there’s a limit to what actually can be achieved in this field if one is honest, But on the other hand, there’s properties and land. and so on like that which should be there for the common good. The orders have responded in that regard by the way in relation to the provision of some services in health and education…”

O’Rourke: “…and a plan for social housing has been provided aswell. This idea that you have with the hospitals. The ones that would be obvious and immediately come to mind would be some of the big ones in Dublin like St Vincent’s, The Mater are you saying they should be handed over effectively to the state?”

Martin: “I do actually.And given now the state is now funding all of these hospitals my own view is that it’s time if there any properties still retained by the church they should hand them over.”

“And without any religious if you will lingering influence in regard to ethical committees and things of that nature?”

Martin: “There are ethical committees that owe more to medicine than religious ethos and in my view that should always be the preeminent.”

O’Rourke: “And is this your alternative to re-opening the Michael Woods deal?”

Martin: “Well when you say re-open…I think we need to cut to chase fairly quickly here and that’s why I made that particular suggestion as an example of what could be done.”

Listen back here.

Previous: Indemnity And The Religious


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From top: Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and chair of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily at the Griffith Conference Centre in Dublin yesterday

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Chair of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily spoke to Mr O’Rourke following Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s appearance before the authority yesterday.

During the interview, Ms Feehily was asked if she had confidence in Ms O’Sullivan.

In addition, during the interview, Ms Feehily referred to a report by RTE journalist Paul Reynolds, on Thursday, February 16.

This was eight days after Labour TD Brendan Howlin claimed in the Dail that a journalist had contacted him to tell him “they had direct knowledge of calls made by the Garda Commissioner to journalists in 2013 and 2014, in the course of which she made very serious allegations of sexual crimes having been committed by Sgt Maurice McCabe”.

Mr Reynolds’ report on February 16 stated that the Policing Authority had expressed confidence in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and senior garda management via a statement.

In an online report, RTE reported:

“In a statement this afternoon, the authority said it is satisfied with garda management’s ability to do its important, challenging, and difficult job.”

From this morning’s interview:

Josephine Feehily: “We think that it is hugely important, now that the decision has been made by Government, to have an investigation, that it is held in public and that it moves along at a pace to bring, to bring finality, hopefully, to a saga that’s been running for a very long time. Which is potentially corrosive, potentially damaging for public confidence and policing and damaging for the moral of the men and women who work in An Garda Siochana, whether civilian or otherwise. It’s also, I suppose the authority, the authority’s remit is about policing, it’s management, some of it is tedious, some of it is boring. But it is about being persistent and pressing the Garda Siochana to implement their plan to deliver on their targets and to achieve their objectives. And we really need this out of the way because, in the last couple of weeks, policing got lost in the noise around all of this. So, for all sorts of reasons. But it’s also important, I think, that all parties get a chance to say their piece and I’ll say no more than that, about the matters before the tribunal.”

Sean O’Rourke: “One of your colleagues on the authority, Maureen Lynott, felt it necessary towards the end of yesterday’s session to offer a word of warning it could be called, to the members of the Garda management that they should be aware of the dangers of falling into group think, as they prepared for that. Is that a concern that you would share?”

Feehily: “Well I think. Maureen is a very, very experienced person, working in lots of large organisations and I think rather than a ‘warning’ it was perhaps more by way of advice. We have a concern about the culture of the gardai. This is not a concern that’s new to the authority. There are books and tomes written, back to Morris [Tribunal] and so on about that. We pressed the Garda Siochana last year, following O’Higgins [Commission of Investigation] to do a culture audit and they are now out to tender for that to be done by a professional firm. So, I guess it was in the context of our concern about culture and ethics which we talked a lot about yesterday because the authority has launched recently a code of ethics for the Garda Siochana. It was in that context of culture, of closed-ness. Closed organisations, and it’s not unique to the Gardai, can fall victim to group think, that’s just a fact. So, I think I would say advice rather than…”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, and you also had a, I suppose, a little caveat that you entered yourself when one of the members of the other side of the management team was talking about how they appreciated the support of the authority in the way they were implementing the code of conduct and you, you slighted resiled or resisted that motion, that you were supporting them, what exactly is your motivation there?”

