Tag Archives: Independent Review Mechanism

Clockwise from top left: Cynthia Owen, Conor Devally SC; former Garda Frank Mullen and his wife Ellen Mullen; the late Shane O’Farrell

You may recall the case of Cynthia Owen.

Ms Owen has alleged that she was prostituted by her parents to a group of local men, including three local gardaí, in the 1970s.

In January 2016, she posted on her Facebook page photographs of the surviving men alleged by her to have been involved in this abuse. These photographs included former garda Frank Mullen.

In May 2016, Mr Mullen, a founder of the Garda Representative Association and former chairman of Dalkey United football club, gave two interviews to journalist Michael Clifford – for the Irish Examiner and Newstalk. In both interviews, he strenuously denied the allegations.

Ms Owen’s case was included in the Independent Review Mechanism which was set up by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, in May 2014, to look into 322 cases concerning allegations of Garda misconduct.

The panel included two senior counsel, Conor Devally and Paul Greene, and five junior counsel, Paul Carroll, John Fitzgerald, Tony McGillicuddy, Siobhán Ni Chúlacháin, Karen O’Connor.

On November 4, in a written answer, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said:

“Appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that nothing arises which might in any way detract from the integrity of the review mechanism, including issues of conflict of interest.

Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that if there is any conflict, or potential conflict, the conflicted counsel not only will not be involved in the particular complaint, but also will not be aware of which counsel is reviewing it.”

In 2015, Ms Owen was notified by the Department of Justice that this mechanism recommended no further action be taken in regards to her case.


In The Sunday Times last Sunday Justine McCarthy reported how panel member Conor Devally – who advised Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald not to reopen the inquiry into the case of Cynthia Owen – previously represented former Garda Frank Mullen in a separate, unrelated case.

Ms McCarthy reported:

Department of Justice documents released to Owen via a freedom of information (FoI) request show Conor Devally was the allocated counsel for her case in the independent review mechanism (IRM) set up by Fitzgerald to assess alleged miscarriages of justice.

In July 2015, Devally recommended “no further action be taken” in relation to Owen’s allegations of incest, child rape by a paedophile ring, and suspicious infant deaths. Devally cited time lapsed and lack of evidence among reasons for his advice.

He was one of two senior counsel employed for the IRM. The documents show he was paid €800 for reviewing Owen’s case, after receiving the file in July 2014. A form in the FoI documents records the reply “no” to a question as to whether the counsel had a conflict of interest.

In a High Court case involving a disputed will in 2011, Devally was the senior counsel for Frank Mullen, a retired garda who has denied Owen’s accusations he was involved in her abuse.

Devally said: “I am constrained from speaking about the work of the IRM under the terms of my engagement as a legal adviser to the minister and the department. I am unaware of any conflict that is suggested to you. I was not conscious of any at the time.”

Owen got the department’s file after appealing the department’s refusal to give it to her. “We are not saying Conor Devally was biased but if there is even a perception of bias his report should be set aside,” said Gerry Dunne, Owen’s solicitor.

In 2007, after a jury at the inquest into the death of Noleen Murphy unanimously found she was the child of Cynthia Owen; that she died at the family’s former home in White’s Villas in Dalkey; and that her cause of death was haemorrhage due to stab wounds; Minister for Justice Michael McDowell appointed Patrick Gageby SC to review Ms Owen’s clams.

In 2008, Mr Gageby’s report was delivered to the Minister for Justice.

In it, he advised against a public inquiry, apparently because of the legal difficulties that would be brought about by the serious allegations made against certain people, and because of the amount of time that had elapsed since the death.

It has since emerged that, prior to being appointed to review Ms Owen’s case,  Mr Gageby had publicly called for a limit on the time allowed to elapse between an alleged sex crime and the prosecution of the suspect as there was a danger the accused could not receive a fair trial.

Dalkey review lawyer previously acted for ‘abuser’ (Justine McCarthy, The Sunday Times)


Lucia and Jim O’Farrell with a picture of their late son, Shane

Readers may also recall how the case of Shane O’Farrell was also included in the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM).

