Tag Archives: Justine McCarthy

 

From top: Former Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, David McCourt, journalist Justine McCarthy

Tomorrow.

In the Dáil.

Statements about Peter Smyth’s review of the National Broadband Plan procurement process are scheduled to be made by TDs from 6.05pm.

Mr Smyth was tasked with examining the interactions between the former Minister for Communications Denis Naughten and businessman David McCourt, founder and chairman of Granahan McCourt – which is leading the last remaining consortium bidding for the National Broadband Plan.

The purpose of the review was to see if their interactions, many of which were over meals, undermined the integrity of the procurement process.

The review found they didn’t.

Further to this.

Yesterday, in The Sunday Times

Justine McCarthy, in an opinion column, wrote that there was a “confusing tone to Smyth’s report” given that Mr Smyth didn’t name the six people who dined with Mr McCourt and Mr Naughten – even though the Department of Communications named them two months ago.

They were ministerial officials Leslie Carberry and Seána Geraghty, and special advisers Suzanne Coogan and Jean Andrews. Mr McCourt’s brother Frank and daughter Alexandra accompanied Mr McCourt.

Ms McCarthy asked:

“How much will the plan cost the public? Is it €500m, €1bn or €3bn, as have been variously reported?

“Who conducted the reappraisal of the process earlier this year, giving it the all-clear after the other bidders withdrew? (The department has refused a freedom of information request by The Sunday Times for details of the reappraisal.)

“Smyth concluded that Naughten’s resignation as minister in October militated against any tainting of the process but, as Fianna Fail’s Timmy Dooley has pointed out, McCourt was also bound by the rules and he remains in the process. How can that be reconciled?

“Naughten says he informed Varadkar about all his meetings with McCourt on the Sunday night before he resigned from the cabinet. The taoiseach disputes this. Now Smyth’s report reveals nine phone conversations between Naughten and McCourt which had not previously been disclosed to the public. Is there anything else we have not been told?

“According to Smyth’s report, there was a phone call between the two men on August 8 this year, following a meeting of process participants that day. McCourt was seeking “confirmation of the government’s ongoing commitment to [its] completion”. Why did he need reassurance? Had what transpired at the meeting caused doubt?

“On February 28 this year, McCourt met the secretary general of Naughten’s department to discuss his consortium’s commitment to the process after rival bidder Eir pulled out. That night McCourt, Naughten and his press adviser dined together in Dublin. Smyth’s report says they discussed a media studio in Trinity College. What else did they talk about?”

Justine McCarthy: Lack of communication over broadband contract shows poor connection (Justine McCarthy, The Sunday Times)

Rollingnews

Bart Nolan and Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan outside Leinster House in 2012

Bart Nolan, who spent decades campaigning for justice for people abused by Irish swimming coaches, has died at the age of 88.

In May 2003, in respect of US-based former Irish swimming coach George Gibney, Mr Nolan wrote to the then Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and asked him: “If you can extradite Conrad Gallagher for three paintings, why can’t you extradite George Gibney for seven rapes?”

This was prompted by the extradition of the chef to Ireland from the US to face allegations he stole three paintings from the Fitzwilliam Hotel at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin, where his Peacock Alley restaurant was located. Mr Gallagher was later acquitted.

Yesterday.

In The Sunday Times

Justine McCarthy wrote:

“Bart has died. You would need to have known him to understand how unexpected that feels, even though he had been sick lately and heading towards his 89th birthday. Throughout his decades fighting for young swimmers who were sexually abused by their coaches, his admirers thought him unputdownable.

“At his funeral mass on Thursday in Dublin’s City Quay, around the corner from where he lived as a child, Fr Tom Clowe said Bart Nolan, deep-sea docker and familiar protester outside the gates of Leinster House, was “a man of great courage [who] grew up in a place where loneliness was not part of life because people had friends and neighbours and great values that built this country to be what it is today”.

The absence at his funeral of those who held sway over the sport of swimming when Bart took it on was accentuated by the quiet weeping of former child swimmers and now elderly parents who had come to bury him with praise that could only ever be inadequate.

“Time and again the campaigner was threatened with being sued before being escorted away, with his homemade placard, from outside Swim Ireland’s annual meetings.

