From top: Mark Hollingsworth; Denis O’Brien.
You may have read reports this morning about a journalist called Mark Hollingsworth and his efforts last year to interview a number of politicians, political advisers and journalists in Dublin.
It’s been reported that Mr Hollingsworth claimed he was writing an article about Denis O’Brien for The Sunday Times.
Readers may recall how Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy mentioned Mr Hollingsworth in a Dáil speech earlier this week, during a debate about the Cregan investigation into certain transactions involving IBRC – including the sale of Siteserv to Mr O’Brien.
Ms Murphy said:
I have since discovered a whole other world that I did not know existed. A journalist contacted me [in September 2015] on the false premise that he was writing an article and I took him at face value. He made an appointment to come to the Oireachtas for a meeting, but the sole purpose of it was to try to find out the sources of my information.
He is Mr Mark Hollingsworth.
He did not get the sources but it appeared to be more of an inquisition than an interview. That kind of world, which I did not know existed, is there bubbling under the surface. We must be conscious of that.
This morning, Mark Tighe, in The Times Ireland edition, reported:
[Mr Hollingsworth] told interviewees that he was planning to have his article published in The Sunday Times magazine. The newspaper has said that it did not commission him to research or write any such article.
In September last year, after making contact with Karl Brophy, the chief executive of Red Flag, Mr Hollingsworth was provided with access to a file in Red Flag’s online Dropbox account containing dozens of published stories about Mr O’Brien and privately authored documents concerning the billionaire.
The Times has learnt that after obtaining the Red Flag dossier, Mr Hollingsworth gave a copy to a private investigator working for Alaco… There is no suggestion that Alaco was involved in any wrongdoing. Alaco was formed in 2002 and is one of London’s most high-profile corporate investigation companies.
Mr Hollingsworth, who has written several books, is among a number of British journalists who sometimes collaborate with private investigators on stories.
He is understood to maintain that he was not working for Alaco last September but was willing to share his research with the company.
Further to this.
Letters from British intelligence companies, Alaco, Diligence International and K2 Limited to Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy (above left) and Social Democrats Political Director Anne-Marie McNally (above right)
The Social Democrats have released three letters (above) which Catherine Murphy and Anne Marie McNally were sent by three different British intelligence agencies – on foot of queries from the two women – in November and December 2015.
The party has also released the following statement:
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy has said she and her adviser Anne-Marie McNally both submitted Data Protection requests to a number of British Intelligence Agencies following interactions they had with Mark Hollingsworth in September of last year.
News articles today have identified Mr Hollingsworth as having passed files relating to Denis O’Brien to Alaco Limited, a British Intelligence firm.
Alaco was one of the firms contacted by Catherine Murphy and Anne-Marie Marie McNally but both received letters to say no details were held on file.
One of the agencies contacted, K2 Limited, advised Murphy and McNally that they would pass the enquiry onto the GCHQ and the NSA ‘so they can monitor your electronic and other communication’.
Mr Hollingsworth had presented himself as a journalist writing a feature on Denis O’Brien and Siteserv and had made numerous contacts with Ms McNally throughout August culminating in a meeting with Deputy Murphy and Ms McNally in Leinster House in September.
Both women felt his line of questioning was spurious and ended the interview promptly.
Speaking following today’s news reports Catherine Murphy said:
“Upon realising that Mr Hollingsworth’s intentions seemed different to his stated intentions we began to wonder what kind of information he, and whoever had employed him, were keeping on us.
We issued the data protection requests to a small few agencies in London that we had reason to believe might have an interest in details pertaining to Mr O’Brien – Alaco was one.
We had reason to be concerned that information was being compiled on us following the Hollingsworth incident and an unusual encounter Anne-Marie had with a taxi driver in the city during the Siteserv saga.
“I am concerned at today’s reports that Mr Hollingsworth passed a file to Alaco given that they have responded to both myself and Anne-Marie to say they hold nothing on file for either of us. I would like to think that Data Protection Acts give us a level of comfort but if there are loopholes being used I believe that merits attention.”
Previously: [REDACTED]’S 1.25% Interest Rate
Coombe Women’s and Infants University Hospital
Jacky Jones writes that “A misogynistic culture pervades Ireland’s maternity services. A highly interventionist, disempowering model of maternity care still operates in all hospitals”.
I have tried to pass over these recurring slurs on our maternity services but the time has come to respond. I am an obstetrician in the Irish maternity service and am proud to provide skilled, compassionate, woman-centred care on a daily basis, day and night, Monday to Sunday.
I am joined by a workforce of dedicated midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, neonatologists, healthcare assistants, porters, receptionists, domestic staff, administrative staff, and others.
The staff I work with are vocationally driven and do everything in their power to ensure that birth is a safe and joyful experience and that when adverse events occur women and their families are treated with respect and dignity.
My experience of other maternity services within the country suggests that this approach is widespread.
Sometimes things go wrong in pregnancy and birth, and we grieve for the loss with our patients. Sometimes we get things wrong and we try to learn from these regretted outcomes, as individuals and as organisations.
We are human and flawed – we do not always deal with things as well as we could or should, but to shame our entire service on a regular basis within the media serves no one.
The response to media outrage is to increase the very intervention rates that Jacky Jones is so ready to criticise us for.
Take a look at the hospitals that have been publicly shamed for adverse outcomes and see what has happened to their Caesarean section rates – fear, criticism, and punitive actions result in unnecessary interventions provided under the guise of safety.
I would like Jacky Jones to offer a public apology to all the women and men like myself who provide safe, effective, women-centred maternity care to the people of Ireland.
By all means pursue the cause of safe termination care for distressed women, but to lay the blame at the door of “misogynistic maternity services” is a step too far.
Deirdre J Murphy, MD
Professor of Obstetrics,
Trinity College Dublin,
Coombe Women and
Infants University Hospital,
Sinéad O’Loghlin took the words out of my mouth. Her point about the great majority of published contributors to your Letters page being male had struck me very forcibly in recent months. For my own amusement, I have been keeping a running check on letters published.
From February 3rd to February 15th, inclusive, a total of 196 letters have appeared. Five signatories might have been either gender; of the other 191 letters, 155 (over 81 per cent) were from men and 36 (under 19 per cent) from women.
Do these figures really reflect the contributions received? If so, I can only echo Ms O’Loghlin’s appeal to women to get writing.
Colette Ní Mhoitleigh,
Baile Átha Cliath 6.
Pic: True North Quest