Tag Archives: Charlie Flanagan

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan in the Dáil last night extended redress for those who worked in the Magdalene Laundries but were not residents

Last night in the Dáil, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan presented the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2019.

He explained that the purpose of the bill was to amend the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015 – to ensure women who would have worked at Magdalene Laundries but lived in adjoining institutions, as opposed to the laundries themselves, can receive compensation via the Magdalene Restorative Justice ex gratia scheme which was set up in 2013.

The bill is also designed to ensure that awards received by the women won’t be taken into account when assessments are made for their nursing home supports.

The move follows Ombudsman Peter Tyndall who published a report in November 2017 called Opportunity Lost – An Investigation by the Ombudsman into the administration of the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme, in which he criticised the Department of Justice for its administration of the scheme and it’s exclusion of the women who worked at the laundries.

Mr Flanagan told the Dáil:

“The purpose of this amending Bill, which is short and technical in nature, is to apply these same health benefits to those women who qualify under the November 2018 addendum to the Magdalene redress scheme.”

However, he also said:

“There were three other recommendations of the Ombudsman. These relate, first, to assistance to applicants who lack capacity to accept an award and second, to a review of those cases where there is a dispute in respect of length of stay in a Magdalen institution.

A senior counsel was appointed to carry out both these tasks.

“All but one of the capacity cases have now been resolved and the review in relation to the length of stay issue is ongoing.

“The third recommendation by the Ombudsman was that guidance should be provided for future redress schemes.

A working group led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is examining this issue.

“Officials in my Department have kept the Ombudsman informed of progress in relation to the implementation of his recommendations and last month I met the Ombudsman, who acknowledged the progress that has been made, to date, in implementing his recommendations.”

Following the Dáil debate, human rights lecturer and co-founder of the Clann Project Dr Maeve O’Rourke, tweeted her thoughts…

In addition, Marie O’Connor, chair of the Survivors of Symphysiotomy, also tweeted her thoughts…

Yesterday: Who Came Up With The ‘Prior Complaint’ Requirement?

Previously:  Magdalene Laundries on Broadsheet

UPDATE:

Last month, Conall Ó Fátharta, in the Irish Examiner, reported that barrister Mary O’Toole is carrying out the review mentioned by Mr Flanagan above and that just eight women who had been in dispute with the Department of Justice over the length of time they worked in a Magdalene laundry have so far received redress payments.

Mr Ó Fátharta also reported that Ms O’Toole had identified a total of 214 cases for review.

Eight redress payments made to Magdalene survivors (Conall Ó Fátharta, The Irish Examiner, June 17, 2019)

 

 

 

 

From top: The late Sylva Tukula (centre); Great Western direct provision centre in Galway

Update:

Via The Irish Times:

Sylva Tukula was buried in a HSE-owned plot on May 9th at the Bohermore cemetery on the authority of the city coroner

Galway city coroner Dr Ciarán Mac Loughlin, who signed off on the burial, said he was not informed her friends were waiting to retrieve her body.

“Had we known anyone was interested we would have informed them but no one said anything to me or the bereavement officer in Galway,” Dr Mac Loughlin told The Irish Times, adding that she was found to have died of natural causes.

“We certainly would be very upset if people thought this was done in any surreptitious or underhand manner. It wasn’t, we had nothing to hide behind. If the interested parties had said they wanted to take custody of the body that would have been fine, we would have released it to them.”

A spokesman from the Department of Justice said it regretted “the unintended distress” caused to Tukula’s friends but claimed that despite the best efforts of the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), news of her burial was only released after the event.

Miscommunication between State bodies led to woman’s burial without mourners (Irish Times)

Earlier:

Further to the report yesterday about the death of Sylva Tukula, who identified as a transwoman, in the men’s-only Great Western House Direct Provision centre in Galway and who was buried unbeknownst to her friends in May…

At the time of Sylva’s death last August, it was reported that she had requested to be moved out of the all-male centre where she reportedly had a single room.

