Tag Archives: Ken Foxe

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

Journalist, lecturer, founder of investigative news site Noteworthy and Right To Know Ken Foxe has given his latest update on his attempts to obtain correspondence between the former Minister for Justice and current MEP candidate Frances Fitzgerald and PR advisor with the Communications Clinic Terry Prone between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017.

Mr Foxe was originally told by the Department of Justice that no such records existed – even though it was already on public record that Ms Fitzgerald paid the Communications Clinic, via a special secretarial allowance, more than €11,000 between the date she became minister [May 8, 2014] and the end of 2016.

The claim also contradicted evidence put before the Disclosures Tribunal last year of written/email communications between Ms Prone and Ms Fitzgerald during the relevant time of Mr Foxe’s request.

Mr Foxe appealed the decision of the Department of Justice and the Office of the Information Commissioner went on to discover 68 such records of correspondence between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017.

Separately, Mr Foxe has also had a frustrating time securing correspondence between Ms Prone and the former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan – whom Ms Prone was also advising between 2014 and 2017.

The Disclosures Tribunal saw how statements or draft speeches were written with the help of Ms Prone by Ms O’Sullivan for Ms Fitzgerald concerning issues about Ms O’Sullivan.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton described this sequence of events worthy of Myles na Gopaleen’s satire.

In his latest update, Mr Foxe explains that the Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall has since told him that the department has told him it has checked mobile devices for phone messages or emails which may have fallen within his FOI request and that the only individuals who may have had such contact with Ms Prone or the Communications Clinic via said phones was Ms Fitzgerald and a “named special adviser”.

Mr Tyndall told Mr Foxe:

“The department stated that its ICT division confirmed that the special adviser’s phone was reset, wiped of data and recirculated to another person in 2017.”

Mr Foxe was also told this is “standard practice when a staff member who has use of an ‘official’ phone leaves the department”.

And he was further informed:

“The department said that a phone that had been used at that time by the former minister was returned to her for checking and that she subsequently advised that no additional records covered by the request were identified on that device.”

Finally, Mr Tyndall told Mr Foxe that he has accepted the department’s account of how it went about securing any records and “its position that no further records were found”.

It added:

I have no reason to dispute the assurances of those involved that they do not hold further records. I accept that the original searches in response to the applicant’s [Mr Foxe] request of 11 March 2017 did not, for reasons explained by the Department, find records that subsequently came to light in its further searches. However, this, of itself, does not entitle me to find that all reasonable steps have not been taken to ascertain the whereabouts of records falling within the scope of the request.”

Mr Foxe writes about his latest update in more detail below…

Previously: “What Is It About Emails Between Terry Prone And Very Important Public Officials?”

‘Records Do In Fact Exist’

Clinical Exposure

Meanwhile…

As reported in last weekend’s Sunday Times...

A job advertisement for the role of “Head of Transparency” at the Department of Justice on publicjobs.ie.

Journalist and lecturer Ken Foxe, founder of investigative news site Noteworthy, sought details of the pensions paid to all former constitutional/ministerial/judicial office holders in 2017 and 2018.

But the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform refused to give Mr Foxe a detailed breakdown – saying the individuals’ right to privacy outweighed the public interest.

Instead, the department released the total amount paid and the number of people within each group who received pensions (see tables above for amounts paid in 2017 and 2018).

Mr Foxe is reporting that that this is the first time the State has refused to give a detailed breakdown of the pensions paid.

He’s also reporting that, up until 2016, details of how much former taoisigh, presidents, and ministers “were published as a matter of routine on the Department of Finance website” but this ended in 2017 due to GDPR rules.

Mr Foxe will be appealing the decision.

€28 million in pension payments to former TDs, Senators and government ministers over the past two years (Noteworthy)

Ken Foxe

From top: Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone and Sister Marie Ryan of the Bon Secours; A copy of correspondence between the order and the Department of Children

Via Ken Foxe at Noteworthy.ie:

A copy of correspondence between the order and the Department of Children – obtained by Noteworthy under FOI – confirmed that the Bon Secours Sisters wanted to make a €2.5 million “donation” for the works that needed to be carried out at Tuam.

However, it was explicit that this was voluntary, with country leader Sister Marie Ryan writing: “Our advice is that we do not have any legal liability arising from St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home and we note that at our meeting you [Minister Zappone] agreed and acknowledged same.”

They said their donation would help to “expedite” the investigations the government wanted to do at Tuam.

Sister Ryan wrote: “This payment will be the sole contribution made by the Sisters of Bon Secours Ireland to the government in relation to the site.

Separately, an account of a meeting between the Bon Secours Sisters and Zappone describes how the order had been “genuinely shocked” by the discovery of remains of the children buried at the site.

“[They] never expected such a finding,” the notes said.

Bon Secours Says It has no ‘legal liability’ to provide funding before mother and baby home commission ends (Noteworthy)

Previously: ‘Created And Operated By The State’

This morning.

