“Black Ops Being Run Off The Books”


ShatCAllBoylanLast night, Sunday Times investigative journalist John Mooney joined Senator Jillian Van Turnout, Sinéad Ryan, consumer columnist with The Herald, and John Byrne, social care lecturer at Waterford Institute of Technology, on RTÉ’s Late Debate.

Fergal Keane was standing in for the show’s usual host Audrey Carville.

Keane and his panel discussed the Garda Ombudsman public interest inquiry into the relationship between convicted drug dealer Kieran Boylan (above), whose charges were mysteriously dropped in 2008, and certain members of the gardaí.

In the course of their conversation, Mr Mooney, who has been at the forefront of this story since it began, said Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan (top right), had questions to answer. He also said Justice Minister Alan Shatter, (top left), was politically compromised.

Fergal Keane: “John Mooney, this is some pretty extraordinary statements there by the Garda Ombudsman who were there given oversight of the gardaí, saying the gardaí didn’t cooperate with them, didn’t give them information. It’s an incredible state of affairs. And very, very serious?”

John Mooney: “Well, it’s not for anyone who’s familiar with the story. I began investigating Kieran Boylan’s activities…”

Keane: “Who is this alleged informant.”

Mooney: “He’s not an informant. He was an international drug trafficker who was operating in the State, between here, Britain, Northern Ireland and Holland, and Spain at one stage. This individual entered into a relationship with a handful of guards. That was unknown to anyone. So there’s a lot duplicity going on at the moment and a lot of, sort of, lots of people running for cover, particularly in the Government, because very senior figures within the Government screamed very loudly, over the years, about what was happening with this case.”

Keane: “Pat Rabbitte being one?”

Mooney: “Yeah, Brendan Howlin, Enda Kenny himself actually. There were, the late Tony Gregory was very instrumental in highlighting this case. We began looking at this individual back in 2005, when I heard about his arrest with €2million worth of cocaine and heroin and he’d made certain claims, while in custody, he was on bail for a previous offence, he’d been caught with almost €1million worth of drugs, again heroin and cocaine being imported into the State. He seemed to have, he was suggesting at the time that he had high-level contacts within the guards. I didn’t actually believe the story but we commenced an inquiry into…”

Keane: “He made these claims in court?”

Mooney: “No, no, he never…this never got to court unfortunately. He suggested this while in custody with the Garda National Drugs Unit who were part of an international operation, to take him out. He was part of a cartel operating between here and Manchester and with various other major players in the drugs trade in, in mainland Europe. And this guy was involved in transporting huge quantities of drugs. You’re not talking about a couple of kilos of heroin, ones every so often, we’re talking about mega consignments of heroin. So he’s an individual, under any policing operation, who cannot fit into an informant category. People don’t understand. the legislation surrounding this and they don’t understand the rules governing this. The idea of police informants is not to recruit people, who instigate crime and traffick drugs into countries, and destroy communities and everything else. They try get people, who’ve no knowledge of it. But this guy was an instigator, and quite a wealthy individual. So he was caught, the charges were dropped. We highlighted the case, the charges were reinstated. And then, famously, in the last day of a hearing in, what was it, two years ago, in an unannounced, an unscheduled case, the charges were dropped against him. The only way that ended up in the public domain was because I happened to be in…”

Keane: “Ok..on the last day of the court sittings in July 2008.”

Mooney: “Nine. Yes, that was it. And Kieran would have had various choice words with me outside the court that evening, as a result of that. But, we’d subsequently…”

Keane: “Where is he now?”

Mooney: “He’s living in county Louth at the moment. And he, then we, as the investigation commenced, continued, we, as you’re probably are aware, revealed that he’d managed to obtain an international haulage licence, on the basis of paperwork that said that he didn’t even have a criminal record, again provided by garda headquarters. There were other allegations, he had his passport changed into his Irish name, which allowed him to travel internationally without…”

Keane: “Ok, you highlighted all of this. The gardaí…It prompted the Garda Ombudsman to start an investigation…”

Mooney: “A public interest inquiry.”

Keane: “We now have this today.”

Mooney: “Yeah.”

Keane: “A couple of years into the investigation. What’s going on between the Garda Ombudsman and the garda management?”

Mooney: “Well, I suppose…”

Keane: “Because the Garda Commissioner has come out and denied there is any wrongdoing and the person, the judge who’s charged with overlooking the handling of the performance, has also said that they were more or less in line with regulations.”

Mooney: “Ok. Well there’s two issues. Number one, the judge’s report only concerns the legal operation of CHIS (Covert Human Intelligence System) which people who are regulated and registered and fall in within the controls of that system. There’s nothing wrong with informants. And if this guy was an informant, I wouldn’t be writing about him. We deal with lots of different issues.”

Keane: “Well the Garda Commissioner seems to be taking quite a bit of comfort from that finding this evening.”

Mooney:That’s just pure guff. You…The second issue concerning what’s happening at the moment is there’s a lot being made about the DPP not pressing charges. The reason why the DPP isn’t pressing charges is because they can’t put this information into the public domain. There may be other information entering the public domain quite shortly about why charges weren’t preferred and sort of the other favours that were done for, how would I say, that Kieran Boylan availed of, courtesy of the State.”

Keane: “Ok. So how do you characterise now what’s going on this evening?”

Mooney: “Well, I think…”

Keane: “Because there were extraordinary words from the person given responsibility for overlooking the…”

Mooney: “I think there’s a number of issues going on. I think Alan Shatter is politically compromised because he gave Martin Callinan a two-year extension when this was known…”

Keane: “Martin Callinan being the Garda Commissioner..”

Mooney: “…that this was coming down the line. Martin Callinan was a director of operations at crucial times over the unit which were involved in all of this..”

Keane: “OK, well we’re not suggesting in anyway that he had any personal involvement.”

Mooney: “No, no, but, in terms of, he has a responsibility towards this. So you have a situation where the reason why the Commission is not seeking disciplinary, I suppose, procedures against the handful of gardaí involved is because there’s no real point. Garda headquarters have known about this. They’ve protected these people and, indeed, one of them – after this case – was trotted out in the media ad nauseum actually promoting one of the people involved. So they took a decision to, under all, they did not want it coming into the public domain that there were these kind of black operations being run off the books.”

Keane: “Yeah but John, like this. My memory, going back a long way, is par for the course between the gardaí and whoever is there to investigate them, going back to the garda complaints commission, it was just a fiasco from day one. They have opposed the Garda Commissioner all the way along the line…the Garda Ombudsman should I say…”

Mooney: “Yeah, well I think, I think there’s a number of issues for Martin Callinan. Martin Callinan told the public that there was excellent cooperation between garda headquarters and the Garda Ombudsman’s office and I think the truth of that relationship has actually been really, really laid bare.”

Keane: “But, as you said, you know, that could be just PR spin from his point of view this evening.”

Jillian Van Turnhout: “But like the Garda Ombudsman…”

Keane: “Jillian Van Turnhout.”

Jillian Van Turnhout: “Sorry, just listening to that quote on the Garda Ombudsman talking about ‘significant deficiencies’ in the Garda. You know that, that for me rings an alarm bell to note, that he’s even…”

Keane: “Even if we get away from the details of the case, of this particular case.”

Van Turnhout: “He’s saying that this is wider than this case.”

Mooney: “This, this all goes down to, there is a convicted drug trafficker caught with €1.7million worth of heroin and cocaine which was being sold. He admitted responsibility for that, yet he never stood trial. What does he know that unfortunately has this State in a situation where they can’t put him in jail?”

Keane: “Jillian.”

