Tag Archives: Terry Prone

From left : Noirin O’Sullivan, Terry Prone and Frances Fitzgerald

Yesterday.

At the Disclosures Tribunal.

There was an  exchange between Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, and former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Justice and Equality Ken O’Leary, who retired last June.

It came after Mr Marrinan asked Mr O’Leary about the Department of Justice’s relationship with the Garda Commissioner.

It was in the context of the swirling of drafts – with the help of Terry Prone of the Communications Clinic – being sent back and forth between the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, via Mr O’Leary, in May 2016 after reports emerged in the Irish Examiner and RTE about the O’Higgins Commission.

The drafts were in relation to pending public statements by Ms O’Sullivan and contributions to the Dáil by Ms Fitzgerald.

When Ms O’Sullivan gave evidence, it was put to her that it appeared she was drafting a statement for the minister – to be made in the Dáil – when she wrote an email, with a draft attached, and the message:

“I understand that you may have to make a statement this morning and I enclose a draft for your consideration.”

But Ms O’Sullivan said:

“I may have said a draft, I don’t mean a draft statement, it’s a draft insofar as here are pointers that you can choose to use or not.

But actually, and we probably will come to the email but they were the facts, the actual facts as opposed to the erroneous facts that were floating around the commentary at that time.

The draft, or pointers, included the lines:

“I have interrogated this matter in detail with the Commissioner…I wish to state here and now that I have full confidence in the Commissioner.”

Ms Fitzgerald didn’t end up saying this in the Dail.

Returning to the exchange between Mr Marrinan and Mr O’Leary:

Patrick Marrinan: “I mean, a commentator might say that you know, that the Department was acting hand in glove with the Commissioner at the time?”

Ken O’Leary: “And so it was, for the very good reason that we had to take a public interest view in relation to all these matters and our view was that the public interest was not going to be served in any way by the Commissioner’s position being put in jeopardy at that time.”

Marrinan: “Yes. But you will appreciate that we are probably hearing about this relationship as it existed at the time between the Department and the Garda Commissioner for the first time, because it’s not evident and apparent to members of the public to know that there is this closeness and degree of closeness between the Garda Commissioner and Department — officials in the Department of Justice and indeed the Minister, do you understand?”

O’Leary: “Well, I mean, there is two points I’d make: Like, our contribution, I mean, if any of the material that week looked as if we were very supportive of the Garda Commissioner, that’s because we were very supportive.”

Marrinan: “Yes.”

O’Leary: “And it wasn’t because of loyalty or whatever. It was because we took the view that there was no proper basis for questioning the Commissioner’s position. But there was a danger because of the political feverish climate going on at the time, if people had looked at previous things that had happened during the course of Garda controversies they could go anywhere.

And frankly, we also thought there was a danger that the Commissioner, given the way she was being pilloried in public and the very difficult position that was in, there was obviously a danger that a sensible person might say, look, I am not putting up with this any more.

And the implications for us of having to find a new Commissioner and the disruption that would have been caused, as I say our view of the public interest was that anything we could do to support the Commissioner, we would do, because we thought that was in the interests of the leadership of the Guards, and the public interest.

So as I say, it wasn’t all friends helping each other out; it was a clear view of where we thought the public interest lay. If –I mean, if the O’Higgins Commission report said the Commissioner inappropriately relied on strategies to do down Sergeant McCabe, well then we would have had to deal with that in an entirely different way.”

Marrinan: “Yes. So I mean, would it be fair to summarise your position in relation to this, that you may well have been hand in glove with the Commissioner in relation to this issue at the time, not because you had a cosy relationship but because the Department had taken a view arising out of the O’Higgins Commission that the Commissioner was in fact correct in her approach and there was no question that she was going to resign?”

O’Leary: “It’s not that we were taking a view the Commissioner was correct in what happened at the O’Higgins Commission, because we had absolutely no information except for one detail, we may be coming to.

What we were doing was relying on Judge O’Higgins’s report and there was nothing in that that questioned in any way the approach of the Garda Commissioner on our reading of it. The hand in glove phrase, do you know, if you don’t mind me saying so, it is a bit pejorative. Like, we were working closely with the Garda Commissioner in the situation which arose to achieve the objectives we thought were best in the public interest.”

Marrinan: “Yes. But so closely that you thought it appropriate and not out of order to send a draft letter to the Commissioner for her consideration to send back to the Department and also that the Garda Commissioner could contact the Minister directly with what, on the face of it, appears to be a draft speech expressing confidence in her?”

O’Leary: “In relation to, you know, what is called a draft letter, I have tried to explain the background to that, if it had been written, headed instead ‘points that you might take into account in the light of our discussions’, I don’t think anyone would find that objectionable and maybe that is what I should have done.”

Marrinan: “I know. But that is not the way it’s written, it’s written in the first person, as indeed the speech is written in the first person.”

O’Leary: “Well, I mean, frankly, like, that is a question of form rather than substance in relation to what was going on.”

Marrinan: “Well, I think if it had become — either the letter or the speech had become bestsellers, there might have been a quarrel in relation to copyright and royalties, but anyway.”

The tribunal continues today.

Previously: Disclosures Tribunal on Broadsheet

Clockwise from top left: Former Secretary General of the Department of Justice Noel Waters; Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Last Friday.

At the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle.

Evidence was heard from the former Secretary General at the Department of Justice Noel Waters and Head of Legal Affairs at An Garda Siochana Ken Ruane.

Mr Ruane is scheduled to continue giving evidence today and will be followed by Annemarie Ryan, of the Chief State Solicitor’s office.

On Friday, it also heard of Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, say although nobody was suggesting that somebody was going to ask Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation if he ever abused a child,  “there was consideration, God knows by whom, given to the question of putting Ms D’s allegation firmly in the middle of the table at the O’Higgins Commission”.

It also heard of communications between the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the bizarre drawing up of statements by the Department of Justice for the Garda Commissioner to make to the Department of Justice.

That particular matter prompted  Judge Charleton to recall Myles na gCopaleen and ask: “If the Garda Commissioner is writing to the Department of Justice what the Department of Justice wants to have written to it, what in heaven’s name does that mean in terms of any genuine progress in terms of attitude?”

It also heard of a draft speech Ms O’Sullivan sent to Ms Fitzgerald on May 18, 2016 –  after the Irish Examiner broke the story in May 2016 about the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation and the strategy employed against Sgt McCabe – and in which she suggested Ms Fitzgerald tell the Dail, among other things, “I have interrogated this matter in detail with the 22 Commissioner of An Garda Síochána and now present to the House the outcome…I wish to state here now that I have full confidence in the Commissioner” (more about these communications in a later post).

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From top (left): Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic; former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan; a response journalist Ken Foxe received from An Garda Siochana on foot of an FOI request

You may recall a previous post about the Communications Clinic and how it was hired by both An Garda Siochana and the Department of Justice in both 2015 and 2016.

An Garda Siochana paid the the firm €10,400  and €92,955 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The Department of Justice paid the Communications Clinic  €756 and €24,221 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The post drew attention to the fact two separate attempts made earlier this year, by journalists Ali Bracken, of the Irish Daily Mail, and Ken Foxe – to obtain details of An Garda Siochana’s hiring of the Communications Clinic, under the Freedom of Information Act – were rejected.

Specifically, Mr Foxe sought “copies of any emails between the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and PR consultant Terry Prone or the Communications Clinic during the period in which those services were provided to AGS.”

An Garda Siocana refused Mr Foxe’s request on the basis that there were no emails that were subject to FOI (see docs above).

Further to this…

Last March, Mr Foxe also sent a similar FOI request to the Department of Justice for “copies of all correspondence – both written and electronic – between the Minister Frances Fitzgerald and/or her private office and any of the following people or companies: Terry Prone and/or the Communications Clinic. “

Mr Foxe’s request was eventually refused on the basis that there were no records.

He then appealed this decision.

Yesterday.

Mr Foxe tweeted what he wrote in his appeal and the response he got from the Department of Justice…


Via Ken Foxe

Previously: Noirin’s Prone Position

From top: Catherine Corless with Ray D’Arcy yesterday;; Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, on the Late Late Show in October

Yesterday.

Historian Catherine Corless was interviewed on RTE Radio One’s Ray D’Arcy Show.

During the interview, Ms Corless – who discovered there are no burial records for 796 babies and toddlers who were recorded as having died at the home – said she rejected an apology made by the chair of the Communications Clinic Terry Prone on the Late Late Show in October.

Ms Prone made the apology because of an email she wrote to French journalist Saskia Weber after the Irish Daily Mail first published a story about the possibility of a mass grave at the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway in 2014.

In her email, Ms Prone – who was taking media queries on behalf of the Bon Secours nuns – told Ms Weber:

 “If you come here, you’ll find no mass grave, no evidence that children were ever so buried, and a local police force casting their eyes to heaven and saying “Yeah, a few bones were found – but this was an area where Famine victims were buried. So?”

Ms Prone also told Ms Weber:

“If you’d like me to point you at a few reputable historians who might be good, I’ll certainly do that.”

Ms Corless’s interview on the Ray D’Arcy Show followed Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, on December 12, publishing a report from the Expert Technical Group which has been investigating the former Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.

In that report, the group outlined five options for the site of the former Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.

Readers should note the group’s full 232-page report also contains the line:

The potential to identify individuals interred in Tuam is one that poses many challenges as has been identified in this report. It is an issue that has the potential to cause upset and potential damage to relations between the public, the Church and the Government.”

Ms Corless spoke about this line during her interview with Mr D’Arcy.

She also called for the number of skulls to be counted at the Tuam site to see if there are 796 skulls.

She said if there are fewer than 796, this may indicate that death certs were falsified to allow for illegal adoptions to take place – with children most likely sent to America.

From the interview…

Ray D’Arcy: “When you were in the last time with us, I think it was February 2015, I read to you the letter that Terry Prone had written on behalf of the Bon Secours  nuns to a French documentary…”

Catherine Corless: “That’s right, that’s right.”

D’Arcy: “And it sort of poo-pooed the whole thing.

Corless: “Terry Prone did, she just really, she just made a mock of all the survivors and everything that I had brought out into the open. And it was very, very unprofessional of her at the time, I thought. And I just couldn’t believe it. It was very hurtful, it’s all I can say, to survivors.”

D’Arcy: “She did say, on the Late Late Show, when Ryan Tubridy put…”

Corless: “Well because she was put to the…a gun was put to her head, yeah.”

D’Arcy: “She said, ‘most shockingly, I should have contacted Catherine and said I’m really sorry. I believed, based on the evidence I had, that it was famine burials. And then, without looking to camera, but I think she was addressing you, ‘you were right and you were right to fight it through’. Has she rang you since?”

Corless: “Absolutely not, Ray. No I don’t take that as an apology at all because it was just a very curt, kind of her hands in the air again. It was almost the same, ‘so, I was wrong’. That’s the way I took it.”

D’Arcy: “Was that before or after you were on the Late Late?”

Corless: “It was after, oh it was yeah.”

D’Arcy: “Would you like her to ring you?”

Corless: “Absolutely, absolutely, just to see how she really feels about it: are they taking this seriously at all? Does she realise the impact it has on survivors, so many survivors. I think that’s the one thing Ray. Nobody’s taken, still, to this day, taken much notice of them, or listened to them. They don’t know the hurt they’re going through. And it’s impacting on their own families. And they don’t realise there’s so many of them.”

Later

D’Arcy: “So that report from the Expert Technical Group. In it they say, because there was a lot more to it than just the five proposals as to how to treat the site. In it they say it’s ‘an issue that has the potential to cause upset and potential damage to relations between the public, the Church and the Government’.”

Corless: “That’s right, Ray. I would question, I would question the people who wrote that, what is that about? Are they telling us we can’t be going? We can’t be upsetting the Church again? Or the State? Or the Government? I would like a, I would like an explanation of that.”

D’Arcy: “I’ll have to read it again for them again, Catherine.”

Corless: “Do please.”

D’Arcy: “‘It’s an an issue that has the potential to cause upset and potential damage to relations between the public, the Church and the Government’. Now they’re not saying ‘don’t do it because..’, they’re just pointing out…”

Corless: “I know…that’s what I mean. When you read the five suggestions again. The words they’re using. ‘Disruptive’ and they’re using words that they shouldn’t use. They’re more or less, I have said, it’s bordering on propaganda, the way that, those five issues are pointed out.”

D’Arcy: “Because they’re sort of leading…”

Corless: “Leading, leading the witness, you could say. Absolutely. And of course the money is there upfront and the first column of all the suggestions and maybe €3m-€5m sounds terrible to people and I know what Galway County Council will be saying, ‘it’s taxpayers’ money, this, that and the other’, ‘we don’t need this’, ‘there’s hospitals…’, they’ll bring in all this…”

Listen back here in full

Read the Expert Technical Group’s full report here

Previously: Reputable History

Terry Prone of the Communications Clinic and former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the Public Accounts Committee on July 13, 2017

An Garda Siochana paid the Communications Clinic €10,400  and €92,955 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Further to this…

On Thursday, July 13, 2017.

The former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was asked about this sum of €92,955 by Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry, in a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee.

Ms O’Sullivan told the committee the money would have been used to train gardai to deal with local radio and media.

She said:

“As part of our modernisation and renewal programme, we have committed to opening up the organisation. I do not have the exact breakdown here, but maybe some of my colleagues do.

The moneys would again have been spent on training Garda and civilian members around the country for interaction with local radio and local media, for example, on some of the information messages that would have gone out around Operation Thor and the “lock up and light up” campaign.

“Again, we can provide an exact breakdown or maybe some of my colleagues would have it, but that is what it would have been.”

When Mr MacSharry specifically asked Ms O’Sullivan if she had attended any media training sessions with the PR firm, Ms O’Sullivan said:

No. Maybe it is an opportunity, if I may Chair, to do something. I have seen a lot of speculation and commentary. Particularly, I think there was a figure of €140,000 mentioned which apparently I spent in terms of preparing for Committee of Public Accounts meetings. That is completely untrue. I have never received any preparatory training. Like yourself, Chair, I am not sure where that reporting came from. Certainly, no, I did not.

Mr MacSharry attempted to clarify further when they had this exchange:

Marc MacSharry:So the €92,000 was for people who would have to be spokespeople for local radio after a crime or were being consulted on an issue or something.”

Ms Nóirín O’Sullivan: “And, for example, district offices. As the Deputy will have seen, one of the criticisms we have received is that we are insular and defensive. Some of the inspectorate reports quite rightly raised the fact we need to speak more openly to the media. The Deputy would have seen a lot of our local officers around the country engaging more with the media. We have found that part of public reassurance is to get on local radio stations in particular and give out messages of reassurance and crime prevention and stories of interest to local communities.”

However…

Yesterday, John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reported that the Disclosures Tribunal is examining advice which Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, gave to the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan in May, 2016.

Ms Prone gave this advice after it emerged that claims made by Ms O’Sullivan’s senior counsel during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015 – that Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe was acting out of malice – were proven to be untrue and journalists were asking Ms O’Sullivan for a comment about the same.

Mr Mooney reported:

The tribunal has been notified of email exchanges between senior gardai and Prone from May 2016, when the PR executive was consulted on the wording of a statement issued by the garda press office in response to media queries about O’Sullivan’s approach to McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission hearings.

“…Charleton has been given statements and documents that show Garda Headquarters held a meeting to discuss how it would respond to the issues identified by O’Higgins. The Garda press office later released three statements on the report and the leaked transcripts.

“Prone advised O’Sullivan on the second statement, which was released by the garda press office. It was an attempt to clarify the then commissioner’s role after newspapers published transcripts of the commission’s hearings. The statement, released on May 16, quoted O’Sullivan as saying she believed “dissent was not disloyalty” and she never regarded McCabe as malicious. It added that she was legally precluded from commenting on matters discussed at the commission.

“Charleton has been told the statement was circulated by O’Sullivan to Garda Headquarters on a private Gmail account, which deleted emails after 30 days, before its release. Copies were retained by Garda Headquarters as they were sent to official accounts. The email thread shows Prone had advised O’Sullivan.”

Meanwhile.

Two separate attempts earlier this year, by journalists Ali Bracken, of the Irish Daily Mail, and Ken Foxe, to obtain details of An Garda Siochana’s hiring of the Communications Clinic, under the Freedom of Information Act, have been rejected.

Specifically, Mr Foxe sought “copies of any emails between the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and PR consultant Terry Prone or the Communications Clinic during the period in which those services were provided to AGS.”

In addition.

The Department of Justice paid the Communications Clinic €2,336, €756 and €24,221 in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Two weeks ago, the Department of Justice released a series of emails which showed how, on Saturday, July 4, 2015, RTÉ journalist John Burke sent a press query to the Garda Press Office.

Mr Burke asked about the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s counsel questioning Sgt Maurice McCabe’s motivation at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Subsequent to this, in an email from the Department of Justice Secretary General Office Assistant Secretary Ken O’Leary to the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Mr O’Leary stated Ms O’Sullivan phoned him “to let me know they had received queries from Colm O’Nongain [sic] about Sgt McCabe”.

Mr O’Leary added that the Garda Press Office was asked “was it the Garda Commissioner who had instructed counsel to adopt an aggressive stance towards Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission”.

He told Ms Fitzgerald: “The Gardai are not commenting.”

He then went on to advise Ms Fitzgerald, who was scheduled to appear on RTE’s This Week on Sunday, July 5, 2015, to say the following:

“Both the Garda Commissioner [Noirin O’Sullivan] and myself have made it clear that Sgt McCabe is a valued member of the Force.”

She was also advised to say she couldn’t comment on the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation and that:

“…it would be wrong of anyone to make public comment which might interfere with or attempt to influence those proceedings in any way.”

In addition, Mr O’Leary also told Ms Fitzgerald that she could say:

“It would be wrong of anyone to make public comment which might interfere with or attempt to influence those proceedings in any way. The Commission clearly has to be let take its course.”

In the end, Ms Fitzgerald wasn’t asked about the matter when she appeared on RTE’s This Week on Sunday, July 5, 2015.

O’Sullivan ‘advised’ by PR guru about McCabe (John Mooney, The Sunday Times)

Previously: Getting Their Story Straight

Reputable History

Our Worst Fears

Five Years After

Was The Communications Clinic Hired To Deal With Mission To Prey Before It Was Even Broadcast?

Committee transcript via Oireachtas.ie

prone2

Risteard Cooper as Terry Prone on last night’s ‘Apres Match Presents Election 1982 ‘on RTÉ

Did you stay in last night?

Rory writes:

I am surprised you haven’t mentioned the highlight of the campaign so far. RTÉ partially redeemed themselves last night for their abysmal, biased, fearful general election coverage (don’t get me started)  thanks to Apres Match. The uncanny Terry Prone take off [at link below], in particular left me, well…prone…..credit where it’s due, fair play in fairness, etc, etc.

Watch here

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 19.40.43Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 19.25.37

Keelin Shanley, Terry Prone and Stephen Collins on RTÉ One’s Campaign Daily yesterday

Asked yesterday if he regretted making a comment about ‘whingers’ in his Mayo constituency, Taoiseach Enda Kenny fulminated:

“No I don’t. Some of them wouldn’t know sunshine if they saw it.”

Chairman of The Communications Clinic Terry Prone and Stephen Collins, political editor of The Irish Times, shared their impartial thoughts on this with RTÉ’s Keelin Shanley on RTÉ One’s Campaign Daily yesterday.

Readers may wish to note that the close links between Ms Prone’s Communications Clinic and Fine Gael were never mentioned during the item. G’wan the RTÉ.

Keelin Shanley: “Is that a good idea? To go to your own constituency and say that you’re champion whingers? Not all of ye, but some of ye?”

Terry Prone: “Well, I think that there’s a certain truth in what he says in a general, geographic sense…”

Shanley: “But do you need that truth at this point?”

Prone: “Joe Duffy could not survive on a daily basis, were it not for the fact that the Irish public are the most magnificent whingers. I think that it indicates something that is profound in this campaign that I think it was believed, at a strategic level, in Government, from both parties, that yes, the recovery had happened and any places that it hadn’t happened, it was purely geographic. There’s a lot of individual people who have not been reached by it, who are complaining very loudly and they need to be sensitively addressed in the coming week.”

Shanley: “And do you think that was sensitively addressing them, Stephen?”

Stephen Collins: “Well, the whingers, I think we are a nation of whingers, it’s been, going back to James Joyce, we’ve always, I think even recognised in ourselves that we like to whinge. Some people, of course, have legitimate reasons to whinge, some people don’t. But they whinge nonetheless. As Terry says, where would Joe Duffy’s programme be without the whingers of Ireland. But it’s probably not a great idea to say it but I’m not sure…”

Shanley: “If you were teetering and you got called a whinged, I don’t know that it would work for me.”

Collins: “I think that people who are, the real hardcore whingers are not going to vote Fine Gael anyway. I think that’s the bottom line. I think a lot of people who would be supporting Fine Gael would be the kind of people who would identify with what Enda Kenny is saying there. So I think his own constituency, I mean not talking about Mayo, but his national constituency wouldn’t be that worried about that…”

Watch back in full here

Previously: Another Fine Mess

CRbLis0UsAACYva

Terry Prone at the Image magazine Network Breakfast at the Marker Hotel, Dublin discussing workplace harmony this morning.

Alternatively…

Previously: Terry Prone On Workplace Harmony

Kate Fitzgerald on broadsheet

Terry.1

Terry Prone

Ahead of a talk on Friday morning for Image magazine on workplace relations, Terry Prone shared with the title what she “looks for in a work colleague and how to appropriately confront and overcome issues in the workplace”.

As the reporter notes, Ms Prone’s answers are “clear and concise and jam-packed with pearls of wisdom”. To wit:

How do you recommend people make a stand about issues they are unhappy with at work?

“Be unsurprised, sometimes shit happens. Talk to an outside expert, they’ll be able to give you an open, honest answer and a fresh perspective. And never, ever, ever talk to a lawyer.”

What are your top tips for managing internal politics in an office environment?

“It’s very simple: Don’t get involved. Get along with everybody. And if that doesn’t work, then that workplace is not the one for you, it’s time to get out.”

What makes a good colleague?

“Diligence, discretion and a sense of humour. First, work out your objective, you need to figure out exactly how you want the issue to proceed. Don’t ever start with the desire to get something off your chest. Road to no-town. Once you have a clear head, examine who needs to be influenced, work out how best to influence them.”

What makes a good boss?

“Diligence, discretion, a sense of humour, the capacity to take the helicopter view and the ability to damp down your emotional neediness.

Terry Prone On Creating A Harmonious Workplace (Image)

Previously: Kate Fitzgerald on Broadsheet

Image: Image

Thanks Fiona