Catching Up After.

In Blog, Interviews, Politics by Sean Finnan1 Comment

Above: Clare Daly speaks at a Repeal protest, heavily put through a risograph for #rabble13.  Her fiery speeches led to one of the most viral pieces of media ever rabble has ever put out.


Clare Daly has been one of the few, along with Mick Wallace and Luke “Ming” Flanagan, consistently raising the cacophony of corruption in An Garda Siochana even as others around them play willful ignorance and ridicule them. rabble sent Sean Finnan along for a chat with the TD about a scandal the state just can’t seem to keep buried.

 

Hi Clare, can you tell us of the Garda malpractices that were being reported by McCabe, Wilson and others?  It’s something that might be getting lost amidst all the headlines.

Well, I suppose now that the media are looking back, they all start with the penalty points and that Maurice McCabe raised the penalty points but the reality is that the penalty points exposé was a little like the Americans catching Al Capone on tax evasion because there was other issues that they couldn’t prove.

I suppose that Maurice had previously gone to the Garda hierarchy with allegations of wrongdoing, indiscipline, and An Garda Siochana not following up investigations (all of this stuff subsequently emerged in the course of the investigation into Ballyborough/Cavan commission which occurred later on).

So he had initially gone with those cases which were in many cases more serious – murder and all the rest of it and it was ignored. He learned his lesson and made sure to have documentary evidence of everything.

He learned to be cautious and thankfully he was because we’d never have got this far if he hadn’t recorded that meeting in the O’Higgins enquiry. So in terms of other Garda whistleblowers you’d have some incidents where there was allegations of Garda involvement in the drug trade, serious wrongdoing and that were being either covered up by senior guards or not acted upon.

 

For many casual observers, the shocking thing about the McCabe case is the levels of collusion between the Guards, Tusla, elements in the media and the government in ensuring he was first silenced and then smeared. Can you explain to me, in an ideal society, what the relationship is between the gardai and state, and why what is happening here is so shocking?

Well, first of all when we initially raised these issues it certainly wasn’t popular and we were shouted down and vilified for even having the audacity to raise them. I think that the collusion that is there, we have been pinpointing since the start.

We would have been aware of it but it’s only got into the consciousness of the people now. We put forward legislation in response to the controversy for a genuine independent Garda authority not the lame duck which the minister has set up which has no power or say over the hierarchy, no role in disciplining the senior ranks.

So an ordinary Garda can be disciplined and suspended but there’s no mechanism in that for disciplining senior ranking members in An Garda Siochana.

In an ideal world we should have an independent police authority with a majority lay representation of ordinary people, community groups and so on to assess policing priorities, who tell the Gardai what they want from their policing service.

So you would have them then in that scenario say: “listen lads so we don’t want you wasting your time going out hounding water charges protesters or whatever, no we’d actually like you to come in and do a bit of talking to the kids, or stopping the burglaries” or that type of thing.

So an independent Garda authority with the power to discipline the senior ranks and appoint a commissioner is key because a lot of this comes down to the culture and accountability. The whole notion really of a police service which should be equality proofed, anti-racist, a good code of ethics and all the nice jargon that they talk about, doesn’t really necessarily exist in reality.

 

The fact that Tusla did not seek to question McCabe raises serious questions about its own role as a child protection agency. Were they aware that this was “garda business” i.e. an attempted smear and tacitly turned a blind eye or were they just negligent in their treatment of the case?

Look, there are an awful lot of questions around Tusla. However what is being presented in the media over the last number of days would be a bit of a red herring. It’s not that there was a Tusla allegation that sort of leaked out and the Garda jumped on it or was a sort of accidently clerical error manipulated.

The very clear implication of the sequence of events is that a previous allegation which had been investigated and deemed to be so insignificant to not even constitute a crime even if there had been evidence of it which they said was insufficient was used to, I have to be careful how I say this, was manipulated by An Garda Siochana using members of the media in order to re-enter that complaint and then suddenly that complaint was mysteriously turned into a horrendous allegation which had never been made by anybody.

Sorry but the coincidence of that happening are slim to none that that could have innocently happened. The only way that that could have happened was with Garda involvement.

In that sense I suppose Tusla was being manipulated by An Garda Siochana and many citizens have actually contacted us since that were put in that situation.

That’s appalling because it does mean that they [An Garda Siochana]  know that Tusla have a statutory obligation to investigate child protection cases so therefore they can use it as the stick to beat people with.

