Tag Archives: Late Debate

Last night.

On RTÉ Radio One’s Late Debate, presented by Sarah McInerney.

The panel was: John Paul Phelan, Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform; Dr Rory Hearne, of Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute; Fianna Fail TD for Kildare North James Lawless; Jennifer Bray, Deputy Political Editor of the Times Ireland edition and Emmet Ryan, business and technology reported at the Sunday Business Post.

During an item on housing, Dr Hearne (again) laid out steps he believes would help ease the housing crisis.

He added that the local authorities in Dublin have enough land to build 20,000 houses and, elsewhere across Ireland, local authorities have enough land to build 40,000 houses.

Dr Hearne asked: “Why is that public land not being used to build affordable houses?”

Mr Phelan went on to give updates on the most recent quarter – saying commencements are up 40 per cent, planning applications are up 20 per cent and that planning laws have been changed.

Dr Hearne specifically asked Mr Phelan how many of these new home will be affordable housing for people on an average wage.

After a pause, Mr Phelan responded: “I don’t know.”

Watch back in full here

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-02-39-23 screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-02-38-21

From top: the panel on Wednesday’s night’s Late Debate and the presenter Cormac Ó hEadhra

On Wednesday night.

On RTÉ Radio One’s Late Debate.

The panel discussed the Garda whistleblowers, following Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality earlier that day.

Readers will recall how, during that meeting, Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly repeatedly asked Ms O’Sullivan if she would confirm legal counsel for one of the Garda whistleblowers wrote directly to her 14 times over a two-year period, outlining the whistleblower’s experience of surveillance and intimidation.

Ms Daly asked this based on Ms O’Sullivan saying she wasn’t privy to any information about allegations of mistreatment of whistleblowers.

Ms O’Sullivan repeatedly said she would not answer any specific questions in relation to any specific individual or any specific correspondence received.

The Late Debate panel included Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy; Independent TD Stephen Donnelly; Independent TD Catherine Connolly; Sinead Ryan, of the Irish Independent; Sean Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland; and Noel Whelan, barrister and Irish Times columnist.

From the panel discussion with presenter Cormac Ó hEadhra…

Cormac Ó hEadhra: “Let’s turn to the Budget in just a moment but we’ll start with the embattled Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan who came before the justice committee today, she had some serious questions to answer from the committee. Tonight the Tanaiste has staunchly defended the Commissioner. The Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald – Colm Brophy, your colleague in Fine Gael – has said there is no evidence of wrongdoing against Noirin O’Sullivan, is that correct though?”

Colm Brophy: “Well, I think so, and I was at the justice committee today. I was one of a number of TDs who had the opportunity to question and talk to the Garda Commissioner and I mean there’s no question. There are a swirl of allegations and comments and various other things but I thought the Commissioner dealt very fairly and squarely with them all. I think she answered every question she was asked and made it very clear that there were one or two areas that she can’t answer because she is prohibited from answering because she, because of her role and she but that I mean…”

Ó hEadhra: “But saying there’s no evidence at all, surely that’s not correct? Surely there’s a prima facie case to answer?”

Noel Whelan: “There…”

Ó hEadhra: “You’re saying there’s not, Noel?”

Whelan: “I’m sorry, I, I, I have to say I was appalled by the clips and I’ve only seen and heard the clips on the radio and on the television today that I saw. I said to myself is it any wonder that the public rejected the notion of giving Oireachtas committees powers when some members – and I emphasise some members – take a view that they can come into a committee and say, ‘somebody has told me this thing, this allegation’ and even though there’s an inquiry, has been appointed, to establish the evidence. I mean Clare Daly just said ‘I have evidence that’. She has evidence of nothing. She has hearsay of an allegation.”

Ó hEadhra: “She has…”

Whelan: “It’s hearsay…No…no it’s not evidence, it’s not evidence.”

Ó hEadhra: “She has evidence that needs to be tested.”

Whelan:It’s not evidence.”

Ó hEadhra: “You’re saying there’s no prima facie case to answer.”

Whelan: “No, I’m, no, I’m not, that’s not what I’m saying.”

