Tag Archives: O’Higgins report

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From top: Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness in the Dáil yesterday; Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and Superintendant Noel Cunningham at the Association of Garda Superintendents conference last month; and the late Shane O’Farrell

Yesterday evening.

TDs continued to make statements on the report of the Justice O’Higgins Commission of Investigation into allegations of malpractice made by Sgt Maurice McCabe.

This is what Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said…

In the workings of the Committee of Public Accounts over the past five years, one of the most impressive witnesses who came before us and the only witness who came before us in private session was Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Everything he said was supported by documentary evidence. Those who were concerned about how he might behave or what he might say during the course of that meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts were impressed afterwards by the fact that he presented well and proved anything he spoke and that the documents he presented to the committee showed us that there was, in my opinion, a lot of corruption within the force at that time.

A circular dated 4 July 2011 signed by the chief superintendent, C. M. Rooney, that went out to the Assistant Commissioners and district officers in the Cavan-Monaghan division, stated clearly that on 24 June 2011, Mr. Rooney had a meeting with Assistant Commissioner for national support services, Derek Byrne, at Monaghan Garda station.

It stated that the Assistant Commissioner informed Mr. Rooney that he had completed his investigation into complaints made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe and that the findings of the investigation were approved by the Garda Commissioner.

It stated that the investigation concluded that there was no systemic failure identified in the management and administration of Bailieborough Garda district.

It stated that a number of minor procedural issues were identified and that on further investigation at local level, no evidence was found to substantiate the alleged breach of procedure.

It stated that the assistant commissioner further concluded that there was no criminal conduct identified on the part of any member of the district force.

He stated that he would like to congratulate all members who served in Bailieborough district during the period in question and, in particular, Sergeant Gavigan, who provided leadership, enthusiasm and commitment and who partly steered the station through the crisis that had occurred.

It stated that the findings of the assistant commissioner vindicate the high standard and professionalism of the district force in Bailieborough and that he appreciated the manner in which the members of the district participating in the investigation were open and truthful in their account of the events surrounding the allegations.

It said he hoped all members and their families could put this difficult period behind them and continue to serve the public and their colleagues in an efficient and professional manner.

One has to take that letter into consideration when one reads the O’Higgins report because all of the cases mentioned by Garda McCabe, and which are mentioned in the O’Higgins report clearly contradict everything in that letter.

There is a serious conflict here; somebody is wrong. This letter was given to the assistant commissioner and each district officer in the Cavan-Monaghan division.

I gave an account of when Garda McCabe came before the Committee of Public Accounts. Every effort was made by those within the Garda Síochána at senior level to discredit Garda Maurice McCabe.

The Garda Commissioner confided in me in a car park on the Naas Road that Garda McCabe was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him.

The vile stories that circulated about Garda McCabe, which were promoted by senior officers in the Garda, were absolutely appalling. Because they attempted to discredit him, he had to bring forward various pieces of strong evidence to protect his integrity.

During the course of that time, we have to recognise that the political establishment was of absolutely no help to him.

Every effort was made to ensure he would not appear before the Committee of Public Accounts. Every effort was made to dampen down the strong evidence he put into the public domain, which he had to do to protect himself, to inform us about what was going on with penalty points and other issues.

On 17 May, the Minister for Justice and Equality answered a parliamentary question on the death of Shane O’Farrell.

His mother, Lucia O’Farrell, has been campaigning since that time to have an investigation into it. The Minister relies on the review mechanism and the findings of that mechanism which she put in place.

At that time, the result of that review mechanism was that nothing further was to be done in Lucia O’Farrell’s case. Deputy Mick Wallace and others have already mentioned the name of officer Cunningham. In view of the findings and what is going on, will the Minister now reopen the case of the death of Shane O’Farrell?

Will she find out why a garda had stopped that car one hour before and asked the driver to change with the passenger because there was no tax or insurance?

The passenger then drove the car that later killed – murdered – Shane O’Farrell.

We have to reopen that case because everything in it tells us what is wrong with the Garda and the Department of Justice and Equality. We are part of a cover-up in this House if we do not clearly demand that the case be reinvestigated.

There are similar cases, such as the Fr. Molloy case and the Mary Boyle case. Why is it that the State has to stonewall each and every one of these cases?

Why is it we have to protect those who should not be protected? In whose interest is it or what is it in the interest of?

In the interests of justice, these cases have to be examined. The Minister cannot ignore this debate. She cannot ignore the facts around the officers involved in that station relative to the Shane O’Farrell case in particular.

We cannot ignore the activities of those officers who deliberately went about to set up and discredit Sergeant Maurice McCabe. They have to be independently investigated.

It has been said they are being referred to GSOC. I heard former Chief Superintendent John O’Brien this morning on the radio, who likened an investigation by GSOC to being mauled by a dead sheep. That is what he said and that is the view of the public.

For far too long in this House and in politics we have stuck to the same old politics.

In our actions, we have protected the system when that system was delivering an injustice to individuals and families throughout the country. There have been demands for the Minister and Commissioner to resign but the culture has to be changed.

That is essentially where the problem lies. We are afraid to attempt to change that culture because of the vested interests that exist. We say that we passed the legislation on protected disclosures and that now, at this late stage, the Commissioner will do something about it.

There are individuals across every Department who are affected by bullying and harassment. Their stories are being dampened down and they are being discriminated against and sanctioned for telling the truth.

The one thing this House seems to be afraid of is the truth. We are hearing the truth from Maurice McCabe. We have heard it from the whistleblowers in the Department of Finance and AIB and from the other whistleblowers in the Garda Síochána. We have done nothing about it.

I have heard at first hand a recent case which has been sorted by the Garda where a young garda was put into a situation and had to pee in a bottle rather than leave his station because he knew he was being set up.

Is that what we stand for in this House? Is that the injustice we will allow to happen?

Kicking this can down the road will not solve this problem. It will not give us the strength of the Garda that is needed to deal with the issues of crime on Dublin streets that we see at the moment.

I agree with Paul Williams who said gardaí were lions led by donkeys. He gave descriptions of all sorts of things that are happening in Dublin about which nothing is being done. The gardaí on the beat need to be supported.

Whatever it costs the State, we need to put money and resources behind them. We need to stop bluffing and stop the politically correct contributions we are making on all these issues and start to take real, imaginative and radical steps to ensure we have an independent authority that will protect the likes of Maurice McCabe.

I received an anonymous letter from an individual asking what was written on the note that was passed on the day of the Committee of Public Accounts from the current Commissioner to the former Commissioner, Martin Callinan, before he uttered the word “disgusting”.

The writer wonders if he was prompted or encouraged to do it. It has to be asked how much does the current Commissioner know and how far did the outgoing Commissioner go to discredit Maurice McCabe? It is an appalling vista as one looks at this issue.

The Minister and Members of the House have to give leadership. There must be political leadership.

My demand is that we reopen the cases before the commission, like that of Shane O’Farrell, Mary Boyle and the others, and face the truth.

We need to protect the whistleblowers that are currently being sanctioned and treated badly. It continued after the penalty points issue. Maurice McCabe highlighted that and we did nothing about it.

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Previously: Unsolved Ireland

Maurice McCabe And The Plastic Rat

Shoulder To Shoulder

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Garda Commissioner Noirin O Sullivan and Superintendant Noel Cunningham at the Association of Garda Superintendents conference last month

Justine McCarthy, in The Sunday Times, writes

If the sergeant [Maurice McCabe] had been made wary by selective media leaks in advance of its publication, McCabe is also likely to have noted photographs of O’Sullivan attending the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents on April 20 – because standing beside her was Noel Cunningham, the superintendent who, along with a sergeant, met McCabe in 2008.

Last May, the commission was told that a written record of that meeting would provide evidence that McCabe admitted acting on a grudge when he made allegations against senior officers.

But when McCabe produced a secretly taped recording of the meeting, O’Higgins accepted he did not, as alleged by the commissioner’s side, confess he was motivated by malice in pursuing complaints.

…Cunningham was represented at the commission by the same team of lawyers as O’Sullivan.

Some of McCabe’s allegations were against him. The report dismissed those allegations and stated they had caused Cunningham “worry and stress”.

In her statement last week, O’Sullivan said:

“I have consistently and without exception, within An Garda Siochana and in public, stated clearly that dissent is not disloyalty, that we must listen to our people at every level with respect and with trust, and that we stand to gain, rather than lose, when members bring to our attention practices they believe to be unacceptable.”

…Her assurances failed to convince everyone, including five gardai who have turned whistleblowers. They include Keith Harrison, based in Donegal, and Nick Keogh, based in Athlone, who have made complaints about alleged misconduct. Both are currently on sick leave.

….In a recent email to a friend, Harrison wrote: “I’m seen as a traitor and a troublemaker. Nothing has changed and it won’t change. Maybe I would have been better off if I heard no evil and saw no evil. Many of my colleagues don’t speak out because of the fear of what might happen.”

Whistblower’s treatment sparks credibility gap (Justine McCarthy, The Sunday Times)

Previously: The Wrong Side Of The Thin Blue Line

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From top: Sgt Maurice McCabe; Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan

I’ve spoken to several people who were in attendance throughout, if not the entirety, most of the days that the Commission took evidence and they say that it was if Sgt McCabe was on trial. He said as much when he was under cross examination on several occasions and a serving member of the Gardai – that I’ve spoken to – who was present at several days of proceedings has told me:

‘They tried to blame Maurice for everything and it was bullshit.’

The ‘they’ in this case is the Garda HQ, and what that member of the force was referring to was either individual Gardaí or An Garda Siochana corporately claiming that Sgt McCabe was actually the person at fault in each of the cases that he blew the malpractice whistle on. When of course the judge found out that he wasn’t blamed at all.

You’re not going to find much reference to this in the completed report. Much of the process, the business of the commission revolved around Maurice McCabe having to prove that he wasn’t guilty of the very malpractices that he had highlighted in the first place by bringing them to the attention of the Confidential Recipient [Oliver Connolly] and to [Fianna Fáil leader] Micheál Martin.

In one case, to give example, he was accused by gardai of having given an instruction that was central to one of the cases of malpractice but, after scrutinising his diary from many, many years earlier, McCabe was actually able to offer the watertight alibi that he wasn’t on duty that particular day that he was accused of having done something because he was actually present at the birth of one of his children.

…Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and many of the individual senior officers – be they retired or serving – were all represented by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and acted for, at the commission, by Colm Smyth, senior counsel. So the legal strategy was, in most cases, centralised. The line of attack on McCabe was organised.

RTÉ’s Philip Boucher Hayes speaking on Drivetime last night.

Listen back to his report in full here

Earlier: Who is Misleading Whom

Previously: ‘Something For Everyone’

Clarifying Matters

Rollingnews

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Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Niall Collins

You may recall how, in February 2014, Fianna Fáil Niall Collins read into the Dáil record a section of the transcript of a 2012 conversation between Sgt Maurice McCabe and the then Garda Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly.

The section included the following:

“Maurice, and this is just personal advice to you, if Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished…If stuff is to get into print, broadcast media, it becomes public before the court and not any other way. If Shatter thinks it’s you, or if he thinks that it is told by the Commissioner or the gardaí, here’s this guy again trying another route to put you under pressure, he’ll go after you.”

Broadsheet later printed the transcript in full.

In relation to the transcript, Justice Kevin O’Higgins found that Mr Shatter “adamantly repudiated” the allegations and that “His [Shatter’s] denials were unchallenged and uncontradicted, and are unreservedly accepted by this commission”.

Months later, in a speech given on October 3 2014, Mr Collins said:

The problems which have manifested themselves in An Garda Síochána and GSOC and were reported to the former Minister for Justice were ignored, dismissed or glossed over in order to save the embarrassment of those in senior positions who decided that not taking responsibility was a key management skill.

This approach was a massive disservice to the ordinary members of An Garda Síochána and to the citizens of Ireland.

As a result of this dereliction of duty we have seen the resignation of the Garda Confidential Recipient, the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Secretary General of the Department.

We have also witnessed the establishment of an unprecedented number of Commissions of Investigation surrounding the Department of Justice and there are still more Commissions to be established.

One would hope then that lessons will be learned as to how to deal with issues arising in the Garda force and the Department of Justice from this date forward.

…The Guerin Report highlighted the fact that Sergeant Maurice McCabe was correct in his actions to highlight the failure to administrate justice in Bailieboro Garda District.

To be frank, the findings were an embarrassment for this Fine Gael Labour government who denied there was ever any issue in Justice and defended former Minister Shatter month after month. He dismissed and belittled the Whistle-blowers and was supported by the Taoiseach while doing this.

…The alleged malpractice in Bailieboro undermines the foundations of our criminal justice system. It also undermines the morale of all members of An Garda Síochána.

In order for public confidence to be restored in An Garda Síochána it is necessary to establish fully and frankly how the situation surrounding the malpractice in Cavan was allowed to occur, continue and be covered up over such a long period of time.

Further to this.

Mr Collins spoke with Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning, following the release of Ms O’Sullivan’s statement last night.

From their discussion…

Niall Collins:We can only deal with what’s written in the report, from what Judge Kevin O’Higgins has reported. And, secondly, my party leader, as you know, called for clarification from Nóirín O’Sullivan over the weekend and we received that clarification and we accept the clarification, I want to say, because Nóirín O’Sullivan is the head of An Garda Síochána and she was asked to give a clarification and she has given it and I think we either accept it or we don’t. And I think the fact that we’ve had so much discussion which is now bordering on very detailed legal argument about, you know, the difference between evidence and submissions, and the fact that the Commission held its work and holds its work in private, you know, is really, bypassing and forgetting the very central players in the whole unfortunate saga who are the victims of crime. And I think we have to keep uppermost and centre stage the impact and the failings of the system and indeed of the State on our victims of crime and if you recall, the terms of reference, which established and enabled the O’Higgins commission investigation was actually dominated – three quarters of the terms of reference were to do with named specific incidences where members of the public weren’t properly served by An Garda Síochána…”

Seán O’Rourke: “So, from what you’re saying, Niall Collins, you would appear to be satisfied with Commissioner O’Sullivan’s statement last night and that should be the end of this affair?”

Collins: “Well, I am. And I’ll tell you why. She’s the head of An Garda Siochana, she’s tasked with an exceptionally difficult job, Seán. We have a whole change agenda, a whole reform agenda and process going on within An Garda Siochana and she has presented to the Oireachtas Justice Committee on many occasions in relation to how she’s doing that. She has an exceptionally difficult job…we are constrained, as I read it, now I don’t have legal background and we have lots of people offering different legal opinion, the Commission has to do its work in private and you know persons aren’t allowed to divulge the proceedings, or indeed, the evidence…”

Previously: No Absence Of Malice

Dáil transcript: Kildarestreet.com

Rollingnews

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Garda Commission Nóirín O’Sullivan

As previously stated, An Garda Síochána has fully accepted the findings and recommendations of the O’Higgins Commission. We will examine what lessons can be learnt and ensure the issues arising are fully addressed.

Our immediate concern, arising out of the O’Higgins Commission, must be with victims who believe – with justification, they were not dealt with properly by An Garda Síochána.

We are sorry the victims did not get the service they were entitled to, and we will seek to work with them.

A key element of our modernisation and renewal programme is ensuring victims are at the
heart of the Garda Service and they get the service they are entitled to.

In order to ensure a victim centred approach our first steps have been the setting-up of 28 Victim Service Offices throughout the country to keep victims up-to-date on the progress of their case through the justice system and the establishment of the National Protective Services Bureau, which among its work provides support for vulnerable victims.

These measures will help ensure we meet our obligations under the EU Victim Rights Directive.

We are learning from our past mistakes and following a number of reports in recent years, improvements in relation to how An Garda Síochána conducts investigations, manages incidents, trains its personnel, and liaises with victims of crime have been introduced or are in the process of being introduced as part of An Garda Síochána’s modernisation and renewal programme.

Every day, the men and women of An Garda Síochána do great work to protect and support
communities. In doing this, they consistently show great depth of character, resolve and commitment.

The initiatives we are undertaking as part of our modernisation and renewal programme are designed to ensure they have the necessary supports to provide the very best service to the communities we serve.

I have been asked to clarify certain matters in relation to the proceedings before the
O’Higgins Commission.

I am legally precluded from so doing under section 11 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, which provides that it is a criminal offence to disclose or publish any evidence given or the contents of any document produced by a witness.

The witnesses who gave evidence before the Commission did so on the expectation that
their evidence, except as may be included in the final report, would remain private
.

Accordingly, I have been advised that I cannot discuss the details of any proceedings before the O’Higgins Commission.

I have consistently and without exception, within An Garda Síochána and in public, stated clearly that dissent is not disloyalty, that we must listen to our people at every level with respect and with trust, and that we stand to gain, rather than lose, when members bring to our attention practices they believe to be unacceptable.

Like every member of An Garda Síochána, Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s contribution is
valued and the service has changed for the better in response to the issues about which he complained.

I want to make it clear that I do not – and have never, regarded Sergeant McCabe as malicious.

Any member of An Garda Síochána who raises issues will be fully supported.

Each and every one of them must know they have the right and responsibility to raise their concerns and be confident that they will be listened to and addressed.

They won’t always be right and we in management won’t always be right either. But we are on a journey towards a markedly better policing service and we will learn from
every mistake we make.

A statement from Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan released tonight.

Previously: Nothing To Say Here

Nóirín’s Disgust

McCabe And Ms O’Sullivan

Rollingnews

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From top: Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan; former Garda Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly; Sgt Maurice McCabe;

You may recall a post from February 18, 2014 containing a transcript of a conversation between former Garda Confidential Recipient, Oliver Connolly and Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe on February 9, 2012.

A day after the transcript was published, Mr Connolly was sacked.

The conversation between the two men came after Sgt McCabe had given Mr Connolly a report containing a number of allegations of Garda wrongdoing.

During the meeting Sgt McCabe was told that the then Justice Minister Alan Shatter had referred his complaints to Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and that no further action would be taken.

Mr Connolly told Sgt McCabe:

“I’ll tell you something Maurice and this is just personal advice to you. If Shatter thinks your screwing him, you’re finished… If Shatter thinks it’s you, if he thinks or is told by the Commissioner or the Gardaí here’s this guy again trying another route trying to put pressure on, he’ll go after you.”

He also told Sgt McCabe:

“What I’ll say to you is, [your report] went to the Department of Justice and that annoyed the Commissioner greatly. I’m sure it’s going to be an embarrassment for the Gardaí, a disaster for them and listen if your complaints are exposed to the print media it will make him an angry man.”

Broadsheet posted the full transcript after excerpts were read into the Dáil by both Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Readers may wish to note that this is what former High Court judge Kevin O’Higgins concluded in relation to that transcript, in his Commission of Investigation which was published yesterday:

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Seems legit.

Read the full O’Higgins report here

Previously: ‘The Truth Has Been Established’

Garda Confidential

There you go.

UPDATE: You can read the report in full here

Previously: Just The Facts

‘Something For Everyone’

Update:

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Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald announces the publication of the O’Higgins Commission report this afternoon at government buildings.

Rollingnews

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Sgt Maurice McCabe

You may recall a post from yesterday about the as yet  unpublished but leaked Justice O’Higgins report into allegations made by Sgt Maurice McCabe in relation to the Cavan-Monaghan area.

It included a transcript of a Drivetime report by RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher Hayes on Monday evening, after he secured a copy of the O’Higgins report.

At one point, Mr Boucher Hayes stated:

Another headline Maurice McCabe’s detractors point to is his allegation of corruption made against Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Mr Callinan is “entitled to have his reputation vindicated” and that allegations made against him by Maurice McCabe “were unfounded and deeply hurtful” says the judge. Proof again that McCabe was pointing an unjustified finger of blame.

But in the same paragraph, where this appears, it’s also made clear that McCabe never accused Callinan of corruption – “He had not intended to make allegations of criminal conduct against the Commissioner but rather of an abuse of power only.”

Anyone reading the accounts of the report that Maurice McCabe withdrew his allegations could reasonably infer that he knew he was on shaky ground in some of the things that he was saying.

On the contrary though it emerges in the transcripts of the commission that Sgt McCabe withdrew one complaint against an officer whom he felt should have been more critical of the shortcomings of a junior officer.

When he was presented with the testimony of the senior criticising his junior, McCabe withdrew the complaint saying that this “was the first time I’ve seen this”.

However….

An editorial in today’s Irish Times states:

The report does not paint a monochrome picture. No one is all good or all bad. There are conflicts of evidence, fact and recollection. Whistle-blower Sergeant Maurice McCabe is described as a dedicated and committed member of the Garda who acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns and was truthful in his evidence.

The corporate ranks closed against him. But his complaints of corruption against senior officers, including former Commissioner Martin Callinan, were described as hurtful and were rejected by the judge. Other complaints were overstated or exaggerated. Some were unfounded and some were withdrawn by Sgt McCabe.

Commission report on An Garda Síochána highlights need to remove politics from policing (Irish Times)

Previously: ‘Something For Everyone’

Laura Hutton/Rollingnews