Saturday, May 17, 2014
WELL, that’s sorted then. Everything has changed. The publication of the Guerin report into allegations made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe has ushered in a new era. From here on, An Garda Siochána will be properly accountable. Whistleblowers will be listened to.
A review of the workings of the Department of Justice will highlight its failings in ignoring the cries of Sergeant McCabe. The new Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, is pushing a broom through her portfolio, sweeping out the dirt, letting in the light. That bygone age of Shatter and Callinan is fading from memory. Move along, it’s all sorted. Nothing more to see here.
By their actions shall we know them. The first move in a new dispensation is to recognise the past, and where it went wrong. Just over a week out from the publication of Guerin, and it seems that that cathartic imperative has been completely ignored.
Take the Taoiseach’s so-called apology to McCabe in the Dáil last week. The garda sergeant and his family had endured six years of hell trying to drag the truth out into the open. The citizenry at large believe he has done a considerable service to the State. And how does the country’s leader acknowledge this service?
“I’ve already spoken of the importance and the right of people to bring issues to public notice that should be brought to public notice. So in that regard, I have no problem apologising to Sergeant McCabe for the issues that he raised and for the fact that his raising these matters wasn’t dealt with more speedily.”
That was it. Mealy-mouthed (“no problem apologising”); qualified (“the right of people to bring issues to public notice”); practically insulting (“wasn’t dealt with more speedily”).
If that’s the attitude at the top of government, what real hope is there that change can be effected? Apart from exhibiting common decency to properly acknowledge service rendered, Kenny might have reflected on his own role in McCabe’s nightmare.
Throughout 2012 and into 2013, McCabe contacted the Taoiseach directly in desperation. His every effort to have malpractice exposed was being stymied. Surely the elected leader of the country would intervene and bring an end to the madness?
On July 23, 2012, he wrote to Kenny.
“I made a complaint to Minister Shatter through the Confidential Recipient in relation to corruption. Minister Shatter has been slow to act on this complaint and the Confidential Recipient is frustrated by the minister’s inaction and as a result is not replying to correspondence. Is it possible for you or your official to assist me? All I am asking is that the minister or his officials meet with me and my legal team so that we can hand over the evidence of corruption, which in fact is also on the investigation files. I request that this email remain very private and confidential so that I will not be subjected to more victimisation. I can forward you a copy of the complaint should you wish to look at it to familiarise yourself.”
He received an anodyne reply. On October 22, 2012, McCabe wrote again to the Taoiseach’s office: “In July 2012, I reported to An Taoiseach’s office matters of a criminal nature, and matters of major public concern and outcry if they were to become known.”
He went on to outline how he had repeatedly tried to have the issues addressed: “Again I contacted the Taoiseach’s office wanting to know the up-to-date position and I received an email back stalling me. This happened again and again and again to the point that I received an email stating again that Minister Shatter would contact me. Never happened. I responded stating Minister Shatter has no role seeing he deemed my allegations were without evidence.”
Sean Guerin looked at the same evidence and it took him just nine weeks to find wholesale malpractice.
This wasn’t some fruitcake or malcontent writing to Kenny. A cursory inquiry — even to the likes of Pat Rabbitte or Charlie Flanagan who had met McCabe — would have established that he was a man to whom one should listen. The Taoiseach did nothing of the sort.
And at the end of it all, after the ugly truths were laid bare by Guerin, Kenny wasn’t even man enough to issue a proper apology. He should have done so on behalf of the State, but equally he should have done so for his own personal failings in the matter.
Then there’s the new minister — Kenny’s close confidante — who was appointed to clean up Shatter’s mess. On her first full day in office, Frances Fitzgerald met with the Interim Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan. The following day Guerin was published, and by that evening, McCabe had been informed that his access to the Pulse computer system was being restored. He had been denied access since December 2012.
What changed? On publication of the Guerin Report, did Commissioner O’Sullivan suddenly realise that McCabe had been grievously wronged and he and the force would be better served if he was freed to do his job properly?
Or was she directed by the new minister to clear up this Pulse business rapido, because the minister and her boss didn’t want to be putting up with reporters banging on about it at every pause in the hustings?
Make no mistake. The restoration of McCabe’s access to Pulse was rooted in political considerations, and was not at all motivated by an acceptance that he had been done a grievous wrong.