Several weeks after her death, Sinn Féin TD Donncha O’Laoghaire tabled a question for the Tánaiste Simon Coveney and the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, in which he asked about the criteria transgenderpersons in direct provision must meet in order to be accommodated in centres of their preferred gender.

In response to the question, on September 20, 2018, Fine Gael TD and Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton said:

“All persons seeking international protection are offered accommodation under regulation (7) of the European Communities (reception conditions) Regulations 2018. In offering that accommodation a number of factors are considered including whether a person requires any special reception needs

Where a person concerned has disclosed their self-determined identity to the Reception and Integration Agency, they are, in so far as is possible and practicable, assigned accommodation based on their needs.

At any time during a recipient’s stay in an accommodation centre, the option to request a transfer to a more suitable centre is also available to them.

“The policy of the Reception and Integration Agency is to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of all. Staff within accommodation centres receive regular training to equip them with the skills to support all residents.”

However…

Two months later, the Government was still being asked to guarantee transgender asylum seekers be housed in accordance with their gender identity.

A study by the National LGBT Federation (NXF) led to the publication of a report called Far From Home: Life As An LGBT Migrant In Ireland which was published in November 2018.

Co-authored by Dr Chris Noone, Dr Brian Keogh and Dr Conor Buggy, the study was dedicated to the memory of Sylva who contributed to the design of the research.

One of the study’s recommendations reads:

“Direct provision should be ended and replaced with a more humane way of welcoming asylum seekers. In the meantime, actions need to be taken to protect members of the LGBT community who are living in direct provision from isolation and homophobia.

These include guaranteeing that LGBT people are accommodated in areas where they can access LGBT-specific services, that they are housed in accordance with their gender identity and that they are kept safe.”

Last night, The Department of Justice and Equality said of Sylva’s death:

Members of staff in the Department of Justice and Equality express their sympathies and condolences to the friends and colleagues of the deceased. Ms Sylva Tukula

All deaths and serious incidents that occur within accommodation centres provided by the Department are referred to the Gardaí Siochana as a matter of course and the Gardaí in turn refer all deaths to the local Coroner’s office.

As is the case with all Gardaí/Coroner matters, the Reception and Integration Agency is not privy to information pertaining to individual investigations carried out under their remit.

This afternoon, MASI, Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland responded:

It is totally regrettable and unacceptable that a [Department of] Justice spokesperson can come out and cry crocodile tears, that it was unintentional for them to secretly bury one of our own just like that.

More than we hate the system of direct provision, the one thing that it does is it brings us together and we become a family, not by choice.

We are a family in these centres from very strange circumstances.

When one of us suffer, we all suffer, we feel each other’s pain.

When we are even denied the very moment to say properly ‘goodbye’, it simply demonstrates how we are not treated as human beings in Ireland under the racist system of direct provision.

How do you undo what has been done already, we are hurting and no amount of sorry will ever change what you have done and are still doing to our people.

We are still yet to know the actual cause of death, even this will be kept as secret. Shame on you, Minister for Justice] Charlie [Flanagan].

Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (Facebook)

Pics: GCN

Yesterday: Buried Alone

Previously: Speaking Directly

From top: Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan: Irish Prison Service logo

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan yesterday announced that he had asked the Inspector of Prisons, Patricia Gilheaney, to conduct a preliminary investigation into claims reported in the Irish Examiner by Michael Clifford.

Mr Clifford reported that a serving prison officer has made certain claims in a sworn affidavit to the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan about methods used to stem the suspected flow of drugs and mobile phones into prisons – by prisoners and prison officers.

The man reportedly made the affidavit as he has “no confidence in the operation of the Protected Disclosure Act in either the prison service or the Department of Justice”.

News of the affidavit comes after it was reported in September that Michael Donnellan, head of the Irish Prison Service since December 2011, is to step down at the end of this month – despite being reappointed to the job in January for a second five-year term.

