Tag Archives: John Mooney

From top: left to right: Michael McDowell, Lorraine McCabe and Sgt Maurice McCabe; The Sunday Times journalist and columnist Justine McCarthy and John Mooney, Crime Correspondent for The Sunday Times; A May 6 tweet from Mr Mooney.

Before and during the Disclosures Tribunal, solicitor Elizabeth Mullan, on behalf of Justice Peter Charlelton, reached out to journalists seeking any information that could help the tribunal meet its terms of reference.

Approaches were made with reporters who may have been in contact with Supt Dave Taylor from the summer of 2012 to the summer of 2014 – when he was head of the Garda Press Office.

In his response, John Mooney, security correspondent of The Sunday Times, to whom Supt Taylor claims he negatively briefed against Sgt Maurice McCabe but which Mr Mooney says isn’t the case, replied:

“It’s my practice as a journalist not to comment on news gathering activities and/or sources of information.

“I believe that I have certain professional obligations in that regard. I note from your letter that the Tribunal will be considering the issue of journalistic privilege.”

On Friday, June 8, 2018, during the tribunal’s proceedings, a visibly exasperated Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton clashed with a separate journalist about privilege.

In the exchange,  Justice Charleton said:

“You apparently phoned him to tell him what you’d done, that is what he tells me, and then every time you are asked any question about that, you say journalistic privilege, journalistic privilege, journalistic privilege…

Well, for a start, I have to know the facts and circumstances on which you are basing that, and then, secondly, I actually need to know that you are actually telling me the truth because I can tell you, I’m not an idiot, and I have sat here for very close to 90 days, and I know…that an awful lot of people haven’t told me the truth.”

He added:

“…It’s not a question of adopting a position. If you think you have journalistic privilege, I will certainly listen to that, but you have to give me the facts and circumstances upon which you claim to base it…

“And at the moment I just can’t see how it arises, and unfortunately at the moment a reasonable person might see this as a complete smokescreen.

“I’m not saying whether I see it that way or not, but I’m here to listen.”

Mr Mooney was the first witness to give evidence the following Monday morning.

He told the tribunal he had decided to adopt a different approach to his earlier reply to Ms Mullan.

Mr Mooney said:

“I have given this matter some thought and notwithstanding the optics of this matter and the professional difficulties it poses for me, I do think it’s appropriate maybe that I do assist the Tribunal in whatever way I can.

“I personally wasn’t negatively briefed by Dave Taylor or any member of An Garda Síochána who attempted possibly to suggest that Sergeant McCabe was involved in child abuse or something like that. That didn’t happen with me.”

Mr Mooney who has worked in The Sunday Times since 2007, was the first journalist to name Sgt Maurice McCabe as having been at the centre of an internal Garda investigation into complaints about policing in the Cavan/Monaghan area.

This article was published on November 14, 2010, headlined ‘Internal inquiry clears gardai’.

In this article, Mr Mooney reported:

“An internal garda investigation into allegations of malpractice and indiscipline in the Cavan/Monaghan division has upheld complaints over the failure of officers to follow procedures, but found no evidence of corruption.

The inquiry led by Derek Byrne, an assistant garda commissioner in charge of national support services, was established two years ago to investigate claims by Maurice McCabe, a sergeant in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

…Byrne’s report was sent to Fachtna Murphy, the garda commissioner, last month. It is understood to have recommended sanctions against a number of officers, including McCabe.

When Mr Mooney gave evidence to the tribunal, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, referred to the third paragraph above and put it to him that it wasn’t true.

Mr Mooney replied:

“Well, at the time that was the information that I was provided with.”

Mr McDowell read out another line from the article which stated:

McCabe is now under investigation himself for alleged breaches of internal Garda regulations.”

Asked if this was correct, Mr Mooney said:

“My understanding of that was, when this issuing concerning the final report by Byrne/McGinn had been, I suppose, completed, that other areas had arisen. There was obviously this incident at the Hillgrove Hotel (see panel below) which I was aware or had become aware of, and I think there was the accessing information via Pulse and that kind of stuff.”

[Hillgrove Hotel in County Monaghan is where Sgt McCabe met Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne and Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn on October 11, 2010, when they informed Sgt Mcabe of the results of their investigation into his 42 complaints. During this meeting, Sgt McCabe produced PULSE print-outs to highlight his concern that  certain cases had not been followed up on. After an alleged confrontation, Byrne took the printouts from Sgt McCabe. Sgt McCabe subsequently made a complaint against Byrne and accused him of assault. The matter was investigated and the DPP ruled against a prosecution]

Mr Mooney continued:

“But just again to explain: We take a completely impartial view. If there are issues concerning, I suppose, the activities of a guard, whether he is acting rightly or wrongly, I also have to be absolutely straight down the line in our coverage of that. So there were issues around the Hillgrove Hotel, there was allegation and counter-allegations allegations being thrown, you know, quite freely around these matters. So we would have covered them and tried to cover it impartially.”

At the time of writing this article, Mr Mooney told the tribunal, he was aware of the 2006 Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe – which had been comprehensively dismissed by the DPP in April 2007.

He said it wasn’t told to him by a guard but, rather, a civilian. He subsequently checked out the rumour with a Garda source.

It should be said while he knew of the allegation in 2010, he said he wasn’t sure when he became aware of Ms D’s identity – it could have been 2014 or 2016.

Mr Mooney said he treated the Ms D matter as “gossip” and “noise” while explaining how he came to know about the allegation:

“I always kind of need to know what I don’t need to know. I had examined Sergeant McCabe’s complaints or became aware of them at that time and written a number of stories about it.

“Sergeant McCabe had made a number of very valid allegations about issues in policing in the Cavan-Monaghan area. Subsequent to that, I would have been contacted by lots of different people.

“I was working in the border area quite a lot at that time; dissident republican factions, I suppose, were becoming very active in late 2008, 2009. So meeting people up there wouldn’t have been a major issue to me.

“There was, someone made a very fleeting reference to an allegation against Sergeant McCabe. I subsequently made an inquiry about that and was told categorically that there was nothing in it.

“I didn’t pursue it any further for the simple reason that these matters are confidential by the health services, the guards and the other statutory agencies involved and I don’t think it’s appropriate for journalists to get involved in examining them or trying to second-guess any sort of proper investigation that has been taken — that is being undertaken. So, I left it at that.

“As far as I was concerned, I would be very aware of internal Garda procedures; if there was an allegation that was of any substance against a member of the force they would be at the minimum suspended.

“So the fact that Sergeant McCabe was still a sergeant would have clarified that for me. I didn’t get into looking at it in any great detail. As far as I was concerned I treat such matters as gossip and noise and that was it.”

When Mr Mooney gave evidence he was also asked about Paul Williams’ articles in the Irish Independent about Ms D and Sgt McCabe, though neither were identified, from April and May 2014.

In those four articles, Ms D complained about the 2006/2007 investigation into her complaint with Mr Williams reporting that she claimed “the incident was covered up through a botched investigation”.

In the articles, Ms D alleged the investigation was “flawed” and that she wanted to meet Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin to highlight her allegation that the matter had not been investigated properly.

One of Mr Williams’ articles also claimed Taoiseach Enda Kenny was “expected to order an investigation” into the matter.

Mr Mooney says when he read the articles, he suspected they were about Ms D and Sgt McCabe.

Mr Mooney told the tribunal he never made any further inquiries about the Ms D matter until after Katie Hannon, on RTÉ’s Prime Time, on February 9, 2017, outlined how the 2006 Ms D allegation of “dry humping” became an allegation of digital penetration, both vaginal and anal, in referral from a HSE counsellor, who had spoken with Ms D in July 2013, to Tusla and in a subsequent referral from Tusla to An Garda Síochána in May 2014.

Mr Mooney explained:

“When the matter became public following the Prime Time broadcast, I couldn’t understand the circumstances and how this thing with Tusla had arisen, so I did at the time send a message to Ms. D with a view to trying to establish what had happened.”

Mr Mooney said he identified Ms D through her father’s Facebook account.