“Four of the sport’s once most powerful figures — George Gibney, Derry O’Rourke, Ger Doyle and Ronald Bennett, who included three national coaches — had preyed on their protégés. A fifth, Frank McCann, murdered his wife and his foster daughter to protect his secret: he had fathered the child of a vulnerable swimmer with special needs.

“Bart vowed to make Ireland’s pools safer for future generations. In his eulogy Bart Nolan Jr said his father was “the proverbial accidental hero”. I think not; it was his destiny to be heroic. He was born bolshie and afraid of nobody. As Bart’s coffin was shouldered from the gloomy church into an oblivious city, boisterous with lunch-hour throngs, one question remained: who will mind us now?

Justine McCarthy: When a hero like Bart Nolan dies, state watchdogs such as Gsoc must step up (The Sunday Times)

Unreasonable Delay

Pic: AbuseWatch.net

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

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From top: Paul Kimmage; Pat Hickey; and George Gibney and Justine McCarthy

You may have read an opinion piece in yesterday’s Sunday Independent by Paul Kimmage, headlined, ‘How did Pat Hickey become the most hated man in Irish sport?’

In it, Mr Kimmage recalled the case of a woman who was raped by swimming coach George Gibney while on a training camp in Florida in 1991 – a year before the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

The woman attempted to sue Gibney, the then Irish Amateur Swimming Association, now Swim Ireland, and the Olympic Council of Ireland.

Her story was reported on extensively by journalist Justine McCarthy.

Yesterday, Mr Kimmage wrote:

In July 2009, the proceedings against the IASA and the OCI – dormant for more than a decade – were revived by a High Court order. A request was made to have the case struck out. The High Court acquiesced – the delay was “inexcusable and inordinate” – and the OCI and IASA were awarded costs.

In December 2011, the girl reached a settlement with Ryan’s insurers but was still being chased by the two sporting bodies for costs. They wanted €95,000.

Justine [McCarthy] was outraged and decided to email the OCI. She had a question for Pat Hickey: “How could he consider this pursuit to be morally justified?” He did not reply but set his solicitor loose.

Further to this…

Ms McCarthy, author of Deep Deception (O’Brien Press) about the various abuse scandals in Irish swimming, detailed the woman’s case in The Sunday Times on February 26, 2012:

I first met the girl nearly 15 years ago. She sat between her mother and her father in their living room. Her eyes were empty, her speech mechanical.

“She’s like the living dead,” her mother said.

The girl told me her story. When she was five, an elderly neighbour began sexually assaulting her. He was the grandfather of children who lived nearby.

When her mother was hospitalised for six months, the girl was looked after by the grandfather. He warned her that if she told anyone, her mother would die. She told nobody. The abuse stopped when she was 11, when the grandfather’s family left the neighbourhood.

She struggled in school and became withdrawn at home. Her parents brought her to a doctor who said she was reacting to her mother’s prolonged absence from home. Her parents hired a tutor to help her catch up at school.

After the abuse ended, a local swimming pool opened. When she swam, she felt happy. “I felt like I was flying,” she said.

She streaked through the water. Bystanders asked who she was. A swim coach advised her parents to take her to George Gibney, the national and Olympic coach.

Gibney took the girl under his wing. He told her he would make her a star. Soon she was breaking records. Gibney gave her gifts of togs and tracksuits and hugged her every time she climbed out of the pool to accept another medal.

He said she would swim in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

“That was my dream,” she said. She woke at 4am each day to train. Her father slept outside in his car while, inside, she swam.

Unknown to them, Gibney’s secret criminal life was starting to crumble.

Chalkie White, another coach, alleged to Gary O’Toole, a world silver medallist, that Gibney had abused him from the age of 11.

As he listened, O’Toole recalled warding off an attempted assault by Gibney when he too was 11.

White and O’Toole eventually unmasked Gibney as a rampant child sex abuser, but not in time to save the girl.

In Holland for a competition, Gibney came to her hotel room, jumped on her and pushed her onto the bed. He left as abruptly.

Back in Dublin, he shunned her. The harder she trained, the more he ignored her.

