Scandal Sheet From #rabble15

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Keep the Pump Going Fella!

Shane Ross spent most of his career in the Seanad and in Independent newspapers. He was elected to the Dail for the fi rst time in 2011, in Ireland’s recession election. It was rumoured he would run on a slate with the likes of Fintan O’Toole, David McWilliams and Eamon Dunphy. This never came to pass. Once in the Dail, he developed his anti establishment credentials further, posing as an opponent to the government.

Similar in tone to Stephen Donnelly, who would later laughably pose as a “Social Democratic” (the clue wasn’t in the name). In reality, Rosser is a long term right winger whose anti establishment crusade is about as deep as his INM pension fund. Yes, he blasted the senior bankers in the like of AIB and BOI out of it during the boom.

But his main beef was that they were not more like the wild beast of Irish banking- Irish nationwide and Anglo. In the run up to the last general election, he formed the Independent Alliance, with an eye to government and no doubt the state funding that being elected as part of a large group guarantees, giving them a massive advantage over those with no funding.

The alliance included old stickie John Halligan, expelled from the WP over bin charge but still close to party grandee Sean Garland, pro smoking and anto bike campaigner Finian McGrath, and rural reactionary John Fitzmaurice, who majors in anti refugee sentiment and trying to cut more bogs (he is a contractor with a line in bog cutting machinery).

Now in office as Minister for Sport, Travel and Tourism, he plays the role of a fairly straightforward classist right winger, and is a silent partner in most government business. He was happy enough to let Bus Eireann go to the wall, barely engaging with unions or people who use public transport during the dispute last year. A promised “Transport Forum” to deal with issues in the sector has not materialised.

He specialises in right wing clientelism. Delivering a cop shop in Stepaside and a big fat sports grant for Wesley College, who of course badly needed it. This is evidence based policy Irish style. Evidence of chancery, clientelism and a right wing politics posing as anti-establishment.

 

The New Attorney General’s Planning Past

Ever heard of Seamus Woulfe? He’s a barrister who was recently appointed as Attorney General. This came as a bit of a surprise, given many expected long-time Fine Gael grandee Frank Callanan to be appointed to the position. He was also involved as a junior barrister in the X case and the Beef Tribunal.

Unfortunately, his impressive CV has been slightly overshadowed by a piece in the March edition of Village magazine. It disclosed that he has recently been found to have neglected to disclose a “false” and “misleading” order made by the Manager of Wicklow County Council in his 2013 report on a highly controversial compulsory purchase order back in 2003. This compulsory purchase order involved a land swap with a development firm named Zapi Ltd which lacked a statutory notice of disposal or a vote amongst Wicklow County Council’s elected chamber on the decision. Making it a highly questionable deal involving serious abuses of authority on the part of Wicklow County Council management. However, Woulfe’s report declined to mention either of these facts, and instead claimed those councillors who objected lacked valid concerns, and that they had wasted €200,000 of public money.

Unsurprisingly, this led to a defamation case against Woulfe. Woulfe was found by the judge of the case to have instead published deeply misleading accusations that Councillors had wasted public money. The court awarded those councillors who claimed to have been defamed €20,000 in damages.

The new Attorney General is currently advising the Government on legislation to increase the authority of Council Managers and agencies such as the IDA to make compulsory purchase orders.

Shur accountability has always been for suckers.

 

No Full Report

The wife of deceased Garda sergeant Michael Galvin is to initiate legal action against Garda Síochana Ombudsman Committee over their investigation into her husband’s death. Her action also raises the question as to why successive ministers for justice haven’t seen fit to release the full report into her husband’s death.

Michael Galvin was a Garda sergeant and father of three based at Ballyshannon, County Donegal. On the 28th May 2015, he took his own life. He had been subjected to an intense Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigation in the weeks prior to his death over whether he had ignored a fatal hit-and-run incident whilst responding to another call.

Galvin only found out about the investigation three months after it had been instigated. Gardai had deleted crucial emails in the meantime. GSOC informed the press of the investigations following Galvin’s death before informing his family. They neglected to inform Galvin by the time of his death that they had found there was insufficient evidence of criminality but that they were nevertheless forwarding the case to the Department of Public Prosecutions.

An inquiry headed by Judge Frank Clarke was commissioned into the GSOC investigation. The Clarke Inquiry found serious problems with the internal structure of GSOC and the practices of the Gardai in Donegal, leading to GSOC publishing a series of leaflets informing Gardai that they were changing their own internal practices.

However, despite its clear relevance in the wake of the Garda whistle-blower scandal and the Disclosure Tribunal, the Clarke Report has yet to be published in full. Given the suicide of Detective Superintendent Colm Fox in Ballymun Garda Station on the 10th of February of this year, its findings and recommendations are more important than ever.

Right Burkes

The Burkean Journal, which claims on its website to be “Ireland’s largest conservative magazine”, recently announced their plans to expand from Trinity College Dublin to cover events and to recruit writers from several other campuses, including UL, NUIG and QUB. This is unusually ambitious for a student publication, particularly one which is largely dedicated to publishing conservative opinion pieces.

In recent weeks, their writers have advocated the creation of a “National Studies” Leaving Cert module to raise awareness of our national identity alongside claiming that anti-immigration activist Justin Barrett’s National Party represent an “essential alternative”. Their support for the retention of the Eighth Amendment is as firm and unwavering as would be expected.