On Thursday, Fitzgerald issued a long speech to the House on how she will operate her new broom. Nowhere therein was there acknowledgment of the real failings of this whole affair. Nor was there any acceptance that a lowly sergeant had exposed the failings right up through each level of the tower of power, all the way to the top.
One might have hoped that she would exhibit grace where Kenny had failed to do so, but unfortunately she is cut from the same cloth as her leader.
The reality is that the turbulent cop is not viewed in the upper echelons of power as somebody who has rendered the State a service. He is regarded as an irritant, one who has cost the Government political capital, and cost poor Alan Shatter his job. He created a headache for Kenny, in effectively forcing the Taoiseach to remove the Garda commissioner — the exact circumstances of which are still shrouded in mystery.
Irrespective of what service such a person might render the State, he will invariably be resented rather than lauded in the upper echelons. That Kenny and those around him are incapable of rising above such petty concerns speaks volumes.
There will be new laws and powers that will go some way towards addressing the shortcomings of the act that emerged post the Morris Tribunal. However, a dearth of political will to reform An Garda Siochána extends back much further than Morris or the corruption in Donegal that it investigated. As of now, all the signs are that once the furore dies down, the political urgency to drive change will disappear into the ether.
By Michael Clifford
Friday, May 16, 2014
New Irish justice minister Frances Fitzgerald has got her first feel for our boys in blue, our erstwhile Gardai. In two words it amounts to ‘Get lost.’ They, as if they have the power to do so, or maybe they do, have rejected her first reforms. When I say ‘they’ I mean the middle ranks of this particular food chain that call themselves laughably, The Association Of Garda Sergeants And Inspectors, and is no laughing matter that they are better organized than any dodgy plumbers union. What is their beef this time?
Well, they really want to go on as before, answerable to everyone and accountable to no one, and that certainly includes any whistleblowers otherwise called rats by the yet to be more en-lightened Gardai who are more likely to have a brown envelope in one pocket and a frame-up kit in the other. This also means, not surprisingly, that they do not want the whistleblowers to go to the Garda Ombudsman Commission.
Their general secretary, John Redmond was more blunt when he said he “seriously doubted” if his members would ‘turn’ whistle-blower and go to report their concerns to GSOC, the very agency established to investigate complaints against them and their Garda colleagues. There is more to that word ‘turn’ than maybe meets the eye at first glance.
They put it all down to their concerns regarding the protection of the whistleblowers and said that the office of GSOC might have been bugged and therefore it was not safe. They of course failed to mention the suspicion that it was the Gardai who did the bugging in the first place. Kicking and screaming I am afraid it will be to the bitter end on this one by the Sergeants and Inspectors.
As they squirm, more sewage keeps coming down the pipeline about the Gardai that is threatening to turn this body into one of the most polluted in Ireland, aside of course from the Fr Trendy priests who thought that they had the direct line to God. The line to Enda Kenny though keeps getting blocked of late, even as he has us believe that he is easily found and contactable. That is if you can ever contact him; an Irish conundrum this one.
So the beatings of children in cells will go on in the meantime; drunken driving cops will get protection as before; the whistleblowers will still get blown away; money will disappear from Garda station safes; penalty points will only be given to the connected, and the unusual suspects will be fitted up as usual.
I just can’t wait for part three of the whistleblowers saga that is already been written as I write.
By Barry Clifford
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Victoria White, writing in today’s Irish Examiner under the headline: Tarring all catholic religious with sex brush is a horrible injustice’ tells us about clerical sex abuse as if she was talking to an non- educated audience. In her article she states that the Catholic Church has done more than any other institution to halt child abuse in it’s ranks. She states this at a time that the Association of Catholic priests want access to Mass and indeed children again for those who were convicted of ‘Past mistakes’ and where everyone knows that the Parish priest to the local Garda and all the way to the Vatican helped cover up the crimes of the same clerics. Like the Police, it is when a force or institution that firmly backs the crime rather than the prosecution of the criminal within their ranks, is when law and order is dead in the water.
To prove her un-biasness Victoria tells us she is not a Catholic yet she writes later : “….but tarring all our Catholic religious with sex brush does a horrible injustice to a group of fellow citizens, people who are our aunts and uncles, our sisters and brothers. Worse still, it provides a smokescreen behind which shocking abuse of children continues.” This is where Victoria sets herself adrift somewhere in the middle of nowhere and she may yet be found.
She then tells us about all the other obese children, babies in under staffed nurseries and so on confusing herself with the correlation of sex abuse and them, and this is after telling us how the Catholic Church founded hospitals, schools for the poor, mental health services, and all for no pay apparently, except for bed an board, without explaining where did all the money then go. All of her research, she tells us proudly, was done over many weeks yet she forgot to mention the Magdalene laundries, and the Industrial and reformatory schools for boys and girls, that imprisoned over 175,000 children in the history of this clerical republic and beyond that they ran as well. All of them together was designed only for profit from opportunity that stemmed from a craven, brain washed government by a religious sect that new better as only they saw it. It turns out they were right.
Of course I am not Catholic either except branded as one without choice as a child. In fact, had I not been branded as one, I would not have been allowed to be in one of those Industrial institutions for over 10 years under the complete control of mindless and brutal clerics. Religion had nothing to do with this lot except the license to brutalize. My study of all of this was up close and personal and without choice and lasted a lot longer then ‘many weeks.’
There is no one out there that is reasoned believes that the Catholic Church is of itself complete corrupt, but like the Gardai, if the rank and file are brought screaming to the altar of accountability and ultimately justice, then we have to stop that self righteous mindset that makes both tribes believe that they are right and above the law.
By Barry Clifford
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
It is the still and silent sea that drowns a man
Let him speak soft words and offer wealth who longs for a woman's love
No friend is he who but flatters
The madman often tells the truth
Two heads cut off and thrown high into the tree have only the winds with which to scheme
You don't have to put out the fire when all is ash
Whim rules the child, and weather the field, each is open to chance
Seek not ever to draw to thyself in love-whispering to another's wife
Tell not ever an evil man if misfortunes thee befall
The man that walks his own road, will always walks alone
The shame you cannot lift away, you had better let lie
Never in speech with a foolish knave should thou waste a single word
Brawl with a pig and you go away with his stink
I saw and was silent, I saw and pondered, I listened to the speech of men
Be never the first with friend of thine to break the bond of fellowship
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Yesterday the Gardai said that they found a bomb in the car park of a Dublin hotel primed and read to go. By today, a whole lot less than 24 hours later, and several years sooner than it took for the whistleblowers to be vindicated that exposed police corruption, the same police force stated that the an IRA activist was linked to the explosive device. That is until one reads between the lines of this story that was carried by security correspondents from what was fed to them by security forces. It is so full of holes that even Alan Shatter would not be believed had it been uttered from his mouth.
It seems it is only a ‘possible’ link between a former member of that group. When the Gardai get to thinking then we all need to think some. Who ever left the vehicle in the car park was so inept that they forgot to even lock the doors. The ever clever Gardai said that it was intended for another member of this group to pick it up. Had anyone told them that car keys can be cut. The Gardai then said “it was strange that the bomb was manufactured in the South, presumably for use by dissidents to be used in the North, that they should locate a car from there to do the job.” At last it seemed they were starting to get the picture within the frame up. But no such luck and plodded on.
How were the Gardai alerted? They received the old standard ‘anonymous’ call. It was not hard to find, the bomb I mean, for there it was hidden in plain view, on a beer keg with wires protruding from a timing device. Ah Jaysus lads, you shouldn’t have drunk the beer first for fecs sake. The Police said gravely with a hint of technical knowledge that the bomb could have flattened a building. They made the usual enquiries and set upon the usual suspects. Only one man was arrested who is not even suspected or being associated with the bomb. That did not stop the Gardai searching his home anyway and still holding him without charge. He might have been the man that drank all that beer though.
The best the police could come up with, North and South was a ‘possible’ link to a former IRA activist, a ruling member it seems, well known and who had served a spell in jail; but at least cautioned that their investigation was at an early stage. Enda Kenny, you know the guy, our Prime Minister, sensed political capital and a sound bite. He bit hard.
Enda condemned the ‘incident’ as “madness.” He then cheered some more:
“Those who left the bomb did nor represent the new Ireland.” They hardly represented the old. Then he stretched and tweaked a little more than the truth: “While we have problems with the administration of justice, if we didn’t have the intelligence of the Gardai and the capacity to break that, just think of the consequence of what could have happened socially, economically and internationally when warped minds have their way.” The guilty transfer guilt for past crimes for it is my bet that it was the Irish Republican Brotherhood that planted that beer keg and they are: The police in the North, the Gardai in the South and the Politicians that allowed it all to happen. Election time again !!!
By Barry Clifford
Monday, May 12, 2014
In making a judgment about keeping a sense of proportion over controversies that rocked the Gardai, I can only conclude that Hugh O’ Flaherty is still a very flawed judge without robes, and proves it when it to comes the Irish Police judging by his article in the Irish Independent today titled: ‘We Must Keep A Sense Of Proportion Over Controversies That Rocked The Gardai.’
Flaherty was once a Supreme Court judge but fell off his perch when he was found to have corrupted the law when he interfered with a criminal case that he had no connection with: to get a drunken driver, that had connections that included Hugh, who ran down and killed a mother of two in his high performance car while he was as drunk as you could be without being in a coma, get out of a free hotel early. His initial light sentence of four years saw him in an open prison after six months with parole due in another eighteen, was about to get lighter, and he was released shortly after those first 24 weeks of free room and board.
When Flaherty resigned before being pushed he admitted no wrong. And sure why would he because he explained it all in a radio interview later to the uneducated masses that Ireland’s justice system was more about who you knew rather than what you had done. Bless his heart. He also claims he was moved by compassion to release the man which apparently did not extend to the motherless children of the deceased or her husband. In his latest article it seems that Flaherty has learned little since 1999.
In it Hugh tries to make wrong sound right with disjointed comparisons that do not stack up. The preamble of what he really wants to say though he gets there in the end, much like an atheist trying to convince you that he is not one when found praying to a wooden statute in a church.
“I am not disputing that favouritism is ever right.” Hugh tells us which is exactly what got him into trouble in the first place and which he later conceded was the culture of law and order anyway. Well it still is. He agrees with Callinan that the penalty points system was not meant to be a revenue-raising exercise yet the dog in the street knew otherwise though pedigrees with connections would not have to pay. So, like Callinan, Flaherty interprets the rules as only they see fit and little else. Law and order was devised with the expectation that it was justice for all but they really know better. If it was only about the penalty points it would have been over before it begun, for far from that sorry saga the exposure of a greater rotting and long festering malaise emerged: A Police Force long decaying from within. Prod it a little and the force will react; prod it from within and the force will destroy you. Or so it hoped yet it was hope that emerged for the citizen.
While Hugh laments in the closing of his article about the force’s morale, he tells us that they have met big challenges before but he still fails to grasp the nettle: It is not morale that is at stake but morality sprinkled with a strong peppering of at least a scent of Justice For All.
By Barry Clifford
Sunday, May 11, 2014
“The very private drama of mother and son began on May 12, 1965, when O’Mara gave birth to an illegitimate child, the product of a brief liaison with actor David Orchard.” This was part of an article that was printed in a major British newspaper today, the 11th of May 2014, written by a writer who has not caught up yet with the 21st century or the more enlightened healthy norms that are associated with it. The article was about the life and death of a British actress called Kate O’ Mara. He is not alone of people who write like this; many writers do for the Catholic Church and other “Christian’ faith propaganda news sheets. It is the word ‘illegitimate’ that inflames any reasoned free thinking person of the past, the present, and hopefully always the future.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word illegitimate as this: (1) Not recognized as lawful off spring; specifically: born of parents not married to each other. (2) Not rightly deduced or inferred: Illogical. (3) Departing from the regular: erratic (4) Not sanctioned by law
(5) Not authorized by good usage.
There is more but you get the point, though how can a child be associated in part or in full with such a word that is more intentioned to define fraud and white collar crime than the miracle of birth of a truly innocent or of the parents that committed such a heinous act as that of lovemaking? It is all about power and indoctrination that is religion, any religion, where the only proof asked and given is that you be one of the faithful of a long tradition that was founded on fear. That tradition is the only proof that is offered for such a twisted morality on the miracle of birth. Religious right is driven only by the might of numbers, much like politics, and mercifully those numbers are falling fast even with the die hard members of the major mainstream occult religions that can brand any baby as illegitimate.
For the many children abandoned, and given away for profit by religious groups that were in involved in ‘illegitimate’ adoptions just in this small country alone; for those who were buried in secret here by shamed mothers because of the scaremongering of the local Taliban priest; for those hidden on remote islands and hilltops less they assail the purity of thoughts of the faithful or spoil the view of the countryside, may this never happen ever again. To those yet to be born, or their parents, may they never again be stigmatized by a word that is so misused to describe them as that word called ‘illegitimate’ that started the destruction of many children down through the ages before and after the darkness; and may Philomena Lee yet be reunited with her beloved 'illegitimate' son somewhere in the light beyond.
By Barry Clifford