Ó hEadhra: “You did say.”

Whelan: “No, I didn’t, no…”

Ó hEadhra: “Yes you did, two seconds ago…”

Whelan: “No, you said…”

Ó hEadhra: “Two seconds ago…”

Whelan: “I said there is not evidence… no, my issue is her use and your word, your use of the word, your use of the word ‘evidence’. What seems to have happened here is somebody decided to use the confidential disclosure mechanism, which has recently been established pursuant to the whistelblowers’ acts which by it’s very nature means those about whom allegations are being made, the information is not shared with them. So if, in passing it seems, or in part of the context of allegations which seem to be directly related to the previous commissioner, it’s suggested that the current commissioner did something wrong, she would not be aware of who made those allegations or what precisely those allegations mean. Simultaneously with making those allegations to the Confidential Recipient – for confidential purposes – the people, or people close to the people who made the complaint talk to a range of journalists and politicians and give them the details…”

Ó hEadhra: “But why though?”

Whelan: “Why.”

Ó hEadhra: “Why do they do that?”

Whelan: “Even before the minister got a chance, even before the minister gets a chance to sit at her desk..”

Ó hEadhra: “Why would they do that I wonder?”

Whelan: “Exactly, exactly…”

Ó hEadhra: “You answer that question.”

Whelan:Why wouldn’t they wait for the minister first to make a decision as to what to do next? What does the minister decide to do? The minister decides to go and get a high court judge to inquire into the precise allegations that are made because that person can then see what the allegations are and then test…”

Ó hEadhra:Why would they go to journalists? Is it, I wonder, and this is just a question, I don’t know, is it I wonder because there’s a lack of trust in the chain of command within An Garda Siochana?”

Whelan: “Or because..”

Ó hEadhra: “Could it be that?”

Whelan: “It could of course…Of course it could be that…no, no, let me finish…let me answer…it could be that, or it could be because they want to undermine the Commissioner.”

Talk over each other

Whelan: “Irrespective of whether the allegations stand up or not…”

Ó hEadhra: “But given the fact, given the fact that a solicitor of one of the people who made the allegations…”

Whelan: “No…”

Ó hEadhra: “Hang on, hang on..”

Whelan: “You have to distinguish here…he is not…that solicitor does not represent one of the complainants to the confidential recipient…”

Ó hEadhra: “I accept that…”

Whelan: “And this is the confusion…”

Ó hEadhra: “Listen to my question though….”

Whelan: “No, but you said one of the allegators [sic], he’s not one of the persons making the allegations…”

Ó hEadhra: “One of the previous whistleblowers…”

Whelan: “Exactly…”

Ó hEadhra: “Right…. Has made an allegation that GSOC investigations, for example, a previous investigation set up, have been frustrated by the force. Now, when you call for due diligence and due process I mean and that due process is frustrated well what would you, as a barrister, do? If you’re involved…hang on now… this is the question, if you’re involved in an investigation, as a barrister, right? And you find that your investigations are being frustrated, for example, there isn’t a disclosure or a discovery, what do you do in that instance?

Whelan: “Hold on, the whistleblower isn’t conducting this investigation. That investigation is being conducted by Justice Mary Ellen Ring and GSOC. She has complained about the fact that she doesn’t have power to compel a timely disclosure of information from the gardai so you address it that way or she goes in, she has done more publicly, called on a more speedy addressing of the information. Now, you don’t go and piggyback, you don’t go and seek to piggyback on an investigation that everybody says has to be conducted quickly, that everybody says is significant, in my view, it’s not significant, it’s potentially significant – if the evidence stands up. And everybody says, you appoint a high court judge to investigate two other complaints made on the confidential system by two other complainants, you don’t piggyback on that because all that will do is confuse, as has already happened here in the presentation of it and secondly, delay the outcome.”