It’s retained full independence from Trinity Publications, which begs the question of how it survives financially given the difficulties faced by most student newspapers and independent magazines. Wouldn’t be anything to do with a certain Declan Ganley and his son being the organisation’s secretary?

Bizzare Barret

We all put our foot in it from time to time. However, anti-immigration activist and former member of Youth Defence Justin Barrett has somehow managed to outdo himself recently. Speaking at an event to launch his new venture Abortion Never at an event in February, Barrett outlined a bizarre argument that repeal of the 8th would lead to euthanasia so the state could save money.

To quote the man himself: “It doesn’t just begin with abortion and stop there. It ends in euthanasia, because they already have a plan. You see discussions in the newspapers sometimes, ‘what are we going to do about the pensions crisis?…They are not just going to kill the unborn children, they are going to kill you. You’re next. You’re next, when you stop becoming a productive economic unit, a consumer and producer”.

Mr Barrett claimed that this was based on politics and demographics rather than any actual legal facts. This was much like the claim he made the same evening that there had been 200 terminations a year under the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill. The real figure was 25 in 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available.

Mr Barrett tried to defend this faux pas as a slip of the tongue, claiming that a note saying “roughly 20” can be misspoken as “two-hundred”. However, Barrett’s own personal Twitter account and that of Abortion Never have posted the entire launch speech online amidst an assortment of claims that Oireachtas hearings are “Stalinist Show Trials”. That’s a new one.

Hot Water Guy

Remember Hot Water Guy, aka Coleman Francis “Frank” Sheehy? He was famous for fifteen minutes way back in 2013 as tabloid darling and Irish Water heartthrob “Hot Water Guy”. Despite having no connection to the utilities industry, civil engineering or the Department of the Environment, Frank was appointed to the board of Irish Water.

The tabloids nicknamed him “Hot Water Guy” for two reasons. The first was his sharp dress sense, athletic physique and glamorous girlfriend. The second was that journalists knew nothing else about him. Irish Water declined to divulge anything about his professional life other than that he was a property developer who owned a group called Melot Properties, which has since gone into receivership. It’s quite possible he only got the job because his brother was a prominent Fine Gael donor.

Frank Sheehy didn’t take well to this attention, and vanished at the height of his fame. The trail on him went cold for a few years, until writers for the blog Slumleaks recently spotted him in the wild in his new incarnation as a slum landlord whose abusive treatment of tenants was brought to their attention. It climaxed with several tenants being evicted from their homes in the run-up to Christmas.

Alongside the intimidating phone calls and refusal to provide rent books, Frank also insisted in being paid in cash. Having been caught neglecting to declare rental income before in 2014, Hot Water Guy must surely resent yet more attention.

Poor bloke can’t catch a break.

Artist Plonker

Remember former TV presenter and artist Kevin Sharkey? He’s decided to launch a new career in politics and he’s going straight for the top by making a bid for the Aras. RTÉ featured an interview with him on Ray D’Arcy’s show, during which he claimed immigrants were to blame for the housing crisis and that this was an intentional policy on the part of political elites.

When pressed on his views, Sharkey stated that “What I have concluded is what is really going on is Ireland is being repopulated and it doesn’t seem to matter to the powers that be who is coming. They are not going to end up in Dublin 4.”.

Sharkey has been very outspoken on these matters for several years, combining appeals for more action on homelessness with attacks on the government’s immigration policy. He’s claimed that the European Union is conducting “experimental politics” on Ireland with a view to “moving Irish people down the line of preference”. His explanations of both of these claims run a line from vague to outright xenophobic and misinformed.

He’s taken it upon himself to run, as he “thought it was time to do something for Ireland”.

At time of writing, his candidacy looks quixotic despite all the free publicity. Could a media personality with a record of controversial and inaccurate statements who doesn’t understand what the office of president entails actually win an election?

It couldn’t happen here.

Independent Meeja

Long-time readers of rabble will know that there’s little love for Denis O’Brien in these pages. However, the latest developments in the Independent News and Media case almost have us feeling sorry for the latest mess around him. Almost.

O’Brien must sorely regret his 2012 takeover of Independent News and Media, as the intervening years have brought so many headaches. The newest one is that the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement wants to investigate the alleged mishandling and breach of data whereby the data of 19 named people (including work and personal emails) was given to third parties now accused by the ODCE of “interrogating” said data.

On the 31st March The Sunday Times reported that an Isle of Man company called Blaydon Limited (which is controlled by Denis O’Brien) paid for an IT firm called Trusted Data Solutions to gain access to INM’s computer network in 2014, without the board’s knowledge.

However, journalist Gavin Sheridan has claimed on Twitter that there’s far more to this than just the 19 people named by the ODCE. Normally, issues involving email servers and archives are handled internally, begging the question of why any third parties were involved.

He claims that the entire email server was handed over to a third party, who then used an Exchange Query to gain access to all emails and determine the accounts involved – this means thousands upon thousands of emails sent over the course of nearly 20 years are now catalogued. The ODCE alleges that a large directory of these was created, which was then linked to names. If you’ve ever emailed INM, even for the most trivial reason, your correspondence is involved in this too and will show up in their search.

This can only end well.

Illustration by Ger Mangan.

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