At a training camp in Tampa, Florida in 1991, he drove her to a hotel and, she claims, raped her. He said if she told anyone, he would sue and impoverish her parents. She told nobody.

The girl made her first suicide attempt while Gibney was fighting 27 counts of sexually abusing seven other swimmers.

She was referred to Dr Moira O’Brien, the honorary medical adviser to the Irish Amateur Swimming Association (Iasa – now Swim Ireland) and Ireland’s doctor at the three preceding Olympic Games. The girl’s secrets erupted.

Gardai began to investigate the first man who abused her. Two other girls came forward. He was convicted on seven charges and jailed for five years.

Sentencing him, the judge commented it probably was no coincidence that one of the girls was subsequently abused by her swim coach.

Buoyed, the girl made a statement to gardai that Gibney raped her in Florida.

By then, Gibney had eluded the first charges when the High Court ruled the delay since the alleged incidents disadvantaged his defence. He fled to Florida.

In 1997, the girl instructed a solicitor, Timothy Ryan, then with Hughes, Murphy & Co in Dublin, to sue both her abusers, along with the Iasa and the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI). She underwent counselling to prepare herself to testify at Gibney’s criminal trial.

In 2004, two gardai visited and informed her that the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided not to apply for Gibney’s extradition from America.

That night she hanged herself from a tree in the grounds of a priests’ order house. One of the priests found her in time.

By this time, the girl was anorexic and frequently self-harming. She could no longer hold down a job. She gradually became dependent on her ageing parents.

She has developed an addiction to cough medicine, drinking two bottles a day. She is often put on suicide watch in hospital.

With her permission, I used to phone her solicitor (who had by then moved to a different firm) to check how the civil case was progressing.

When he did not return calls I became suspicious and checked the Courts Service records. They showed that, though he had issued proceedings as instructed, he had never served them.

The case had been dormant for nearly a decade.

I told the girl’s mother. She feared the news could kill her daughter so we agreed not to tell her. The mother knew my husband was a solicitor.

She asked me to request him to take on the case.

I protested that it would be a conflict of interest for me, but she said that she did not know another solicitor. I asked my husband. He took on the case and issued proceedings against Ryan.

In January 2009, my husband retired and another solicitor took over the case.

That July, the 1997 proceedings against Iasa and the OCI were revived by a High Court order. Both bodies applied to have them struck out. In December 2010, the High Court acquiesced, saying the delay was “inexcusable and inordinate”.

IOC and Iasa were granted costs.

Last December, the girl reached an out-of-court settlement with Ryan’s insurers, having rejected an earlier offer of €100,000.

The two sports organisations have pursued her for €95,000 costs.

After I emailed the OCI asking Pat Hickey, its president, whether he considered this pursuit morally justified, I received a phone call from the organisation’s solicitor.

He asked if I thought it appropriate, in light of my husband’s involvement in the case, that I write about it.

He advised me to be very careful, “from your personal point of view”.

One day last November, the girl phoned me from a psychiatric hospital. She was harrowingly distressed. While she was on the phone, she left the hospital, bought a bottle of vodka and boarded a bus.

She said she could no longer bear being alive. She said goodbye. Hours later, a stranger found her in a shopping-centre toilet with her wrists slashed.

As I write, she is back in hospital.

Mr Gibney – who was charged with 27 counts of indecency against young swimmers and of carnal knowledge of girls under the age of 15 in April, 1993 – sought and won a High Court judicial review in 1994 that quashed all the charges against him.

The judicial review was secured after a landmark Supreme Court decision, during which Gibney’s senior counsel Patrick Gageby argued that the delay in initiating the prosecution against Gibney infringed his right to a fair trial. Mr Gageby’s sister Susan Denham was on the bench of the Supreme Court that day.

Readers may also recall how, earlier this year, it emerged that gardaí gave a certificate of character, date stamped January 20, 1991, to George Gibney to support his application for an American visa.

