Tag Archives: Communications Clinic

From top: Tuam; Fianna Fáil TD and spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte; yesterday’s Sunday Business Post

From the party that gave you the indemnity deal

Journalist Michael Brennan, in yestersay’s Sunday Business Post reported that Fianna Fáil had called on the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone to stop her plans to excavate the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.

Mr Brennan reported:

Fianna Fáil children’s spokeswoman Anne Rabbitte said the estimated €13 million cost of excavating the Tuam site could not be justified when the money could be spent helping the children of today.

“There has to be a dose of reality and realism in all of this. Children living in hubs feel like they are prisoners. We will go down in history as the politicians that failed the children of the 21st century,” she said.

…“It’ll never be finished in her lifetime because no cabinet will approve a carte blanche cheque for an excavation if we don’t know where it will end. It’s a wilful waste of public money that could be spent on the children of today,” she said.

Rabbitte questioned if Zappone wanted to dig up every ‘cillín’ in the country (cilliní are traditional burial grounds for children who were stillborn or died before being baptised). She said that a better solution would be to agree a way of reverently remembering the children through commemorative plaques or gardens of remembrance.

Good times.


Yesterday, outside the office of Terry Prone’s Communications Clinic…

FF wants €13m Tuam cash diverted to homeless children (Sunday Business Post)

Previously: Death In Tuam

Reputable History

Our Worst Fears


This morning.

On Galway Bay FM show Galway Talks With Keith Finnegan, Ms Rabbitte and historian Catherine Corless spoke about the matter.

Ms Corless asked Ms Rabbitte directly to explain her “bare turn around on her views on Tuam” as the TD previously said she was supporting excavation.

Ms Corless added that Ms Rabbitte had upset many survivors by saying excavating the site at Tuam would be a waste of money.

Ms Rabbitte told the show:

“I suppose where Anne Rabbitte is coming from, and what I’d like to say Catherine is, I’m looking for a timeframe, you can’t blame me for that.

This can’t go on forever and interim report after interim report. It’s not fair on the survivors, it’s not fair on the good work that you and all your people have done.”

Mr Finnegan asked Ms Rabbitte:

“But did you use the words, money was squandered in the Tuam mother and baby situation?”

Ms Rabbitte said:

“A paper never refused ink and that is not what I said. I never, it would not come out of my mouth.” 

Ms Corless asked if Ms Rabbitte was misquoted, to which Ms Rabbitte said:

I never said there was money squandered on the Tuam… and baby home. What I’m saying is we need to have accountability…”

Listen back in full here

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.


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

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and other senior Garda staff at the Public Accounts Committee last month

This morning.

In the Irish Examiner.

Daniel McConnell reports:

In 2016, when allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe emerged, the spend by the force with the Communications Clinic, owned by Terry Prone, jumped from €10,400 to €92,995, according to figures obtained by the Irish Examiner.

Garda sources denied that the money primarily went on Ms O’Sullivan and senior officers, insisting it mainly went on training superintendents who deal with the media. However, senior officers who appear before Oireachtas committees do receive training in advance of hearings.

The amount paid by the force to the Communications Clinic and Carr Communications between 2014 and now is €137,626. Just €4,620 of the total amount went to Carr Communications, the figures reveal.

So far in 2017, €28,851 has been paid to the Communications Clinic.

In response to a parliamentary question from Ms Murphy, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said his officials spent €27,313 with the Communications Clinic between 2014 and 2016.”

Gardaí spend thousands on ‘coaching’ for appearances before Dáil committees (Irish Examiner)

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 15.22.03

Yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday

Last Friday, forensic archaeologists carried out a geophysical survey at the former site of the Tuam mother and baby home in Galway, where it is feared 796 children are buried.

The results of the survey, carried out at the behest of Judge Yvonne Murphy who is overseeing the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, are not yet known.

In yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday, journalist Alison O’Reilly, who originally broke the story about the Tuam mother and baby home, reported a stand-off between the graveyard committee in Tuam and the families of babies who allegedly died there.

The graveyard committee doesn’t want any excavation to take place while the families feel, if they’re ever to find out what happened the children, the site must be excavated.

Further to this…

You may recall a special investigation in June, by Irish Examiner journalist Conall Ó Fátharta, into the Tuam mother and baby home in Galway which was ran by the Bon Secours Order of nuns.

Mr Ó Fátharta discovered that two years before historian Catherine Corless, in 2014, raised fears that nearly 800 infants may have been buried in an unmarked mass grave at the home, in 2012, a HSE West social worker had expressed concerns that up to 1,000 children might have been trafficked to the US from the home in “a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State”.