In yesterday’s report, Mr Clifford explained that the prison officer’s affidavit includes the claim that a private detective agency was hired to carry out a bugging and surveillance operation without the “necessary legal permits and permissions”.

He reported that tracking devices were placed on a number of prison service vehicles and in some prison officers’ private cars, unbeknownst to them; listening devices were placed in visitor area of one prison to gather information; and intelligence was passed onto An Garda Siochana.

Mr Clifford also reported that the man claims:

“A van containing drugs and telephones, associated with a major criminal gang, was allowed into prison campus without the knowledge of the governor and staff in that prison. The personnel in the van were subsequently arrested but the covert operation was contrary to all security procedure at the prison.”

This morning, Mr Clifford reported further on the affidavit.

He reported that the prison officer has also raised concerns about the manner in which some deaths have been handled in prisons – claiming that protocols or procedures for the preservation of scenes were not followed.

And Mr Clifford reported that the prison officer spoke several times about the matter with the late Judge Michael Reilly – who was the Inspector of Prisons from 2008 until his death in November 2016.

Mr Clifford reported:

“In his affidavit, the whistleblower said as a result of his concerns about prison deaths he undertook a course in DNA and the preservation of crime scene at the garda training college, but found his enthusiasm to professionalise the response to deaths in custody was not shared by management.”

Last August, Mr Clifford’s Irish Examiner colleague Joe Leogue reported extensively on concerns raised by prison inspectors about proper records being kept in relation to inmate deaths, including the concerns of the the late Judge Reilly.

Mr Leogue reported:

“During his time as prison inspector, the same significant problem arose time and time again, and no matter how many times he called for the issue to be addressed, it would present itself once more, as if his words were falling on deaf ears.

Vulnerable prisoners were dying — and the official prison records of the circumstances around their deaths were not true accounts of what happened in the prison that day.

Every time a prisoner died in custody, the prison inspector would investigate the circumstances around the death.

Judge Reilly’s job was not to determine the cause of death — that was for the coroner — but he was tasked with examining whether the prison staff followed all correct protocols at the time.

A trend, however, was emerging regarding vulnerable prisoners who required special observation — ‘special obs’ as they are known.

In many cases, such prisoners are recognised as having mental health problems, suicidal ideation, or a history of self-harm.

Protocols dictate that ‘special obs’ must be checked on every 15 minutes, and staff must record each check in a log book.

Judge Reilly, however, found repeated incidences where a check of CCTV footage from the day a ‘special obs’ prisoner died contradicted the entries in the log.

He highlighted the problem in his 2013/2014 annual report, published in August 2014.

…Judge Reilly said he had been told that, in a number of prisons, the approach to record-keeping is to put “as little on paper as is necessary”.

“In one investigation that I had sight of, an officer, in referring to report writing, is quoted as stating: ‘We are only trained on report writing in initial training and they tell you to ‘keep it short and cover your arse’,” he wrote.”

Meanwhile.

Last November, Mr Clifford reported on a separate matter – that of a protected disclosure made in the Irish Prison Service on September 20, 2017, concerning an allegation of sexual harassment, a payout in compensation and “the deployment of the individual involved in another state agency where he has contact with minors”.

A month later, in December, Mr Clifford reported that, at that point, no investigation into the disclosure had been launched.

Mr Clifford reported:

“According to the disclosure, a manager in the IPS performed sexual acts in front of a female employee without her consent in 2011 and 2012. The woman reported the incident but when she revealed she had previously been in a relationship with the man, no investigation was conducted, according to the disclosure.

The woman later took legal action over the sex acts and the failure to investigate and the case was settled. The Irish Examiner understands the settlement was just short of €100,000.

The Irish Examiner has established that the man and woman in the case have both left the IPS, as per alleged in the disclosure.

Three sources within the IPS confirmed that the woman was involved in litigation with the service, but the exact details are not clear. It is also established that the man at the centre of the allegations has been working for an agency which deals with minors.

Despite the department having these facts since late September, no investigation has been launched.”

In relation to this protected disclosure, this morning, Mr Clifford reported that the matter was  handed to solicitors McCann Fitzgerald to investigate after his reports on it last year.

He added:

“Now, nearly a year later, the investigation is reportedly completed but no final report on the matter has yet been written.

With a record like that for handling protected disclosures, is it any wonder that this prison officer used the legal mechanism of a sworn affidavit to make his claims?”

Further to this…

On November 8 last.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy received replies to several questions put to the Justice Minister.

In one question, Ms Murphy asked if disciplinary proceedings have been initiated within the Irish Prison Service within the past three years “specifically with respect to incidences of sexual harassment and or assault”.

She asked, if there were, how many incidences were there, the rank or ranks and/or grade of staff involved and if the matters were resolved.

Mr Flanagan responded with the following to Ms Murphy:

“I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the Service is committed to protecting dignity and respect across the organisation and addresses complaints of bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment under the Dignity at Work policy for the Irish Civil Service.

I am informed that in the period referred to by the Deputy, one such complaint against a member of staff was upheld after investigation under the Dignity at Work Policy and disciplinary proceedings were initiated on foot of that.

A further three complaints by staff members are currently being addressed under the Dignity at Work Policy.

The complaints concerned have involved staff at Chief Officer, Prison Officer and Prison Administration and Support Officer Grades.”

Meanwhile…

In April 2017, Ms Murphy asked the then Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald about the number of private investigation firms hired by the Department of Justice since 2012.

Ms Fitzgerald replied:

“I can confirm that there were no private investigation firms hired by bodies under the aegis of my Department during the period referred to by the Deputy.”

Officer raises concern over jail deaths (Michael Clifford, Irish Examiner)

Protected disclosures are everything but for prison officers (Michael Clifford, Irish Examiner)

Concern over prison death records (Joe Leogue, Irish Examiner)

Inmate deaths lead to call for culture change (Joe Leogue, Irish Examiner)

Yesterday: The Turn Of The Screws

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan in the Dáil this morning; Sgt Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine McCabe

This morning.

In the Dáil.

“Sergeant Maurice McCabe deserves the gratitude of all of us for bringing serious shortcomings to public attention.

He also deserves an apology for what he had to endure, both himself and his family, for over a decade.

Since the report was published, I have spoken with Sgt McCabe.

I have apologised on behalf of the state to him and his family for the manner in which he was treated over a number of years and I am arranging to meet the sergeant in the near future.

I want to re-iterate this apology to him personally.

I also understand the Garda Commissioner [Drew Harris]  has also been in touch with him and I welcome that.”

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan

Watch back here (from 57.30).

Minister apologises to garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe on behalf of State (RTE)

Previously: Legal Coffee Drinker: The Charelton Report – Conclusions

From top: Frederick Street removal: Mick Wallace; Joan Collins; Claire Daly and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan in the Dáil today.

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Further to the eviction of housing activists from a vacant property at North Frederick Street last week…

Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan who authorised members of An Garda Síochána – who wore fire retardant hoods – to attend the eviction.

Joan Collins, also an Independents 4 Change TD, asked Mr Flanagan on what basis were the gardai asked to attend.

Ms Collins referred to the mater as “very, very sinister”.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly then said:

I think we have to be very conscious that this incident has set back public confidence in An Garda Síochána considerably. That’s actually my starting point on this issue.

We have, at the backdrop, an unprecedented housing crisis. Where people are homeless, families are homeless. And that the Garda organisation, whose motto is supposed to be ‘to protect and serve’, rallies around to carry out an eviction – resonates really badly with the Irish public and you can call it politically with a small ‘p’.

It was lunacy whoever made the call.

“And, like Deputy Wallace, I don’t believe it was the Commissioner [Drew Harris].