Ó hEadhra: “But hold on, you’re after telling us that an investigation that is under way, the judge is in charge of it, and the judge has said, look this investigation is being delayed…”

Whelan: “She said she wants to move quicker…”

Ó hEadhra: “Yeah and…”

Talk over each other

Ó hEadhra: “In the meantime, more whistleblowers come forward, make an allegation and that is fished out to another investigation…”

Whelan:No a whistleblower hasn’t come forward. What’s come forward is someone making a complaint to the confidential recipient that he himself was involved in a campaign to do in a whistleblower...”

Ó hEadhra:Who is, in effect, another whistleblower...”

Whelan: “So then he becomes himself…”

Ó hEadhra: “Yes…”

Whelan: “A whistleblower..”

Ó hEadhra: “Yeah, so what? That’s what I said..”

Whelan:But either because of remorse, as is suggested, or because it’s the best way to protect his own position...”

Ó hEadhra: “But the key question, Noel, is, the key question…”

Whelan: “And that’s why, we don’t have to decide this Cormac, that’s why you appoint a High Court judge do decide these things and what you don’t do: here’s the real unfairness and injustice, you don’t allow politicians then to go into committee and just lob those allegations or any other colourful allegations they want across the table and require a witness to respond. I mean that’s, that’s Trump-like politics…”

Talk over each other

Ó hEadhra: “Hang on…But there’s another parallel question…”

Whelan: People are saying that, insert the most colourful thing that will get me most headlines...”

Ó hEadhra: “That is incorrect and unfair, Noel.”

Whelan: “I’m sorry, it’s not unfair. And the media have fallen for it.”

Ó hEadhra: “That is unfair.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: You’ll Get Nothing From Me

‘Was The O’Higgins Report Not Enough For You?’

 

alanfarrell

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell

Last night, on RTÉ One’s Late Debate, presenter Cormac Ó hEadhra spoke with his panel about the government negotiations between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, following the third vote – and rejection – of both Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as Taoiseach yesterday.

Fianna Fáil TD Thomas Byrne, Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy, journalist Niamh Lyons, of The Times Ireland edition, and Stephen O’Byrnes, of MKC Consultants, were on the panel.

They were discussing public sector pay demands when things got a little heated.

Grab a tay…

Niamh Lyons: “My understanding of it is is that you know when you talk about USC and water whatever, those are the issues on the table that would be the basis of a deal that would allow them to do business. I’ve no, I think you’d be making a very big jump to say that they’ll sit down and agree together what policies they’ll discuss, as in, you know, the pay issue…”

Cormac Ó hEadhra: “Well they’ll have to talk surely about Lansdowne Road and reopen that..”

Lyons: “I don’t think that..”

Talk over each other

Alan Farrell: “I wouldn’t be, I wouldn’t be 100% sure and and very much like Thomas [Byrne], you can’t have the negotiation on live radio. But what I suppose, I could say would be that if it were to end up in the negotiations, it would probably be a good thing because clearly it’s something…”

Ó hEadhra: “God almighty. I mean god almighty…”

Farrell: “Clearly it’s something, clearly it’s something, clearly it’s something…”

Ó hEadhra: “The public representation we have in this..”

Farrell:Do you wanna talk on your own? Will I leave…

Ó hEadhra: “Hold on, I want to find out..”

Farrell:Would you like me to answer your question or do you want me to leave? Cause I’ll leave Cormac.”

Ó hEadhra: “I want to know your position on this because I’ve been asking you. In fairness Alan Farrell…”

Farrell: “There’s nothing fair Cormac about the manner in which you conduct these interviews.”

Ó hEadhra:It’s absolutely fair because there’s nothing fair to the public servants who want answers or the general public who want, who are homeless and who are on hospital trollies and whose children are being abused and don’t have social workers. There’s nothing fair about that.

Silence.

Ó hEadhra: “There’s nothing fair about that.”

Farrell: “Well that’s, we weren’t discussing that, Cormac.”

Ó hEadhra: “We were discussing forming a Government.”

Farrell: “Yes we are.”

Ó hEadhra: “And I’m asking you…

Talk over each other

Farrell: “And what I’m telling you and I’ve repeated now three times, Cormac, if you continue to talk over me, Cormac, there is no point in me being here.”

Ó hEadhra: “What’s your position, let me ask you once more, on Lansdowne Road, do you personally, as a Fine Gael TD want to reopen Lansdowne Road in your talks with Fianna Fáil?

Farrell: “Well I don’t know whether they will arise and I’m not on the negotiating team so I won’t be taking part in that discussion.”

Ó hEadhra: “What’s your position as a Fine Gael TD?”

Farrell: “My personal, my personal view is, if I take two, in fact, three categories of public servants, the first being An Garda Siochana. I’ve always and I’ve said this publicly on a number of occasions when I was a member of the Oireachtas Justice Committee for five years that entry-level gardai are not paid enough. €23,000 is completely insufficient. I have said it publicly at committee and on the floor of the Dáil that a two-tier entrance system for members of the teaching profession is completely unacceptable, i.e. a starting teacher today versus I think a starting teacher in 2011, I think is paid about €3,000 more, less I should say, which equates to about €250,000 over the course of that person’s career. An nurses, whether my view is their not paid enough, the reality is that they are leaving this country in droves because they can get more money elsewhere. And that applies to doctors, NCHD, it applies to public consultants, it applies to a whole range of public sectors workers, right across the…”

Ó hEadhra: “And you would include Dublin Bus drivers in that as well?”

Farrell: “No, that question hasn’t come across my desk.”

Ó hEadhra: “But if it did?”

Farrell: “No I don’t believe that, well, the question hasn’t come up so I don’t know, I can’t…”

Talk over each other

Ó hEadhra: “Ok, I see it did come up, in talks at least, when the Luas question came up.”

Farrell: “Well perhaps as a comparison between a private company and their employees trying to benchmark themselves against the public company…”

Ó hEadhra: “So let me get this right: You say ‘yes, possibly’ to some pay increase to gardai, some…”

Farrell: “I didn’t say ‘yes, possibly’, I said if I were in the position..”

Ó hEadhra: “Yeah.”

Farrell: “And it is my opinion that they should be paid more. I was even more direct than you suggest.”

Ó hEadhra: “And nurses and teachers, but not Dublin Bus drivers?”

Farrell: “Well I don’t know how much Dublin Bus drivers are paid.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: ‘Let’s Be Very Clear’

13/12/2010 Labour introduces four new candidates.

Labour Senator John Whelan

Labour Senator John Whelan was a contributor on RTÉ’s Late Debate, presented by Cormac O’hEadhra, on November 5.

During the interview, there was this exchange:

John Whelan: “I believe the contract should have been awarded, the record will show, to Bord na Móna. I believe that Bord Gáis, and this is why the Government has gone in, Alan Kelly has gone in and stripped it back, the board has to be reconfigured, reconstituted and…interrupted.”

Cormac O’hEadhra: “Wait now, this is very serious John. What you’re saying this evening, surely, does that not render the validity of the Bill, the Act all null and void?”

Whelan: “No, what I’m saying is this. Bord Gáis through the process of New Era and the line minister at the time made a pitch to establish Irish Water and I believe they did so under false pretences and they haven’t delivered.”

On November 14, Anthony Sheridan, of the blog Public Inquiry, noted that Senator Whelan’s relevant remarks were removed from RTÉ’s radio playback service.

Yesterday, the Irish Times reported on RTÉ’s decision to remove the remarks, quoting an RTÉ spokeswoman saying: “The comment on The Late Debate was removed from playback following an internal editorial decision. This can happen on occasion with a live programme.”

It also reported Senator Whelan, a journalist, saying: “I said what I said in the knowledge of the full import of what I was saying and I did not need the privilege of the House to do so… There was no libel and no slander. It was fair comment on a matter in the public interest.”

However, this morning, Mr Sheridan writes:

“I see the Irish Times took up my story surrounding the dramatic revelation by Labour Senator John Wilson that Bord Gais had made their pitch to establish Irish Water under false pretences.”

“Bizarrely, however, the Irish Times took the same line as RTE and, effectively, censored the principal allegation made by Senator Whelan.”

“Here’s the exact charge made by the Senator against Bord Gáis:”

“No, what I’m saying is this. Bord Gáis through the process of New Era and the line minister at the time made a pitch to establish Irish Water and I believe they did so under false pretences and they haven’t delivered.”

“Here’s how the Irish Times reported his allegations:”

“No, what I’m saying is this: Bord Gáis through the process of New Era and the line minister at the time made a pitch to establish Irish Water . . . and they haven’t delivered.”

“Leaving out the words; ‘under false pretences’ strips the report of any relevance, it effectively kills the story.”

“So much for the ‘paper of record’.”

Hmmm.

Anyone?

RTÉ took ‘internal editorial decision’ to remove exchange with Senator about Irish Water (Irish Times, Thursday, November 20)

Irish Times censors RTE censored programme (Anthony Sheridan, Public Inquiry)

alanfarrell

Alan Farrell, Fine Gael TD

On RTÉ Radio One’s Late Debate with Audrey Carville last night, the panel discussed the matter of Sgt Maurice McCabe – whose complaints prompted the Guerin report which will be published today – and how the serving officer still doesn’t have full access to PULSE.

On the panel were Brian Dowling, of RTÉ’s political staff; Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Sinn Fein TD Donegal North East; Alan Farrell, Fine Gael TD Dublin North; and Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Affairs Editor at the Irish Independent.

During the debate, Mr Farrell said, among other things, that it was his belief Sgt McCabe’s access or non-access to PULSE is a matter for An Garda Síochána alone and that his access was curtailed because, Mr Farrell claimed, he put information into the public domain. His comments resulted in Sgt McCabe contacting the show and asking for an apology and for Mr Farrell to withdraw the comments.

Alan Farrell: “I think we have to remind the people listening, or just perhaps for the purposes of this discussion to remind people as to why this particular officer had his access to PULSE withdrawn in the first place.”

Padraig Mac Lochlainn: “To shut him down, to shut him down…”

Farrell: “No, no, no, no, no, hang on, you can disagree with me all you like in relation to the fact that he should or should not have access, which I believe is a matter for the gardaí to decide. I’m not disputing that aspect. What I’m suggesting is, and what has been, it’s been a point that’s been made on a number of occasions is that the officer had his right withdrawn because of the fact that there was information going into the public domain, that he was putting into the public domain, that should not have been put…”

Mac Lochlainn: “No, no, no, hold on, look, hold on now, let’s be very clear, no, no, no, be very careful where you’re going here, Alan. Be very careful because what Sgt McCabe did was he gave the information to members of the Oireachtas, he gave it to all delegated authorities, under the Garda Síochána Act legislation, he did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Talk over each other.

Mac Lochlainn: “Let me finish. Your understanding is wrong so be careful where you’re going with this. Let’s be very, very clear. Sgt Maurice McCabe, rather than be interviewed by the Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony’s team, when they carried out there internal investigation in that dark period, I have to say. Rather than that, and the Garda Commissioner asserting that he had instructed Sgt McCabe to cooperate. What actually emerged, because Maurice McCabe taped the conversation, lucky for him, is that he was told to have no access to the PULSE system and to not cooperate with any third party further. So they tried to shut him down and, as we speak, he’s still being shut down. And it’s absolutely shocking to hear a Government TD say that there is no role for us in questioning why senior gardaí are not supporting Sgt Maurice McCabe, why he’s having to make internal complaints. And what message are we sending out to other officers who want to come forward and tell what’s happening. So I commend the officers who are coming forward this week. And I encourage any officers, who have anything to bring forward, to do..”

Farrell: “Can I just reiterate that that’s not the point that I was making, at all. I didn’t make that point. The point that I’m making is that internal disciplinary matters of An Garda Síochána, specifically with regard to access to PULSE is what I’m referring to, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.”

Mac Lochlainn: “Yeah, they’re wrong.”

Later

Audrey Carville: “Alan, just back to you before the end of the programme. Maurice McCabe has been on to us, as we said, in relation to what you said in terms of him putting the information into the public domain. He wants a withdrawal of the remark and an apology.”

Farrell: “Well, I, I want to listen back to what I said but it is clear that I misspoke and I’d like to apologise for that. There was no malice intended but I’ll have to review that.”

