Tag Archives: Michael McDowell

 Grand Canal at Portobello Harbour, Dublin 8 last night

This morning.

Via former Minister for Justice Michael McDowell In The Irish Times [full article at link below]:

…We do know that the health establishment is constantly conducting rolling public opinion surveys, and that helpful parts of that research are fed out to the media from time to time. We are all being monitored carefully.

And you don’t have to be Prof Dolores Cahill to feel a little uneasy about that. The public mood is not merely monitored; it is to some extent created.

Media advertisements “brought to you by the Government of Ireland” or by State-funded or State-owned agencies in support of solidarity serve twin purposes – they subsidise cash-starved (and sometimes unchallenging) media and they feed into public opinion to be surveyed, reported and fed into policymaking.

Our friend An Garda Síochána also plays a major part in mood creation. “Grim” was the adjective given to the Nphet’s current analysis in “off the record” briefings by the AGS. Can we see the grim analysis, please?

…The truth is that the dam of public patience has already cracked and broken. With longer evenings and warmer weather, younger generations have taken to the outdoors. Walks in the parks or down the Grand Canal or along the Dodder valley tell me their own tale. Reopening the schools and associated activity must be a driver of community transmission too. The virus doesn’t distinguish radically between 17-year-olds and 19-year-olds.

Community transmission is going to remain high until mass vaccination makes an impression. Seasonal aspects of the pandemic and of social behaviour are obvious and irresistible. You simply cannot drive the population back into their own houses for May and June. We have to plan accordingly…

The dam of public patience has already cracked and broken (Michael McDowell, Irish Times)


Last night: Portomello

From top: Doctor Owen O Flynn discusses his experience with Covid-19 watched by Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health at a briefing last week; Senator Michael McDowell

This morning.

Independent Senator Michael McDowell in the Irish Times has called for public access to NPHET’s data, “raw or distilled” and its briefing or advice so its decisions can be “understood and evaluated”.

He writes:

If decisions are to be taken by the Government on the basis of Nphet data, modelling, projections and advice, is there any case for one comma of it to be kept secret? Is there any justification for according Nphet the function of sole State advocate or editor or interpreter of unseen data or propagator of secret proposals?

With Nphet allies being granted access to the airwaves to predict 20,000 or 30,000 deaths as has recently happened, surely we are entitled to know exactly what scenarios were painted by Nphet for the Government’s consideration – and in minute detail?

We know that some of their advice around nursing homes has been wrong in the past. Likewise, we know that they have flip-flopped dramatically on the safety and utility of mask-wearing.

Exactly what were the proportions of the projected crisis that they outlined to the Government which persuaded Ministers including the sceptical Leo Varadkar to “come on board” the Nphet agenda?

Senator McDowell added:

On September 3rd, RTÉ broadcast an item about an unfortunate young doctor who contracted Covid at the age of 23. The nation was informed in detail of the very serious effects and the dangers he encountered during his treatment.

A month later, the same young doctor was presented by Nphet at its daily press conference to repeat his sorry tale. That demonstrates that Nphet does not consider itself to be a purely advisory body to the Government, but also accords itself an advocacy role.

Michael McDowell: What exactly is the price of accepting this Nphet advice? (Irish Times)

Previously: Doogie O’Howser


Top from left: Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Minister for Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport Eamon Ryan; Senator Michael McDowell

This afternoon.

Further to the possibility of a Level 5 lockdown for the entire country….

….Senator Michael McDowell, a former Minister for Justice, has released the following statement

‘I am appealing to the three coalition party leaders to reject the NPHET advice that the country should go to Level 5 in its entirety.

I am also appealing to the three leaders to refuse to be manipulated into a cynical (and perhaps intended) “compromise” with NPHET that we should move to Level 4.


Moving to either level will create untold misery, additional deaths, huge psychiatric and psychological damage, irreparable economic and social harm, and will be futile.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that the situation in three or four weeks’ time will be significantly different if we now go into a lockdown or quasi-lockdown. None whatever.

There is no reason to believe that infection rates or community transmission rates would not resume at or climb almost immediately to current rates if Level 5 or Level 4 restrictions were imposed nationally and if they were relaxed in coming weeks and months.