[Mr D told the tribunal last summer that Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, contacted him via Facebook in early 2014 around the time other journalists – Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday; Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun – had called to the D family’s home. Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent, interviewed Ms D and published articles about her claim against Sgt McCabe in April and May 2014]

Ms D also gave evidence about this contact with Mr Mooney after the Prime Time programme in February 2017.

She said he had tried to contact her numerous times on Facebook.

She explained:

“I do recall I was away at a training day for a college course which I was attending, and he was Facebooking me constantly on the Saturday.

“So I explained that I was at a college course, I wasn’t able to talk. forwarded on the messages to my father and I asked my father if he would ring him and see what it was he wanted or what he wanted to speak to me about.

“I believe it may have been a couple of weeks later, once again, he had Facebooked me, and I do recall I rang him, I would say the call maybe lasted for about three minutes.

“I rang him because I wanted to know what he — why he kept at me, what he was wanting to know.

“And he made reference to — he asked me the question: Was your case investigated by the independent investigators which were looking at the Cavan-Monaghan district?”

In his article of February 12, 2017, Mr Mooney never made mention of any independent investigators and Sgt McCabe.

In terms of the DPP’s 2007 directions, Mr Mooney reported in his article: “The director of public prosecutions ruled that McCabe had no case to answer and the matters referred to did not even constitute an offence.”

The main focus of the article was on Supt Taylor and the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and his claim that he texted Ms O’Sullivan in early 2014 to tell her a journalist was going to write an article about Sgt McCabe and Ms D and that she replied “perfect”. [This is denied by Ms O’Sullivan].

Mr Mooney also referred to matters reported earlier that week by Ms Hannon concerning the false Tusla referral.

However, in addition, he reported:

In a statement issued to The Sunday Times yesterday, a solicitor instructed by the woman said she was approached by gardai from Cavan in May 2014 and informed them she had not made the complaint in question and knew nothing about the matter concerning Tusla.

My client did not know what the gardai were talking about. She did not know her counsellor had even made any referral to Tusla naming her as a complainant, nor had she made these specific allegations.

The gardai who contacted her quickly realised that Tusla had made a mistake and we understand the gardai immediately informed the child protection agency of this,” said the solicitor.

My client is deeply upset and traumatised by the events of the past week.”

This section of Mr Mooney’s article was put to Ms D when she gave evidence last summer, by Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, and they had the following exchange:

McDowell: “But the account given seems to be very wrong, in the sense that it wasn’t the Gardaí who approached you, it was your father?”

Ms D: “My father is a member of the Gardaí.”

McDowell: “I see. And then it was the Gardaí who told Tusla about the error, but it was you who did it?”

Ms D: “That’s correct.”

When Mr Mooney gave evidence to the tribunal, he was also asked about an interview he gave to Joe Finnegan on Northern Sound radio, which covers Cavan and Mongahan, in April 2016.

This interview was based on Mr Mooney’s sight of a leaked copy of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation report. The interview took place a day after the report had been handed to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

[The O’Higgins commission sat in private from May 2015 to December 2015 and examined allegations of poor policing in the Cavan/Monaghan district, following complaints made by Sgt McCabe]

Mr Mooney’s report on the O’Higgins findings was a couple of weeks before RTÉ’s Paul Reynolds’ broadcasts on the same which were the subject of a term of reference in the tribunal.

During the Northern Sound interview, which contained a number of significant factual errors none of which favoured Sgt McCabe, Mr Mooney said that Judge O’Higgins didn’t find gardai “were on the take” – an allegation Sgt McCabe never made.

Mr Mooney said:

“I think there is a lot of senior Gardai will be delighted with the findings about this, I think that it’s going to raise all sorts of issues for Enda Kenny in terms of when you look at Alan Shatter was removed, effectively removed from office on the basis of the Guerin Report. But it also does bring into question Maurice McCabe and some of the things that he said.”

In his report, Justice Higgins had stated unequivocally:

‘Some people, wrongly and unfairly, cast aspersions on Sergeant McCabe’s motives; others were ambivalent about them. Sergeant McCabe acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns, and the commission unreservedly accepts his bona fides.

Sergeant McCabe has shown courage, and performed a genuine public service at considerable personal cost. For this he is due the gratitude, not only of the general public, but also of An Garda Síochána.

While some of his complaints have not been upheld by this commission, Sergeant McCabe is a man of integrity, whom the public can trust in the exercise of his duties.”

Sgt McCabe subsequently sued Northern Sound and received damages.

Before Katie Hannon’s Prime Time report – on February 9, 2017, almost a year after the Northern Sound interview – Mr Mooney  spoke to RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke on Today with Seán O’Rourke.

This was in the wake of the setting of the terms of reference for what eventually became the Disclosures Tribunal and they discussed how Paul Reynolds’ reports on the O’Higgins commission were to be examined to see if they were linked to Ms O’Sullivan.

During the interview, Mr Mooney and Mr O’Rourke had the following exchange.

John Mooney: “And if I can go back to my own sort of interaction with the Garda Press Office and that kind of thing, pretty much all, a lot of communication that on — that sort of journalists who are maybe involved in reporting on matters against the Gardaí — guards tend to get threats to litigation and everything else.

“It’s not a case that you are given steers on anything, so this is a very small group of people who are involved in this. It’s not something that was spread, you know, across the media in general.

Seán O’Rourke: “Yes. But it’s going to preoccupy minds not least in this organisation here when there is a term of reference in item [g] to investigate whether Commissioner O’Sullivan used briefing material prepared in Garda Headquarters, planned and orchestrated broadcasts in RTÉ on 9th May 2016 purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O’Higgins Report in which Sergeant McCabe was branded a liar and irresponsible.”

Mooney: “Well, there’s a couple of different approaches you could take to that. There was a lot of people who were witnesses in the O’Higgins Commission and who were provided with draft copies and advance copies before it was published.

“And I can tell you in the days before that official publication of the O’Higgins Report there were lots of people who had possession of that. I am a little bit unsure as to why there is a belief that Nóirín O’Sullivan herself done that. Nóirín O’Sullivan doesn’t generally, to the best of my knowledge, deal with journalists. She is a very secretive sort of woman.

“Most of her actions with the media are adversarial, including those with RTÉ. So again, I can’t and I haven’t managed to find out where that specific allegation that she briefed the media, I presume you were going to say, came from, isn’t that right?”

The tribunal saw that the transcript of this interview was emailed by Amy Rose Harte, then of the Communications Clinic, to Ms O’Sullivan some two months later on April 20, 2017.

This Seán O’Rourke transcript wasn’t the only matter concerning Mr Mooney which was sent to Ms O’Sullivan from the Communications Clinic.

On July 16, 2017, at 3.51am, Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, sent an email to Ms O’Sullivan containing a link to an article written by Mr Mooney and published almost four hours earlier, just after midnight.

The article was headlined ‘Journalist denies garda chief smeared McCabe’ and it was about Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday.

[Ms McCann’s former Irish Mail on Sunday colleague Alison O’Reilly alleges that Ms McCann told her that Ms O’Sullivan and Supt Taylor were among her sources for information about Ms D. Ms McCann categorically denies this, as does Ms O’Sullivan. Ms McCann, the tribunal heard, was the first journalist to call to the D family in February 2014]

In this article, Mr Mooney reported on what he said was a “private interview” Ms McCann had with the tribunal’s investigators.

He reported:

“McCann said the research into Miss D was prompted by stories that had appeared in the Irish Independent about an unidentified woman who had complained about the garda force’s handling of an allegation of child abuse she had made.”

The tribunal never heard Ms McCann say this in evidence.

In contrast, the tribunal heard from Mr and Mrs D – as Ms D wasn’t at home at the time – that Ms McCann was the first journalist to call to the D house in late January or early February 2014 – before Mr Williams was even in contact with Mr D and, subsequently, Ms D.

It has been the evidence of Mr D and Mr Williams that it was, as a consequence of journalists such as Ms McCann and Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun, calling to the D family that prompted Ms D to speak to Mr Williams [though it’s the evidence of Ms Murray that she was at the house after Mr Williams].

The claim that Ms McCann was prompted by Mr Williams’ articles doesn’t make sense.