The social worker came to the conclusion after she examined both the Tuam and Bessborough mother and baby homes while preparing material for the Magdalene laundries inquiry in 2012, led by Martin McAleese. The details were not included in the McAleese report.

Her reports into both of the homes noted the number of deaths recorded at the homes and proposed the possibility that death certificates might have been falsified in order for children to be “brokered into clandestine adoptions”.

Mr Ó Fátharta also reported that the social worker wrote:

This may prove to be a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State, because of the very emotive sensitivities around adoption of babies, with or without the will of the mother.”

A concern is that, if there is evidence of trafficking babies, that it must have been facilitated by doctors, social workers etc, and a number of these health professionals may still be working in the system.”

Mr Ó Fátharta reported that, in an internal note from a teleconference in October 2012, with then assistant director of Children and Family Service Phil Garland and then head of the Medical Intelligence Unit Davida De La Harpe, it was recommended that the then Fine Gael Health Minister Dr James Reilly be informed with a view to launching a State inquiry.

In light of the survey beginning on Friday and the information discovered by Mr Ó Fátharta, Philip Boucher Hayes, of RTÉ’s Drivetime, on Friday evening spoke to both Catherine Corless and lawyer Kevin Higgins, who represents some families of former residents of mother and baby homes and who has previously pointed out that Attorney General Máire Whelan has the power to order a coroner to hold inquests into the deaths of any remains exhumed at the Tuam site.

Philip Boucher-Hayes: “Kevin is excavation what your clients want?”

Kevin Higgins: “I think it probably is. The single thing that will bring satisfaction, closure, finally, to all the people affected because you’re not going to know precisely what is happened until there is a proper, forensic examination of the site. And that will only happen by a sensitive and careful and methodical excavation. There really is no other way.”

Boucher-Hayes: “Because there is the possibility for many I presume that their brother, sister, son, daughter, whatever, may have been sold into adoption or, equally, may have been buried in this site – they just don’t know.”

Higgins: “Indeed, that is absolutely true. And you referred earlier to a document which records a conversation and conference, between senior members of the HSE in 2012. That document is particularly damning because it records that the HSE knew exactly what had gone on in Tuam, it records…”

Boucher-Hayes: “It doesn’t record or suggest that they knew anything about the graves..”

Higgins: “Indeed no.”

Boucher-Hayes: “But it does reveal other shocking practices on the part of the nuns.”

Higgins: “It does reveal quite shocking practices. There is no question about that. But of course…”

Boucher-Hayes: “Such as? Can you itemise them for us?”

Higgins: “In what respect, Philip, sorry?”

Boucher-Hayes: “There is suggestion in this document isn’t it, upon examination of the files that were passed to the HSE by the Bon Secour Order that it may be possible, in a number of cases, that the nuns continued to demand a maintenance payment from families when the child was either dead or had gone elsewhere.”

Higgins: “That is absolutely true. One must pay tribute to, in particular, I won’t name the individual, a most conscientious and compassionate social worker in HSE West, who no longer works for the HSE or Tusla or any State body connected with this, who without any funding or direction, or encouragement, undertook a systematic review of the material, passed on by the Bon Secours, and produced the evidence of this, these most distressing and appalling practices by the Bon Secours.”

Boucher-Hayes: “And if I could just, briefly, itemise them. We’re talking about up to 1,000 babies that may have been sold into adoption, as I say, maintenance still being demanded by the nuns even though the child was dead. There was also a concern expressed by these officials in the HSE that this practice of selling babies could only have been facilitated with the knowledge of doctors and social workers and some of whom may still be working now. Now what happened on the basis of this crisis that, they themselves, said was going to be a scandal that would ‘dwarf all others’. What action was taken on foot of it?

Higgins: “Well, remarkable, as it might seem, nothing. And if it were not for the work of Catherine Corless, it is possible that this material, these records would remain lying, gathering dust. The effect of that teleconference was that it was agreed that an early warning memo would be sent upwards to a most senior official within the HSE with a recommendation that it go directly to the minister. The minister, of course, at that time was  Mr James Reilly. I have absolutely no doubt, from my knowledge of the people who participated in that conference, that such a memo did go upwards in the chain of the HSE, to a senior official. But, as we know in recent times, Minister Reilly said he never had sight of it, simply because it was deemed not appropriate to pass this information on to him because the process of research which HSE West was engaged on was specific to the work of the McAleese Inquiry into magdalene homes. And therefore, these appalling practices which were carried on by the Bon Secours in Tuam were deemed redundant to that process and were simply buried.”

Buried, eh?

Readers may recall that, according to figures obtained by The Phoenix, under the Freedom of Information Act earlier this year, Fine Gael’s James Reilly paid The Communications Clinic nearly €60,000 between 2012 and 2014  – out of the Oireachtas fund, called the Special Secretarial Allowance (SSA).

In addition, readers may also recall how two weeks after Catherine Corless’ concerns about Tuam were reported in the Irish Mail on Sunday, on May 25, 2014, media queries to the Bon Secours nuns were suddenly fielded by The Communications Clinic.

Finally, readers may recall how, in the summer of 2014, French documentary maker Saskia Weber tried to access members of the Bon Secours Order who ran the Tuam home.

Ms Weber received a letter from Ms Prone in which she wrote, among other things:

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?”

Listen back in full here

Geophysical survey at site of Tuam mother and baby home (RTE)

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Fears over ‘trafficking’ of children to the US (Irish Examiner, Conall Ó Fatharta)

Previously: Reputable History

Power To Exhume

All In The Family

Laura Hutton/Rollingnews.ie

00137964anton_savageFrom top: Terry Prone and Tom Savage and (above) Anton Savage.


The latest edition of Phoenix magazine (on shelves today) contains a lengthy profile of Anton Savage, who presents his own show on Today FM from 9am until noon, Monday to Friday, and  is a director of the Communications Clinic, a business he founded with his parents Chinese Wall specialists Terry Prone and Tom Savage.

The Phoenix writes:

“The Communications Clinic and FG have a longstanding relationship in terms of media training. PR advice, etc. Savage has personally trained Enda Kenny in the past. Meanwhile, records released recently to Goldhawk under the Freedom of Information Act show how lucrative this relationship has been for the PR firm.

These show that from 2012 to 2014, the company was paid nearly €180,000 from an Oireachtas fund called the Special Secretarial Allowance (SSA).

The SSA “is to assist towards expenses arising from the purchase of certain secretarial assistance [and] public relations.”

Over those years, the now Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald paid the company nearly €60,000 out of this fund, including around €15,000 last year. This is despite the fact that Fitzgerald already has a press advisor, former Sunday Business Post political correspondent Niamh Connolly.”

“James Reilly also used the SSA to pay a total of nearly €60,000 to the Communications Clinic over those three years, including over €16,000 last year.

His spokesman told Goldhawk that this was for public relations advice on healthcare reform. Phil Hogan was also a client, having paid the company €40,000 from 2012 to 2014 from the SSA, while FG chief whip Paul Kehoe paid the Communications Clinic €18,500 in 2012 from this fund.”

“These figures provide a snapshot of the relationship between FG and the Communications Clinic but don’t tell the full story. They don’t indicate, for example, how much FG pays the company out of party funds, which are not subject to Freedom of Information.”

Anything else?

The PR firm’s complete client list is a closely guarded secret but there was good news for Savage in 2013 when it emerged that a proposed public register of broadcasters’ interests from the BAI was to be shelved (for the time being, at least). Such a register would pose a major headache for Savage and the Communications Clinic and happily this has been firmly kicked to touch. The BAI recently told Goldhawk that a statutory review of the 2013 code is to take place in 2017 and that , ‘it may be that the outcomes of the review will result in considering again the issue of a public register of interests’

.Good times.


Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 14.14.11Ah here.

The Phoenix (facebook)

Minister for Health James Reilly (top) has confirmed he is paying a public relations company for advice from a personal ministerial allowance that is outside of his department’s budget.

Dr Reilly said he had paid €15,000 last year to the Communications Clinic, whose directors are public relations consultant Terry Prone (above) and Tom Savage, the chairman of the RTÉ board.

The money was paid from a €41,000 secretarial allowance which Ministers receive from the Oireachtas.

Because, you see, a personal adviser and a press office staffed by civil servants doesn’t count for much these days.

A spokesman for Dr Reilly said last night that the rules governing the ministerial allowance specifically allowed for the money to be used for public relations advice.

He said under the arrangement with the Communications Clinic, the company provided advice on the wider health reform programme. He said there was also an element of script-writing involved in the contract with the company.

Well that’s handy…

Reilly paid PR firm with part of his secretarial allowance (Irish Times)

Previously: Let Kate Have The Final Word

(Photocall Ireland)