“The minister says the gardai were only upholding the law. Well my neighbour’s house was broken into and they called the guards and they didn’t’ see one for love nor money. That’s their job, as well.

“They chose to take sides in this incident. There was no signal that they were going to be public order problems of the scale that merited masks and balaclavas and all this type of carry-on and palaver which was really intimidatory.

“And it does deserve an investigation. It particularly deserves and investigation, given that concrete evidence has been produced that shows that the security firm were breaching the law and yet the perception was that the gardai were there to protect them and not actually the public.”

Mr Flanagan, in his response, said:

“I would reiterate again, that the gardai present faced a most difficult task, managing protest, in enforcing the law. There was a matter of abuse, including racial abuse, online threats and intimidation, came to light at the weekend.

“Such threats are utterly unacceptable, rightly being investigated. Gardai work on our behalf. They need support from the public, not intimidation, not abuse. As I’ve said Commissioner Harris has made a statement in relation to the protest. I understand he’s requested a report from Assistant Commissioner DMR, to see what lessons can be learned from the event.

“I can assure the house my department continues to work closely with all stakeholders including An Garda Síochána, to further enhance the safety of the public at such events, while safeguarding the fundamental right of people to protest.

“Of course if people have concerns about the way the garda behave, which I’ve just heard, if people have those concerns, in relation to this or, indeed, any other matter, there are established procedures for pursuing such matters. Deputies are aware of the role of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission [GSOC] in this regard…”

Previously: What’s Going On Here?

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris  (right) and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan

Look over here.

Good times.

Earlier: Nothing To Hear Here

 Acting Commissioner Donal O’Cualain, former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan

Yesterday.

On RTE One’s This Week.

There was an item on Garda Nicky Keogh who has previously alleged that a garda was involved in the distribution of drugs in the Midlands.

RTE’s John Burke reported that the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has indicated to Garda Keogh’s legal team that the matter is for the Garda Commissioner.

He also said he is “open to establishing an inquiry into the case in certain circumstances”.

The letter also stated he’s asked the Acting Garda Commissioner Donal O’Cualain for an update on the matter.

This is despite Mr O’Cualain, and his handling of the original investigation into the collusion claim, being the subject of a complaint to GSOC by Garda Keogh.

Readers will recall the following…

In May 2014, Garda Keogh, a then member of the drugs squad in Athlone, made a formal complaint to the confidential recipient Judge Pat McMahon about a garda in the drugs squad and their alleged involvement in the supply of heroin in Westmeath, Offaly and Longford.

His complaint was investigated by then Assistant Commissioner Donal Ó Cualáin.

In the same month, then Independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan told the Dail:

“[Garda Nicky Keogh]’s greatest concern with the drugs operation in November 2009 is that there was a systematic and orchestrated effort by high-ranking Garda officers to induce and coerce citizens, in this case citizens with no previous criminal conviction, to buy drugs from drug dealers, putting them in personal danger, and sell the drugs in turn to undercover gardaí without making any profit, thus boosting crime detection figures concerning arrests, charges and convictions. The result of this operation was that these mostly young citizens of the State, who had no previous drug convictions, now have serious drug convictions.”

In October 2015, Garda Keogh made a complaint to GSOC regarding the manner in which Mr Ó Cualáin was carrying out his investigation

He alleged there appeared to be a cover up.

On October 20, 2015, Mr Ó Cualáin was appointed to the position of Deputy Commissioner.

On October 2, 2016, John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reported:

An internal investigation into allegations of gardai collusion in heroin dealing in a midlands town has found evidence to substantiate claims made by a police whistleblower in 2014.

The inquiry has also established that a senior garda was warned about fears of corruption in the force by members of the drugs squad in 2009 but took no meaningful action.

The director of public prosecutions (DPP) recently advised Garda Headquarters that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute those implicated, although they now face disciplinary proceedings.

According to security sources, the internal inquiry concluded that one garda was in a relationship with a female heroin dealer in the town, which resulted in him compromising planned searches and raids.