The reported NPHET advice will, if accepted, turn out to be semi-permanent lasting for many months.

Lockdown’s Consequences

Accepting NPHET advice will have entirely predictable consequences:

Increased mortality from cancer, heart disease and other conditions due to continued dislocation of the health services

Untold suffering for those continuing to be deprived of vital social services for the mentally and physically disabled and their families

Severe psychiatric and psychological damage to vulnerable people

Greatly increased domestic abuse

Loneliness and isolation for the elderly

Catastrophic consequences for economic life hitting especially the indigenous SME sectors

Collapse of many enterprises due to insolvency and foreclosures

Massively increased unemployment and resultant poverty and misery.

These consequences, among others, are not to be chosen by default out of weakness now.


We simply cannot go back into lockdown. We have got to learn to live with Covid infection and with significant risk of community transmission. Epidemiology and mathematical modelling is only one part of the story.

We know that further lockdown will have inevitable mortality and health consequences that lie outside simple epidemiology. The reported NPHET advice is replete with existential threats to the “common good” more widely understood.

Hospitalisation rates, intensive care admission rates and genuine Covid mortality rates are certainly significant issues for government.

Recent evidence concerning the categorisation of Covid related deaths suggests that the figure of approximately 1800 may be inflated. Likewise the evidence given to the Dáil Covid committee’s final meeting that the median age of Covid related death was “in the high eighties” requires us to put purely epidemiological advice into a real perspective when confronted with the clearly known and inevitable consequences of accepting NPHET’s reported advice.

Living With Community Transmission

The younger cohorts of the population (including nearly everyone of working age) are entitled to live their lives as normally as circumstances can permit. It is not a question of pitching their interests into a conflict with those of the older or more vulnerable cohorts in our population. Keeping schools and creches open goes nowhere near what is now demanded.

Entire swathes of our society and of social and economic activity simply cannot be put into suspended animation in pursuit of unattainable epidemiological goals or entirely temporary effects.

The cohesion that we have witnessed up to this point was based on a number of suppositions.

These include the supposition that our health authorities would address as a matter of extreme emergency shortfalls in ICU capacity. Little or nothing was done.

The supposition also was that we would establish a really effective test, track and trace system as a matter of extreme emergency. This does not appear to have happened either.

I am appealing to the leaders of the coalition and to their parties to reject the NPHET advice and to articulate with conviction, courage and honesty a different course for Irish society over the next number of weeks and months. The NPHET path is neither necessary nor sustainable – politically, socially, or economically.

You were elected to lead – not to be led.’

Senator Michael McDowell calls on coalition to reject NPHET Level 5 advice (Senator ichael McDowell)

Earlier: Hi Five


This afternoon.

Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2

Senator Michael McDowell celebrates the imminent return of four statues depicting Nubian Princesses outside the Shelbourne Hotel which had been removed as they had been mistaken for slaves.

Previously: The Naked Truth

From top: Covid-19 Isolation and Step Down Facility in the Conference Centre at Citywest Hotel Dublin on March 29; Former Attorney General and ex-Minister for Justice Michael McDowell

This morning.

Via Michael McDowell in The Irish Times:

We haven’t really heard as to whether the HSE has increased the availability of intensive care capacity and secured additional supplies of ventilators and personal protective equipment.

Have they trained additional personnel in the meantime?

Is the emergency facility in Citywest still on stand-by?

Are the once-sequestered private hospitals still available on a contingency basis?

In other words, have we radically improved our hospital services so as to counter any second wave of Covid-19 or are our hospitals more or less still in the same position as they were in mid-March?

If not, why not?

Do the recent upticks in community transmissions really represent an existential threat to the HSE’s capacity to deal with the virus?

The fatality rate, the hospitalisation rate and the rate of admission of Covid-19 patients into intensive care do not, as of now, appear to be in crisis.


The pandemic cannot be blithely dismissed as a problem of the “capitalist system” or as a good opportunity to create a utopian different society – it is an economic crisis which challenges the poor, the middle class and the wealthy alike. But people are economically vulnerable as well as being vulnerable to infection.

Michael McDowell: Public will not endure another lockdown (Irish Times)


Senator and senior counsel Michael McDowell

This afternoon.

Ahead of the Dáil meeting at 2pm today during which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe are scheduled to answer questions…

The Irish Times reports:

Independent Senator Michael McDowell has called for the Dáil to establish a Covid-19 Oireachtas committee to monitor the State’s response to the coronavirus crisis amid what he claimed was growing public unease.

…Mr McDowell said there was a growing sense of public unease with the quality and clarity of official pronouncements, despite the best efforts of the media.

The problem is that extremely opaque and general language has been used to deal with issues such as what is actually happening to residents of nursing homes and other residential facilities,” he said.

…The former tánaiste and attorney general said there had to be more clarity and accountability. “That requires the ability to question and be answered in public.”

Earlier: The Reporting of Deaths

Coronavirus: McDowell claims ‘growing public unease’ with official responses (The Irish Times)

Previously: A Refusal To Hold Themselves Accountable [Updated]


Senator Michael McDowell said Sinn Fein TDs and Senators “don’t decide anything” and are told what to do.

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

Senator Michael McDowell told Mr O’Rourke that Sinn Féin “don’t have parliamentary party meetings in Leinster House”.

He added: “The TDs and Senators don’t decide anything.”

Asked by Mr O’Rourke how he knew this, he said: “Because I was told directly by one of their parliamentarians.”

Senator McDowell said:

“And I’ll tell you exactly how, Seán. Do you remember the Senate Reform Implementation Group. I asked all the participants to give me an undertaking that we could set aside an afternoon to finalise the report. I said ‘can each of you tell me that there will be no parliamentary party meeting to distract you, or to take you away’.

“And we went around the table and when I got to the Sinn Féin participant, he said ‘we don’t have a parliamentary party’. ”

“He told me to my face…”

“They don’t have meetings of their parliamentary party as such in Leinster House.”

When it was put to Mr McDowell that the polls are indicating that the party may do very well, he replied “so what” before saying that Sinn Féin are “entitled to participate in Government if there are other parties which will participate in Government with them”.

He added:

“We live in a free democracy and if people don’t want to participate in Government with Sinn Féin, they’re perfectly entitled and there’s nothing arrogant or undemocratic to say ‘sorry, we are not going to participate in Government with you’.”

The 23-member implementation croup, consisting of 11 Senators and 12 TDs, was chaired by Senator McDowell. It was tasked with assessing the recommendations made by the Working Group on Seanad Reform in 2015.

Senators Fintan Warfield and Niall Ó Donnghaile and TD John Brady were its Sinn Féin members.


Earlier: “When You Leave This Studio, Could You Pick Up The Phone And Talk To Her?”

Yesterday: How Was It For You? [Updated]

Previously: Will I Get The Coronavirus If I Vote Sinn Féin?


From top: Michael McDowell;  Quinn Holdings Directors from left: Dara O’Reilly, Tony Lunney, John McCartin and CEO Liam McCaffrey, speak to the meeting ourside Monaghan Garda Station after meeing with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris last night

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke, Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin and Senator Michael McDowell spoke to Mr O’Rourke in light of the interview with Quinn executive Kevin Lunney on BBC Spotlight Northern Ireland programme last night.

Mr Lunney’s brother Tony Lunney also participated in the discussion.

Mr McDowell mentioned that if one drives into Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, today, the town’s ‘sniper at work’ sign is still perched on a telephone pole.

He then said:

“I think there has to be extremely heavy policing and surveillance and use of electronic counter measures, bugging, you name it. Tracing cars, you name it, tracing the use of phones, all of that has to be done very intensively.

“And I think that…again, I don’t want to be negative but there has been a  clear lapse in policing  on both sides of the border and there should have been a clear appreciation that this was going to escalate to the point that it has.

“And in any event, if it hadn’t escalated to the point that it has, it was still unacceptable.”

“That sign [in Crossmaglen] on the side of the road should have been removed by the gardai and the county council years ago. If I put up a sign in the middle of Ranelagh, giving out about Luas or something like that, it would be gone in ten seconds.

“You can’t have a differential approach to the rule of law…”

Listen back in full here

Related: Kevin Lunney abduction: QIH director tells of torture by gang (BBC)

Pics: Reddit and Rollingnews

From top: James Wray, William McKinney; Senator Michael McDowell

Yesterday morning.

On RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane show.

Former Minister for Justice Senator Michael McDowell voiced his thoughts on the prosecution of Soldier F.

Soldier F is to go on trial next year for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell during Bloody Sunday in the Bogside area of Derry in 1972.

Mr McDowell’s comments yesterday followed the former Minister for Justice reportedly making similar comments while speaking at an event last week to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Association of Retired and Commissioned Officers.

Mr McDowell was on the radio programme’s panel with Justine McCarthy, Political Correspondent for The Sunday Times, Mary C Murphy, a senior lecturer in politics Department of Government and Politics UCC, Diarmaid Ferriter, historian at UCD and Conall MacCoille, Chief Economist at Davy.

The barrister made his comments just after the panel had been discussing the potential political consequences of Spain’s Supreme Court ruling last month that the remains of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco should be exhumed from the state mausoleum, where his remains have been buried since his death in 1975, and reburied next to his wife in a graveyard outside Madrid.

Michael McDowell: “This is the point that I was raising in the week, I was asked to speak to retired army officers here. It sounds very dangerous.”


McDowell: “But in any event, it was a very enjoyable occasion. But in the course of my remarks, I said to them, you know, there is a sense in which you have to make a very cold choice as to whether you run a line across this page of history and say ‘we’re not going behind that again’, ‘we’re not going back there’.

“I mean Solder F.”

Marian Finucane: “Yeah.”

McDowell: “On trial for something 47 years ago when you know and I know, Marian, you’d had people in this studio who’ve done far worse things and…”

Finucane: “Eh no…”


Finucane: “Anyone who has been in this studio has assured me that they haven’t and that they were never a member of the IRA and that’s a fact.”


Finucane: “They told me.”

McDowell: “They told you…well I mean…”


Justine McCarthy: “I think for, to be fair to the relatives of the people who were killed on Bloody Sunday, there is nothing worse than to have somebody shot dead, an innocent person.”

McDowell: “I know there isn’t but I really do think, you know, we faced that in the civil war here. And on the day of the handover to Fianna Fáil, the Minister for Defence said ‘destroy all records’ to do with the executions and all the rest of it.

“By far, I think it was Desmond Fitzgerald who signed that order to the armed forces. He was saying we’re drawing a line under that and they didn’t go back under that. The army switched its allegiance to De Valera’s government and…”

Diarmaid Ferriter: “Well a hundred years on, that civil war legacy is still a delicate issue. So if it’s only 45 years…”

McDowell: “Or in America, they’re still fighting their civil war. The question I’m saying, I don’t believe, I have to say, in all, of this notion of a truth commission. You’ll never find out the truth about most things that happened in Northern Ireland. The people who did the terrible deeds will never put there hands up and say ‘I did this’.”


Later the panel were discussing the situation facing the Kurds in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

McDowell: “You’ve the crass ignorance of Donald Trump, you know what I mean. First of all, he claims to have won the battle against IS single handed. Then he had to acknowledge that they did most of the fighting for him. Then he lets them down with this telephone deal with Erdogan. Then he justifies that by saying the Kurds, god help them, were no help during D-Day invasion in Normandy…I mean to have a buffoon like him…”

Diarmaid Ferriter: “But it’s also the power that it’s giving to Putin as well…”


Finucane: “You may not like Mr Trump, Michael McDowell…”

McDowell: “I don’t.”

Finucane: “But he was elected under their system whether you like it or not.”

McDowell: “I agree with you, he was elected and I would accord him the respect that that involves but I would regard him as an absolutely shameful character. And I really think he’s a standing insult to the American people.”


Ferriter: “There’s another headline today, suggesting he’s going to tweet his way to a second term which is…”

Finucane: “Well, you see, I know there is a complete bias among our listenership, not universal because they get very annoyed at about, how, when anti-Trump stuff is said. His supporters think he’s kind of god.”

McDowell: “So did Adolf’s and Joe Stalin’s.”

McCarthy: “Somebody said the other day that the only member of the army that President Trump admires is Col Saunders.”


Listen back in full here

Previously: ‘Sufficient Evidence To Prosecute One Former Soldier’

McDowell ‘deeply uncomfortable’ with Soldier F prosecution (Conor Gallagher, The Irish Times)