 

Journalists like Paul Williams and Paul Reynolds have been trying to dampen, silence and smear McCabe. You yourself had your own run in with RTE after expressing dissatisfaction with Reynold’s report on McCabe last May. What have these journalists’ role been in this scandal?

Let’s be very clear that Paul Reynolds and Paul Williams are actively involved in the dissemination of information around the complaints including contacting the vulnerable young woman at the centre of it around the period of time when the allegations of Maurice McCabe were coming out.

They are the pet lambs of the commissioner and they feed off what they’re given from the master’s table and they go and do the master’s bidding and they always have.

Social media has been reminding Fianna Fail of how they lauded Paul Williams when he slagged of Mick and Luke at their party conference.

I mean this fella has engaged in a litany of behaviour over the years in order to self promote himself at significant human cost to individuals like Maurice McCabe but also individual victims of crime. He has an appalling track record.

 

Yesterday Luke Ming Flanagan wrote about how the only acceptable opposition in the eyes of the mainstream media is that of Labour/Fianna Fail. Is the media sidelining your role in all of this?

It’s hilarious. We googled the record and Brendan Howlin has mentioned Maurice McCabe up until this week four times in the Dail. Four times. And that was all when he was out of government.

He sat at the top of the cabinet table, as did Alan Kelly at the height of this controversy and not just the allegations of Maurice McCabe but the allegations of Keith Harrison, of Nicky Keogh.

All of which myself and Mick repeatedly brought up over a period of two years, much of that time when Labour had been in power.

So at a time when they had something to do about it they did nothing.

 

Very little of this scandal has been reported in the Irish media previously. Notably Gemma O’Doherty lost her job in the Independent for investigating the former Garda Commissioner’s penalty points being quashed. Have the media been actively negligent in reporting Garda corruption?

Even now they are. They’re sensationalizing it and having a hysterical response to events which they if they took the trouble to look over the past number of years they would have played a much more constructive role in actually addressing and stopped a lot of the damage that has been done.

There are obviously notable exceptions, Mick Clifford has stuck with this story, John Bourke RTE radio consistently and diligently is going the role of investigative journalism, Katie Hannon are brilliant people who have played a really constructive role in this.

 

Noirín O’Sullivan is claiming total ignorance of the smear campaign. This is highly improbable?

That’s total and utter rubbish and we can say that with a fact. We were challenged on this with “oh everybody is entitled to their good name” and they absolutely are but the fact stands that Noirin O’Sullivan has repeatedly stated that she’s not aware of any campaign to undermine whistleblowers.

We know for a fact as we’ve seen correspondence and repeated correspondence addressed to the commissioner which she has acknowledged where people have complained of precisely such harassment and targeting since making a protected disclosure.

She made no contact with those people and in actual fact the situation got worse. So she either signed the letter saying that she acknowledged the correspondence without reading it in which case she is incompetent and shouldn’t be there or she’s being economical with the truth.

We know the information that emerged from the O’Higgins enquiry. We know that John Barrett the civilian head of An Garda Siochana directed a report to the commissioner which happened to be handed over to the minister alleging similar problems as well.

So look it it’s well documented and if she’s ignorant of the smear campaign well we have a serious problem. We know and it’s an absolute fact that two senior officers present at the O’Higgins commission ready to give testimony that Maurice McCabe was motivated by malice and that he had told them that at the meeting.

Because he had recorded it he was able to show that they were lying. Either Noirín O’Sullivan was involved in that or she wasn’t and if she wasn’t then why didn’t she initiate disciplinary proceedings against those two officers pointing out that they were in the tribunal and prepared to lie.

There is a need for more transparency within the Gardaí. Do you see this as something that can occur, or is it just too incompatible with the culture within the Gardai?

You certainly need a clearout of the hierarchy at the top. Obviously the PSNI made them an offer that they couldn’t refuse and cleared a load of them out and hopefully the tribunal will clear out a few more of them.

There’s a good few due to retire early in the year and hopefully these events will hasten their decision. You need to get rid of them and bring in fresh blood from the outside and you need to beef up the complaints and oversights mechanism with GSOC and the policing authority.

The gas thing is the minister agreed that she would bring in some changes in that regard there recently with the Justice O’Higgins report on it but two years ago Mick Wallace’s legislation which we moved, if she had passed that then she wouldn’t have to go back and do some of this stuff now.

So again it’s catching up after the event.

Check out our Gombeen from #rabble8, its everyone’s fave crime correspondant Paul Williams. While back in 2014, Mark Malone took a look at the Ombudsman’s false teeth.

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