Paul Kimmage: How did Pat Hickey become the most hated man in Irish sport? (Sunday Independent)

Previously: Unreasonable Delay

The Chief Justice, Her Brother And How George Gibney Got Away

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Garda Commissioner Noirin O Sullivan and Superintendant Noel Cunningham at the Association of Garda Superintendents conference last month

Justine McCarthy, in The Sunday Times, writes

If the sergeant [Maurice McCabe] had been made wary by selective media leaks in advance of its publication, McCabe is also likely to have noted photographs of O’Sullivan attending the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents on April 20 – because standing beside her was Noel Cunningham, the superintendent who, along with a sergeant, met McCabe in 2008.

Last May, the commission was told that a written record of that meeting would provide evidence that McCabe admitted acting on a grudge when he made allegations against senior officers.

But when McCabe produced a secretly taped recording of the meeting, O’Higgins accepted he did not, as alleged by the commissioner’s side, confess he was motivated by malice in pursuing complaints.

…Cunningham was represented at the commission by the same team of lawyers as O’Sullivan.

Some of McCabe’s allegations were against him. The report dismissed those allegations and stated they had caused Cunningham “worry and stress”.

In her statement last week, O’Sullivan said:

“I have consistently and without exception, within An Garda Siochana and in public, stated clearly that dissent is not disloyalty, that we must listen to our people at every level with respect and with trust, and that we stand to gain, rather than lose, when members bring to our attention practices they believe to be unacceptable.”

…Her assurances failed to convince everyone, including five gardai who have turned whistleblowers. They include Keith Harrison, based in Donegal, and Nick Keogh, based in Athlone, who have made complaints about alleged misconduct. Both are currently on sick leave.

….In a recent email to a friend, Harrison wrote: “I’m seen as a traitor and a troublemaker. Nothing has changed and it won’t change. Maybe I would have been better off if I heard no evil and saw no evil. Many of my colleagues don’t speak out because of the fear of what might happen.”

Whistblower’s treatment sparks credibility gap (Justine McCarthy, The Sunday Times)

Previously: The Wrong Side Of The Thin Blue Line

17/4/2013 Inquests into the death of Savita Halappanavar

Dr Peter Boylan

“There are serious challenges when it comes to things like tubal ligation, IVF services, abortion, gender reassignment surgery, etc. None of these are allowed in Catholic-controlled hospitals around the world and it’s a puzzle as to why the nuns, or religious Sisters of Charity would want to be involved.

“I mean I can’t imagine them being comfortable with a hospital which is effectively under their control doing these sorts of things in one of their hospitals.”

Dr Peter Boylan, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the National Maternity Hospital and Chairman of Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, speaking on Morning Ireland this morning about the ongoing national maternity hospital row.

St Vincent’s Healthcare Group is refusing to allow an application for planning permission go forward to An Bord Pleanala until the Holles Street board agrees to come under its corporate governance structure.

Meanwhile, in today’s Ireland edition of the The Times, Justine McCarthy writes:

What really upset St Vincent’s have been the legitimate concerns raised in the media about a hospital group that is owned by an order of Catholic nuns taking control of the state’s national maternity hospital.

Historically, the church’s grip on women’s wombs has produced some of the tawdriest and most tragic scandals of the Irish state.

Think of the mass graves in Dublin’s High Park laundry and Tuam’s mother and baby home. Think of the mothers who had their pelvises sundered during symphysiotomy and the dying Savita Halappanavar being told she could not have her doomed pregnancy terminated because “this is a Catholic country”.

The Religious Sisters of Charity ran three of the Magdalene laundries covered by the McAleese report, which catalogued the systemic indentured servitude of pregnant girls and women, and which led to Enda Kenny’s apology in the Dail.

The nuns have refused to contribute to the state’s compensation scheme for the women. Meanwhile, St Vincent’s group receives over €200 million a year from the exchequer.

Listen back in full here

Hysterical women and the maternity hospital delay (The Times Ireland edition, Justine McCarthy)

Previously: ‘In The Interest Of Patient Safety’

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 From top: Pat Carey and Justine McCarthy

Last week’s story in the Irish Independent, concerning child sex abuse allegations and the subsequent resignation of former Fianna Fáil minister Pat Carey as the party’s director of elections, was discussed by the newspaper panel on RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane show yesterday.

The panel included Eoghan O’Neachtain, director of Henaghan Communications and former Government press secretary ; Herve Amoric, of France 24; Justine McCarthy, of The Sunday Times; Noel Whelan, barrister and Irish Times columnist; Michael Colgan, artistic director at Gate Theatre; John O’Brien, former detective chief superintendent and national head of both Interpol and Europol and financial analyst Cormac Lucey.

From their discussion…

Justine McCarthy: “I think this story raises very important and big questions for us as journalists. You know, what should be reported and what shouldn’t. And there are very strong opinion columns in today’s papers. In my own paper, Conor Brady has one and he, of course, is worth reading having been the editor of the Irish Times but also having been the chairman of GSOC. He says this case is about as tentative as can be. He’s making the argument that Pat Carey, as we now know, is the person that the allegation seems to have been made about.”

Marian Finucane: “But we don’t know.”

McCarthy: “No but it seems, because of his resignation, he says he doesn’t know himself. This is now the basis on which the stories are being written, that it is him because of his resignation. He hadn’t been interviewed by the guards, he hadn’t been contacted. But worse, he was never contacted by the Irish Independent, seeking a comment from him before they published this story.”

Finucane: “But they didn’t publish the name. It said it was the minister, a former minister. Actually, I thought at one stage there was a rumour, floating around, that it was a minister from the Midlands, a former minister.”

McCarthy: “There was a mention of the Midlands all right and that, it seemed to indicate the Midlands. But no the name, as the Sunday Business Post says, the name was being circulated amongst politicians and journalists by eight o’clock on Wednesday morning. It was inevitable…”

Finucane: “Yes, but how, who, where, why, what? Do you know what I mean? If he hadn’t been approached, and in his statement he said because people were ringing him for a comment, that it dawned on him that it was he, but that he’s absolutely declaring his innocence and I don’t think the gardaí have approached him.”

McCarthy: “No they haven’t because it seems to be, at the very outset of the process, that the complaint was only recently made. Now it would be natural that the guards would do the investigation of the complaint before they would then, in a case like this, approach the person the allegation has been made about. But I find it extraordinary that whether they were naming the person or not that they did not attempt to contact the person the allegation was made about in order to see was that person prepared to be identified, did that person want to give a response? It’s a basic journalistic exercise and yet his story appeared as the main story on the front of a national paper on Wednesday, I don’t see any justification for it being reported at this stage. And Maeve Lewis, of One In Four, has made the very valid point that this has also potentially caused damage to complainants of sexual abuse because they will look at this and say, ‘well if I go to the guards with my statement, is this going to be on the front page of the Irish Independent next week?’.”

Finucane: “Yeah but I mean we, it is presumed but it is not proven that it came from the gardaí.”

McCarthy: “If you read the reports carefully, it’s quite clear that the information is not coming from the complainant. The expressions used like, ‘it is believed that she first made a statement..’. You know it’s clear the complainant is not talking to them and unfortunately I think this is very typical of a certain media attitude to child sexual abuse stories. It’s almost as if there was a point of fatigue reached and then it turned into a very sensationalist attitude and the consequence of that is that very serious questions about the whole issue are not being addressed. Like how to deal with convicted abusers? How to rehabilitate them into society? These questions are not being dealt with at all because, something which really is quite a voyeuristic, titillating and scurrilous piece of journalism is getting so much exposure.”

Later

Cormac Lucey: “I don’t think papers set out in the public interest, I think they’re commercial entities, under huge pressure, declining coverage and I think that gives rise to the question of whether, given what Noel has said about how this coverage may prevent any prosecution from ever happening whether some tightening up of the law is required…”

Finucane: “In which case, everyone a loser, in which case, everyone a loser…”

Lucey: “Correct. But whether the existing sub judice rules need to be expanded somewhat to protect the possibility of a trial in a story like this, to prevent newspapers…”

Talk over each other

Noel Whelan: “…of not reporting that somebody was the subject of allegations of this type, until such point as they were brought before the District Court and the charges were brought before them.”

McCarthy: “Cormac, you’re a colleague of mine but I’m just, I think that is really unfair that remark you made. Journalists produce newspapers, journalists write stories, journalists become editors and they make the selections and I think to ascribe their motivations as being commercial, making commercial decisions is really unfair.”

Finucane: “But they are under pressure for circulation.”

McCarthy: “To say that to create a public interest motive is in general, in general practice…”

Lucey: “When I get up I do not start, ‘what is in the public interest?’.  I think, what do people want to read? How can I write something that will be insightful…”

McCarthy: “You’re writing about something that is in the news generally. We’re talking about the selection of news stories and public interest is, it is a litmus test that’s used by good journalists and by good editors. That’s why this story is so particularly egregious.”

Lucey: “The law does not need to be changed for good editors and good journalists. The law needs to cover all editors and all journalists. And there’s a real danger, as Noel has described here that neither somebody who has been accused or somebody who has made an accusation will get their day in court and will be able to get some kind of closure.”

McCarthy: “This rebounds on every journalist, whether you work for the Independent group or not because it chips away at our credibility and at what we  do for a living. Now the Irish Independent ran an editorial trying to justify, not just justify the story, but try to make out it was now the victim of what was called, shoot the messenger response, and there is no way that this story was in the public interest.
The motivation for this story was the fact that there was a well-known person involved. It was not about child sexual abuse. There are plenty of stories about child sexual abuse where the system has broken down, where the victims have not had their rights to justice vindicated that could be covered by the paper but they were not sexy stories. And those stories are not being covered and that is one of the biggest, most serious consequences of this kind of journalism.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: ‘Mr Carey Does Not Know If The Allegations Relate To Him’

CQj2yT8WcAAMjeOTaoiseach Enda Kenny at the ‘turning of the sod’ of a new biomass power station in Killala, Co. Mayo this morning

Fiach Kelly, in the Irish Times, reports:

“Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said his decision on when to call the general election will be “made in the best interests of the country” but declined to say when the contest will be held.”

Mr Kenny was asked four times by RTÉ News this morning if he will call the election before Christmas and declined on each occasion to say whether it will take place this year or next.”

Kenny declines to say if election will be this year or next (Irish Times)

Alternatively…

Justine McCarthy, in yesterday’s Sunday Times, wrote:

It doesn’t matter a damn to the majority of people in this country whether polling day is in November or February. Calendar watching is a banal distraction when the chill of déjà vu runs down your spine as you watch your country hurtle back down the road to perdition. Speculation about the election date is Paddy Power-style journalism.”

“On Tuesday of next week, this government will deliver the fifth and final budget of its team. It will be the surest test of Fine Gael’s and Labour’s commitment to fairness. The omens are not good.”

FIGHT!

This budget will show who the government really cares about (Sunday Times)

Pic: TCBB

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Above: Sunday Times journalist Justine McCarthy (above) on Tonight With Vincent Browne last night and (centre) former Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan

You may recall a post from last September regarding a report by the Children’s Ombudsman into allegations of physical and sexual at an unidentified primary school in Co. Kilkenny.

The school’s child-abuse prevention policy which applied at the time of the alleged abuse states:

“The Stay Safe programme has been approved by the board of management as a teacher’s aid to be used in accordance with the Catholic ethos which demands that the law of God and of the church, and not the child’s feelings, be the guiding principle.”.”

Further to this, Ms McCarthy spoke about the case on Tonight With Vincent Browne last night.

Her appearance followed Fianna Fáil leader Mícheal Martin raising the matter with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Leaders’ Questions yesterday in which he claimed the Education Minister and the Department of Education have refused to meet with the parents of the children concerned.

Ms McCarthy told viewers:

“In 2006, a child came home from her rural school in Co. Kilkenny and she had a bruise on her arm and when her parents asked, ‘what had happened?’, she said that, ‘a teacher had done it’.

This was the start of what turned out to be a series of disclosures by children, 10 children, aged mostly 5 and 6, who were in a national school, against 3 female teachers in their school.

They alleged that all three had been physically abusive and that two of the teachers had been sexually abusive. The parents contacted the school and, to this day, they really have got no proper response.”

The allegations were investigated by the guards and the HSE and the Board of Management in the school also investigated them. The Children’s Ombudsman, Emily Logan, the first Children’s Ombudsman, she never actually published this report.

She released it to the relevant parties on the day that she left the job as Children’s Ombudsman. The reason it took five years to complete that report is that it was blighted by legal considerations. First of all, the need to keep the identities of children private. But, secondly, because there are serious issues about people’s reputations. And I have to make it clear that these are just allegations.

But the Children’s Ombudsman found very serious, made very serious findings in relation to the HSE and the school found that these allegations were never, in effect, investigated because they were never properly investigated.

Now the report was released to the school, to the Department of Education and to [child and family agency] Tusla and they were all given time to respond to it. That time is up. I believe that the Tusla and the department have responded.

I wrote a story myself some time ago that the chairman of the board of management, who is a priest, held a meeting with the parents of the children who are currently in the school and told them that the report [Children’s Ombudsman’s report] is riddled with errors, he wants it withdrawn and an apology made.

Since this all happened, new complainants and new allegations emerged. These are now being investigated by the guards on Harcourt Square in Dublin. There’s a more serious attitude being taken this time.

That means you have guards investigating this at the moment, Tusla has also appointed a child law solicitor to do a review of how the original allegations were handled.

And that’s probably a good sign that the solicitor I believe is Catherine Ghent, who has a very good reputation. I don’t think she would have taken this on if she felt she wasn’t going to be able to do a proper review.

The teachers against whom the complaints were made are still teaching in the school, even as these two investigations are going on and I think, most significantly, one of the teachers against whom allegations were made, is the principal of the school.

She’s the designated recipient of complaints of child abuse for the school and she continued to sit on the board of management when the board of management was handling these complaints. So there are a lot of questions to be asked about the whole process and about the fairness of the procedures”

[Later]

“When Louise O’Keeffe met the Taoiseach, and I think it was the Minister for Children and the Minister for Education, before Christmas…you remember she came to meet them to discuss how the Government was going to respond to the European Court judgement.

She actually brought a letter with her that was written by that first child, who came home with the bruise on her arm and that child wrote that letter to Enda Kenny, asking him to do something about this.

And I think it’s very interesting that, in fact, the Government’s response to the judgement in the Louise O’Keeffe case is to exclude anybody who was abused in school where no previous complaint had been made.

Now, if you were to apply that to  this current case, and to think these are still children, they would not qualify because there had been no, that I know of, no complaint made before that child came home in 2006 with the bruise on her arm.

Watch in full here

Previously: ‘Any Minister In that Cabinet Meeting Should Be Ashamed’

The ‘Law of God Not the Child’s Feelings Is The Guiding Principle’

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking during Leaders’ Questions last Wednesday

You may recall how last week Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced that, from July 2, lone parents who work more than 19 hours per week will lose their One Parent Family Payment when their youngest child turns seven. 

It’s been reported – and claimed by Fianna Fáil – that the measure will see up to 32,000 families see their income drop by €86 per week.

During Leaders’ Questions on Wednesday last, Mr Kenny told the Dáil:

“We need to transform what we are doing in getting people back into the world of work, including lone parents. Many of them have said to me that this is what they want to do.

Justine McCarthy wrote in yesterday’s Sunday Times:

During leaders’ questions last Wednesday, Enda Kenny, the taoiseach, reiterated that payments to lone parents will be cut from next July as an incentive to get them back to work. This is a policy loaded with erroneous presumptions. It insinuates that lone parents, the vast majority of whom are mothers, are lazy slobs who lie on their sofas all day, munching junk food and watching vacuous reality TV shows. It suggests the mothers themselves are to blame for being unemployed, and not the political class whose self-interested management of the country caused an economic and employment catastrophe.”

“Instead of beating mothers back to work with a big stick, the government ought to address the inequalities that skew the labour market against women. Females are the country’s most prolific academic achievers but they are appallingly under-represented on company boards and management floors. Women in Ireland are still paid 14% less than men, with 50% of women workers on €20,000 a year or less.

“At the same time, Irish childcare costs are the highest of 34 OECD countries. Two decades ago an incoming Fianna Fail-PD government undertook to address childcare costs. It did, by providing tax shelters for creche operators. If this government wants single parents to go to work, it should make the workplace fair. However, it’s simpler to impose a crude and draconian measure that will deprive many lone-parent families of up to €80 a week, with obvious ripple consequences for their children.”

Pic: National Women’s Council Of Ireland