The 23-year-old student died in a hit-and-run just outside Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan on August 2, 2011.

The man who struck Shane, Zigimantas Gridzuiska, 39, from Lithuania, had 42 previous convictions in three different jurisdictions and was out on bail at the time.

Shane’s family also raised concerns about SC Conor Devally’s involvement in the IRM, as Mr Devally represented Zigimantas Gridzuiska.

The O’Farrell family were alarmed at Mr Devally’s inclusion given that they would have mentioned Mr Devally as having represented Mr Gridzuiska in correspondence with the Attorney General Máire Whelan and Minister for Justice for 18 months prior to the establishment of the IRM.

The O’Farrell family were told that Mr Devally wouldn’t be involved in the Shane O’Farrell case.

However, readers may wish to note…

In a written answer to Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins on July 16, 2014, the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald said:

Counsel will be paid a fee on a case by case basis of €300, €550 or €800 depending on the complexity of each case. Senior Counsel will additionally have a brief fee of €20,000 to oversee the operation of the mechanism and ensure consistency of approach across all the cases. 

In addition, in a written answer to a PQ by Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, on December 16, 2014, Ms Fitzgerald said:

“Appropriate steps have been taken that nothing arises which might in any way detract from the integrity of the review mechanism, including issues of conflict of interest. Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that if there is any conflict, or potential conflict, the conflicted counsel not only will not be involved in the particular complaint, but also will not be aware of the which counsel is reviewing it.

The order in which cases are dealt with is a matter for Senior Counsel who, in addition to examining individual complaints, are required to advise the Department generally on the management of the process, take a joint lead in allocating cases to Junior Counsel, and jointly oversee recommendations with a view to ensuring as far as possible a consistency of approach.”

Peviously: Refusing To Collude

‘Delay, Deny, Lie Then Cover-Up’

A Dalkey Archive

9033520216/12/2010. MacGill Forum. Eddie Molloy at the Launch of the MacGill report on economic and reform of the political system and public service today in the Royal College of Surgeons. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Management consultant Eddie Molly wrote of ‘dark forces’ within An Garda Síochána

You may recall the Independent Review Panel set up by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in July 2014, following the publication of the Guerin Report which looked at allegations made by Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

The purpose of the panel was to investigate allegations of Garda misconduct, crime and cover-up and to ascertain if further investigations were needed. Some 322 allegations were ultimately included in the panel review.

These cases included that of Shane O’Farrell – who was killed in a hit-and-run – and the case of Cynthia Owen.

Readers will recall how both the O’Farrell family and Ms Owen received letters informing them that the Independent Panel Review found no further action should be taken in their respective cases.

Oddly, at this time, Ms Owen received her letter while still being in contact with gardai who were informing her that they were continuing to investigate her case.

In addition, one of the Senior Counsel who was appointed to the Independent Review Panel was  Conor Devally – who defended Zigimantus Gridziuska, the man who killed Shane O’Farrell.

The O’Farrell family were later told that Mr Devally wouldn’t be involved in the Shane O’Farrell case due to a conflict of interest.

However, it was also reported that Mr Devally was to receive a brief fee of €20,000 to oversee all the complaints.

In addition, a 53-page Independent Review Mechanism Overview Report – based on a paper review of the 322 allegations – was published on the Department of Justice website last year, devoid of any names or outcomes.

Further to this, and the recent controversies surrounding the gardaí, Eddie Molloy, a management consultant, (above) wrote an opinion piece in the Irish Independent, on Monday, February 20, about the Independent Review Panel, entitled Deep-rooted dark forces in Garda are intent on obstructing reform.

Following this, Mr Molloy spoke to Pat Kenny on Newstalk last Friday morning.

He spoke about a female civil servant who has told him when she was a junior civil servant, she refused “to collude with the cover-up of misappropriation of money and also the failure, as she saw it, to investigate two murders” and how her career was subsequently hampered by this refusal.