The tribunal heard she went to the D house in either January or February 2014 while Mr Williams’ first article on Ms D wasn’t published until April 12, 2014, after having interviewed Ms D on March 8, 2014 – part of which was videoed.

When Ms McCann gave evidence, she told the tribunal she had heard “murmurings” about Sgt McCabe around February 2014, made inquiries with a number of sources and then called to the D house – from which she was turned away by Mrs D.

Ms McCann is invoking privilege about her sources.

She told the tribunal that she would speak to Mr Williams “occasionally” and “he’s not somebody that I would speak to on an ongoing basis, or anything like that”.

Ms McCann also said she didn’t know Mr Williams had been to the D house in March 2014 and she didn’t know this until she saw his first article on April 12, 2014, at which point Ms McCann was on maternity leave.

Ms McCann said:

“I don’t know afterwards if he would have told me – possibly – but I didn’t know that he was there and I didn’t learn about this until I read it in the newspaper.”

Coincidentally, Mr Mooney’s article about Ms McCann appeared the very day before the D family gave evidence, on July 17, 2017, when they outlined how Ms McCann was the first journalist to call to their house and, as previously mentioned, it was a consequence of her and Ms Murray’s separate visits to the house that Ms D spoke to Mr Williams.

It wasn’t explained to the tribunal why the Seán O’Rourke transcript and the article about Ms McCann were sent by the Communications Clinic to Ms O’Sullivan but the tribunal did hear the Communications Clinic is paid to work on strategic communications with the Garda Press Office.

When Mr Mooney gave evidence to the tribunal, Mr McDowell put to him that it had been the evidence of Ms McCann that she didn’t believe being told the facts about Ms D and Sgt McCabe – that there had been an allegation made against Sgt McCabe, that there had been an investigation and that the DPP didn’t seek a prosecution – would constitute a “negative briefing”.

Mr McDowell asked Mr Mooney for his view.

Mr Mooney said:

“I suppose it would depend on the way it’s being said. If I can be really, really straight. When I initially checked this out and this reference was made to me, and it wasn’t a member of An Garda Síochána, I take the approach of trying to deal with senior police officers who are in a position of knowledge and would know, in other words may have access to the relevant files, they would by their rank have to know about these issues or have an independent and good understanding of it, and certainly when I asked the question, quote-unquote, there is nothing in this was said to me, in terms of, you know — like, that’s — that’s what I was told.”

Mr McDowell also asked Mr Mooney if he thought Supt Taylor was “entitled” to confirm the same facts to Mr Williams and Mr Mooney said: “Honestly speaking, no.”

Judge Charleton pointed out that, as a matter of fact, Supt Taylor wasn’t entitled to do so because the Garda Press Office does not comment on individual cases.

Mr Mooney went on to say:

“My view on that is, is that I personally — I can’t speak for the actions of other journalists, but my own personal belief is these matters are dealt with in a system, I believe in that system, and I don’t think it’s really helpful to anyone to have these matters thrashed out in any public forum, particularly when it’s an offence of this type. And I have to be frank with you, I haven’t encountered it in any other sphere in terms of information being relayed about these type of allegations to anyone.”

Mr McDowell put it to Mr Mooney that it’s his (McDowell’s) belief that to give “corroboration to that inquiry” amounts to a negative briefing.

Mr Mooney said he accepted Mr McDowell’s view and later said:

“Chairman, I take both sides, but I suppose the fact of the matter is, if something is published that is where it maybe becomes an issue, if that makes sense.”

In one of his final questions to Mr Mooney, Mr McDowell asked him if could recall saying on the radio [in his interview on Northern Sound] that there was “no substance” to the majority of complaints in the dossier that Sgt McCabe gave to Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin – this dossier lead to the O’Higgins inquiry.

Mr Mooney replied:

“Sorry, I think some of them, they were maybe embellished and matters like that, but I have to say, the real issue with this and having reported on it for unfortunately too long, is that allegations are made, they mutate into something else and then it becomes something else.

“Now, in the various materials that we have published about Sergeant McCabe we have stressed that I believed he was acting in the public interest, but in saying that, I think some things possibly may have been said in haste or whatever, and that they were inaccurate. And we have a duty to report that as well. But we don’t always get it right. But we would try keep it straight down the line.”

Mr McDowell clarified with Mr Mooney that he wasn’t trying to blame Mr Mooney.

Instead, Mr McDowell said, Mr Mooney wouldn’t have said what he said on Northern Sound unless he had been told by somebody that there was no substance to the complaints.

Mr McDowell put it to Mr Mooney: “You wouldn’t have invented that as a thought of your own.”

Mr Mooney said: “That’s correct” before adding:

“But we had — again, I go back, allegations are made, more allegations are made. At this point in time, I couldn’t even describe all the allegations that have been made because there’s so many of them.

“But I do think it’s important to say, and we published this and we published this right at the very beginning in 2009, I might have even written it in 2008 that Sergeant McCabe was acting in the public interest.”

The Garda legal team had no questions for Mr Mooney.

In the Garda legal team’s final submissions, Shane Murphy SC, for An Garda Síochána, did recall the evidence of Mr Mooney – along with Micheal O’Toole of the Irish Daily Star, and Conor Lally, of The Irish Times – that they had heard the allegation against Sgt McCabe as early as 2010 and heard it from a non-Garda source.

This, Mr Murphy said, was “long before the period being considered by this tribunal and indeed before the beginning of the alleged campaign which Superintendent Taylor alleged he was instructed and directed to begin, in the middle of 2013”.

Mr Murphy referred to Mr Mooney, Mr O’Toole and Mr Lally’s evidence collectively three times in his final submission.

Justine McCarthy, of The Sunday Times, also appeared before the tribunal.

On the same day Mr Mooney published his article, on February 12, 2017, after Katie Hannon’s Prime Time report, which contained a quote from Ms D’s solicitor – the content of which Ms D told the tribunal was incorrect – Ms McCarthy wrote an opinion piece about Sgt McCabe.

The piece headlined ‘Name and shame the rumour-mongers who slurred Maurice McCabe’ recalled the April and May 2014 articles by Paul Williams in the Irish Independent.

Ms McCarthy wrote:

“Any journalist who had contemplated reporting on the allegations of misconduct being made by the whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe recognised him as the unidentified garda in Williams’s story.

“For we had been warned to treat McCabe with the utmost suspicion. Generally, it was crime reporters who received the warning from their garda sources, and relayed a tread-carefully SOS to non-crime beat colleagues, who get shorter shrift from the garda press office.”

In her opinion piece, Ms McCarthy asked if it was a coincidence that Mr Williams’ articles started to appear in the same month that Tusla created separate files on Sgt McCabe’s children “erroneously stating that he stood accused of penetrative child sexual assault?”

Ms McCarthy was asked by the tribunal’s counsel about this article.

She explained the piece was an opinion piece and that in regards to the line “generally it was crime reporters who received the warning”, Ms McCarthy said this was her impression “knowing how the system works”.

She also wrote:

“None of this is to impute wrongdoing by Williams, Reynolds or their colleagues. Journalists rely on contacts for information, protecting source’s anonymity is a cherished principle of the trade, but in this case trust was demolished in the relationship between some journalists and their sources. The debt is cancelled.

“Even in media outlets that refrain from reporting the spurious claims, the campaign to vilify McCabe exerted a chilling effect and is partly the reason this controversy has gone on for years. Apart from the anguish this caused the sergeant, his wife and their children, the relentless denigration of McCabe put the safety of Irish citizens at risk by deferring urgent examination of what is rotten in the country’s law enforcement. That is not to mention how such vicious campaign has accelerated the disintegration of public morality.

“Journalists, even if inadvertently, facilitated it by not properly interrogating the false rumours against McCabe. There is an onus on us now to correct the record. We can start by dispensing with the shield of protecting our sources. Why protect a source on whom you cannot rely to tell the truth? Those of us who know the identities of the rumour-mongers have a duty to the Charleton Commission and name those names. The journalist’s first obligation is to the truth.”

Ms McCarthy told the tribunal she believed the story was a “huge public interest story”.

She said:

“I suppose what I was talking about was the use of State agencies to undermine a whistleblower who was trying to put into the public domain information that was in the public interest.”

The tribunal heard when Ms McCarthy responded to the tribunal and wrote to the tribunal in December 2017, she gave the following view of journalistic privilege.

She said:

“My view on journalists obligations to protect sources is that it is a fundamental value designed to facilitate the emergence of information which is in the public interest. However, I believe that the obligation falls if a journalist’s source knowingly conveys false information for the purpose of damaging somebody’s reputation. In those circumstances I believe it’s a journalist’s duty to expose that wrongdoing. This doesn’t prevent the difficulty of course of ascertaining the source’s intentions and knowledge about the veracity or lack of it of the information conveyed.”

Ms McCarthy told the tribunal she was told about the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe by another journalist in 2013.

She said she was told shortly after she wrote about the profiling of a Traveller baby on PULSE in March 2013.

On being told this, Ms McCarthy said:

“I didn’t need to make a note because I was stopped in my tracks by what he told me. I was horrified. I have written a huge amount over the past two decades about child sexual abuse, I would nearly say it was my specialist subject, and the idea that this man had been accused of sexually abusing a child utterly shocked me.”

“I can’t remember the specific words that were said to me, but the impression I came away from the conversation with was that Sergeant McCabe had been accused of sexually abusing a child and that the issue had not been concluded.”

“…My impression was that it had not been investigated to conclusion.”

The tribunal heard Ms McCarthy, within days of hearing the Ms D allegation, made her own inquiries and learned that there had been an investigation, that a file had gone to the DPP and that there was no prosecution.

She said:

“I was told that not only had the DPP decided not to prosecute but the DPP had said no offence had been disclosed. That satisfied, was one of the reasons that I felt satisfied in my mind that the information that I had been given was not true.”

Ms McCarthy said when she was told of the Ms D matter, her exchange with the journalist wasn’t accompanied by any negative briefing of Sgt McCabe, and it wasn’t linked to his whistleblowing in any way.

Conor Dignam SC, for An Garda Síochána, asked Ms McCarthy several questions.

They had this exchange.

Conor Dignam: “…you have some journalists and some politicians who, on their account of things, were either told that one or both of the former commissioners were conducting a smear campaign against Sergeant McCabe by alleging various things against him but including this no-smoke-without-fire concept in relation to the sexual abuse allegations and, on one journalist’s account and two politicians’ accounts, this allegation was made to them directly by former Commissioner Callinan, but they didn’t pursue that either as a political matter or from a journalist point of view as a story, does that surprise you?

Justine McCarthy: “No. No, that doesn’t surprise me to write a story like that would have been extremely hard and it would have been very hard to find an organisation that would have published it. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that, just because journalists didn’t write this story, doesn’t mean that they didn’t disseminate the information.”

Dignam: “I appreciate that. But the evidence which has yet to be heard but from what we know from statements given to the Tribunal is that this information was simply received and nothing further was done. I take it your point about the difficulties of publishing a story like that, the difficulties of proving facts et cetera, but presumably a journalist, and particularly an investigative journalist’s modus operandi and objective is to dig out difficult stories and to hold power to account as we have heard over the last couple of days, but no such steps were taken to even investigate the story that the Commissioner was involved in or participating in or conducting a smear campaign?

McCarthy: “The first time I heard of a campaign was in relation to what David Taylor said.”

Dignam: “Could I be clear, this isn’t a criticism directed at you, Ms. McCarthy?”

McCarthy: “No, I understand that. No, I am just trying to explain that before the Taylor claim of a campaign I wouldn’t have thought of a campaign in my head. But there certainly were people spreading this story about Maurice McCabe.”

[Two days after an article by Ms McCarthy appeared in The Sunday Times, on July 23, 2017, about the evidence Paul Williams had just given to the tribunal, The Sunday Times published a clarification and apology to Mr Williams, Ciaran McGowan, a son of Nóirín O’Sullivan, and Independent News and Media. Ms McCarthy had erroneously stated that Mr McGowan was the videographer used by Mr Williams when he interviewed Ms D]

Monday: Maurice McCabe And INM

Yesterday: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Wednesday: Maurice McCabe and The Irish Times: Part 1

Tuesday: Maurice McCabe And RTÈ

From top: Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan; former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; and Sgt Maurice McCabe


In The Sunday Times.

John Mooney reported:

“The Disclosures tribunal has been given official notes of conversations between Nóirín O’Sullivan, the former garda commissioner, and senior gardai. They outline the strategy she adopted when dealing with whistleblower Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission.”

The contemporaneous records show O’Sullivan did not instruct lawyers to question McCabe’s integrity. Instead she asked them to question the motivation and credibility of allegations he was making about garda colleagues.”

Claims that O’Sullivan had instructed lawyers to question McCabe’s  integrity were based on selected transcripts from the commission, which were leaked to newspapers.

“It was suggested she was telling lawyers to challenge McCabe’s integrity in private while publicly commending him for speaking out against wrongdoing.

“O’Sullivan’s legal team subsequently clarified that they had been asked to challenge the whistleblower’s “motivation and credibility”.

“It is understood O’Sullivan was interviewed in private session by Charleton’s investigators last week.”

Notes show ex-garda chief’s strategy in McCabe inquiry (John Mooney, The Sunday Times)

Previously: The Legal Strategy Against Maurice McCabe

May Day


Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 12.33.03

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and Justice Minsiter Frances Fitzgerald

The Public Accounts Committee received a 44-page Garda Internal Audit Section report on serious financial irregularities at the Garda College in Templemore on Monday.

It looked at financial transactions at the college from 2009 to 2016.

It also received a further 13-page report in relation to how the recommendations of the GIAS report are being implemented.

The GIAS report was the subject of an article by John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, on January 22, in which Mr Mooney reported, among other things:

Auditors discovered that 37% of all expenditure linked to the college’s laundry service account in 2008 had nothing to do with laundry. Instead €7,231 was spent on meals and entertainment, €2,150 was given to parish clergy, €1,040 to the golf society and €300 spent on jewellery and gifts. A loan facility was also operated from the account with amounts of up to €500 being borrowed and repaid.

The audit discovered 50 bank accounts in total and said the current system of banking had resulted in a “non-transparent system of accounting”.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was asked about it on the Today with Seán O’Rourke show the following day – saying twice during the interview that the concerns raised were “legacy issues”.

This morning chair of PAC, Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming said PAC will be asking the general secretary of the Department of Justice and the Garda Commissioner to appear before PAC to discuss the reports.

From the executive summary of the GIAS report….

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 12.28.58Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 12.29.19Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 12.29.31Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 12.29.40


This morning, Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy spoke to Cormac Ó hEadhra, who was filling in for Seán O’Rourke, about the report and why she believes the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald mislead the Dáil about the matter on February 9 of this year.

From the interview…

Cormac Ó hEadhra: “This was discussed by Sean O’Rourke with the Garda Commissioner in January, I think. This question of financial irregularity. You raised this question with the Minister for Justice in the Dail, Catherine Murphy, on the 9th of February of this year. And she, in a way, she said this was related to the past, it was stopped and we’ve dealt with it in a way that she used words, with Sean O’Rourke, like ‘legacy issues’, ‘they span back a number of years’. What do you make of that now? Based on what you’re hearing.”

Catherine Murphy: “First of all, I think I was given very misleading information. I raised it at Leaders’ Questions with Frances Fitzgerald in February and it was in the context of the Garda [Maurice] McCabe that was being set up at the time. And I looked for this report to be published. She told me that it had been, it was in the public domain, it had been discussed at length by the justice committee. To be perfectly honest with you that was news to me. I then went back to the office. My staff contacted the justice committee and was told there was no such discussion, so I contacted the Tanaiste’s office again after I put in a lot of PQs, and after five weeks, she said that she had misspoke, that it was actually, it was actually sent to the Public Accounts Committee.”

