[Alan Shatter and Mick Wallace on Prime Time in May 2013 where Mr Shatter disclosed details from Gardai sources of an apparent traffic violation by Mr Wallace]
Independent TD Mick Wallace spoke to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning about the Garda whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and John Wilson and the sacking of Confidential Recipient, Oliver Connolly – in light of Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin telling the Dáil yesterday that he has documents which show cases of abduction, assault, rape and murder have not been properly investigated by members of the Gardaí.
They also spoke about a group he has formed with fellow TDs Joan Collins, Clare Daly and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, called Justice 4 All – which has held a series of public meetings over the last year to allow members of the public, who had concerns about Garda behaviour, to raise their concerns.
It followed an interview that Mr Kenny held with taxi driver Mary Lynch who was violently assaulted by Jerry McGrath in Virginia, Co. Cavan in April 2007. McGrath got bail and went on to try an abduct a five-year-old child in Tipperary in October 2007. When McGrath went before a court in Clonmel, the court was never told about the Cavan assault charge and he got bail again. In December 2007, he killed mother-of-two Silvia Roche Kelly.
Ms Lynch told Pat Kenny she felt ‘guilty’ over Ms Kelly’s death as she feels Ms Kelly would be alive if Ms Lynch had been investigated correctly.
At the end of Mr Kenny’s interview with Mr Wallace, Mr Kenny asked why he didn’t go public with allegations of Garda misconduct sooner – to Mr Wallace’s shock, given he first told the Dáil how Mr Connolly warned Sgt Maurice McCabe “If Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished” on December 4, 2012.
Mick Wallace: “John Wilson is a young man. He’s been forced out of the place. Maurice McCabe works under a terrible stress – it’s mad stuff and the minister, you would think, given that we say that we want to bring Ireland to a place where there’s more accountability and transparency, we have seen 18 months, it’s an unbelievable list of…”
Talk over each other
Wallace: “Diminishing, dismissing have been the order of the day for 18 months.”
Pat Kenny: “You mentioned the [inaudible] meeting in the Red Cow, you’ve had subsequent meetings in the Red Cow or elsewhere..”
Wallace: “In the Red Cow aswell…”
Kenny: “In the Red Cow aswell.”
Wallace: “There’s actually been five meetings at this stage and there’s a committee being formed with no politicians on it and they are pursuing episodes, they’re getting some legal people to work for free and they are trying to help people to actually achieve justice. We have a massive problem in how our police force operates and there isn’t oversight and the notion that the Commissioner and the Force are answerable to the Dáil – you and I know is rubbish.”
Kenny: “Do you see any of this stuff as being deliberately maligned or is it simply incompetence?”
Wallace: “It’s funny but I actually thought, I really believed that…Minister Shatter is a very able individual, he’s very strong and very intelligent – I actually thought that he would have an appetite for putting things right, I really did and I have been shocked when I look back..only lately, we’ve actually done a litany, we’ve looked at the last 18 months have thrown up and the manner in which everything that challenges his political position has been minimised and dismissed at the expense of innocent people, the expense of people who feel that they haven’t got justice is…”
Kenny: “A quote for Mr Justice [Peter] Smithwick: ‘loyalty above truth’, and I mean, is that really the infection that is right throughout the Force and maybe through the body politic and, you know, you look at the scandal that would be given if the Garda force was seeing to be either so malign or incompetent or indeed corrupt in some places – that that’s the appalling vista to which no minister wants to go. So it is better to try and shut everything down and maybe quietly reform, rather than have all this dirty linen washed out in public? I mean that might be a kind way to view this?”
Wallace: “When GSOC published the Kieran Boylan report in the summer, they were very damning of how the police force was operating, they were very damning about the fact that they broke all the rules in terms of accessing information and denying them cooperation and they did say that it looks like the situation that the Morris Tribunal addressed, that nothing had changed. And the blue wall of silence was still very strong.”
Kenny: “What do you want to happen and what do you expect to happen, vis-a-vis the Minister and the Commissioner?
Wallace: “Well, we designed a police bill last summer and we argued that unless there’s a buffer between the minister and the Garda Commissioner, you cannot have proper oversight – there is no buffer there, there’s no, we do need an independent police board, we do need an oversight body, with real power that can look at the policies, patterns and procedures and if we had a police board they would be involved with GSOC with the Garda Commissioner, with the Force and with the Minister. It’s international best practice. We didn’t invent this. Vicky Conway and Dr Dermot Walsh have written all this. We’ve learned from them, we’ve read their books and we saw what was best practice. We looked at what’s happening in other parts of the developed world…”
Kenny: “Would you be happy if the current minister stayed in his job, would you be happy if the current commissioner stayed in his?”
Wallace: “To be dead honest, Pat, after the last 18 months, I do not find either of them fit for office.”
Kenny: “Finally, you’re own and Clare Daly’s regrets maybe. And about maybe not going public with the case of the taxi driver (Mary Lynch), the abduction, the murder even in Limerick: going public with it sooner.”
Wallace: “Eh, I can tell you…”
Kenny: “Cause it’s mystifying that you didn’t go…”
Wallace: “Clare Daly raised a number of the stories that Maurice and John brought to us and nobody took any notice. The whistleblower, the confidential recipient, a man’s head has fallen – and a bit unfairly in lots of ways. Oliver Connolly, Maurice was the one who met him and Maurice would argue for his integrity and his honesty but ultimately…”
Kenny: “Do you think his remark about Shatter therefore, Minister Shatter, was just Oliver Connolly being honest his own personal assessment of Mr Shatter, rather than saying this is chapter and verse, this is what he believed about Minister Shatter.”
Wallace: “The confidential recipient was working for the Minister and the Garda Commissioner really and I mean he was only doing what he could. But I quoted that in the Dáil on the 4th of December, 2012 and, just like the stories that..Ming Flanagan has brought some stories in there, Joan Collins did, Clare Daly did and there was no interest shown in them. And if you think this is not an isolated case that you just heard this morning, there are hundreds of these unfortunately.”