The launch of Noteworthy from journalist Ken Foxe, the people behind The Journal and supported by the Google’s Digital News Innovation Fund.

To wit:

Noteworthy is a platform to help fund the type of in-depth journalism that the public wants to see. Our model is simple:

You tell us what you want to see investigated.

We use those ideas to create proposals and figure out how best to tell these stories.

We come back and look for community support in funding these projects.

Noteworthy

At the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam; Minister for Children Katherine Zappone; Sr Marie Ryan, of the Bon Secours in Ireland

Yesterday.

Right to Know journalist Ken Foxe published a “strictly private and confidential” letter sent from the leader of the Bon Secours in Ireland Sr Marie Ryan  to the Minister of Children Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone last August.

The letter concerned the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway, where the State issued 796 death certificates for children but burial records only for two.

The home closed in 1961.

The letter to the minister was written in response to Ms Zappone asking to meet with members of the order so they could discuss the Tuam home and how the order could share, with the State, the “cost implications” of the current investigations at the home after “significant quantities of human remains” were confirmed to have been found at the home two years ago.

Sr Ryan, on behalf of the nuns, told Ms Zappone they were surprised she asked to meet with them while the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is ongoing.

The nun then went on to firmly state that the Tuam home was operated on behalf of the Irish Government.

Sr Ryan wrote:

“This was an institution created and operated by the Irish state.”

“Given the passage of time, it certainly appears to us, that the Home was not only under the stewardship of the Sisters at that time but under the supervision, direction and inspection of the local authority Galway County Council and also the Department of Health.”

She also said after the home closed in 1961, the nuns sent “all documentation” and “official Home Records” to Galway County Council and that the nuns haven’t had “full and open access” to these records which are now with the commission.

She said it seems Galway County Council were involved in paying for a doctor and a chaplain at the home and that Department of Health inspectors inspected the home.

Sr Ryan added:

“The deaths of the infants were registered at that time and it would seem to us that it would follow that Galway County Council, the Department of Health and the doctor employed by the local authority for the Home would have been fully aware of the fact of these deaths and no doubt then would have been aware that burial arrangements would have to be made for the remains.”

Mr Foxe tweeted the following on the correspondence:

Right To Know

Previously: The Wages Of Spin

Our Worst Fears

From top: Terry Prone, Frances Fitzgerald and Norin O’Sullivan; an email sent from Ken Foxe to the gardai last year

Last night.

Frustrated Freedom of Information sleuth Ken Foxe posed the following question on Twitter about his attempts to secure emails between Terry Prone of the Communications Clinic and the former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan under the FOI Act:

“What is it about emails between Terry Prone and very important public officials that makes them so difficult to find?”

A series of emails between the pair were put into evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal last year.

And yet.

Mr Foxe cannot secure these under FOI.

Last year Mr Foxe revealed that the Office of the Information Commissioner had discovered 68 records of correspondence between former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Ms Prone between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017.

These were records which the Department of Justice previously said never existed.

Last night, Mr Foxe went on to explain his journey to date…

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.

The Disclosures Tribunal saw how statements or draft speeches were written with the help of Ms Prone by Ms O’Sullivan for Ms Fitzgerald concerning issues about Ms O’Sullivan.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton described this sequence of events worthy of Myles na Gopaleen’s satire.

Previously: Frances, Nóirín and Tess

From the State’s Dail100.ie website

Journalist Ken Foxe is reporting that almost €930,000 was spent on commemorations and events for the 100-year anniversary of the first sitting of Dáil Éireann.

One of the costs was €180,000 on the dail100.ie website.

Mr Foxe obtained the information through a Freedom of Information request.

Yesterday, he tweeted…

An airport VIP bill of €16,500, a near €20,000 luxury accommodation bill, and €200 for a harpist – full details of spending on Dáil 100 commemorations (Ken Foxe, TheStory.ie)

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

Journalist, Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer and Right To Know director Ken Foxe previously unearthed, via requests under the Freedom of Information Act, correspondence between Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, and the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and/or her officials, during Ms Fitzgerald’s time as minister.

Mr Foxe sought the correspondence between Ms Prone 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.

The Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall subsequently asked the Department of Justice to ask Ms Fitzgerald to check her personal email accounts for any other records.

The Department of Justice later informed Mr Foxe there were more than 190 such records.

Further to this…

On Sunday, Mr Foxe released further documents obtained under FOI which show that the Department of Justice was considering going to the High Court – over the request to ask Ms Ftizgerald to check her private email for correspondence with Ms Prone.

They also show that Ms Fitzgerald said some of the records found in her personal email related to internal Fine Gael business and were “confidential and commercially sensitive”.

And they show how the current Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan was kept up to date on the developments regarding Mr Foxe’s FOI request.

And how the Department of Justice planned on issuing a profuse and thorough apology to Mr Foxe but, in the end, sent him  a much watered-down version.

Previously: Clinical Exposure

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