“Now I had written to the Public Accounts Committee, looking for it to be, looking for the Public Accounts Committee to seek a copy of this report. I knew full well it hadn’t been discussed at the Public Accounts Committee because I’m a member of the Public Accounts Committee. So I feel, I feel I was misled in the Dail by the Tanaiste on this and indeed the report…”

Ó hEadhra: “But she did refer to an audit and in fairness to the minister, we, I quote her now: ‘that was in the public arena’, she says. ‘Questions were answered on it in the justice committee well before it was. Detailed information was put on the record about the audit and the actions that were being taken internally to deal with what had been uncovered by the audit of the college. That is the reality of the situation,’ she says. She may have got the committee wrong but she said it’s being dealt with.”

Murphy: “No it was not dealt it. It wasn’t dealt with at the justice committee. I made exhaustive searches to see. It wasn’t dealt with at the justice committee. What came into the public arena came out as a consequence of a newspaper article in The Sunday Times written by John Mooney. It didn’t transpire as a consequence of a news report as a consequence of a debate that had happened at any committee in the Dail. What I was looking for was that this report would be actually given to the justice committee or would be given to the Public Accounts Committee and that the minister would publish it.”

Ó hEadhra: “Ok, so do you believe the Minister misled you in the Dail? She’ll contest that obviously, I assume. What do you expect her to do now?”

Murphy: “The very first thing is that she should correct the record because it’s not correct to say that it’s discussed anywhere, at any committee, it wasn’t.”

Garda misuse of public money exposed in audit (John Mooney, January 22, 2017)

Garda College kept secret bank accounts (John Mooney, Aaron Rogan, March 29, 2017)

Listen back in full here



John Mooney, security correspondent of The Sunday Times

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission released a statement yesterday saying its investigation into the leak of the GSOC ‘bugging’ story to John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, yielded no result.

Of the investigation, led by Mark Connaughton SC, GSOC found:

The report was unable to establish individual responsibility for any disclosure, either on the part of an employee of GSOC or any other party. It concludes that it is difficult to identify what additional information could usefully advance matters, short of obtaining the co-operation of the journalist in question, who declined the invitation.

Further to this, Mr Mooney was interviewed on RTÉ One’s Today With Seán O’Rourke show this morning.

From the interview:

Seán O’Rourke: “The Cooke Report looked at the bugging and it basically dismissed, I think in large measure, a lot of what was suggested by GSOC, about the bugging, whether it happened and so forth.”

Mooney: “But, you could say that, but the one thing I would say about the Cooke Report is that it made no reference to the background to all of this which was, I was just astonished with. I think it also, he, Judge Cooke has subsequently amended the report twice. He misquoted, The Sunday Times wrote a letter to state, the admission that he’d done that. He subsequently amended it a second time in relation to claims that he made about an individual who had communicated with him. But, if you look at the report, Verrimus, the company that did the security audit on GSOC maintain and stand over their findings. I’m not technically qualified in this area to say whether they’re right or wrong but if you talk to them now, they will say they were right. And, in terms of Cooke, and I kind of don’t like to become a player in these things, I would maybe defer to other impartial observers on it. They stated that he showed a remarkable lack of curiosity about some of the findings that he made. For example, he talks about white vans being outside, the Garda Ombudsman’s office, they gave him quite extensive interviews about why they believed they were under surveillance, leaving aside the technical stuff that they had uncovered…”

O’Rourke: “Yes, the core of the thing was, I think or one of the strong elements at least, that there was equipment being used that was only available to State security services. Now that seems to have been largely dismissed.”

Mooney: “What we had actually said, in our original story, is that Government-level technology, which it was. He says that you can buy IMSI catchers but I’ve spoken to a lot of people around the world about this type of technology and those sort of devices really are dependent on the network, whether it’s a 3G or 4G network and all that sort of stuff, so…”

O’Rourke: “Right, John, coming back to this finding now, it seems to have hit a dead end. Seven suspects. Apparently the leaker had to be one of those seven people. They can’t identify who it was, so surely they’re seriously undermined, their credibility is undermined because anybody thinking of having any relations with them or any dealings with them has to be asking him or herself, ‘well, look where is this going to end up, will it be on the front page of The Sunday Times?'”

Mooney: “Well, I’d hope so. My attitude on that is that, how would I put this?…journalists have a job to do. And, in my particular line of work, where we’re dealing with the heavier end of matters, we go to extraordinary lengths to protect people, there’s lots of different…”

O’Rourke: “That’s true, John..”

Mooney: ‘There’s lots of different issues that I, for example, I have not chosen to publish out of national security reasons, where there would be representatives and representations made to us by Garda headquarters, whatever. But we publish a lot of information, we’ve had lots of reports, really since the beginning of the year that were confidential and Government reports on all sorts of matters that have been published and we have quoted word-for-word in the paper. My attitude to this is that, for some reason, people have zoned in on information that we have concerning the activities of the Garda Ombudsman but, I mean, we published the Roma report a couple of weeks ago, we published another GSOC report about a shooting fatality in Lucan which was quite serious, three or four weeks ago…”

O’Rourke: “Yes, but surely an agency like that, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission should be able to carry out its business and give people assurances that, if they cooperate and if they give information, it will not go any further. Now they’re clearly in no position to do that. You just listed a litany of reports that you’ve published. And, fair play to you, that’s your job, right? But you put yourself in a position of somebody who’s been asked to cooperate with that. That agency’s credibility is shot surely?

Mooney: “Well I wouldn’t agree with that assumption because we publish a lot of stories on the basis of very sensitive information that we get from all sorts of agencies. That’s what journalists do. And investigative journalism, that’s what it involves. The only thing that I’m concerned about is producing information that is in the public interest and protecting…”

Talk over each other

O’Rourke: “You can’t be accused of anything, other than doing your job. And that’s accepted but a lot of heads have rolled I suppose in the justice area, apparently as a result of this bugging controversy and other stuff that’s happened. Now Alan Shatter certainly feels aggrieved and he’s actually gone to the High Court so we better be a little bit careful about what we say about the fact that he wasn’t interviewed by Mr Cooke – sorry, sorry, I beg your pardon, by Guerin, I beg your pardon. There’s so many reports, it’s easy to get them confused. But, at the same time though, like do you feel that maybe he, Shatter, and Martin Callinan, to a certain extent, have a right to feel aggrieved at this stage?”

Mooney: “I think Martin Callinan has a right to feel aggrieved over what happened to him which is subject to an investigation by Justice Fennelly. We’ve been highlighting the issues, the constitutional issues, that are raised as a result of the manner in which he was forced to resign. In terms of Alan Shatter, Alan Shatter has some very valid points about Guerin which, I think in time, is going to be shown to be a very flawed report. I think the findings that are made against some senior gardaí are completely flawed and wrong, but in stating that, it should be stated that Alan Shatter mishandled and did the wrong thing in various matters in the Justice portfolio. This isn’t just about GSOC or anything else. This is in relation to whistleblowers and other matters. I think any position that he finds himself now in really is one of his own making. In relation to Marin Callinan, I think Martin Callinan was forced into a position that I think is going to be called into question in a major way quite shortly by Justice Fennelly, that’s an independent reading of it. But, in stating that, Martin Callinan, and people are forgetting this, Martin Callinan was in charge of the guards when there was huge obstruction placed in front of the Garda Ombudsman which is a properly constituted body within this country and he was responsible for that. So, while he may have went for something…”

O’Rourke: “They had it out publicly and privately about the levels of cooperation. Look we’ll leave it there…”

Listen back in full here

Report of a fact-finding investigation into the possible disclosure of confidential information from within GSOC (GSOC)

Previously: ‘They’ve Done Their Damndest To Cover Up’

The Thin Blue Timeline [Updated]

mooneyrteJohn Mooney, security correspondent with The Sunday Times


Last night on RTÉ’s Late Debate, the Sunday Times Security Correspondent John Mooney – who broke the GSOC bugging story –  spoke to presenter Audrey Carville about Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s resignation.

Audrey Carville: “John Mooney, you’re puzzled by Alan Shatter’s resignation, why?”

John Mooney: “I’m very reluctant to believe anything that I’m being told about these matters because none of it makes sense and you can’t take. You can’t forget the events that have preceded this and what’s been happening, really since Alan Shatter came to power and if I can just maybe take you through various controversies. You have the Garda collusion matter regarding Kieran Boylan colluding with drug trafficker. Alan Shatter got a huge report on that, took no action on that. The Labour party and Fine Gael supported them in that. Anyone who has the remotest knowledge of that particular affair would have been left absolutely stunned and hence, there was a feeling developed, of confidence, in Garda headquarters that you could do whatever you wanted and nothing’s going to happen to you. So that’s the first thing. Secondly you had the GSOC bugging affair.
That investigation was established before the Guerin one but hasn’t reported – that’s a bit odd. You had the penalty points issue, where Alan Shatter, as we all remember stood on the plinth outside the Dáil, and I’ve said this on this programme and Prime Time and others and berated the two whistleblowers, regardless of whether they were wrong or right and basically accused them of wrongdoing. Then we had the charade that happened concerning the investigation by John O’Mahony into those issues. Subsequently that was shown to be, I mean, worthless. Now John O’Mahony is the Assistant Garda Commissioner in charge of crime and security – he’s in charge of our national security. It doesn’t get much higher than that in Garda headquarters.
Still, no action whatsoever from the Government in relation to this matter. Then you have the allegations made by Maurice McCabe, concerning, which are the subject of the Guerin report, which are very specific allegations and, again, that was passed to Enda Kenny because Alan Shatter wasn’t seen to be someone who could be trusted to deal with this. Now, it should be stated, at every point in this, Labour and Fine Gael have fully supported Alan Shatter – even when the facts were screaming from the rooftops. This is not a matter of the Government arranging investigations that have exposed weaknesses or flaws. The Government [have] done their damndest to cover for this and cover up this type of activity and, indeed, suppress any information coming out in relation to it, so it’s very important that people understand this.”

Carville: “Are you saying you don’t buy that he’s resigining over the Guerin…”

Mooney: “I’m very wary of everything that is being said in relation to these matters. For the simple reason is, is that then Government has been playing ducks and drakes in regards to the truth of these matters for so long that I don’t think they understand the truth, or can decipher from the lies that have been told. For example, this letter which is Alan Shatter’s resignation letter, apparently on the basis of what’s likely to emerge in the Guerin report, it’s very, very odd, in so far that it comes across to me as a letter that was written almost after someone had been told they have to go or else they’ll be dismissed. Because, the first thing it does, is it drags in the Garda Ombudsman yet again, said that it had not cooperated…”

Carville: “GSOC?”

Mooney: “Yeah..with the Guerin inquiry into these matters and hadn’t furnished it with, Seán Guerin, with the papers relating to this matter. The most incredible thing about this is GSOC tonight have confirmed that that’s the case, that they didn’t actually provide Guerin with the documents in relation to this, citing privacy and other reasons. So you’re into this kind of very, very odd, sort of wordplay on this. I’m not sure, I think, if you…I’ll go back to the question I raised before. Martin Callinan resigned or retired, whatever word you want to use, a number of weeks ago, for reasons that are unclear. Now Alan Shatter is after resigning, again, or whether he was pushed , for reasons that are very unclear.
The tone of this letter isn’t one of abject apology to John Wilson or people like that. It’s more, it’s creating more questions almost to what it answers and I’d just be very, very cautious. There are things, matters going on in the background to these issues, in Garda headquarters and in the Department of Justice, and in the Department of An Taoiseach that I don’t think the public are aware of yet.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Holy Shatt

The Thin Blue Timeline Updated


[From top: Ian Bailey and Jules Thomas in 2012; Martin Graham, an acquaintance of Ian Bailey. Lawyers for Mr Bailey have claimed gardaí gave drugs to Mr Graham in order to secure evidence against Mr Bailey. The claim has been denied by gardaí.]

John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, spoke with Colm Ó Mongáin on RTÉ’s This Week yesterday to discuss the secret recordings of conversations pertaining to Ian Bailey in Bandon Garda Station.

It followed his story in yesterday’s Sunday Times that eight conversations were recorded between May 20, 1997 and June 4, 1997, which suggest that gardaí did give  money and drugs to Martin Graham to secure incriminating evidence against Ian Bailey.

Mr Mooney wrote that the recordings at the station “appear to corroborate claims made by Ian Bailey that detectives tried to frame him for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in December 1996”.

John Mooney: “The overall practice of recording conversations at garda stations really isn’t the main issue here. The main problem that Government face is that they have a series of recordings which suggest and appear to corroborate claims by Ian Bailey, who is in the middle of a landmark civil action against the State, that he was being framed for murder which he didn’t commit. And that the announcement of a judicial inquiry into the widespread recording of calls to stations is maybe something that was organised as a detraction from the main issue. For the simple reason is that in November 2011, lawyers for Ian Bailey were given documents from within the Justice…specifically the DPP which stated that he believed there was no evidence against Ian Bailey. That document was released via the Department of Justice to Ian Bailey and not through the normal channels and that in itself raises its own significant questions. But the, I suppose, the prime one being is that Alan Shatter knew about these allegations going back to 2011 and that the State has, despite all of this, continued to fight this case and defend it.”

Colm Ó Mongáin: “So, as you mentioned, back as far as 2012 and the DPP’s report was furnished to the Bailey legal team when he was fighting extradition proceedings, one would think that the mere mention of Sophie Toscan du Plantier within the Department of Justice would sound serious alarm bells?”

Mooney: “Well, I suppose it’s incomprehensible to think anything else. I mean, we, today, in today’s paper we published more information about letters. The Department of Justice were being notified in February 2008, that there was more issues concerning these matters. I think there’s a very, very clever game being played here. I think that it’s quite clear that this issue is all connected to the case, the civil action concerning Ian Bailey and Jules Thomas and that various people in various arms of the State knew there was a problem going back for years. Like the DPP’s report, which outlined that there was allegations that drugs were being given to people to make, I suppose to get confessions off Ian Bailey and there was preferential treatment being given to Marie Farrell, people like that…”

Ó Mongáin: “Well while those things were said, in the report and the Supreme Court, now that they said that those claims were never tested in court as such but were matters for serious concern.”

Mooney: “Absolutely and I was at some of those Supreme Court hearings and certainly the body language of the judges involved left it very clear that, I think one of the judges described this as matters of absolute exceptional public importance. So this has been known about and the fact that these tapes turned up a number of weeks ago, I think it’s important to suggest that these tapes were in the process of being transcribed so every couple of weeks something new was coming out. Garda headquarters were becoming aware of another issue and that this was being fed up the line, so to speak, into the DPP’s office, the Attorney General and the Department of Justice.”

Ó Mongáin: “And do we have knowledge as to then what the protocols were within the Department of Justice, at what level this gets parked and when further information gets kicked up to the highest levels.”

Mooney: “My understanding of this is that this really became a serious and significant issue in the Department of Justice around February 28. There were more correspondence between Martin Callinan and the Department of Justice on March 10. Whatever happened at that point, the following day Martin Callinan was asked to attend a meeting with the Attorney General and people from the Chief State Solicitor’s office and also the Department of Justice itself. And there were significant concerns being expressed at that point. Because the issues here are very, very complex. For example, if gardaí gave drugs to an individual to get incriminating evidence, where did he get the drugs from? I know that is a major, major, major issue now for Garda headquarters.
For example, if those drugs were seized off someone, what happened to the case of the person from whom they were seized from? Who knew what about Marie Farrell? Who was asking Marie Farrell to engage in certain activities or was she coerced as she alleges on that? So there’s lots of different issues emanating out of these tapes. And specifically, the State knew and indeed Enda Kenny knew and I would assume the Department of Justice all knew that this evidence was now being passed over to Ian Bailey’s legal team. Therefore it would be just a matter of time before this would enter the public domain.”

RTÉ This Week

Previously: Hash For Questions?

“Gardaí Don’t Lose Records In Murder Cases”

Pic: Irish Mirror

Finucane3 mooneytv3

[Solicitor and Chair of Law Society Human Rights Committee Michael Finucane, who is also son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane and Sunday Times security correspondent John Mooney on TV3’s Tonight With Vincent Browne last night]

Last night Cormac Ó hEadhra stood in for Audrey Carville on RTÉ’s Late Debate while the panel included Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin TD; Alan Farrell, Fine Gael TD; Michael Finucane, solicitor; and Mark Kelly, Director, Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

During their discussion Mr Finucane outlined the serious implications of the  the recording of incoming and outgoing Garda station calls, from the point of view of people arrested and convicted, and their solicitors.

Later, on TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne, Mr Mooney – who broke the GSOC bugging story – hinted that there are other matters of concern in relation to separate to that of the solicitor/client concerns.

From the Late Debate discussion:

Cormac Ó hEadhra: “Michael Finucane, when Alan Farrell was talking about the GSOC report not being noticed by the Minister [for Justice Alan Shatter] or his department, you were shaking your head, why?”

Michael Finucane: “Well [Alan Farrell] called it a press release. I mean I’m sitting here looking at a section, or an an extract from it, and it’s entitled ‘Report in accordance with section 103 of the Garda Síochána Act’. It’s not a press release and to minimise it and try to sort of downplay the significance of the whole episode that exposed the practice of recording phonecalls at all is disingenuous. This was in the context of Garda officers being prosecuted for assaulting a man in custody so I mean it’s ludicrous to suggest that the minister wouldn’t have been aware of that case.”

Ó hEadhra: “He said he simply wasn’t and he also said that GSOC themselves didn’t feel that the report was important enough to send him a copy.”

Finucane: “This prosecution was the first successful prosecution brought by GSOC against serving members of An Garda Síochana, certainly for indictable offences, if not the first then one of the first. I mean if we’re going to talk about competence of office holders, if you’re not aware of the detail of that investigation and that prosecution then you’re seriously into incompetence territory.”

Talk over each other

Finucane: “Before Alan comes back in with, you know, in sort of another ‘let’s defend the Government line, I think we do need to move this on because the sum total of what has happened over the last number of months with regard to our police force, the people that the citizens look at as the frontline representative face of the State, what has happened, if you think about this in terms of what a police officer does, their job: their road traffic practices have been seriously called into question, the quality of their criminal investigation in more serious offences has been called into question by members of An Garda Síochána, they’ve been accused of bugging the watchdog organisation, the Ombudsman Commission; they’ve been accused or seriously suspected of having illegally recorded phonecalls which may include phonecalls between arrested and detained persons and their solicitors. And right at the top of the organisation is the Garda Commissioner who eventually, after defending all of this tooth and nail was forced to resign. Now what must an Irish citizen feel when they look and see a Garda in uniform after all of this has happened. We do not need some sort of parliamentary seeping-under-the-carpet exercise of statutory tinkering and reform and revision. There needs to be root and branch reform of something meaningful in the way that people deal with An Garda Síochána so that they can see for themselves that things have changed and it needs to happen quickly.”


Ó hEadhra: “Michael, are you reviewing clients now?”

Finucane: “Actively. And I would say anyone with a criminal defence practice, who’s been representing people that were detained in Garda custody for the purposes of police interview is doing exactly the same because of the way the detention regime is operated by An Garda Síochána in this country, the solicitors are not permitted to remain with their clients while they’re being interviewed so you can go to the Garda station to advise someone but then you have to leave again when they’re being interviewed and the dynamic of the situation requires telephone contact and, with your client, it’s unavoidable. And because people are detained these days for longer and longer periods of time, you can find yourself speaking to a client early in the morning or right up until midnight and sometimes even beyond midnight in certain circumstances so it’s often not possible or practical to go to a Garda station so you’re reliant on the telephone.”

Ó hEadhra: “Are we talking then about a huge number of convictions likely to be appealed?”

Finucane: “Well it’s too early to say, it’s too early to say how many cases will reach the stage of appeal but I think we can assume, with a reasonable degree of confidence that a huge number of cases are going to have to be reviewed and I think one thing the Government needs to do urgently is to decide and explain how that review is going to take place. Who’s going to do it? And most important of all how it is going to be demonstrably independent of any agency with any potential of interest in the outcome. So no Garda involvement, no DPP involvement, no Justice Ministry involvement, demonstrably, completely and effectively independent of any agency that has a role in prosecution.”

Ó hEadhra: “Can I make a massive leap if you don’t mind, let’s say a conviction, let’s say there is an appeal and evidence was, should have been inadmissable and the conviction is quashed, what happens then is it a retrial or is the person free to go?”

Finucane: “Well there’s a number of possibilities but I think, I mean I think, all of those things are possible aswell as the revelation of a huge number of miscarriages of justice, people are convicted of things wrongly as a result of evidence or information that was gathered by An Garda Síochána through listening to confidential conversations between people and their solicitors.”

Ó hEadhra: “And then are we talking, possibly, and this is another leap, civil action against the State and a huge amount of compensation.”

Finucane: “A fair degree down the road, yes, but that is a possibility but..which is why I say action needs to be taken swiftly and so that the process of review at least can begin as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, on Tonight With Vincent Browne:

John Mooney:I’d be pretty confident that this story has a few twists and turns and will have by next week.”

Vincent Browne: “Have you ever heard about this, in all your dealings with the gardaí over the years, did you ever hear that incoming and outgoing calls to garda stations were being recorded?”

Mooney: Surveillance in this country is a free-for-all, there’s all sorts of fun and games going on outside the normal system and within the legislative system. Technology, legislation isn’t able to keep up with technology, it’s just..”

Browne: “This is…landlines have been recorded apparently…”

Mooney: “Yeah but from 2008 they were doing it with a digital apparatus which is a different kettle of fish to tapes and it’s much more open to, I suppose, very targeted use and that kind of thing, those systems are in place.”

Browne: “In other words, for instance when the posh voice of a solicitor would come on the phone that they’d be able to pick that up immediately and record it, is that it?”

Mooney: “I’m not so convinced that these matters all relate to solicitors because solicitors, by and large, will not…”

Browne: “I thought you were going to challenge me on solicitors all having posh voices but em..”

Mooney: “I don’t believe that many solicitors would, they may be advising their clients but it’s usually to say nothing. I’ve yet to meet a criminal defence lawyer. I think there are other issues.”

Browne: “What?”

Mooney: “Well, I’m not going to go into them but I think there are…”

Browne: “Ah go on, give us an idea?”

Mooney: “Buy the paper on Sunday, Vincent, but I think there are other issues that are at play here that may have not come into the public domain.”


Mooney: “By and large, I would interpret Alan Shatter’s apology as almost like a flare, it’s acted as a detraction from other issues that are far more serious and I think Enda Kenny is now fairly put himself squarely in the line-up as in responsibility for some of these actions and activities that are going on. For example, I have yet to get any explanation as to why the Taoiseach communicated with the Secretary General of the Department of Justice [Brian Purcell] and send him to deal with Martin Callinan and, somehow, Alan Shatter was left out of that. Alan Shatter is the line manager that Brian Purcell would answer to. It seems an extraordinary state of affairs that you would have the Secretary General answering directly to the Taoiseach because there’s no relationship there and, effectively, as Fianna Fáil alleged today going off and giving the Commissioner an ultimatum to either go or, as they’re officially stating, express his displeasure and concern about what was happening. I think this is major, major, major..”

Browne: “It raises the question about Máire Whelan [the Attorney General] telling him something that Enda Kenny thought was extraordinary, leading to representations to the Commissioner and eh..”

Mooney: “I think it’s also very noteworthy, Vincent, you can’t..Enda Kenny, I think said something in the Dáil today that possibly he didn’t realise the import of what he was saying, was that the Attorney General wouldn’t discuss this issue with him on a phone.”

Listen back to Late Debate here

Watch Tonight With Vincent Browne here

Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland


[Sunday Times security correspondent John Mooney, above, and Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, top]

Last night Mr Mooney, who broke the GSOC bugging story last Sunday; Padraig MacLochlainn, Sinn Féin Donegal TD; Michelle Mulherin, Fine Gael Mayo TD; and Mark Kelly, director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, appeared on RTÉ’s Late Debate with Audrey Carville last night to talk about the story.