Carville: “Do you withdraw?”

Farrell: “I do, I do.”

Carville: “Ok, that’s grand.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: “Hold on, hold on, hold on”

In The Public Interest

mooneyrteJohn Mooney, security correspondent with The Sunday Times

 

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

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

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

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

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

Carville: “GSOC?”

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

Listen back in full here

Previously: Holy Shatt

The Thin Blue Timeline Updated

90329996Mooney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen back in full here

Previously: The Snake Pit

“Black Ops Being Run Off The Books”

Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

ShatCAllBoylanLast night, Sunday Times investigative journalist John Mooney joined Senator Jillian Van Turnout, Sinéad Ryan, consumer columnist with The Herald, and John Byrne, social care lecturer at Waterford Institute of Technology, on RTÉ’s Late Debate.

Fergal Keane was standing in for the show’s usual host Audrey Carville.

Keane and his panel discussed the Garda Ombudsman public interest inquiry into the relationship between convicted drug dealer Kieran Boylan (above), whose charges were mysteriously dropped in 2008, and certain members of the gardaí.

In the course of their conversation, Mr Mooney, who has been at the forefront of this story since it began, said Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan (top right), had questions to answer. He also said Justice Minister Alan Shatter, (top left), was politically compromised.

Fergal Keane: “John Mooney, this is some pretty extraordinary statements there by the Garda Ombudsman who were there given oversight of the gardaí, saying the gardaí didn’t cooperate with them, didn’t give them information. It’s an incredible state of affairs. And very, very serious?”

John Mooney: “Well, it’s not for anyone who’s familiar with the story. I began investigating Kieran Boylan’s activities…”

Keane: “Who is this alleged informant.”

Mooney: “He’s not an informant. He was an international drug trafficker who was operating in the State, between here, Britain, Northern Ireland and Holland, and Spain at one stage. This individual entered into a relationship with a handful of guards. That was unknown to anyone. So there’s a lot duplicity going on at the moment and a lot of, sort of, lots of people running for cover, particularly in the Government, because very senior figures within the Government screamed very loudly, over the years, about what was happening with this case.”

Keane: “Pat Rabbitte being one?”

Mooney: “Yeah, Brendan Howlin, Enda Kenny himself actually. There were, the late Tony Gregory was very instrumental in highlighting this case. We began looking at this individual back in 2005, when I heard about his arrest with €2million worth of cocaine and heroin and he’d made certain claims, while in custody, he was on bail for a previous offence, he’d been caught with almost €1million worth of drugs, again heroin and cocaine being imported into the State. He seemed to have, he was suggesting at the time that he had high-level contacts within the guards. I didn’t actually believe the story but we commenced an inquiry into…”

Keane: “He made these claims in court?”

Mooney: “No, no, he never…this never got to court unfortunately. He suggested this while in custody with the Garda National Drugs Unit who were part of an international operation, to take him out. He was part of a cartel operating between here and Manchester and with various other major players in the drugs trade in, in mainland Europe. And this guy was involved in transporting huge quantities of drugs. You’re not talking about a couple of kilos of heroin, ones every so often, we’re talking about mega consignments of heroin. So he’s an individual, under any policing operation, who cannot fit into an informant category. People don’t understand. the legislation surrounding this and they don’t understand the rules governing this. The idea of police informants is not to recruit people, who instigate crime and traffick drugs into countries, and destroy communities and everything else. They try get people, who’ve no knowledge of it. But this guy was an instigator, and quite a wealthy individual. So he was caught, the charges were dropped. We highlighted the case, the charges were reinstated. And then, famously, in the last day of a hearing in, what was it, two years ago, in an unannounced, an unscheduled case, the charges were dropped against him. The only way that ended up in the public domain was because I happened to be in…”

Keane: “Ok..on the last day of the court sittings in July 2008.”

Mooney: “Nine. Yes, that was it. And Kieran would have had various choice words with me outside the court that evening, as a result of that. But, we’d subsequently…”

Keane: “Where is he now?”

Mooney: “He’s living in county Louth at the moment. And he, then we, as the investigation commenced, continued, we, as you’re probably are aware, revealed that he’d managed to obtain an international haulage licence, on the basis of paperwork that said that he didn’t even have a criminal record, again provided by garda headquarters. There were other allegations, he had his passport changed into his Irish name, which allowed him to travel internationally without…”

Keane: “Ok, you highlighted all of this. The gardaí…It prompted the Garda Ombudsman to start an investigation…”

Mooney: “A public interest inquiry.”

Keane: “We now have this today.”

Mooney: “Yeah.”

Keane: “A couple of years into the investigation. What’s going on between the Garda Ombudsman and the garda management?”

Mooney: “Well, I suppose…”

Keane: “Because the Garda Commissioner has come out and denied there is any wrongdoing and the person, the judge who’s charged with overlooking the handling of the performance, has also said that they were more or less in line with regulations.”

Mooney: “Ok. Well there’s two issues. Number one, the judge’s report only concerns the legal operation of CHIS (Covert Human Intelligence System) which people who are regulated and registered and fall in within the controls of that system. There’s nothing wrong with informants. And if this guy was an informant, I wouldn’t be writing about him. We deal with lots of different issues.”

Keane: “Well the Garda Commissioner seems to be taking quite a bit of comfort from that finding this evening.”

Mooney:That’s just pure guff. You…The second issue concerning what’s happening at the moment is there’s a lot being made about the DPP not pressing charges. The reason why the DPP isn’t pressing charges is because they can’t put this information into the public domain. There may be other information entering the public domain quite shortly about why charges weren’t preferred and sort of the other favours that were done for, how would I say, that Kieran Boylan availed of, courtesy of the State.”

Keane: “Ok. So how do you characterise now what’s going on this evening?”

Mooney: “Well, I think…”

Keane: “Because there were extraordinary words from the person given responsibility for overlooking the…”

Mooney: “I think there’s a number of issues going on. I think Alan Shatter is politically compromised because he gave Martin Callinan a two-year extension when this was known…”

Keane: “Martin Callinan being the Garda Commissioner..”

Mooney: “…that this was coming down the line. Martin Callinan was a director of operations at crucial times over the unit which were involved in all of this..”

Keane: “OK, well we’re not suggesting in anyway that he had any personal involvement.”

Mooney: “No, no, but, in terms of, he has a responsibility towards this. So you have a situation where the reason why the Commission is not seeking disciplinary, I suppose, procedures against the handful of gardaí involved is because there’s no real point. Garda headquarters have known about this. They’ve protected these people and, indeed, one of them – after this case – was trotted out in the media ad nauseum actually promoting one of the people involved. So they took a decision to, under all, they did not want it coming into the public domain that there were these kind of black operations being run off the books.”

Keane: “Yeah but John, like this. My memory, going back a long way, is par for the course between the gardaí and whoever is there to investigate them, going back to the garda complaints commission, it was just a fiasco from day one. They have opposed the Garda Commissioner all the way along the line…the Garda Ombudsman should I say…”

Mooney: “Yeah, well I think, I think there’s a number of issues for Martin Callinan. Martin Callinan told the public that there was excellent cooperation between garda headquarters and the Garda Ombudsman’s office and I think the truth of that relationship has actually been really, really laid bare.”

Keane: “But, as you said, you know, that could be just PR spin from his point of view this evening.”

Jillian Van Turnhout: “But like the Garda Ombudsman…”

Keane: “Jillian Van Turnhout.”

Jillian Van Turnhout: “Sorry, just listening to that quote on the Garda Ombudsman talking about ‘significant deficiencies’ in the Garda. You know that, that for me rings an alarm bell to note, that he’s even…”

Keane: “Even if we get away from the details of the case, of this particular case.”

Van Turnhout: “He’s saying that this is wider than this case.”

Mooney: “This, this all goes down to, there is a convicted drug trafficker caught with €1.7million worth of heroin and cocaine which was being sold. He admitted responsibility for that, yet he never stood trial. What does he know that unfortunately has this State in a situation where they can’t put him in jail?”