Mr Molloy also said it initially took a “monumental effort” to get her case included in the Independent Review Panel and that, in the end, the panel found no further action was required.

From the interview:

Pat Kenny: “Deep-rooted dark forces, it sounds very sinister.”

Eddie Molloy: “Well, first of all, Pat, that’s a phrase that was first used by Diarmuid Martin when he came back to Ireland and was facing into the whole child abuse era and was being resisted by the bishops. Now, if there are dark forces at work in the Catholic Church, it’s not an inappropriate term to use in relation to the guards. What prompted the [Irish Independent] article to which you refer was that, when Maurice McCabe and John Wilson began blowing the whistle, there was a spate of other complaints that came to the guards and the total number were 322 – 322 allegations of misbehaviour, malpractice were brought forward. And the Department of Justice set up a panel of five barristers to review these hundreds of cases, to see was there anything to see here and which ones were vexatious and which ones were real and which ones should be investigated further. Now, in the article I wrote, we haven’t heard from that panel since. But I’ll give you what’s happened.”

Pat Kenny: “There was a report though, wasn’t there?”

Molloy: “Well, I’ll come to the report in a second. In July 2014, a report on the Department of Justice, the Toland Report, and I’m quoting from the report, I have it in front of me here, says, in the review of the review group, that’s the Toland group, there’s a deferential relationship between the Department and An Garda with the lack of proper strategic accountability being brought to bear on them by the department. The department has adopted a passive approach to the Garda, stepping back from taking the opportunity to exercise the necessary power and influence, at its disposal, to encourage the improvement in management and discipline. In other words, the department behaviour in relation to the gardai, that it’s supposed to be overseeing, is totally to back off and say nothing.

“Now, this report on the 320 allegations follows a year later. And they open the report by saying that the Department of Justice has been seen, since the foundation of the State, as an appropriate channel, through which to make representations about bad behaviour in the guards. I mean this is a self-regarding load of rubbish, ok? They are patently not an organisation that people would have felt comfortable about, approaching, to deal with the guards, based on what I just said from Toland. The reason that people, including the case I cited in the article, the reason that people brought their case was because there was a panel of five judges, who were deemed to be somehow independent…”

Kenny: “Barristers…”

Molloy: “Barristers, sorry, barristers, independent of the guards and of the Department of Justice. But in the first page of this report, from the Department of Justice, on the 322 cases, they say: the appointment of this panel of judges [sic] was to a degree an enhancement of the function already discharged by the Department of Justice and Equality where divisions such as the Garda division reviews correspondence. So, so, I mean it doesn’t give me any pleasure to be criticising the guards or civil servants because my instinct towards them is one of respect, generally, but this report on the 322 cases is an absolute whitewash.”

Kenny: “OK, the barristers in question, and I certainly don’t want to impugn the reputation of any member of the Law Library but were they people who routinely work for the prosecution in cases…”

Molloy: “I have no idea. One of the things about this report, it has no name, names in it. The Toland report has all the names of the people who produced the report…”

Kenny: “The five barristers are not named?”

Molloy:They’re not named, there’s no names, there’s no date on the report and there’s no author of the report. This was written, patently, by an official of the Department of Justice who doesn’t seem to have read the Toland Report which was a coruscating criticism…”

Kenny: “But there’s no name of this official either?”

Molloy: “No, there’s no name of this official either…”

Kenny: “So the 322 cases. I mean, can you give us percentages, how many were found in favour of the complainant, how many were rejected out of hand?”

Molloy:This is a 57-page report and it tells you nothing about the outcomes…

Kenny: “What?”

Molloy:It tells you nothing, zero, about the outcomes of these 322 allegations. What it does is, it goes through the allegations and it has section after section after section, saying how complicated these were, they went back decades and there were various agencies involved. So, you got to understand they were telling you this wasn’t easy. Now, but they then do is, what they do is they study, they seem to study the allegations and then they make recommendations for improvements in Garda behaviour. So, the net effect is…”

Kenny: “So the complainant gets no justice?”