During their discussion, Mr Mooney set out to explain what he believed was behind the surveillance, while also accusing the Fine Gael/Labour coalition of trying to cover up the story.

John Mooney: “This whole matter goes back to a collusion investigation, a Garda Ombudsman Commission investigation going back a number of years, I was actually involved in it. Actually, I suppose to quote Enda Kenny, when he was in Opposition, saying – this was the Kieran Boylan affair – where he was demanding that the Government of the day provide explanations: ‘I want to give the Government…to give a full explanation of these cases, I will be tabling questions on the nature of the inquiry into both Boylan and why he isn’t before the courts when he was caught with large amounts of drugs, heroin and cocaine’. This was a drug trafficker who was working with a group of guards in the Dublin area, who served their way to promotion on the basis of turning a blind eye to these activities, in return for setting up people, including very young men in the Dublin area for arrests, and GSOC were in the middle of a very, very sensitive investigation into that which revealed all sorts of wrongdoing and all sorts of what could only be described as corruption within the intelligence services. And this particular escapade or what’s been happening, to the Commission, followed on, as they were drawing to a close, their big, public interest inquiry into this. And there were various people within the State apparatus who were desperately needed to know what they knew. And if you’re asking me, and it’s a very well-informed opinion, this is what this is all about. To be perfectly frank, I’m astonished at what’s going on in Government level.
I remember Pat Rabbitte, when he was a justice spokesman in Opposition, screaming from the rooftops about Kieran Boylan getting given a haulage licence on the basis of false documentation and information to the Department of Transport. I remember when this individual, whom I should say whose associates were issuing threats against myself and others, was being brought up and being charged, and then the charges would be dropped secretly and then recharged again and again charges dropped secretly in discreet manners, to try and get this man off because he has so much dirt on the guards.
There was a lot of, there was a lot of people at risk over what had happened, because this all totally contravened the new rules that were brought in, following the Morris Tribunal. And I am actually astounded at what’s happening in Government at this level. Brendan Howlin himself, I was a witness in the Morris Tribunal, I’ve done a lot of work in security issues in the last 15 years, Brendan Howlin was one of, I remember he played a very noble role in exposing what happened there. And the silence of the Labour party in this matter is absolutely deafening. How anyone, at all, could suggest and you know, I’m just, I’m just speechless at these kind of defences that ‘well nothing can be proven’. Simon O’Brien was very categoric tonight [last night] right.
And I know modern surveillance, because I deal with this stuff for a living, it doesn’t leave traces, you can’t prove that someone has done something because it’s so high tech. We published a report last week, which has proved to be pretty accurate, despite Alan Shatter and Enda Kenny’s attempts to [inaudible] to cover this up…”

Audrey Carville: “And your implications, John, about who was behind it, is pretty clear as well.”

Mooney: “I’m not saying who is behind it because I think there’s two issues here: you have to differentiate between the guards as an organisation and elements within the State security forces that are doing their own thing and they’ve the know-how and the knack to do this stuff, on the QT and abuse State systems. I can hazard a guess, at this, because I’m pretty familiar with the types of people that may be suspected of involvement in this and what might be motivating them. But, at the end of the day, this has developed into something else now. We had the Justice Minister stood up in the Dáil yesterday and poured cold water on the most serious allegations to come out, concerning spying an espionage, illegal, I should say.

Carville: “But he was doing it on the basis, it seemed, of GSOC’s own statement from the day before?”

Mooney: “I’m not so sure that Alan Shatter is being so forthcoming, again ‘baseless innuendo’, given the security report has stated and what he published in the Sunday Times. It’s quite clear this isn’t baseless innuendo, they were running state-of-the-art countersurveillance tests on their internal communications and external communication system and anyone who knows anything about a black operation, which this is, that’s a spying operation that’s run off the books and is deniable, that the first thing you do when you organise these, you give yourself and exit strategy. And if you’re asking me, my worthless opinion, the bits and pieces that they found during these screening tests were the loose ends that those involved in this forgot to tie up and have left a signature which showed that something was going on.
But, again, I think you have to go back to this. You’ve a number of issues here: you’ve the comments and the statements that Alan Shatter gave the Dáil yesterday [Tuesday], you have the unprecedented situation where Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach of this State, went off and gave comments that were completely inaccurate about the legislative requirements of the Garda Ombudsman and you have the bizarre situation, like it, it’s just feeding into this problem about the administration of justice, whereby Alan Shatter, for example. There was information read into the Dáil record about the Confidential Recipient [a transcript of a conversation between Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe and the Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly in which Mr Connolly warned Sgt McCabe that Alan Shatter ‘will go after you’], we were trying to seek, to find out, has the Justice Department done anything about this?
These are the most incredible allegations being made and I don’t think there has been…I was asking tonight, there was something that I’m very deeply interested in – as it seems now I’m the subject of some sort of investigation – did Alan Shatter sign a warrant for surveillance on the Garda Ombudsman? I still can’t get an answer on that. So I think this is gravely important, I think there’s been a really serious attempt by the State to cover this up over the last couple of days and it’s blown up in their faces.

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Previously: The Snake Pit

“Black Ops Being Run Off The Books”

Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland


John Mooney, of the Sunday Times, and Mark Kelly, of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, joined David McCullagh on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night to talk about Mr Mooney’s story concerning the bugging of the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission building.

Their appearance followed the release of a statement by GSOC which stated there was “no evidence of Garda misconduct”  and which also confirmed the existence of “three technical and electronic anomalies”. It also followed the release of a statement by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan in which he demanded to know why gardaí were “suspected of complicity” by GSOC.

Mr Mooney explained that, while the GSOC statement didn’t detail the ‘anomalies’, he claimed they were in fact: a phone in a conference room was being monitored, a Wi-Fi device was accessed but deleted all data accessed/potentially collected once it realised it was detected, and a shadow Wi-Fi was set up around the GSOC building which “piggybacked” on GSOC’s own Wi-Fi system which allowed for further monitoring.

Mr Mooney said some of the monitoring was traced back to a British IP address which, he said, was “clever” because it prohibited GSOC from pursuing an inquiry into the UK, as such a move would be beyond its remit.

Then Mark Kelly talked about a potential paper trail if the surveillance was legal before Mr Mooney said he knows certain events prompted the surveillance sweep.

Mark Kelly: “There has yet to be an unequivocal statement that there has been no surveillance of GSOC by An Garda because there is a legal power in the [Criminal Justice Surveillance] Act, from 2009 for Special Branch, a section of the Defence Forces, called G2,  and also for Revenue Commissioners to lawfully engage in surveillance, but that leaves a paper trail. I think a starting point in answering the central question which is: who bugged GSOC? It’s not about who  reported to the Minister [for Justice, Alan Shatter] and when. It’s not about what did GSOC know that they haven’t told us, it’s about who bugged GSOC? And a central part of getting to the truth about that, I think is what people want to hear is eliminating people who are innocent. So, if it is the case that the guards have had no involvement whatsoever, in terms of the existing legal framework, let that clearly be said.”

David McCullagh: “Ok, and for a legal surveillance operation, you need to go to a judge and you need to get approval and all that sort of thing so, as you say, there would be a paper trail, there would be records of all of that and it should be roughly straightforward then to issue a statement?”

Kelly: “It should and I’m quite surprised that hasn’t happened yet been done. Perhaps the minister will do it tomorrow. But then, there’s a second element to a possible investigation. If this surveillance is not being carried out lawfully, and we’ve no reason to think it has been carried out lawfully,  or a reason is there for it to be carried out lawfully, has it been carried out unlawfully? But by agents of the state who have access to the appropriate technology…”

McCullagh: “So we’re talking about rogue elements, the possibility of rogue elements?”

Kelly: “The possibility of rogue elements.”


Mooney: “I think it’s just very important as well to ask why did they [GSOC] do this? What  made them feel that they were under surveillance and someone was monitoring them? Simon O’Brien, the GSOC chairman, made a reference to RTÉ tonight that this was a general search: I don’t believe that. In fact, I know that there was certain events [that] prompted this particular security sweep. And that is the omission in this [the GSOC] statement that really, urgently needs to be clarified.”

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