Van Turnhout: “Yeah, yeah, that’s and listening there to the Garda Ombudsman and that he feels that there’s other significant deficiencies beyond this case..you know..I’m asking myself the questions, of what the ramifications, what ramifications…”

Keane: “That’s what I was thinking aswell.”

Van Turnhout: “Yeah. What ramifications are there. That’s, for me, obviously you have this case but what else is there?”

Keane: “John Byrne?”

Byrne: “I’m feeling a little bit conflicted Fergal because part of me wants to say that we should trust the guards to do the policing and we should trust their judgement in that, mindful of the fact that, you know, that there have been some cases in the past, where they’ve maybe, they haven’t dealt with things as well as they could have.”

Keane: “One thinks of Donegal?”

Byrne: “Sure, sure, and the guards are, are normal people, the same as everybody else and they do have their vulnerabilities, some of them will behave in a way that is without integrity, that’s true. But the vast, vast majority  of the 11 or 12,000 guards are absolutely upstanding citizens who are trying to do the very best that they can in very, very difficult circumstances…”

Keane: “But his is an extraordinary situation we find ourselves in tonight.”

Byrne: “It is but it seems to me that there’s a wider issue. And that’s the culture that exists in the gardaí in relation to its cooperation or lack of with the ombudsman commission, on any issue. To get away from the specifics of this particular case, I spoke to a number of guards recently, in relation to the Association of Garda Sergeants issue and the walkout there. And what they said to me was that, ironically, they weren’t perhaps as angry with Alan Shatter as they were with Michael McDowell for the implementation of the Garda Siochana Act in 2005 and the establishment of the whole ombudsman commission thing because what the gardaí are telling me is that they’re afraid almost to do their job. One guard said to me that the safest thing for her to do would be not to arrest anybody at all because of the fear that whatever way they turn, whatever they do, they’re damned if they do, they’re damned if they don’t.”

Keane: “We are all.”

Talk over each other.

Keane: “We are all in that situation where we have regulations.”

Byrne: “Regulation. Absolutely, we need regulation, we need independent regulation but not to the point where it creates a culture of fear within the guards, that they say…”

Talk over each other.

Mooney: “I really feel compelled to butt in on that sort of stuff, because anyone who’s familiar with this sort of issue, you get people coming out with this sort of stuff and if you don’t mind me saying so, it really is guff. There’s a young lad in prison tonight that Kieran Boylan supplied with drugs, a few, couple of years ago, who was in debt. And who was asked to go collect a shipment of drugs. And got a ten-year mandatory sentence. His name is Andrew Kearns. I understand his solicitors will be proceeding to court shortly to try and sort out what happened to him. This is not about having a go at guards or something. I work with a couple of guards every day of the week. These  individuals are organised crime networks that operate. They’ve an incredible amount of influence because of the money that they have and the potential that they have to allow gardaí to get up the promotion system very, very quickly, by setting up drug dealers, or other drug dealers, setting up lower people that don’t  pose a threat to them and that sort of contact between police officers and criminals is notoriously fraught right across the world. Now, Ireland, unlike every other country, in Western Europe has, does not take this sort of issue seriously. And we’ve suffered as a result, in the past. The Morris Tribunal, I was a witness in it and know all about it. It cost this State and the taxpayers €60million to run that, to sort out the shenanigans that was going on.”

Keane: “There was no..how many investigations, over the years, how many inquiries, tribunals have we had into gardaí?”

Mooney: “But sure, countless. I mean nothing. Like, if you’re a guard and you’re caught doing something wrong, you will suffer the consequences, if you’re in uniform rank or something like that. But if you go up the ranks slightly and you’re involved in sort of various other activities that can’t be kind of, they’re ethically unsound to put it mildly that can involve all sorts of fun and games that cross the border of illegality and criminality, usually nothing ever happens to you. I know. I’ve been dealing with them for years.”

Listen here

UPDATE (February 13, 2014) : The Appalling Vista

Previously: The Gardaí And The Drug Dealer

Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

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