Molloy: “There’s no justice, there’s nothing about outcomes, the numbers who were followed through on…”

Kenny: “No disciplining of the…”

Molloy: “Nothing about, was there a pattern here? Was it the same divisions or areas? Was it Donegal or Kerry? There’s nothing in it about the behaviour of the guards which was the basis on which 322 people made…”

Kenny: “You’d think at least there would be, we found, just cause in 100 of the 322, and we rejected out of hand, 100, and then we hadn’t enough evidence or time had elapsed and…”

Molloy: “That’s right and, currently, there are six before the courts, or whatever – yeah there’s nothing like that. So, I’ll give you, I mean one of the recommendations, for example, is that gardai be trained in family liaison so that families who are, you know, have a difficult case going through, that the guards would communicate with them better about their case coming up in the court and there’s an inquest due. But here’s one: recommendation 13 [sic, 12]: ‘Furthermore, culpable delay in pursuing GSOC investigations should be specifically included as a matter of potential breach of discipline or misconduct, in the disciplinary regulations of an Garda Síochána.’ 

“Six months ago, Judge Mary Ellen Ring, who’s the chairman of GSOC, threatened to issue summons against the Garda Siochana, for their tardiness, in producing information. Now yesterday [February 19, Thursday], before the Policing Authority, and it’s all over the papers today, that the guards are vexed at the media criticism they’re getting because their hands are now tied behind their back and they’re not able to speak for themselves and the other side of the story. It’s been their form not to give the other side of the story. Their form is close ranks, cover up and hope that time will… The thing that concerns me about these 322 allegations, and I say to you there are no information in this report, my concern about it is that any progress in it will have to wait until the end of the Charleton investigation because the guards can cry, you know, it’s sub judice.”

Kenny: “We can’t say anything until…”

Molloy: “We can’t say anything until..”

Kenny: “This is all done and dusted…Now I want you to go though, to the case you referred to, in your article which concerns a young civil servant.”

Molloy: “Yeah, I, after a programme, something like this, I got a phone call from a civil servant, probably now in her early 50s, I would guess, and she told me a story and I listened to her. I met her on three occasions for two hours each and I had a third-party present at one of those meetings and she told me a story how, and I have to be careful what I say here because I don’t have her permission to take it much further than I have done. That she refused, as quite a junior person in the civil service, to collude with the cover-up of misappropriation of money and also the failure, as she saw it, to investigate two murders. Ok?”

Kenny: “So, now this was to do with the Garda Siochana.”

Molloy: “To do with the Garda Siochana and, ok, another agency. Ok. I’m not going to say what it was. Now, I listened to a harrowing story of her career being blighted and really has never made any progress in her career..”

Kenny: “She was showing moral fibre..”

Molloy: “She was showing, in my view…”

Kenny: “It’s very difficult as a junior to stand up against a senior, as she did…”

Molloy: “A woman of the highest integrity, in my view. Now, look, people have said, when they met Maurice McCabe, they found him believable. I found this woman believable and I’m highly trained, as it happens, in interviewing people. So it would be hard, I think, to pull one over on me. Ok? And it could turn out, on further investigation, she’s delusional and people cite all kinds of things when they don’t get promotion, there’s that to it. But the fact of the matter is: here’s the story in her case. She has wads of documentation, I’ve seen the documentation. Some of the documentation is incriminating with regard to the guards and civil servants. And I’ve seen that. Her case, it took a monumental effort to get her case included in the 322, that was not straight forward. She heard nothing, for a year, and eventually she gets a one-liner saying there’s nothing to see here without ever speaking to her or seeing the documentation. Now, so, this is described as an independent review mechanism, an overview report. No date and no names and that’s how they have dealt with these 322…”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Justice Denied

‘Delay, Deny, Lie Then Cover-Up’

Thanks Kim