One witness told investigators he was present when this garda alerted local criminals to a planned gardai search the following day, ensuring they had time to dispose of incriminating evidence, including mobile phones. The witness refused to make a statement under caution or agree to testify, however.

The investigation into the collusion claims was established after Nicky Keogh, a member of the drugs squad, used protected disclosure legislation to act as a whistleblower.

…Garda Headquarters has now suspended from duty the garda allegedly linked to heroin dealers, pending a disciplinary process. The force suspended the officer after the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) said it was launching an inquiry.”

On October 30, 2016, Mr Mooney also reported:

“An internal garda investigation is understood to have found evidence to substantiate many of the claims made by Keogh in 2014. The garda inquiry established that a senior officer was warned about fears of corruption in the force by members of the drugs squad in 2009 and appears not to have taken meaningful action. [Noirin] O’Sullivan has not suspended the garda, though he is facing disciplinary proceedings.”

Broadsheet understands no report on this internal investigation has been published to date.

In November of this year, RTE’s John Burke reported how Garda Keogh’s solicitor John Gerard Cullen wrote to the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, seeking an update on the investigation into Garda Keogh’s 2014 claims of collusion between a garda and a drugs gang.

Mr Cullen wanted to know who was overseeing the investigation into the claims; what was its status or outcome; and what was the outcome of other reports previously commissioned by the former Minister for Justice France Fitzgerald.

Readers will recall that, in May 2015, Garda Keogh wrote to Ms Fitzgerald and claimed he was being harassed by other gardai following his protected disclosure.

And, in May 2016, Ms Fitzgerald asked the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to provide her with an update of the case which was ultimately forwarded to GSOC.

Garda Keogh has not had sight of any of these previous reports.

On yesterday’s This Week, Mr Burke reported how the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has told Garda Keogh’s legal team that he cannot provide it with these reports due to “ongoing investigations and processes”.

And he said the actual investigation into the claims is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

Mr Burke also reported that, in his letter, Mr Flanagan has said he has asked the Acting Garda Commissioner Donal O’Cualain for an up-to-date report on the matter.

As regards him being “open to establishing an inquiry into the case in certain circumstances”, Mr Burke reported:

The circumstances are should the ongoing investigations into this matter prove inconclusive when they’re finalised.”

In relation to Mr Flanagan’s written undertaking, the Garda Keogh’s solicitor John Gerard Cullen told Mr Burke:

Firstly, its terms are very vague. Its conditions are non-specific and it, effectively, it seems to be meaningless. First of all, it appears that the matter would trigger any such investigation is the investigation proving inconclusive. Now, of course, many miscarriages of justice have proved very conclusive indeed.

“So that, in itself, is an inadequate reason, why there should be an investigation. It would also appear to pass the responsibility of answering this question to, perhaps, another body.

“It appears to be kicked down indefinitely down the road into the future.

“And, of course, the problem about that undertaking is that it doesn’t cure the delay which is causing ongoing prejudice in terms of lack of transparency about what is happening in the substantive investigation of what documents are being preserved, if any, what emails, what telephone exchanges and so forth.

“So that when one comes to this possibility, and it’s merely a possibility of an investigation sometime in the future, delay may have allowed the evaporation of evidence, that’s grossly prejudice.

“That’s my reaction to the undertaking.”

Listen back in full here

Flanagan open to inquiry over claims gardaí colluded with drug gang (RTE)

Previously: Meet The New Acting Commissioner

From top: Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, Social Democrat TD Roisin Shortall; and a press release issued by Mr Flanagan on November 13 (click to enlarge)

Last night.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan gave a ten-minute speech in which he apologised to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Labour TD Alan Kelly, and the Dail.

His apology came after it emerged Mr Flanagan was told about a May 15, 2015 email – which alleged a disagreement had taken place at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation between the legal counsel for Sgt Maurice McCabe and the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan over Sgt McCabe’s alleged motivation – on November 13 last.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar didn’t have sight of the email for the first time until November 20.

And, on November 14 and 15, Mr Varadkar told the Dail that the Department of Justice wasn’t able to find any record that the department was informed of a legal strategy employed by An Garda Siochana to discredit Sgt Maurice McCabe at the commission.

The sequence of events caused Mr Varadkar to correct the Dail record.

Last night.

Mr Flanagan said the following:

It has been said that I sat beside the Taoiseach last week and allowed him to misinform the Dáil. That is not correct. I wish to explain to the House the sequence of events of the past few days from my perspective.

“On Monday, 13 November, I was in my constituency office in Portlaoise as well as undertaking an official engagement at the Midlands Prison. In the course of the day, I received a phone call from the Secretary General of my Department [Noel Waters].

He informed me that having reached 40 years’ service, he intended to retire and asked me to inform Cabinet the following morning. This was unexpected and I was taken aback. I became worried. I was still digesting the news when reference was made to an email pertaining to the O’Higgins commission and Sergeant McCabe that had been discovered in the Department.

“I responded automatically that anything potentially relevant to the tribunal should be immediately conveyed to Mr Justice Charleton and the tribunal.

“I simply missed the significance of the email, which I viewed as just another addition to the more than 230 documents already discovered to the tribunal from the Department of Justice and Equality.

I did not see the actual email until a week later on the night of Monday, 20 November. That is why I did not raise the matter with the Taoiseach.

However.

Social Democrat TD Roisin Shortall responded to Mr Flanagan, saying:

We learned from the Taoiseach today that the Minister received news of the email on 13 November but that he did not do anything or did not see it until 20 November. The Minister has said tonight that he was otherwise busy and missed the significance of it.

“However, he did find time on 13 November to issue a press statement. The press statement was very much in line with the kind of defence we have been hearing from the Department and from the Minister’s predecessor.

“It spoke about there being no question of the Department interfering, about it being inappropriate for anybody else to seek to interfere and so forth. It was a very defensive press statement which seemed to come out of the blue.

“Why did the Minister issue that press statement on 13 November? He was busy and he says that he did not know about the email. Why did he issue that press statement? Who wrote it for him? Did he actually read it?”

Mr Flanagan responded:

A press statement issued from my Department on 13 November in respect of public commentary that had been made in both the newspapers and the broadcast media over the previous weekend.

I instructed my press office to issue a reminder to everybody in order to ensure that the tribunal should not be in any interrupted or disrupted by commentary in the media – or, indeed, in the Dáil – on matters which, quite rightly, pertained exclusively to the tribunal.”

Readers may note Sgt McCabe has told Mr Varadkar that the counsels’ argument – as alleged in the May 15, 2015 email never happened and that, instead, the counsels argued over the gardai claiming Sgt McCabe had a grudge because he wanted the DPP’s directions in relation to Ms D’s ‘dry humping’ claim overturned.

The gardai made this claim under the belief that Sgt McCabe hadn’t seen the DPP’s directions but he had and they were unequivocally in his favour – which he told the commission.

The Disclosures Tribunal will investigate matters concerning the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation from January 8.

Previously: In DPP Trouble

Unredacted

Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and Acting Garda Commissioner Donal O’Cualain leaving a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality in March; Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan; tweet by Fine Gael TD and Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty yesterday

This morning.

In light of Noirin O’Sullivan’s resignation yesterday evening from her role as Garda Commissioner…

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was interviewed by Paul Cunningham on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

He said he wasn’t surprised by her resignation and that the possibility of it was made known to him in recent weeks.

He also said “there’s lots happening” in terms of reforming An Garda Siochana.

From the interview:

Charlie Flanagan:I wasn’t surprised at the news. The possibility the commissioner O’Sullivan might retire was flagged to me over the last couple of weeks. Of course it was treated as confidential until such time as the commissioner made her decision which was indicated to me approximately at 5pm to me yesterday evening.”

Paul Cunningham: “Because it was of interest, in the Irish Independent, John Downing was just noting that in the past week you were asked in one interview, on four occasions, but you avoided saying whether she would be in the job this time next year. You mentioned you had some inkling over the past weeks, where did those inklings come from?

Flanagan: “I understand that there were some discussions, having regard for the fact that the commissioner said that she would devote much of her summer break to giving consideration to whether or not she’d continue as Garda Commissioner and whether such continuing would be the right thing for her to do. In the course of that, there were discussions with officials from my department.”

Cunningham:Did you contact her and ask her to stay because only in the past couple of days, your cabinet colleague, Minister [Regina] Doherty said that the Garda Commissioner had the vision and the grit that was needed.”

Flanagan:No I didn’t, I haven’t been speaking to the Garda Commissioner since before she took her summer break at the end of July.”

Cunningham: “The TD from the Social Democrats, Roisin Shortall, said that the commissioner had lost all credibility and authority and it was very difficult to comprehend why the Government continued to defend her. Why didn’t you move earlier? Why did you not recognise that her position was untenable?

Flanagan:She was the Garda Commissioner, she was engaged in the process of reform. She took a break over the summer months, she was back at her desk last week. I had intended meeting her this week. Obviously there are urgent issues to be discussed – the programme of reform, the five-year action plan, the Garda Inspectorate Report, Changing Policing In Ireland, but obviously the Garda Commissioner took a decision that she felt was the right thing to do, to retire, and of course I accepted that.

“And this morning I will be making contact with the Policing Authority so as we can set in train the process of finding her replacement. In the meantime, I’m very pleased that Deputy Commissioner Donal O’Cualain will now act as police commissioner with all the powers and role and function that Noirin O’Sullivan had.”

Cunningham: “Before we come to that come to that question of process because it’s vitally important, can I just ask you whether you accept what Jim O’Callaghan, of Fianna Fail, said last night, that the resignation was effectively some accountability within An Garda Siochana for the 1.5million fake breath tests.”

Flanagan: “Well. I want to acknowledge here that this has been a very, very difficult time for the Garda Siochana, there are a number of inquiries, there’s a tribunal and, you know, I’m under no illusion here. The scale of reform here, and the need to move with a certain urgency is essential. But, from what I see, from both Garda management and from frontline gardai on a daily basis is that they have the appetite to see change and it’s up to us as political leaders to ensure we can drive change.

“And that’s why, just before I took office, my predecessor [Frances Fitzgerald] introduced the Future of Policing [commission] which is now considering all aspects of the garda service and all functions of the garda service and indeed the many oversight bodies whom I’ve been meeting in the course of the summer, the Policing Authority, the Garda Inspectorate, the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission  and, you know, I will ensure that we will coordinate a programme of reform which is both urgent and important in Garda Siochana. And I believe it’s important too, that the reform programme now gains a certain momentum and that, of course, in no circumstances, would its credibility be adversely affected or undermined.”

Cunningham:The Taoiseach said that the Government was now going to see how best to accelerate the crucial and essential reform programme. Why aren’t you doing that already? Why are we only going to accelerate it now?

Flanagan: “Oh, well, we are doing it already. We have the report from December 2015, Changing Policing In Ireland; 18 main recommendations  in relation to the structure of An Garda Siochana; the manner in which practices are deployed; culture of the Garda Siochana; human resources; financial management; all Garda practices and, of course, I’m looking forward to this year’s budget for next year when we can continue to ensure the acceleration of recruitment, both new garda siochana going in for training in Templemore graduating, at the earliest opportunity and also the further civilianisation of the garda organisation and the roll-out of modern policing. So there’s lots happening.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: She’s Gone

How Did He Get Here?

Absence Of Malice

Related:  Minister: Garda Commissioner is ‘incredible role model for women’ (The Irish Times)