Keane: “Jillian.”

Van Turnhout: “Yeah, yeah, that’s and listening there to the Garda Ombudsman and that he feels that there’s other significant deficiencies beyond this case..you know..I’m asking myself the questions, of what the ramifications, what ramifications…”

Keane: “That’s what I was thinking aswell.”

Van Turnhout: “Yeah. What ramifications are there. That’s, for me, obviously you have this case but what else is there?”

Keane: “John Byrne?”

Byrne: “I’m feeling a little bit conflicted Fergal because part of me wants to say that we should trust the guards to do the policing and we should trust their judgement in that, mindful of the fact that, you know, that there have been some cases in the past, where they’ve maybe, they haven’t dealt with things as well as they could have.”

Keane: “One thinks of Donegal?”

Byrne: “Sure, sure, and the guards are, are normal people, the same as everybody else and they do have their vulnerabilities, some of them will behave in a way that is without integrity, that’s true. But the vast, vast majority  of the 11 or 12,000 guards are absolutely upstanding citizens who are trying to do the very best that they can in very, very difficult circumstances…”

Keane: “But his is an extraordinary situation we find ourselves in tonight.”

Byrne: “It is but it seems to me that there’s a wider issue. And that’s the culture that exists in the gardaí in relation to its cooperation or lack of with the ombudsman commission, on any issue. To get away from the specifics of this particular case, I spoke to a number of guards recently, in relation to the Association of Garda Sergeants issue and the walkout there. And what they said to me was that, ironically, they weren’t perhaps as angry with Alan Shatter as they were with Michael McDowell for the implementation of the Garda Siochana Act in 2005 and the establishment of the whole ombudsman commission thing because what the gardaí are telling me is that they’re afraid almost to do their job. One guard said to me that the safest thing for her to do would be not to arrest anybody at all because of the fear that whatever way they turn, whatever they do, they’re damned if they do, they’re damned if they don’t.”

Keane: “We are all.”

Talk over each other.

Keane: “We are all in that situation where we have regulations.”

Byrne: “Regulation. Absolutely, we need regulation, we need independent regulation but not to the point where it creates a culture of fear within the guards, that they say…”

Talk over each other.

Mooney: “I really feel compelled to butt in on that sort of stuff, because anyone who’s familiar with this sort of issue, you get people coming out with this sort of stuff and if you don’t mind me saying so, it really is guff. There’s a young lad in prison tonight that Kieran Boylan supplied with drugs, a few, couple of years ago, who was in debt. And who was asked to go collect a shipment of drugs. And got a ten-year mandatory sentence. His name is Andrew Kearns. I understand his solicitors will be proceeding to court shortly to try and sort out what happened to him. This is not about having a go at guards or something. I work with a couple of guards every day of the week. These  individuals are organised crime networks that operate. They’ve an incredible amount of influence because of the money that they have and the potential that they have to allow gardaí to get up the promotion system very, very quickly, by setting up drug dealers, or other drug dealers, setting up lower people that don’t  pose a threat to them and that sort of contact between police officers and criminals is notoriously fraught right across the world. Now, Ireland, unlike every other country, in Western Europe has, does not take this sort of issue seriously. And we’ve suffered as a result, in the past. The Morris Tribunal, I was a witness in it and know all about it. It cost this State and the taxpayers €60million to run that, to sort out the shenanigans that was going on.”

Keane: “There was no..how many investigations, over the years, how many inquiries, tribunals have we had into gardaí?”

Mooney: “But sure, countless. I mean nothing. Like, if you’re a guard and you’re caught doing something wrong, you will suffer the consequences, if you’re in uniform rank or something like that. But if you go up the ranks slightly and you’re involved in sort of various other activities that can’t be kind of, they’re ethically unsound to put it mildly that can involve all sorts of fun and games that cross the border of illegality and criminality, usually nothing ever happens to you. I know. I’ve been dealing with them for years.”

Listen here

UPDATE (February 13, 2014) : The Appalling Vista

Previously: The Gardaí And The Drug Dealer

Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland