He said, I said, tears, trial by media. Splitting hairs over interpretation. Time to add substance or put away whistle.
— Tom Barry (@TomBarryTD) February 24, 2014
We were quite moved too.
[Alan Shatter and Mick Wallace on Prime Time in May 2013 where Mr Shatter disclosed details from Gardai sources of an apparent traffic violation by Mr Wallace]
Independent TD Mick Wallace spoke to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning about the Garda whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and John Wilson and the sacking of Confidential Recipient, Oliver Connolly – in light of Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin telling the Dáil yesterday that he has documents which show cases of abduction, assault, rape and murder have not been properly investigated by members of the Gardaí.
They also spoke about a group he has formed with fellow TDs Joan Collins, Clare Daly and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, called Justice 4 All – which has held a series of public meetings over the last year to allow members of the public, who had concerns about Garda behaviour, to raise their concerns.
It followed an interview that Mr Kenny held with taxi driver Mary Lynch who was violently assaulted by Jerry McGrath in Virginia, Co. Cavan in April 2007. McGrath got bail and went on to try an abduct a five-year-old child in Tipperary in October 2007. When McGrath went before a court in Clonmel, the court was never told about the Cavan assault charge and he got bail again. In December 2007, he killed mother-of-two Silvia Roche Kelly.
Ms Lynch told Pat Kenny she felt ‘guilty’ over Ms Kelly’s death as she feels Ms Kelly would be alive if Ms Lynch had been investigated correctly.
At the end of Mr Kenny’s interview with Mr Wallace, Mr Kenny asked why he didn’t go public with allegations of Garda misconduct sooner – to Mr Wallace’s shock, given he first told the Dáil how Mr Connolly warned Sgt Maurice McCabe “If Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished” on December 4, 2012.
Mick Wallace: “John Wilson is a young man. He’s been forced out of the place. Maurice McCabe works under a terrible stress – it’s mad stuff and the minister, you would think, given that we say that we want to bring Ireland to a place where there’s more accountability and transparency, we have seen 18 months, it’s an unbelievable list of…”
Talk over each other
Wallace: “Diminishing, dismissing have been the order of the day for 18 months.”
Pat Kenny: “You mentioned the [inaudible] meeting in the Red Cow, you’ve had subsequent meetings in the Red Cow or elsewhere..”
Wallace: “In the Red Cow aswell…”
Kenny: “In the Red Cow aswell.”
Wallace: “There’s actually been five meetings at this stage and there’s a committee being formed with no politicians on it and they are pursuing episodes, they’re getting some legal people to work for free and they are trying to help people to actually achieve justice. We have a massive problem in how our police force operates and there isn’t oversight and the notion that the Commissioner and the Force are answerable to the Dáil – you and I know is rubbish.”
Kenny: “Do you see any of this stuff as being deliberately maligned or is it simply incompetence?”
Wallace: “It’s funny but I actually thought, I really believed that…Minister Shatter is a very able individual, he’s very strong and very intelligent – I actually thought that he would have an appetite for putting things right, I really did and I have been shocked when I look back..only lately, we’ve actually done a litany, we’ve looked at the last 18 months have thrown up and the manner in which everything that challenges his political position has been minimised and dismissed at the expense of innocent people, the expense of people who feel that they haven’t got justice is…”
Kenny: “A quote for Mr Justice [Peter] Smithwick: ‘loyalty above truth’, and I mean, is that really the infection that is right throughout the Force and maybe through the body politic and, you know, you look at the scandal that would be given if the Garda force was seeing to be either so malign or incompetent or indeed corrupt in some places – that that’s the appalling vista to which no minister wants to go. So it is better to try and shut everything down and maybe quietly reform, rather than have all this dirty linen washed out in public? I mean that might be a kind way to view this?”
Wallace: “When GSOC published the Kieran Boylan report in the summer, they were very damning of how the police force was operating, they were very damning about the fact that they broke all the rules in terms of accessing information and denying them cooperation and they did say that it looks like the situation that the Morris Tribunal addressed, that nothing had changed. And the blue wall of silence was still very strong.”
Kenny: “What do you want to happen and what do you expect to happen, vis-a-vis the Minister and the Commissioner?
Wallace: “Well, we designed a police bill last summer and we argued that unless there’s a buffer between the minister and the Garda Commissioner, you cannot have proper oversight – there is no buffer there, there’s no, we do need an independent police board, we do need an oversight body, with real power that can look at the policies, patterns and procedures and if we had a police board they would be involved with GSOC with the Garda Commissioner, with the Force and with the Minister. It’s international best practice. We didn’t invent this. Vicky Conway and Dr Dermot Walsh have written all this. We’ve learned from them, we’ve read their books and we saw what was best practice. We looked at what’s happening in other parts of the developed world…”
Kenny: “Would you be happy if the current minister stayed in his job, would you be happy if the current commissioner stayed in his?”
Wallace: “To be dead honest, Pat, after the last 18 months, I do not find either of them fit for office.”
Kenny: “Finally, you’re own and Clare Daly’s regrets maybe. And about maybe not going public with the case of the taxi driver (Mary Lynch), the abduction, the murder even in Limerick: going public with it sooner.”
Wallace: “Eh, I can tell you…”
Kenny: “Cause it’s mystifying that you didn’t go…”
Wallace: “Clare Daly raised a number of the stories that Maurice and John brought to us and nobody took any notice. The whistleblower, the confidential recipient, a man’s head has fallen – and a bit unfairly in lots of ways. Oliver Connolly, Maurice was the one who met him and Maurice would argue for his integrity and his honesty but ultimately…”
Kenny: “Do you think his remark about Shatter therefore, Minister Shatter, was just Oliver Connolly being honest his own personal assessment of Mr Shatter, rather than saying this is chapter and verse, this is what he believed about Minister Shatter.”
Wallace: “The confidential recipient was working for the Minister and the Garda Commissioner really and I mean he was only doing what he could. But I quoted that in the Dáil on the 4th of December, 2012 and, just like the stories that..Ming Flanagan has brought some stories in there, Joan Collins did, Clare Daly did and there was no interest shown in them. And if you think this is not an isolated case that you just heard this morning, there are hundreds of these unfortunately.”
(Enda Kenny with Joe Mulholland, founder of the McGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal in 2011.)
While announcing that the papers presented at the 2013 MacGill Summer School are now available to read online, the school’s founder Joe Mulholland has written a blog post for politicalreform.ie.
“For several years now, and especially since the sudden and brutal fall of the Celtic Tiger, the MacGill School has focussed on reform of the institutions of the state – political, social and economic. With webcasting and the sterling work of our colleagues in broadcasting and the press, this message goes far beyond the conference hall. As has been pointed out many times at MacGill, radical reform of our politics and governance in general has to be a priority if we are not to have recurring crises of the kind we are living painfully through at this time and it has to come from the bottom up.”
“Of course, other European countries are also in deep crisis but we appear to have had nothing but crises since the foundation of the state and have only once been able to offer our citizens the fundamental right of a job in their own country and that was in the first decade of the 21st century. We blew it by having people in authority in various sectors who were, to say the least, negligent and incompetent – and unaccountable.“
Joe Mulholland writes about integrity. Yet he won’t publish my MacGill paper cos it mentions Denis O’Brien. Hypocrisy http://t.co/SrZu11DTEY
— Elaine Byrne (@ElaineByrne) November 27, 2013
Previously: Blessed Are The Whistleblowers
Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Mr Devitt was invited to speak to the committee as it is investigating how states conduct surveillance on their citizens and how abuses by intelligence agencies might be prevented and exposed in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA revelations.
From his address:
“We assume rightly that intelligence agencies are responsible for protecting us from attack and upholding democratic principles. But I believe that the anti-corruption community has largely underestimated the potential for abuse by members of the intelligence and security services.”
“This may be because we have seen comparatively few well-publicised cases involving whistleblowers from the intelligence community in the EU. You are no doubt familiar with the case of Frank Grevil (who blew the whistle on Denmark’s fabricated case for the invasion of Iraq); as well as Annie Machon and David Shayler’s cases in the UK. In Ireland, we have not had a public controversy surrounding intelligence services in more than 40 years – not since allegations of support for the IRA by Irish military intelligence surfaced in 1970.”
“That said, we have seen patterns of behaviour elsewhere in the public service that might be familiar to intelligence community whistleblowers.”
“In 2010, officials of the Irish Department of Social Welfare were found to be passing on personal data of Irish citizens to insurance companies and private investigators. Earlier this year, two police whistleblowers reported that Irish police were unlawfully manipulating and cancelling police traffic records for family members of police officers and other police officers.”
“We have noted how those same police whistleblowers have fallen victim to reprisal by their colleagues and management. We have also recently seen how a journalist, Gemma O’Doherty, was recently fired after she investigated reports that the Irish Chief of Police had his own traffic offence cancelled.”
“The message this sends to whistleblowers and journalists is that the reporting of abuse is worse than the abuse itself.”
Read Mr Devitt’s full address here
Previously: Not Seeing Your Points