Tag Archives: Ken Foxe

From top: yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday; Former justice minister Frances Fitzgerald (left); Terry Prone

Yesterday.

In the Irish Mail on Sunday and The Sunday Times.

Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer, journalist and FOI sleuth Ken Foxe reported on the cache of correspondence he received from the Department of Justice – between Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, and the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and/or her officials, during her time as minister.

Mr Foxe sought the correspondence between Ms Prone, who signed off as ‘Tess’ in correspondence, and Ms Fitzgerald between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017.

During this period of time, Ms Prone was also advising the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Mr Foxe had initially been told there were no such records.

After appealing the matter to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the OIC discovered there were 68 such records.

And then the Department of Justice informed Mr Foxe there were more than 190 such records.

In a thread last night, Mr Foxe tweeted…

‘Wag finger here’: how PR guru Terry Prone guided Frances Fitzgerald (Ken Foxe, Sunday Times)

Last Thursday, Ken Foxe was a special guest Broadsheet on the Telly and shared his knowledge of the Freedom of Information process in Ireland. Watch back here.

Previously: Francis, Nóirín and Tess

From 0 To 68 To 190-Plus

Former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic

Last night.

Journalist, director with Right To Know and Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer Ken Foxe tweeted that he had received word back from the Department of Justice yesterday.

This follows his attempts to obtain records of correspondence between the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and PR advisor Terry Prone between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017 – a time when Ms Prone was also advising the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Mr Foxe had initially been told there were no such records.

After appealing the matter to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the OIC discovered 68 such records of correspondence.

Last night, Mr Foxe said the Department of Justice informed him there were more than 190 such records.

He has yet to receive the documents.

But last night, Mr Foxe explained:

Previously: Frances, Nóirín and Tess

From top (Clockwise) Terry Prone, former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan; a reply from the Department of Justice to journalist Ken Foxe

Under the Freedom of Information Act, journalist Ken Foxe has been attempting to obtain emails between the former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, while Ms Fitzgerald was minister between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017.

From 2014 to 2017, Ms Prone wasn’t only advising Ms Fitzgerald. She was also advising the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

As Ms Fitzgerald was the Justice Minister at the time, Ms O’Sullivan was, on paper, answerable to Ms Fitzgerald.

Mr Foxe was originally told there were no records of correspondence between Ms Prone and Ms Fitzgerald but, after appealing that decision, he was informed by the Office of the Information Commissioner last month that there were 68 such records.

Further to the OIC’s decision, Mr Foxe has since been sent an update from the Department of Justice (above).

Yesterday evening, Mr Foxe tweeted:

Those notorious ‘non-existent’ emails between former justice minister Frances Fitzgerald and PR guru Terry Prone will be released (or perhaps not depending on the decision) next Monday.

Previously: Frances, Nóirín and Tess

Where water wastage reports came from during the national hosepipe ban 

In July.

A national hosepipe ban was introduced due to the hot weather and subsequent drought in Ireland.

It was recently lifted from the west and northwest of the country but it’s been extended until the end of September for 16 counties: Dublin, Louth, Meath, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary.

During the national ban, some people contacted Irish Water about others they believed flouted the ban.

FOI sleuth and Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer Ken Foxe reports…

Yikes.

Was it from Lidl?

Previously: Selling Like Hot Tubs

Water Rats

Journalist Ken Foxe, former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and PR advisor Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic

The Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall yesterday quashed a previous decision by the Department of Justice to refuse to release correspondence sent between the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and her officials and Terry Prone and her PR company the Communications Clinic.

The department made this decision on the basis that there was no such correspondence.

However, Mr Tyndall’s office, in reviewing the department’s decision, found there is such correspondence.

He concluded the department did not take “all reasonable steps to ascertain the whereabouts of further records”; and he has requested that the department ask Ms Fitzgerald to check her personal email accounts for any other records.

On March 11, 2017, journalist, Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer and director at Right To Know Ken Foxe made a request for “copies of all correspondence, both written and electronic” between Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald and/or her private office and Terry Prone and her PR company the Communications Clinic – from the time Ms Fitzgerald was made Minister for Justice to the date of his request.

This meant Mr Foxe’s request covered correspondence between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017.

[Ms Fitzgerald stepped down as Minister for Justice on June 14, 2017]

The department wrote back to Mr Foxe two days after receiving his request, saying it was seeking four more weeks (on top of the initial four weeks provided for) to make a decision on the matter, without any explanation for why they needed the extra time.

On May 15, 2017, Mr Foxe sought an internal review as, by then, Mr Foxe deemed his request was refused.

On June 8, 2017, the department decided to refuse the request because, it said, there were no such records.

But it’s on public record Ms Fitzgerald paid the Communications Clinic, via a special secretarial allowance, more than €11,000 between the date she became minister and the end of 2016.

Those present at Disclosures Tribunal earlier this year also saw written/email communications between Ms Prone and Ms Fitzgerald during the relevant time of Mr Foxe’s request.

In the same month, June 2017, Mr Foxe appealed the department’s decision to the Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall – believing that there had not been a thorough search of Ms Fitzgerald’s professional and personal emails and messages.

In turn, an investigator with the Information Commissioner’s office asked the Department of Justice about the steps it took to search for records relevant to Mr Foxe’s request.

The department then discovered 74 records which had not been considered relevant previously.

In his decision regarding Mr Foxe’s appeal, Mr Tyndall wrote:

“It seems that in late January 2018, following concerns expressed by my investigative staff that further records could be held, the Department searched archived email accounts.

My Office identified 68 records that fall within the scope of the applicant’s request and advised the Department of this. The remaining six records were created after the FOI request was made and are not therefore within the scope of the review.”

Mr Tyndall also wrote that some of the records finally located by the department were related to speeches given by Ms Fitzgerald.

He also wrote:

“in response to the query about whether it [the department] had considered
records held in personal email accounts, the department stated that it ‘has no access to or control over such accounts, particularly in respect of persons no longer working in the Department’.”

Mr Tyndall, in his decision, explained that the Department of Justice said it wouldn’t be appropriate for it to ask Ms Fitzgerald whether she has records of correspondence with Ms Prone or the Communications Clinic in her personal email accounts “that might fall within the scope of the request”, and that the department “does not feel it is in a position to go outside of the scope of the FOI Act and seek such information from [Ms Fitzgerald] in an attempt to respond to an FOI request”.

However, Mr Tyndall said he couldn’t accept this position.

Specifically, Mr Tyndall said:

It appears from the records retrieved by the Department and dealt with above that the former Minister and some of her staff used gmail addresses in correspondence with the company [the Communications Clinic] about official functions and activities of the Department.

“To the extent that a gmail or other account may have been used in this way, I do not accept that such content could reasonably be characterised as “private”. I do not believe that it is particularly relevant that the former Minister is no longer working in the Department.”

Yesterday Mr Tyndall made the following decision:

“I hereby annul the department’s decision to effectively refuse access to records identified during the course of this review and I direct it to undertake a fresh decision making process on those records.

“I direct the department to ask the former minister whether she holds additional records within the scope of the applicant’s FOI request and if she does, to retrieve them and furnish them to the department so that it can make a decision on them in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act.

“The fresh decision making process should be carried out and decisions on both elements above notified to the applicant in accordance with section 8 of the FOI Act.

“For clarity, I specify that subject to sections 24 and 26 of the Act, the statutory time limit for making a decision begins within five working days of the expiration of the four week period for the bringing of a High Court appeal.”

There you go now.

Previously: ‘Records Do In Fact Exist’

Norin’s Prone Position

Thanks Ken

UPDATE:

Terry Prone (left), of the Communications Clinic, who acted as an advisor at the same time to both former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan during the Maurice McCabe controversy

Meanwhile…

An email – as seen at the recent Disclosures Tribunal – containing press clippings sent from Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic to both the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan in 2014.

Good times.

Ken Foxe

 

Statue of Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, in the grounds of Leinster House

Further to the direct action taken against his wife earlier this week.

Via Ken Foxe:


Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin urging the bronze statue of Prince Albert be taken to a museum to ‘make more room for parking’.

Which elicited the following….

The statue is a ‘protected structure’, says the Superintendent of The Houses of the Oireachtas

Protected?

FIGHT!

Meanwhile…

Ken writes:

Response from Oireachtas also shows how some TDs and Senators are not parking where they are supposed to….

Prince is blocking my parking space, TD complains (The Times Ireland Edition)

Tuesday: You May be Amused

Pic: PA

Top (from left): Journalist Ken Foxe, document he obtained under FOI, and Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring

Last Sunday.

Ken Foxe, in both The Sunday Times and the Irish Mail on Sunday reported that the Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring allocated almost €120,000 to a project – involving pedal-powered carriages on a disused railway line – in his constituency “despite warnings from civil servants it could set ‘problematic precedents'”.

Mr Foxe reported: “One official said the project appeared to have the least merit of four proposals that were seeking extra funding.”

He also wrote the Kiltimagh Velo project received the single largest funding allocation of any local authority project last year.

Further to this…

Yesterday evening…

Mr Ring spoke to Midwest Radio about the project and said he wouldn’t be apologising to Mr Foxe, the Irish Daily Mail [sic] or The Sunday Times for any decision he makes regarding funding allocations.

From the interview…

“First of all, I have to say, that I’m the minister of the department and I make the decisions, as minister. That was Ken Foxe and the Daily Mail and The Sunday Times. I didn’t see Ken Foxe reporting that I gave €2million to inner city Dublin before Christmas in relation to projects that need to be done there – particularly in disadvantaged areas.

“But when a few euros come to Mayo, they seem to have a major problem with it. Ken Foxe and the Daily Mail and The Sunday Times seem to have a problem with any funding coming into Mayo, so, in future now, do I have to correspond with Ken Foxe and anybody else when I’m putting funding into Mayo.

“The answer to that is no. I will make the decisions as I make the decisions…

“…I make decisions on the basis of the decisions that come before me and I have no problem making big decisions, that’s my job, as minister. I make decisions every single day.

I make decisions in relation to my department and I will continue to do that and I won’t be apologising to Ken Foxe, I won’t be apologising to the Daily Mail, and I won’t be apologising to The Sunday Times and I won’t be apologising to anybody in relation to any decisions of allocations of money I make in rural Ireland.”

Ring freewheels into ‘problematic’ Mayo funding row (Ken Foxe, The Sunday Times)

Junior Minister Jim Daly (left) and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

Journalist Ken Foxe writes:

Minister Jim Daly wrote directly to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg about his master plan to link social media accounts to passports (or public services cards) . I’m guessing there was no response as it wasn’t released under FOI.

However…

Ken adds:

Facebook HQ in Ireland did write back to Jim Daly saying his ID verification plan presented “some very difficult privacy and data protection-related issues” & offering a face to face meeting…

Correspondence between government and Facebook on controversial proposal to tie social media accounts to official identification documents (Ken Foxe, Thestory.ie)

Ken Foxe

Pics: Rollingnews/Getty