Feehily: “OK, this is about the protected disclosure policy and what he actually did was he welcomed our endorsement and that was just going too far from the authority’s point of view. The background to this is that, last summer, following O’Higgins, we called on the commissioner to publish the protected disclosure policy of the Garda Siochana, this is a requirement in law. Every organisation, certainly the public sector has to have one. So, the policy was published, the authority reviewed it. It found some deficiencies in the policy. We shared those back with the gardai. They accepted some of our recommendations, some took a little bit of encouragement to get them to accept. Others then, they haven’t chosen to accept just yet. So, in that context, endorsement was just a bridge too far for me. And we will be working with them, over the next year, to push those recommendations a bit further.”

O’Rourke: “What’s the contested area?

Feehily: “Well, the original contested area was about the motivation of protected disclosures. Which is not, the Act is very clear that motivation cannot be a factor when you’re assessing how to, when you’re assessing a disclosure. You can’t question the motivation. You have to take it as it is and assess what it stated in it. So, that was the first contested area. And they’ve accepted that and they’ve changed policy and that’s good and we welcome that. The other contested areas have to do with location of the responsibility for protected, for handling. I made the remark afterwards to the same gentleman that, you know, having the function, even partly located in a part of the organisation called internal affairs could be somewhat chilling. So those are the areas of our concern…”


O’Rourke: “Going back to the start of your answer, motivation, of course, is at the heart of matters which will be explored by the tribunal now, the Charleton Tribunal of Inquiry. And the authority took the view that, and this is a matter of public controversy, that for the duration of the inquiry, it wasn’t necessary, it’s not necessary for the commissioner to step back from her position. What led you to that decision?”

Feehily: “I suppose what led us to that decision was the same that what led many other commentators to that decision, it’s  a matter of fair procedure. It’s a matter of fair procedure. It’s a matter of everybody, whether it’s the, in this organisation or any other organisation, being entitled to their good name, be entitled to fair procedure, being entitled to have their side heard. And I suppose that the other point I tried to make yesterday, maybe not strongly enough, there’s a very clear provision in the law that says the Commissioner is accountable to the minister and the Government. The Government, having decided that the only way that they could adjudicate between matters that were put before the minister in protected disclosures was to have, first, a commission, and then a tribunal. We had access to nothing, could not come to a different conclusion.”

O’Rourke: “In other words, it wasn’t your job to make a ruling on that?”

Feehily: “It absolutely wasn’t our job. Also…”

O’Rourke: “So, did you feely, why should you have said anything about it so?”

Feehily: “We actually didn’t say anything about it…”

O’Rourke: “You did take ten days, I think?”

Feehily: “Well, no, I think I maybe should explain. We didn’t say anything for 10 days because the matters that were being debated were not our job, they weren’t within our remit. And to be honest, Sean, and I think you know this very well. The story was moving extremely fast and it became political very quickly and that’s something we absolutely have no role in because we’re apolitical body.”

O’Rourke: “Going back to what you said, sorry…”

Feehily: “But we didn’t issue a statement, I’d like to clarify that because the notion that we issued a spontaneous statement of support, we were asked a question by your colleague Paul Reynolds and we have a principle of transparency, so we answered the question and we expressed confidence in the senior team of An Garda Siochana to do a very difficult job and, by extension, of course the senior team includes the Commissioner. So that’s actually what happened.”


O’Rourke: Do you, as chairperson of the Policing Authority, have full confidence in the Garda Commissioner’s ability to do her job while this Charleton Inquiry is going on?

Feehily: “I would say we have a degree of confidence but we are concerned. And I’m not saying that that’s a deep concern at this point. The Tribunal hasn’t begun but we have flagged that concern to the commissioner, we asked her the question in public yesterday and so I think it remains to be seen whether, as I put in my remarks yesterday, the accelerator can be kept to the floor in policing and in modernising the organisation while servicing a tribunal. So, it’s a question. We do have confidence in the commissioner’s and her senior team’s capacity to run the guards.”

O’Rourke: “Right, but if events at the tribunal raise, or increase, the level of those concerns, what do you do about it?”

Feehily:We’ll see when it happens. It will depend significantly on context and whether, something in which we have a rol

O’Rourke:That’s a less than a wholehearted endorsement of the commissioner, if I may say so?”

Feehily: “It’s, it’s not a, it’s a wholehearted endorsement, in terms of her capacity and the capacity of herself and her team to run the guards . It’s the, the, how will I put it, the parallel running of a very complex organisation that does need to keep the foot on change and modernisation while servicing a tribunal. And until that stats to play out, I’m just saying we don’t know.”

Yesterday: Damage

Listen back in full here

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