Tag Archives: News At One

From top: The PSC card; Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina O’Doherty (left) and Helen Dixon, Data Protection Commissioner

This afternoon.

On RTÉ’s News at One, Pat Leahy, of The Irish Times, spoke to Christopher McEvitt about his article concerning the Government’s decision appeal the Data Protection Commissioner’s report on the Public Services Card.

It comes ahead of a Cabinet meeting this afternoon whereby it’s expected that ministers will be briefed about this decision.

Christopher McEvitt: “Tell us a little bit about the sense of embarrassment felt by the minister in charge of this project, Regina Doherty?”

Pat Leahy: “Yeah, Government have been very quiet about this. Albeit that the report was issued during August – the full report, by the way, hasn’t been published, merely the announcement of the report by the Data Protection Commissioner.

“But there was calls for Regina Doherty, who’s the Minister for Social Protection, who had promoted and defended the use of the card during her period as minister, calls from the Opposition for her to resign, came under a lot of criticism, not just from Opposition politicians, but also from activists in the field.”

“She’s said very little about it since then now and frankly I suppose some of that period was during the traditional political holidays, during August. But we haven’t heard from her in any great detail about the Government’s response to it. But today we find that she is bringing a memo to Cabinet which will inform that Government intends to appeal this, or to challenge the findings of the Commissioner’s report in the High Court.”

McEvitt: “And presumably she has found good reason to appeal the Data Protection Commissioner’s findings on the Public Services Card, we have no idea, have we, as to what the legal argument would be?”

Leahy: “No we don’t have any sight of the detail of the Attorney General’s advice on it, but I’m told what ministers will be briefed on this afternoon, when they meet for the first Cabinet meeting since the August break, is that advice has been taken not just from the Attorney General’s Office but also from an external counsel engaged by the Attorney General’s Office.

And the advice is that the decision of the, or the findings of the Data Protection Commissioner, in relation to the Public Services Card, were wrong in law, that she exceeded her legal powers and that they are likely to be set aside by a court.

“So I think the next stage that will be taken will be that the Data Protection Commissioner will be informed of this and if her report is not withdrawn that then, which I suppose is unlikely to happen, that High Court proceedings will be issued.”

McEvitt: “Any response thus far to your story on the front page of The Irish Times today from those civil liberties groups, those rights campaigners who were very concerned and who, indeed, welcomed the Data Protection Commissioner’s decision or findings on the Public Services Card, i.e. that it was being used beyond its scope unlawfully, by the Government?”

Leahy: “Well, I suppose campaigners who had been saying these sorts of things about the extension of the use of the Public Services Card for some times felt vindicated by the Data Protection Commissioner’s report and many of them pointing out that this could spawn a series of legal actions against the Government.

“I suppose many of them will not be surprised by the Government’s decision to challenge he findings of the Data Protection Commissioner. I suppose at a basic, political, level, it kicks the issue into touch.

“I think there will likely be criticism by both the Opposition and activists on the Government’s decision but from the point of view of Government Buildings, once that criticism is out of the way and I suppose once this story has died down, then it means it’s not something that has to be immediately addressed by the Government until such time the legal action has resolved itself which, as we know, is not something, that generally happens very quickly.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: ‘They’ve Been Collecting Data About Voters For A Very Long Time’

Put It On The Card

RTÉ’s Áine Lawlor; Dr Peter McKenna of the HSE

This afternoon on RTÉ’s News At One.

Journalist Áine Lawlor spoke to Dr Peter McKenna, the clinical director of the women’s and infants’ programme with the HSE – after nobody from the HSE was available to speak to RTÉ’s earlier shows Morning Ireland or Today with Seán O’Rourke.

The lunchtime interview followed it emerging last night that approximately 800 women who had CervicalCheck tests carried out between October 1, 2018, and June 25, 2019, have not received their test results.

This has been blamed on an IT issue at a Quest Diagnostics laboratory in Virginia in the US.

Most of the women affected were getting repeat tests for the human papillomavirus HPV – which can cause cervical cancer – because Quest had previously failed to carry out HPV testing on the women’s initial smears within the 30-day limit.

RTÉ reported last night that the HSE told the Department of Health on Wednesday that it became aware of the IT problem in June.

This lunchtime, Dr McKenna told Ms Lawlor that the HSE knew there was a “computer glitch” in February.

From the interview:

Áine Lawlor: “The lesson on Gabriel Scally’s report about open disclosure and honesty and transparency with the women who are fundamental to the future of CervicalCheck and who depend on CervicalCheck – that lesson has not been learned by the health service.”

Dr Peter McKenna: “I wouldn’t agree with that, in principle. I think that there’s elements of this problem that only emerged to the HSE in the last ten days or so. And the extent of what needs to be communicated with women is not yet currently absolutely certain.”

Lawlor: “OK, well let’s try and establish the facts. So we’re talking about 800-plus women who had repeated cervical smear tests done between October 2018 and June 2019. Is that right?”

McKenna: “Yes, and these are women whose cytology results were known and they had a minor degree of abnormality and in order to see whether they needed to go for coloposcopy or not, an additional test of HPV was carried out.”

Lawlor: “So, in lay person’s language, they had had a previous smear test that had shown some abnormalities related to HPV and this was a repeat smear test to see whether there’d been any changes. Is that right?”

McKenna: “It’s a refinement, it’s a, a papaloma test, rather than a repeat smear test.”

Lawlor: “OK, so it was a more advanced test.”

McKenna: “It was a more advanced test, now, if you…”

Lawlor: “And the computer broke down when?”

McKenna: “No, no, sorry, just to go back even further than that. These 800 women were women who had had a HPV test carried out but, as you may remember, towards the end of last year, it transpired that the tests had been done on an out-of-date kit. I don’t know if that…”

Lawlor: “I think everybody remembers every twist and turn of this unfortunately Dr McKenna. So they had gone for tests again after that, is that right?”

McKenna: “No, so the kit was out of date. And those women that had come back as positive – they were treated as if the result was correct.

“And those women, who the result had come back as negative, it was said ‘no, we should take this seriously and we will repeat the test’. And so, 800 of these women, whose tests have come back as negative initially on the HPV, were then retested.”

Lawlor: “OK. And when did the computer breakdown?

McKenna:It was known in February that there was a computer glitch and…”

Lawlor: “Where was it known exactly, Dr Peter McKenna, because most of us knew nothing about this until yesterday and today. So the question is: this computer failure goes back to February.

Who knew about that back in February? And who has known about that since?

McKenna: “Well, my understanding is that, if I could just finish, that it was known in February and…”

Lawlor: “By whom?”

McKenna: “In whom the tests results altered were informed by CervicalCheck in February. So there was a small number of the 800 women, in whom the results were different, and they were informed directly by CervicalCheck. So the women who were affected were informed as soon as it was known.”

Lawlor: “But who knew about the fail…what does the computer failure involve? When did it happen and who knew about it?”

McKenna: “The computer is designed to…the computer of the labs overseas is designed to communicate with the computer here. And that triggers a, a cascade of letters. It was appreciated that wasn’t working and a manual system was put in place, as far as the HSE knew.”

Lawlor: “OK, it was appreciated by whom? Who appreciated this? And who made the decision to put the manual system in place? And why was none of this made public?”

McKenna: “Right. The answer to the names, I couldn’t give you. I don’t know. But however, it was appreciated within the screening service because the screening service put alternative, manual arrangements in place.”

Lawlor: “And did the HSE know that these computers weren’t working? And that manual arrangements were now being put in place to write to women? And was anybody checking that that was actually happening?”

McKenna: “The service did know that the computers were not speaking to each other – that is absolutely correct and the HSE were reassured by the fact that the women were being written to manually, or sorry, their GPs were being written to manually.”

Lawlor: “So the women’s doctors were being written to, by whom? Who was responsible for…”

McKenna: “By the laboratory.”

Lawlor: “By the laboratory.”

McKenna: “Yeah.”

Lawlor: “So CervicalCheck told the HSE and everybody understood that the laboratories would write to the women…”

McKenna: “Would write to the GPs….”

Lawlor: “Would write to the women’s doctors…”

McKenna: “Yeah…”

Lawlor: “And when did it emerge that this was not happening?

McKenna: This only came to the knowledge of the screening programme and the HSE in early July.

Lawlor:In early July, but a number of months had passed. Had it not occurred to anybody to get back and check, given the sensitivity and, as you say, there have a lot of twists and turns in all of this and we have had the Scally Report which has emphasised the importance of transparency – particularly if women are to go on turning up for smear tests as part of the cervical screening programme.”

McKenna: “I can absolutely understand that question. The HSE and the screening are very disappointed that the arrangement that they thought had been put in place wasn’t working. And this will be investigated as to why this element was not followed through by the contractor.”

Lawlor: “But this is what happened in the first place isn’t it? Somebody thought somebody was telling the women but nobody was?”

McKenna: “No, it’s not quite the same as that. That was the result of an audit. This is probably, in some ways, more important than actual clinical results – there was a delay in communication.”

Lawlor: I’m still kind of flabbergasted. Just one other thing – did the minister know? The minister’s department? We know that the HSE knew about this and understood it was being dealt with by the laboratory, and this only emerged in the last while, that you found out that the letters weren’t happening.

Was the minister’s office across this?

McKenna: “I would not…I don’t know the answer to that. I’m sorry.”

Lawlor: “OK, so you don’t know whether the Department of Health was involved?”

McKenna: “I don’t. No.”

Lawlor: “You said you can understand why women might not have confidence after everything. I mean this comes across like almost like a last straw, doesn’t it, for many women?”

McKenna: “It certainly doesn’t sound good. But I think it’s important to point out that these women have had cervical cytology – they do not have a severe grade of cervical abnormality. If they did they would have been referred directly to colposcopy. This is a delay in communicating the result of a second or a refined test which would indicate whether they should or shouldn’t go on to colposcopy.”

Lawlor: “Well we appreciate you coming on the programme to talk to us today.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: ‘Why Wait Until An Hour After The Dáil Goes Into Recess To Let The Information Out Publicly?’




This afternoon.

On RTÉ’s News At One.

Presidential hopeful Peter Casey spoke to Áine Lawlor – in light of his announcement that he will be taking a break from the campaign this weekend to consider whether or not he will continue to run for president.

His name is already on the ballot.

The decision to take a break follows criticism of him saying he didn’t believe Travellers should get ethnic minority status – despite this passing in May of last year.

He also told Kevin Doyle, of the Irish Independent, Travellers are “basically people that are camping on somebody else’s land”.

And he made further comments about Travellers in Thurles, Co Tipperary where a number of families from the Travelling community are refusing to move into newly built homes because of a dispute with Tipperary County Council.

A statement from the Travelling families involved about the matter can be read here.

During this afternoon’s radio, following a visit to the location of the homes yesterday, Mr Casey said: “There’s not a racist bone in my body.”

From the News At One interview…

Mr Casey started out saying the past 48 hours had been “strange to say the least”.

Peter Casey: “I’ve been accused of being a racist. This is just absolutely not what my campaign is about. I’m going to take the weekend and I’m going to reflect on it and I’m going to talk to my family and my wife and my children and my advisors and I’ll make a decision on Monday as to what’s the right thing to do.”

“I mean I promised my mother I was going to stand years ago for the presidency of Ireland. She would not want to me to stand if I was going to get elected on this platform. That is not what I’m about.

“You know I feel very passionate that there is things that need to be done, like, for example, I set up my business in Buncrana and, you know, it’s just…

Áine Lawlor: “All right..”

Casey: “It’s, you know, it’s just so wrong…”

Lawlor: “Ok, let’s take this step by step because you seem quite upset. Are you?”

Casey: “I am, yes.”

Lawlor: “Were you surprised by the reaction to your remarks about Travellers in Cabra and Thurles.”

Casey: “You know, I was surprised beyond belief. I thought we’d got way beyond this. I didn’t even realise that there had been this law passed last year giving special ethnic status to…”

Lawlor: “You didn’t know that Travellers were recognised in Irish law? Under Irish law?”

Casey: “I didn’t. I hadn’t realised that.”

Lawlor: “That this is a conversation and indeed a campaign that had been waged a long time and it had come up several times over several…”

Casey: “There’s so many things that have been going on. I’ve been, as you know, it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve moved back full time to Ireland so it’s…”

Lawlor: “So you didn’t realise what you were getting into when you said that?”

Casey: “No idea. I thought we were way beyond that. We are such a melting pot of different cultures, nationalities, you know, we’ve got so many, we’ve got 120,000 Polish people here, we’ve got African people, people from Africa, people from all over, you know, all over the world. All these different nationalities now proudly call Ireland their home. And I thought we were beyond…The Proclamation says ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally’….

Lawlor: “Well a lot of people thought we were way beyond, as a nation, having Travellers singled out by any candidate who…”

Casey: “That’s wrong…”

Lawlor: “And pitting them against the homeless in Dublin?”

Casey: “I wasn’t pitting them against the homeless in Ireland. I was pointing out the absurdity of these amazing houses sitting there empty because people were demanding that they would be given stables and an acre of land….”

Lawlor: “But you didn’t afford the Travellers of Cabra, they said, afterwards, and they were upset. You’re upset that they were upset because you didn’t meet them.”

Casey: “That is absolutely not true. It was well known that I was coming down there. I announced I was coming down there to meet with them, to meet with Martin Collins. And I announced that I was coming down. I went down there with my wife and we stood there for 15 minutes or so, answered questions, they all, there were literally 25/30 yards across the road….”

Lawlor: “Were those people, people whose votes you are seeking, were they not entitled to the courtesy, particularly when you, as a candidate were using all the attention that comes with being a candidate, to highlight this issue and their dispute with the council. Were they not entitled to the courtesy of the candidate at least coming up and saying, face to face, ‘do you know what? Here’s my problem. And here, as president, is why, how I would like to address it.”

Casey: “I felt it was inappropriate for me to go over. There was like 25 to 30 cameraman there. I felt it would have been invasive…”

Lawlor: “Your office could have said something …”

Casey: “They knew I was there, they knew I was 30 yards away…”

Lawlor: “And they knew what you’d said about them…”

Casey: “And I waited for them, I waited for them to come over, I said ‘they know I’m here’. There was two police cars at either side, the road was [inaudible], everybody knew I was there. And then I went up to the Hayes Hotel and a councillor John Cross came up and said ‘I think you should go back down’ and I said, cause they’re holding, they waited until I left before they came out with their placards and then held a press conference, they waited until I drove off. They timed it…”

Lawlor: “Was that not the right of any citizen of this Republic to protest?”

Casey: “It is but you then can’t say that I didn’t go to meet them, I did go to meet them. And I then went…”

Lawlor: “But it was up to them to approach you?”

Casey: “It would have been wrong for me to go and knock on their door with a whole world of interviewers and they were actually, you know, aggressive, some of them. One of them was actually quite rude to me. And I felt…I then went to the Hayes Hotel and invited them to come up. Margaret Casey, ironically, is one of the leaders, and the councillor contacted her and said ‘look, Peter’s here, he’s absolutely happy  to sit here and wait for you to come up and meet with him’. And she declined the offer. And I said ‘I’ll go down and see here anytime she wants to meet with me, I’m prepared to talk’.”

Lawlor: “There are many people in the Travelling community Peter Casey who, from the debate the other night, right through what happened in Thurles, they find the way you have been talking, the way you have been describing the Traveller community is racist.”

Casey: “I grew up in Derry when you couldn’t get a job when you were Catholic, you were discriminated against because you were Catholic, that was one of reasons I left. It’s one of the reasons I left. I’m so conscious of the evil of discrimination, of bigotry and of racism. I, there’s not a racist bone in my body. And I really, I find it…”

Lawlor: “Maybe not intentionally but do you understand that you could have caused that offence to a group of people who do see you language and they way that you have been dealing with this issue and this campaign as racist? Do you understand that?”

Casey: “No I don’t. Because I’m not a racist…”

Lawlor: “And for Michael D Higgins talks about the lower life expectancy, and the greater mental health problems, the greater health problems, this is a community that has lost out and loses out by every indication going on this society.

Casey: “And I, that is totally, totally wrong that that is the case. But the way to cure the problem is not to sort of make them feel like they’re special and they’re different, the way is to help them feel that they’re included. That they are as Irish as I am. I got a lift to the…”

Lawlor: “And you think standing outside empty houses and calling the people ‘bonkers’ and…”

Casey: “No I didn’t…”

Lawlor: “Do you think that helps?”

Casey: “I did not call the people bonkers. I called the council…”

Lawlor: “Called the dispute bonkers.”

Casey: “I called the dispute, I said the whole thing is bonkers, it’s wrong. That there are people sleeping on the streets in Dublin, you know.”

Lawlor: “You say you’re reconsidering, do you regret running?”

Casey: “At the moment, I’m considering yes. If I had known it was going to come this way, I probably wouldn’t have run because this is not. My platform was to, you know, I’m all about rural Ireland. We have got a tragedy going on in rural Ireland, people are leaving rural Ireland and now because Dublin is so expensive, they can’t afford to go to Dublin, the only option is to go to England which that option might be ruled out if Brexit goes the wrong way. People are leaving…”

Lawlor: “And you seem genuinely distressed in front of me here but there are people who are thinking this is a cynical stunt dreamt up to keep you in the headlines and get you up in the polls over the weekend. Because one way or another, your name is going to be on that ballot paper this day week. People will have to decide themselves whether to vote for you or not.”

Casey: “Well they can’t vote for me if I’m not in the race. So..”

Lawlor: “Your name will be on the ballot paper.”

Casey: “Yeah but they won’t vote for me, if I step down, I’ll encourage them to not vote for me.”

Lawlor: “Will you ask them to endorse Joan Freeman?”

Casey: “Joan would probably be my preferred choice of the other candidates yeah.”

Lawlor: “And when will you know?”

Casey: “I’m going to talk to my family this weekend. I’m going to talk and spend time with my wife and the children. And my advisors and then, you know, at the moment I’m just, we’ll work things out over the weekend and discuss with the family and then make a decision and, you know, there’s…”

Lawlor: “However upset you are now and this must be…we have seen, you know, previous campaigns, previous candidates, people like Mary Banotti, Adi Roche, Gay Mitchell, they’ve all felt, for different reasons and in different ways and in different times, they’ve all felt exactly how horrible a presidential campaign can be for the candidate. On the other hand, are you not showing, one week to go to polling day, your name will be on the ballot paper, are you not showing that you’re a man who fundamentally doesn’t have the temperament to do the job?”

Casey: “That’s the complete opposite. I’m so passionate about making a difference. I’m passionate about…you look at what’s going on in rural Ireland. We should have gone with 4G straight off the bat. Every home in Ireland would have 20-25 megabyte. You know, and we’d have four bars on our cellphones.”

Lawlor: “Are you a wealthy man who’s chasing a dream here and you’ve come up against reality?”

Casey: “There’s nothing wrong with chasing a dream but this is, this is wrong when you’re accusing people of being something they’re not. And it’s not right that people, and you’ve got, you know, politicians jumping on and accusing me of being a racist, I mean it’s just wrong.”

Lawlor: “Well [Taoiseach] Leo Varadkar spoke about divisive remarks designed to get attention for you and your campaign. I mean you are getting the attention. Those remarks are divisive.”

Casey: “I’ve said and it’s in the Proclamation, we should cherish all the children of the nation equally. What’s racist about that? What’s racist about saying that you should treat everyone equally. That’s all I’m saying. I don’t think you should specify any group, any ethnic group at all. The taxi driver the other day was from Pakistan and I said to him ‘are there many Pakistani people in Dublin?’. He said, ‘oh yeah’, he said ‘there’s a large community’. And I said, ‘Would you like to be deemed as an ethnic group?’. He said, ‘no, of course not, we’re Irish. My children, they all speak with Dublin accents’. You know, I mean, they’re proud to be Irish, they’ve made Ireland their home and they don’t want to me, he felt it would be an insult to make them a different group because they’re Irish.”

Lawlor: “Will we know by Monday?”

Casey: “Yes.”

Earlier: Halting

Yesterday: A Mindless Eating Machine

There Goes The Neighbourhood

Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald

This lunchtime.

On RTÉs News At One.

Aine Lawlor interviewed Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald about what she knew, when, in relation to the legal strategy employed by the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan against Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

During the interview, Ms Fitzgerald said she received an email in May 2015 stating a criminal charge against Sgt McCabe had been raised at the commission and that it had been claimed that this charge hadn’t been properly investigated.

Ms Fitzgerald said she was told a row ensued between the counsel for Sgt McCabe and the counsel for the commissioner at the commission because of this claim.

Ms Fitzgerald said the email was based on information that an officer in the Attorney General’s office gave to a Department of Justice official in a phone call in May 2015.

After the interview, just as Leaders’ Questions began in the Dail, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin told the Dail that just before he entered the Dail chamber…

“I took a phonecall from Maurice McCabe, he’d been on to another deputy. And he is adamant that such an issue was never raised during the O’Higgins inquiry. And he’s taking very serious issue with the remarks of the Tanaiste on the News at One today. And my understanding is that he will be issuing a statement.”

Readers will recall how on May 6, 2014, Sean Guerin SC, after examining allegations of Garda misconduct made by Sgt McCabe, Mr Guerin recommended that a Commission of Investigation be held into the complaints.

This would eventually lead to the setting up of the privately held O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015.

At the outset of the O’Higgins Commission, counsel for the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and An Garda Siochana Colm Smyth SC said it would argue Sgt McCabe was making complaints about Garda misconduct because he had a grudge and that evidence of this would be based on a meeting Sgt McCabe had with two gardai, Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin, in Mullingar in August 2008.

Broadsheet has previously reported how it was also claimed at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation by Chief Supt Colm Rooney that Sgt McCabe had sought a meeting with him in 2007 demanding that the DPP’s directions – in respect of an “dry humping” allegation made by the daughter of a guard previously disciplined by Sgt McCabe in 2006  – be overturned.

The commission was told  this was the basis of a grudge held by Sgt McCabe and the reason behind him making complaints about Garda misconduct.


The DPP’s directions were categorically in Sgt McCabe’s favour. They included the line:

“Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”

At the beginning of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, An Garda Siochana weren’t aware that Sgt McCabe had been verbally, but fully, briefed of the DPP’s directions on the same day they were issued in April 2007.

Sgt McCabe gave evidence on day two of the commission – Friday, May 15, 2015 – in which he explained his knowledge of the DPP’s directions and how he had no desire for them to be overturned as he was very satisfied with them.

This hasn’t been reported elsewhere.

Readers will also recall how Broadsheet has previously reported how, on that same Friday afternoon, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, called for documentary evidence to be produced to support the claim that Sgt McCabe wanted the DPP’s directions overturned.

Over the following weekend, and in response to Mr McDowell’s request, a five-page document compiled by the then Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, was introduced to the commission on Monday, May 18, 2015 – day three of the commission.

In Ms Creedon’s letter, she stated:

“[In relation to the 2008 meeting in Mullingar] … “Superintendent [Noel] Cunningham was accompanied to this meeting by Sergeant Yvonne Martin. Notes were taken at the meeting and countersigned by Sergeant Martin, and a detailed report of the meeting was prepared by Superintendent Cunningham, and its contents agreed with Sergeant Martin, and forwarded to Chief Superintendent [Colm] Rooney.”

“In the course of this meeting Sergeant McCabe advised Superintendent Cunningham that the only reason he made the complaint against Superintendent [Michael] Clancy was to force him to allow Sergeant McCabe to have the full DPP directions conveyed to him.”


A tape recording of the meeting, produced by Sgt McCabe, contradicted Ms Gleeson’s assertions.

The claim about the grudge and the claim about the grudge being made known at the meeting were dropped by the Garda Commissioner’s legal counsel.

But they were never included in the commission’s final report.

In addition, it’s been claimed by Labour TD Alan Kelly that a phonecall was made from the Commissioner’s office to the secretary general of the Department of Justice Noel Waters on May 15, 2015.

The purpose of that alleged call is unknown.

Last week, Mr Waters announced he’s stepping down from his role in February.

Readers will recall how, after the report of O’Higgins Commission of Investigation was published in May 2016 – which didn’t outline any of the details above, Mick Clifford, in the Irish Examiner, and Katie Hannon, of RTE, reported how Ms O’Sullivan’s legal counsel made the claim about 2008 Mullingar meeting and how Sgt McCabe’s tape recording proved this not to be the case.

There have since been calls to know exactly what the Department of Justice and the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald knew of this legal strategy.

Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dail Ms Fitzgerald learned of the legal strategy when it became public knowledge – which is May 2016.

But last night, Ms Hannon reported on Claire Byrne Live that a Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed to her this week that Ms Fitzgerald was first made aware in May 2015.

Further to this…

From News At One:

Aine Lawlor: “I think, minister, and just to clarify again so we’re not at cross purposes. The questions here are not in relation to whether you’re the person drawing up the strategy. The question is are you the person being informed about what’s going on? There was a row at the tribunal [sic] in May 2015. The O’Higgins Commission was told that evidence would be produced to show that whistleblower Maurice McCabe who had fought so long and so hard to be able to tell his story and suffered so much for it, that he would be shown to be somebody with a grudge.

We’re told the Department was informed. Who told you then?

France Fitzgerald: “Let me be clear: what emerged last week from and what the Department were referencing yesterday was that there was a conversation between an official in the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General’s office officer told an official in the department in a telephone conversation…”

Lawlor: “Was this Noel Waters?”

Fitzgerald: “And that an issue had arisen at the tribunal in relation to the approach that the counsel for An Garda Siochana were taking. And that the counsel for Sgt Maurice McCabe had objected very strongly to that. Because it was raising an issue about a criminal, a serious criminal complaint which his counsel felt had nothing to do with the current situation. And this was then put in an email by the official who had taken the phonecall. The Department discovered that  email last week and I was informed towards the end of the week, in relation to this. Now when I…can I…”

Talk over each other

Lawlor: “Sorry minister, because you’ve said a fair bit but you still haven’t answered the question: were you, because the department says now, as of last night, you were aware of this. Who told you what in May 2015 about that row?”

Fitzgerald: “What I’ve said to you is that the department discovered an email last week when they were trying to answer various questions that had come in. They found an email that record that details of this conversation that it had been sent to me at that point and that it is..”

Lawlor: “The email was sent to you?”

Fitzgerald: “Let me finish.. that it specifically said in the email that there was no function for me getting involved in a Commission of Investigation and anybody’s evidence before it that it would be actually a criminal act by me if I was to get involved in that.  Now when I…”

Lawlor: “Did you read that email Tanaiste?”

Fitzgerald: “When I spoke to the Taoiseach, let me just say this Aine, when I spoke to the Taoiseach what I explained was that all of the information that came out in May 2016, about garda witnesses, about tapes. All of that, that was leaked, I had absolutely no knowledge about any of that until May 2016 and that is what I had said to the Taoiseach and that is what he was commenting on when he spoke in the Dail.”

Lawlor: “Ok, I’ll come onto May 2016 in a minute but let’s just stay with May 2015. There’s this row at the tribunal. There is a conversation between the AG’s office and somebody in your Department, you haven’t told us whom.”

Fitzgerald: “That’s right.”

Lawlor: “And you are sent an email about this. Did you read that email?

Fitzgerald: “Well I don’t remember that particular email.”

Lawlor: “Do you remember getting information about this?”

Fitzgerald: “One of the reasons that I don’t remember it is because it actually specifically said that I had no function in relation to evidence before a tribunal, given by any party.  What I have done and what I…”

Lawlor: “So you don’t remember?”

Fitzgerald: “I don’t remember that particular email but the department found it last Thursday and I, I spoke to the Department and saw what was in it. But the point is that it specifically said I had no role in relation to it. Now what I did do, though Aine, and I think it’s very important to say this is that from the moment I became Minister for Justice I did absolutely everything to make sure that any discussion that I would have with the Garda Commissioner in relation to whistleblowing was about making sure that whistleblowers were protected, supported, that the way they were dealing with it in An Garda Siochana, they brought in Transparency International, my constant focus was to, and any time any thing was raised in the Dail, was to discuss and say you know, you’ve got to look after whistleblowers properly…”

Lawlor: “Tanaiste, given that you couldn’t remember what you had been told in May 2015. Why when Mick Clifford and Katie Hannon reported in May 2016 that actually the State had argued that Maurice McCabe was simply a man with a grudge and if he he hadn’t secretly recorded the conversation with other gardai, that might have stuck. Why did you not have your memory jogged? And speak about that in the Dail in 2016?”

Fitzgerald: “I was not party to what was going on at the O’HIggins Commission. You know the O’Higgins Commission was private and as minister, I remember saying at the time, when there was part information leaked that I couldn’t comment on part information when I didn’t have the full facts and what I said was we’d set up and what I did was set up the Charleton tribunal which is now examining the specifically that legal strategy but I didn’t know about that legal strategy but that commission, that tribunal is examining precisely what the approach was to the evidence and the approach that the gardai took. I meant he Charleton Tribunal which is where, if anybody has any information, or any TD, or any member of the public has information about this issue, it should go to the Charleton Tribunal now which this house set up, and or course the Department of Justice is also part of that those terms of reference.”

Lawlor: “You didn’t know about this, of course, minister, and you can’t remember the email but the fact of the matter is did the penny not drop even in May 2016? That if it were not for the media, if it were not for Maurice McCabe’s own tapes, because he didn’t trust by that stage, at that stage, because of everything he had been through, that man could have been left out to dry and not believed. The O’Higgins Commission may not have said the things you’ve just quoted about. The Charleton Tribunal may never have happened and that would have happened on your watch as minister for justice. Because you weren’t remembering it was the media that were publishing.”

Fitzgerald: “That’s a quite unfair description because what I did, as minister, when I got the Guerin Report, I set up the O’Higgins Commission. Every act I took, in my role as Minister for Justice, was to support whistleblowers and then when this issue about the strategy, the legal strategy which we’ve yet to hear, from the Charleton Tribunal, precisely what that legal strategy was, I have set up a specific term of reference in the Charleton Tribunal.”

Lawlor: “So you were expressing support for Maurice McCabe in the Dail, praising him, but you were also, when the leaks came out instead of saying ‘oh my gosh, yes, I got an email, I remember that now’. You were condemning those leaks as illegal, did you not remember the email you’d been sent at the time, telling you that this was a strategy condemning…”

Fitzgerald: “What I was saying was that it was part of the story and as minister for justice, I couldn’t operate on the basis of leaks that were coming out. And indeed, Aine, it’s very important to remember there’s a tribunal sitting at the moment, to examine specifically the issue of that strategy and whether there was a strategy in place. I cannot assume what that strategy was. What is referenced in the email is an event at the tribunal in relation to a disagreement between two counsel and the details around that. That’s what’s referenced. It’s not about an overall strategy.”


Lawlor: “And you’ve told us in this interview that the Chief State Solicitor’s Office was dealing with the Attorney General on this. Did you have any conversations with the Attorney General…”

Fitzgerald: “The Chief..sorry? The Chief State Solicitor, no, the Attorney General and a department of official that had the conversation that was then reported to me.”

Lawlor: “OK, did you discuss this with the Attorney General?”

Fitzgerald: “No, I didn’t discuss the details of this because it wasn’t my role to be discussing  anybody’s strategy at the tribunal.”

Lawlor: “Why? It was fair enough for the State to argue that Maurice McCabe had a grudge?”

Fitzgerald: “But I do not have evidence, I do not have evidence that the State were arguing that Maurice McCabe had a grudge?”

Lawlor: “Well there was a row about it in May 2015 and…isn’t that what we were talking about Tanaiste?”

Fitzgerald: “No, no, the information that was shared from the Attorney’s office at that point was that – about the disagreement between the two counsel down at the tribunal. It was, I…I was not involved…”

Lawlor: “And what were you told they were disagreeing about?”

Fitzgerald: “..in the legal strategy.”

Lawlor: “What were you told they were disagreeing about?”

Fitzgerald: “About the fact that a serious criminal charge which Sgt McCabe had denied had been raised.”

Lawlor: “What kind of criminal charge, did you not ask?”

Fitzgerald: “Well you know, it’s, I, it wasn’t for me to get into the details in relation to it, the criminal charge.”

Lawlor: “You were the minister for justice…”

Ftizgerald: “The criminal charge had been, had, you know, there had been I think subsequently, there has been detail in relation to that but what I was, what was reported to me, the allegation had been that a serious criminal complaint against Sgt McCAbe, which he had always denied had not been properly investigated by the Garda Siochana. That was the allegation.”

Lawlor: “And that’s in the email is it?”

Fitzgerald: “That, that, that is the only detail in relation to the specific of the complaint against the two of them.

Lawlor: “And that’s what the email says, is that right?’

Fitzgerald: “The allegation had been that a serious criminal complaint against Sgt McCabe, which he’d always denied, had not been properly investigated  and that was the source of disagreement between the two counsel.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Absence of Malice

The Legal Strategy Against Maurice McCabe


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Paul Reynolds, crime correspondent, RTÉ News

RTÉ News chose to lead on the Philip Cairns case again today.

The station’s Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds spoke to Áine Lawlor on News at One about ‘new developments’ in the case.

Some may feel these new developments bear similarities to the new developments announced last Friday night by Mr Reynolds.

Ms Lawlor began their discussion by asserting that gardaí had made a link between Philip Cairns and convicted paedophile Eamonn Cooke and then asking if this assertion was a correct one.

A small tay.

Paul Reynolds: “Yeah, they’ve confirmed new lines of enquiry have opened up after the woman came forward. Now, Gardaí were in contact with this woman since the appeal on the 25th anniversary of Philip’s disappearance in October of 2011. Now she was clearly still very traumatised and she was a 9-year-old child at the time. The gardaí kept in contact with her, they reassured her, they worked to build trust with her and they waited until she felt that she could come forward and make a statement.”

“And that happened last month and we know that, in that statement, she told them that convicted paedophile Eamonn Cooke had struck the 13-year-old boy with an implement at the pirate radio station, Radio Dublin in Inchicore. And that she wasn’t in the room at the time but that she’d went in and seen Philip Cairns lying unconscious and bleeding on the floor. That she fainted and when she woke up she was in a car, being driven by Cooke.”

“Now the Gardaí, the woman told the Gardaí that Cooke knew Philip Kerins and had promised to take him to visit the radio station. They still don’t know exactly how Eamonn Cooke got to know the child but at that time, you know, it was apparently a regular occurrence for Eamonn Cooke to visit the radio station, Radio Dublin.”

“And there is a context for all this as anybody who was around at the time will know Áine, I mean broadcasting was a huge interest at the time. People who owned and worked in pirate radio stations were stars. There was huge glamour, fame and celebrity surrounding pirate radio and thousands of people – adults teenagers and children – were fascinated by radio, much as they are by the media today.”

“And many wanted to work in radio. So it wasn’t really unusual for children to be interested in this. And not unusual for Eamonn Cooke to take advantage of that, to abuse children. And when he was questioned on his deathbed about Philip Cairns, by the Gardaií, he refused to tell them directly, or through an intermediary – a solicitor or a priest – where Philip’s remains are but he did, I understand, indicate to the Gardaí that he did know the child.”

Lawlor: “And of course Philip’s mother has spoken about her hopes again. In terms of trying to track him down because this obviously must be a priority for the gardaí is to try to give his family some certainty and closure on this. Are they appealing for more information – do they have further lines of inquiry?”

Reynolds: “Yeah, I mean they did confirm [transmission cuts out briefly before continuing]…this afternoon they’re to give a number of new lines of appeal in relation to specifically other people who may have been at either location. Now the locations are the Ballyroan Road – when Philip was on his way back to school, the place where he’s believed to have disappeared from. And then subsequently, six days later, the laneway where his schoolbag is found. And also they’re seeking information about Eamonn Cooke and his movements at the time. Was he in that area at the time? And also his movements in and around Radio Dublin, the radio station at that time and indeed people who were there and who may have seen children coming and going at the time.”

“Now, specifically as well, now what they will do this afternoon is commend the victim, the victim was only nine years of age at the time and the Gardaí say it’s perfectly understandable that victims of violent, dangerous, serial and recidivist abusers take some time to come forward with information. Many victims only come forward after their abusers have died and can do them no further harm. And Eamonn Cooke was, to many people, a frightening figure, a convicted paedophile who had abused children at that time. So the Gardaí say, as part of this appeal, they want to work and build trust with others who may have information and still might be afraid to come forward.”

Lawlor: “Ok, Paul. Thank you very much indeed for that.”

Listen back here

Yesterday: Philip Cairns And A Trail Of Disinformation


Paschal Donohoe

Fine Gael TD and acting Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Paschal Donohoe spoke to Richard Crowley on RTÉ One’s News At One earlier about the prolonged Government formation talks brouhaha.

A quick tay.

Richard Crowley: “Are you then, as this stage, prepared to flesh it out in more detail, give us more detail of what exactly is on offer. For instance, and this hasn’t been answered satisfactorily, are you talking about a rotating Taoiseach?

Paschal Donohoe: “The reason it hasn’t been answered is this is something that hasn’t been discussed by either party.”

Crowley: “But are you proposing it? That was my question.”

Donohoe: “No, it is not something that the party is proposing but what we want to do is discuss what a partnership arrangement, a three-way partnership arrangement, would look like with Fianna Fáil and the Independents…”

Crowley: “Are you open, are you open to the idea of a rotating Taoiseach?

Donohoe: “What we are open to is having discussions with Fianna Fáil in relation to how stable…”

Crowley: “Ok you want to keep that a secret, you want to keep that a secret for now and what…”

Donohoe: “No, excuse me, let me come in there. This isn’t about keeping matters secret or not.”

Crowley: “Well, I’ve asked you the question are you open to discussing…you didn’t answer it.”

Talk over each other

Donohoe: “Richard, again, Richard again – if you’ll allow me to finish the point – what we are looking to do is put together a stable Government for the benefit of our country and want to have discussions in that spirit with all parties…”

Crowley: “But you won’t, you won’t tell me whether or not that involves Fine Gael being open to the idea of a rotating Taoiseach?”

Donohoe: “Because at this point what we are putting on the table is the principle of  a partnership government and the fact that that principle has now been rejected is why it’s so important that we make clear to Fianna Fáil but, beyond that, to the country, what this is all about…to the right thing for the country.”

Crowley: “I know, I know, everybody knows that, with respect minister, you’re just insulting the intelligence of the listeners by telling them how important this is. They know that and that’s why they’re waiting for the detail of this deal. But you’re not in a position to give it, for instance where or what would be the role of the Independents in this partnership plan you’re proposing?”

Donohoe: “Well, with respect to you, Richard, I think it’s up to your listeners themselves to make an evaluation on the answers that I’m attempting to put to them and there’s few people who’ve greater respect for your listeners, and for the electorate, than somebody who’s trying to get elected on their behalf…”

Crowley:Then tell them what’s on offer.”

Donohoe: “Richard, again, for the third time, I’d like to answer your question you’re putting to me. What we’re saying here is in relation to the further point that you brought to me there is in terms of what the arrangement would like with the Independents. We had a discussion with the Independents, all of the Independents earlier on in the week, which, they were all present, in which we made clear to them that we wanted to put this broad arrangement on the table to Fianna Fáil. And based on the response that we had back from them, we then offered further opportunity to see what would be the policy platform upon which we could jointly govern…”

Crowley: “By the way, by the way, minister. The Independents also say that they didn’t know that what was on the agenda yesterday for that meeting between Micheal Martin and Enda Kenny was the notion of this grand partnership that would include a role for them. They weren’t aware that that was on the agenda either. Why not?”

Donohoe: “Actually Richard, it’s my understanding that Deputy Michael Healy Rae earlier on today, on one of your other shows, said that they were aware that we were going to be putting such proposals to Fianna Fáil.”

Crowley: “So you told formally that this was going to be discussed. And as for their role in this, are you, have you laid out specific roles in terms of number of seats at Cabinet [inaudible].”

Donohoe: “Ah no Richard, sure, of course we can’t get to that point yet. What we have to do and what we’re looking to do is respect the decisions that the Independents themselves may make and I respect that, I respect the situation they find themselves in. And sure nobody can get to a point of discussing something like that until we’re finally clear on who wants to play a role in Government. And that is the decision, now, that each of us, all of us, need to make now in the coming week.”

Crowley: “So the offer, just to clarify, very quickly, as I know you’re in a rush to go…”

Donohoe: “Ah no Richard, I’m delighted to be on with you, I’m happy to spend as much time with you as you’d like to have me on for.”

Listen back in full here


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From top: RTÉ’s Áine Lawlor and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin

Fine Gael Health Minister Leo Varadkar was interviewed on Morning Ireland today.

During the interview Mr Varadkar levelled criticism against Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in relation to his time as Health Minister between 2000 to 2004.

Morning Ireland presenter Cathal MacCoille said Fianna Fáil was asked to come on the show, to respond to Mr Varadkar’s assertions, but the offer was turned down.

Further to this, Mr Martin spoke with Áine Lawlor on RTÉ’s News At One.

It got a bit… tetchy.

Áine Lawlor: “We’re joined now, from Galway, by the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and good afternoon to you.”

Micheál Martin: “Good afternoon you, Áine.”

Lawlor: “On the latest figures, even if the Fine Gael/Fiann Fáil coalition would be short won in getting a majority, is a grand coalition looking like the only answer?”

Martin: “Áine what figures are those?

Lawlor: “The Red C poll.”

Martin: “But you know by… first of all, by the way, I thought I was coming on to respond to Leo Varadkar this morning.”

Lawlor: “I’m not, I’ll come to that in a moment…sorry, I..”

Talk over each other

Martin: “I’ve answered these questions ad nauseam. The bottom line is…”

Lawlor: “No, just to say, Micheal Martin, just to say Micheal Martin, the reason I asked you about the poll is because I wanted to talk about the general state of the play in the campaign first before…”

Martin: “I know…”

Lawlor: “…going into accusations that have been, we can deal with that first if you’d rather?”

Martin: “No, I’ve no problem with it at all. But, just to say to you that that was the basis upon which this interview was agreed, from my perspective. I’ve no difficulty in answering your question and I’ve answered it before. I think we need to be very careful in terms of the parameters by which we’re going to judge this election and, particularly, the opinion polls. I’ve said in the past that, in the United Kingdom for example, opinion polls were out by 6.5% and the problem with that was it dictated the type of debate that was held in Britain. In other words, the British people never got to discuss what the Tories would do to their health system, or would do to their social welfare and so on. So we need to be careful in Ireland that we don’t allow the polls to dominate this debate to the exclusion of issues and the kind of country we want and Fianna Fáil have been saying, from the outset, that there’s a choice between the Irish people, that Fianna Fáil, between a Fianna Fáil-led Government that would focus on fairness, on a fair break for the self-employed and for enterprise and for decency in society as a whole as opposed to a Fine Gael-led government which will and look after the wealthiest in our society. And then it’s up to the people to decide, in relation to that choice, I think we’ve succeeded in doing that during this campaign…”

Lawlor: “Absolutely. Which is why…”

Talk over each other

Lawlor: “… which is why I am putting this question to you because you’re pre-supposing that we will be able to put a Government together. But given what the polls are indicating, at this point in time, and given what you have said and what Enda Kenny has said about who, and who you will not, go in with. The question before voters in the run-up to next Friday is whether there is any government that can be put together given what you’re all saying at the moment. So that’s why I’m asking you the question: is a grand coalition the only viable option?

Martin: I don’t agree with your premise and I’ve said this time and time again. I don’t agree with that premise. I think your discussion, and all of the discussion, is on the basis that the election has happened, the election has not happened. In the local elections for example, of where we can take that basis, we would have been discussing Fianna Fail coming in on third place.”

Talk over each other

Lawlor: “No the question is based, Micheal Martin, on the fact that the people of this country elect a Dáil…”

Martin: “Aine I would appreciate if you would allow me answer the question please.”

Lawlor: “Yes, but..”

Talk over each other

Lawlor:The people of this country will elect a Dáil. That Dáil’s job is to elect a Government. If the people of this country don’t want to be Portugal, don’t want to be Spain, don’t want to be paying higher interest rates, do want to have an actual Government, I’m asking you when that Dáil is elected will you do your part in working with other politicians to put a Government together because, at the moment, a Government may not result after next Friday.”

Martin:That’s the Fine Gael line you’re peddling in terms of Portugal. The Irish people aren’t responsible for Portugal, Italy or anybody else. We know there are international issues that are determining the global situation, not least the volatility in China and the uncertain situation there and other issues. My point is and my point, repeatedly has been, that this election hasn’t even begun. And I do not accept that the opinion polls may be correct in terms of what will actually happen. And you can go through constituency polls which give a far different perspective, by the way, of seats, than the national polls. I have said over a week ago that we will, just as we have been in the last Dail, responsible in terms of looking after this country. For example…”

Lawlor: “So you will play your part in putting a Government together after the 26th?”

Martin:Aine, could I just make a comment to you? I listened to Leo Varadkar this morning. He didn’t have this aggressive intervening and interruption every time I’m trying to put a coherent paragraph together. And I would appreciate it if I was allowed the same space that Government ministers are repeatedly allowed on RTE programmes. I really would appreciate it.”

Lawlor: “Micheal Martin, I can only answer for the interviews I do…the reason..”

Martin: “But I just want to make the point to you that..”

Lawlor: “I appreciate that but, I also think that you’ve been rather unfair on that challenge that you’ve put down there, so let’s move on and talk about the question of Leo Varadkar and the allegations that he made against you…”

Listen back in full here



From top: Rooftop checks during the visit of Queen Elizabeth; Justice minister Frances Fitzgerald

With Brussels in lockdown Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald spoke with a hawkish Audrey Carville on RTÉ Radio One at lunchtime today touching on terrorism and the capabilities of An Garda Síochána to deal with the same.

Grab a tay.

Audrey Carville: “Do you regard Ireland as being as vulnerable to attack as Paris?”

France Fitzgerald: “No, Ireland is not, at this point, from the information that we have, not as vulnerable. The alert levels are different. We have said all along that an attack, of course, is possible but not likely. And we do not have any information to suggest there is an attack planned here. But, of course, as a democracy and as a country whose values, all democratic countries’, really, their values are under attack from ISIS. But, you know, the level of threat in Belgium, for example, and in Brussels particularly, that is a serious, imminent threat. That’s what’s in place in Belgium. We obviously do not have have any information to suggest that we should be on that, we should be at that level of alert. That is to do obviously with the involvement of various people in Paris attacks, from Belgium and from the Brussels area, and other information that the Belgium authorities have consequently become informed of.”

Carville: “But have you changed the threat level here in Ireland since the Paris attacks? Or does it remain as it was before Friday the 13th?”

Fitzgerald: “Yes it does remain as it was. We have not changed it. There is no recommendation from An Garda Síochána, who are the security forces here, or from the National Security Committee, or indeed from any of the ministers involved that that needs to change at this point.”

Carville: “But does that not demonstrate a naivety at best because do you not accept that the threat has changed since Paris because IS have shown that they’re sophisticated and that they are able to launch attacks whenever and wherever.”

Fitzgerald: “What I would say is that if there was information available that would suggest that the threat level should be changed, of course it would be but we do have to be very sensitive obviously to the international situation. But equally we have to make our own national analysis of the level of threat which would be based on a broad assessment and, clearly, that assessment right now is saying that obviously we have to be extremely alert and vigilant and conscious of the current situation on the international situation. The situation in Ireland, there is no specific information that exists, at present, that suggests we need to change the threat level. But let me say, if that information became available, clearly we would do that. But the international situation does of course make us all far more conscious of the issues. From the moment this attack started in Paris, the co-ordinating committee in An Garda Síochána, who are responsible, the strategic committee who are responsible for security issues, were meeting overnight, were getting all of the information, were being given information and were giving information and if there was any question of you know [inaudible], clearly then that would have informed the ongoing assessment. And we continue by the way, it is a fluid situation…”

Carville: “Of course.”

Fitzgerald: “This is an ongoing assessment…”

Carville: “Are we not though, here in Ireland, Europe’s weakest link when it comes to security and intelligence? If you look, for example, at the UK. They have MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Border Forces, transport police, the Metropolitan Police. We have the gardaí. That’s it. Who are very under resourced and have been cut back to the bone.”

Fitzgerald: “I think that’s a very bleak assessment of the situation and it ignores the fact that for 40 years the Garda Síochána here and the security forces were dealing from both a policing and security point of view. We’ve a terrorist situation in Ireland where we had all of the elements of terrorism being displayed both north and south…”

Carville: “But the nature of the threat is fundamentally different.”

Fitzgerald: “Actually I don’t agree. Terrorism is terrorism. The goal is to kill people, to disrupt democracy, what is different is the nature of the suicide, that they are prepared to kill themselves in the course of the attack.”

Carville: “So how many of our police force, in terms of security and intelligence, how many of them can speak Arabic?

Fitzgerald: “Well that’s clearly an area that would not be a huge resource but there is resource available…”

Carville: “But how many of them can speak Arabic?”

Fitzgerald: “I don’t have the number… Well, the point is…”

Carville: “Is it less than five?”

Fitzgerald: “I don’t have the number, Audrey, as I said. That’s an operational matter for An Garda Síochána…”

Carville: “Shouldn’t you know that though? As minister for justice?”

Fitzgerald: “I beg your pardon?”

Carville: “Shouldn’t you know that, as minister for justice?”

Fitzgerald: “What I need to know and I’ve been in discussions with An Garda Síochána. These are operational matters that the gardaí are obviously alert to, I’ve heard discussions in meetings in relation to the various language skills that are needed, and are being used and what I want to say is that we do have a police force here who are extremely conscious and they had to deal with terrorism over a long period…”

Carville: “But have they been trained… Could I just ask you… we’re limited in time but I just want to know about their level of training. Have they been trained, for example, in having to deal with someone wearing a suicide vest?”

Fitzgerald: “Of course, the gardaí are training, have been trained in and have been involved in very sophisticated training in relation to all of these issues with both international, internationally and here in Ireland with the Defence Forces. They’ve been involved in quite a number of exercises.”

Carville: “These are gardaí who would be first on the scene of any terror attack. They have received training in dealing with people wearing suicide vests or brandishing kalishnikov rifles? Because it’s our understanding that they’ve received no training in the last three years, detectives and Special Branch.”

Fitzgerald: “Well, what An Garda Síochána have told me is that they have been involved in the appropriate training exercises in recent times, that they have been involved with police forces from other countries and have done quite a number of training exercises. Of course what one has to be conscious of, is that we, you mentioned MI5 or the CIA, we’ve had a different situation here. We do not have organisations obviously of the scale and scope of those but we have an organisation proportionate to our country and proportionate to the situations we have faced in the past and which we now face. But I would say, again, that the situation obviously, we have to be remain very alert to it. It’s a fluid situation and it has to be an ongoing assessment by all of us here, in relation to the security threat and how we need to build resources and resilience to this terrifying possibility.”

Carville: “Have you, for example, as Justice Minister, along with the Defence Minister and the Taoiseach, have you sat down and gone through what decisions you would make if one of our major theatres or buildings had a hostage-type situation?

Fitzgerald: “Well, obviously what we have is a national security committee that has been discussing all of these issues…”

Carville: “Have you attended that meeting, minister?”

Fitzgerald: “That is an official meeting, the meetings I attend are the relevant meetings in relation to discussing these issues with ministers and of course, yes, we have been having those meetings recently.”

Carville: “But I understand the national security committee, which meets to discuss these issues, politicians don’t attend it, and it met after the Paris attacks and you weren’t there. Is that correct?

Fitzgerald: “Ministers don’t attend those meetings…”

Carville: Why not?

Fitzgerald:Because we have our own meetings. We have our own separate meetings. And can I say to you Audrey that, because security, the very nature of security, is that you don’t speak publicly about every single element of what you’re discussing and how you would deal with varying situations. But, of course, as ministers and the Taoiseach, in particularly, was very concerned to ensure that the various resources and possibilities for reaction, if needed and hopefully they won’t be, were in place and all of that is being continually assessed and monitored. And just this week, for example after the meeting in Brussels, I announced that we would be joining the Schengen Information System and that is something that we… the UK joined in April of this year. That’s to exchange real-time information with other police forces across Europe…”

Listen back in full here

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Longboat Quay complex at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin and developer Bernard McNamara


You may recall how Michael Clifford, in the Irish Examiner, reported in February how fire marshals had been on constant patrol in the Longboat Quay apartment development in Dublin since June 2014, following the discovery of major construction flaws that rendered the buildings firetraps.

This morning, Mr Clifford reported that the owners of apartments at Longboat Quay have been told that they must come up with €4million in less than a week – between €9,300 and €18,000 each depending on the size of their apartment – or Dublin Fire Brigade will have the building evacuated.

Mr Clifford reported that while a tender has been accepted for remedial works at the development on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, no funding has been acquired to carry out the work.

Longboat Quay was built by Bernard McNamara’s development firm, Gendsong, which is in receivership. Mr McNamara is currently redeveloping the former Canada House site on St Stephen’s Green for Denis O’Brien.

Richard Eardley, resident and director of Longboat Quay management company, spoke to Áine Lawlor on RTÉ’s News At One about the situation facing the residents of Longboat Quay.

Áine Lawlor: “Do you think it’s realistic that Bernard McNamara who has discharged, having built this, has discharged his debt and is now back in business, do you think it’s realistic that, out of concern for the plight of residents, he will re-engage, do you think the receiver will come up with more? Do you think the Docklands Authority will come up with more?”

Richard Eardley: “Well the receiver has been very engaged throughout and they have said they’ve made a significant contribution so far, as have the DDDA [Dublin Docklands Development Authority]. It would be wonderful to think that Bernard McNamara might out of his munificence, come back and contribute towards a problem that he was part of creating in the first place.”

Lawlor: Are you holding your breath on that one?”

Eardley:No. It would be wonderful to see. Do I think it’s going to happen? I’m not sure. It would be wonderful if some pressure could be put on, because that is where the original fault lies. The problem is his development vehicle Gendsong went into liquidation so there is no legal recourse there. We’re dependent upon the other parties, the receiver who’s looking after the assets of Gendsong in the development and the DDDA who is still the owners of the common areas of the development to make their significant and very best proposals to sort the problem out.”

Listen back in full here

Dublin apartment residents face €4m bill over fire concerns (RTE)

Previously: So Longboat

The Eve Of Eviction

Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie


John Deasy TD

You may recall John Deasy’s interview with Richard Crowley on RTÉ’s News At One yesterday in which he rounded on his party’s leadership in fairly splutter-making fashion.

Here’s the transcript.

Apologies for the delay.

Grab a tay.

John Deasy: “I think it’s probably indicative of what’s been going on in Fine Gael for some time. I think the calculation from the Taoiseach is that he can pretty much do anything he wants right now. And as long as the economy continues to improve, the public really won’t care and, you know, maybe he’s right.”

Richard Crowley: “What was said last night, at the parliamentary party meeting or, rather, what answers did you get to the questions that you asked?”

Deasy: “Well, no answers whatsoever. We all know what happened. It really was a case of pointing that out and asking for some accountability with regard to the process here, which was clearly manipulated and abused and, you know, this appointment to the IMMA board was to construct a credential, to allow Mr McNulty to pursue the Senate nomination.”

Crowley: “Do you not accept his bona fides, in terms of his suitability, as a candidate for that particular panel on the Senate?”

Deasy: “Not after reading the Irish Independent today, to be honest with you. I didn’t realise a High Court judge, I didn’t realise a complaint had been lodged, I didn’t realise that a High Court judge was sitting, I didn’t realise that people were not informed that the appointment to the board, made a few days previously, so no, the whole thing was bit of a farce. So, no, I, no is the answer.”

Crowley: “Who appointed him to the board of IMMA?”

Deasy: “The IMMA mechanism, or vehicle, was constructed, besides the point. This really was about just putting somebody into the Senate, building a profile and running them in a general election and it’s not, what came across very clearly , last night in the parliamentary party, was, people are getting sick of the way this is being conducted and it doesn’t really strike people as being what we, as a party, phrased as new politics.”

Crowley: “I want to come back to that more substantive point in a moment. But just on the appointment of John McNulty to IMMA, it was the Minister for Arts and Culture [Heather Humphreys] who appointed him and she would have done so, one would presume, at the request of the Taoiseach.”

“I presume so, yeah.”

Crowley: “And she would have, should have satisfied herself, as to his credentials, as a board member surely, one would imagine that anyway?”

Deasy: ”I wouldn’t imagine that at all. I’d say she did what she was told to do.”

Crowley: “Without asking any questions?”

Deasy: “Possibly, yeah.”

Crowley: “She was at your parliamentary party meeting last night.”

Deasy: “ Yeah.”

Crowley: “Did she answer any questions in that regard?”

Deasy: “I don’t believe so.”

Crowley: “Did you, what questions did you ask her? that she did answer?”

Deasy: “Nobody asked any questions of the minister.”

Crowley: “Did she have anything to say?”

Deasy: “No, it was slightly embarrassing that it occurred in that way. But that is unfortunately what happened yeah.”

Crowley: “Did anybody speak up for the party, in a sense that, did anybody defend what has happened?”

Deasy: “At the end of…about 12, maybe 15, people got up and asked for some accountability with regards to the decisions that had been taken and I think a few people did…probably what was most uncomfortable for the meeting was that a few people expressed the view that, if it was something that Fianna Fáil, or akin to something that Fianna Fáil would have done years ago, so what. And that the economy was improving and and that people would forget about it in a couple of days and that we should be allowed to do whatever we like. It was an uncomfortable viewpoint. It was countered by one particular deputy, very strongly, that, you know, I didn’t join this party, to be Fianna Fail-light, so I think the essence and the mood of the meeting was that it was a ridiculous standpoint and that people deserve some accountability with regard to, as I said, the manipulation and the abuse of the system.

Crowley: “But was there a sense this is not just about John McNulty in IMMA, this is about other appointments, this is about how the party operates, generally?”

Deasy: “I think that the parliamentary party is very happy with the way Michael Noonan is running the economy. I think people are becoming disgusted with the way Fine Gael is being run, if that answers your question? And I think it wasn’t just about Mr McNulty’s nomination, I think it was about a lot of things within the parliamentary party. I think an element of insecurity, pettiness, has grown into the party leadership and I think people are getting sick of it. It is an atmosphere of total non-criticism, even if it’s reasonable and constructive and I think it’s fair to say that the Taoiseach, who likes to give his mobile phone number out to the world, doesn’t really engage or entertain criticism. In actual fact, reacts against it, which is unfortunate. And I think that sense and that atmosphere, within the parliamentary is growing and I think it’s destructive. And I think what we got last night was a taste of people reacting to it, and I think the McNulty issue gave people an opportunity to vent, yeah. “

Crowley: “Is there a sense that the power is being centralised and, not alone is it being centralised but it is now revolving around a cohort of a number of key individuals, some of whom were elected, and some of whom are not, these are unelected advisors?”

Deasy: “A bit more than that, I think that’s the case in any Government. I think it kind of resides in a couple of people’s decision-making ability. I think that’s not abnormal, I think it’s a lot to do with the people who’ve been appointed to particular positions, very senior positions in some cases. By all accounts, the credentials for those positions or those promotions seem to be, well, one, if you can grovel to the Taoiseach long enough and, secondly, if you can read a script and I think you’re in. If you can do both those things. With regard to real ability in the party, it’s completely overlooked and it’s down to being a supporter of the Taoiseach or not.”

Crowley: “What positions are you talking about?”

Deasy: “A lot. Not a cast of thousands, but a lot.”

Crowley: “Such as?”

Deasy: “A lot.”

Crowley: “But that’s a bit of a scattergun accusation, John…”

Deasy: “Not if you’re in Fine Gael and you’re there long enough, I think it’s a lot.”

Crowley: “But can you give me an example of …”

Deasy: “I’m not going to pick out particular individuals, no…”

Crowley: “But you’re not talking about particular appointments, of people as ministers are you?”

Deasy: “Yeah, I am, of course I am.”

Crowley: “Again…that’s a bit of a wide accusation, can you focus it a bit more? What are you talking about? Or are you talking about all..”

Deasy: “Well I think did focus it. I think it’s very clear what I’m saying. I’m saying people aren’t qualified for the positions that they’re getting and the requisite qualifications are loyalty and being able to, in some cases, just about read a script. Some of these senior positions affect people’s lives in this country. And I think it is serious and I think that some people, who have been appointed, even to Cabinet, are unfit for those positions…and I think that’s very serious. And I think we’re seeing some of it recently. I think that it’s common knowledge within Fine Gael unfortunately. And I think last night people, for the first time being able to vent that opinion, people are just getting sick of it.”

Crowley: “This could be read as the resentment of the young turks who were passed over for power?”

Deasy: “Yeah and I can imagine that that will be the reaction to this. Unfortunately, if you go back to Fota [where the Fine Gael think-in took place recently], you go back to the reaction to Leo Varadkar doing his job properly , I think you get a sense of the atmosphere within Fine Gael. Leo shouldn’t have been appointed to that position if people didn’t expect him to do his job. The reaction to what he’s been doing, which is very sensible, is borne out of insecurity and pettiness. People don’t like reasonable, substantive criticism within Fine Gael, if it affects certain individuals, their profile. Even if the individual in question or the minister in question is doing their job correctly and properly, you know, I’m afraid they’re down for a slapping down.”

Crowley: “And how does that slapping down manifest itself? How is dissent silenced?”

Deasy: “It’s silenced by non-preferment with regard to promotion in many cases, subtle threats with regard to nominations, when it comes to the General Election. In many ways, it’s made clear to people – and there’s a sense of fear within the parliamentary party these days that, if you don’t toe the line, well then you’ll be punished. That has been carried out over a number of years and I suppose in all political parties, there’s an element of that but it’s got to the point now where people are becoming disgusted by the way Fine Gael is being run and I think last night [parliamentary party meeting] was a venting of that.”

Crowley: “If it’s as bad as you say it is, you should surely resign from the party.”

Deasy: “No my family has represented Fine Gael since the 1960s. I don’t believe it’s representative of Fine Gael as a political party, I think there are elements within Fine Gael that are unrepresentative of the entire grassroots and representation ranks within Fine Gael, so no I’m not going to do that. I think it’s important that people actually say how they feel about what’s going on. Again I think the calculation is that pretty much anything can be done to any individual and, as long the economy improves, no-one really cares in the public and maybe they’re right. But I think it’s important for some people in Fine Gael to actually stop this now cause it’s ugly.”

Crowley: “And is the Taoiseach at the heart of this?”

Deasy: “Well I think it’s very clear from what I’m saying that he is, yes.”

Crowley: “He’s directing it?”

Deasy: “Yeah, course he is.”

Crowley: “What should John McNulty do, or how should Fine Gael fix this mess over IMMA and the nominations?”

Deasy: “I think he should step down, I think if we preach new politics and have done so with regard to the appointments to State boards and I think if it’s clear that there’s been a manipulation of the process here, I think he should step down from this. It’s not a big deal, he won’t be in the Senate but he’ll probably still run for the general election for Fine Gael. Will that happen? I doubt it.”

Listen back here

Previously: The Artless Dodgers

Deasy Does It

Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland