Pool firm in €1m arrears paid €4.5m to subsidiary

Very very dodgy, and what is interesting about this is that we all knew it sounded odd back when the contract was awarded.

A High Court judge has said it is “difficult to see” how €4.5 million could have been paid for unspecified services to a subsidiary of the company that secured the contract for the National Aquatic Centre during a time when the parent company was in rent arrears of some €1 million.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly made the comment after senior counsel Denis McDonald, for Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Limited (CSID), said he was concerned that the situation regarding management of the €62 million centre at Abbotstown was growing “murkier and murkier”.

CSID, whose shareholding is held by the Taoiseach and two Government Ministers, in 2003 awarded the contract for the State facility to Dublin Waterworld Limited (DWL).

$1m bribe paid for CRH, Polish inquiry told

Interesting stuff coming out of Poland, and a denial from CRH:

A Polish businessman has told a parliamentary inquiry that he paid a bribe of almost $1 million (€827,000) on behalf of CRH, Ireland’s biggest company, to a Polish government minister.

Marek Dochnal, who is in prison awaiting trial on a separate bribery charge, told the inquiry he paid most of the sum to a former minister for privatisation, Wieslaw Kaczmarek, in connection with the privatisation of a cement plant at Ozarow, in central Poland, in 1995.

Mr Dochnal said he paid Mr Kaczmarek between $600,000 and $700,000 in cash through an intermediary and transferred a further $250,000 to a Swiss bank account.

A spokesman for CRH, a building materials firm, said the company was unaware of the allegations. “If the allegations were made, they are absolutely without foundation.”

Ministers 'failed to act' on Garda report

The Irish Times has more on the secret report it detailed on Saturday. The Opposition will be looking for a scalp.

The report, details of which were revealed by The Irish Times on Saturday, was sent to the Department of Justice by then deputy commissioner Noel Conroy, who now serves as Garda Commissioner.

Marked “secret”, it contained a summary of Assistant Commissioner Kevin Carty’s investigation into allegations of “criminal and unethical behaviour” by Donegal gardaa­ between 1991 and 1998.

Mr Howlin said it was now beyond doubt that Mr O’Donoghue, the then minister for justice, and Mr McDowell, the then attorney general, had “extensive knowledge of the scale and the serious nature of Garda abuses in Donegal when they were obstructing calls from the Labour Party and others for the establishment of a tribunal of inquiry.

“There is now an obligation on Ministers O’Donoghue and McDowell to explain why, more than a year after they received this report, they insisted on voting down an Opposition motion in November 2001 that would have provided for the establishment of such an inquiry.” Both Labour and Fine Gael are due to raise to raise the matter at leaders’ questions tomorrow.

Fine Gael’s justice spokesman Jim O’Keeffe said: “There appear to be inconsistencies between what was said then and what is said now. Things just don’t add up.

“Clearly the Government, including Mr O’Donoghue and Mr McDowell, had enough evidence to set up the tribunal far, far earlier than they did. Explanations are required from both ministers as to why they so doggedly resisted setting up an inquiry for so long.” However, representatives for the two Ministers dismissed the allegations.

National Aquatic Centre roof blows off

The roof of the National Aquatic Centre blew off in a storm at Christmas – and apparently there were not near enough bolts. But the plot thickens:

There have been two separate structural investigations into the incident – one by the insurers and the other by the Office of Public Works as it is a state-owned building. It is not known which of the reports contained the allegations.

The €62 million National Aquatic Centre has been dogged by controversy for some time. A High Court action taken by Campus Stadium Ireland Development (CSID), the NAC’s landlord, to remove the centre’s operator, Dublin Waterworld, is due to be heard next month.

Waterworld is accused of paying no rent or insurance, and of having failed to file accounts, since it took over running the complex two years ago.

At a preliminary hearing, Justice Peter Kelly said it was ‘nothing short of astonishing'” that a valuable state asset should have been leased to a company with a share capital of €127 and no fixed assets.

People might remember that when the contract was originally awarded there was some concern at giving a shelf company the contract. The concerns have proved correct, and the government has done nothing about it.

McBrearty to sue as state apology falls short

There are lame apologies, and then there are lame apologies.

‘I am thus authorised on behalf of the defendants to apologise to you for the offending conduct by such members of An Garda Siochana as found by Mr Justice Morris in his second interim report.

‘I am also authorised to express regret for the same and the injury, damage and distress to which your client has thereby been exposed over a substantial period of time.â€?

The response of the McBreartys is summarised by the SBP.

In response, McBrearty’s lawyers wrote back saying that he was “disgusted to realise that, when the defendants came to finally “admit liability’, they have done so in such a conditional and supine manner as to remove its supposed benefit”.

Their civil action against the State will now go ahead.

Garda concerns raised in 2000

McDowell has now claimed that there is nothing new in the secret report that has surfaced, covered in a front page Irish Times story

In the Dail last week, Mr McDowell said it did not finally become clear to the government that a tribunal had to be set up until January 2002, following a review of the full text of the Carty report by barrister Shane Murphy SC.

However, the 37-page summary sent by Mr Conroy 18 months earlier acknowledged that Mr Carty had found serious evidence that significant numbers of gardaa­ had behaved improperly.

Dealing with the investigation into Richie Barron’s death in Raphoe in 1996, Commissioner Conroy said the Carty report had highlighted the inadequate investigation into his death and detailed “incidents where false information and testimony” were tendered to cast suspicion on the McBrearty family and others.

Summarising the report, Mr Conroy said it was “an extraordinary coincidence” that Bernard Conlon had been able falsely to allege that Mark McConnell had threatened him “without some assistance from somebody with a knowledge of the Barron investigation”.

The conduct of two gardaa­, Sgt John White and Garda John O’Dowd, “gave grave cause for concern”, wrote Mr Conroy, while some of the prosecutions taken by them “were devoid of the discretion and balance that might be reasonably expected by any citizen of this State”, he told Mr O’Donoghue.

“On the balance of probabilities and accumulated circumstances there is reason to believe that both members engaged in an abuse of process,” Mr Conroy wrote.

Green Party TD Ciaran Cuffe last night said the Conroy summary proved the government had had enough information to set up a public inquiry in 2000, but that it had deliberately chosen not to do so.

For the record I do not believe McDowell or O’Donoghue. I believe they delayed the establishment of the tribunal by up to two years.

Mae Sexton on Vincent Browne

Last Thursday, June 23rd, there was a discussion on the Vincent Browne show on RTE Radio 1. The panel included various politicians, including Mae Sexton, PD TD for Longford/Roscommon.

The debate in question centered on the death of Brian Rossiter in Garda custody in Clonmel in 2002. I have transribed a portion of the debate, but the audio will be available on archive at the RTE website.

I have highlighted some curious remarks by Mae Sexton.

VB: Mae Sexton, how could we be in a situation like this after all that has come out about the Gardai. How could the Minister for Justice behave like this yet again?

MS: Well I suppose, could I first of all say that it is regrettable that anyone would die in Garda custody. Can I just ask this question by the way for clarity. Is this the young boy whose parents decided to leave him in the station over night to teach him a lesson?

VB: His father did yeah. By the way it was illegal to have him remained, to have him retained in the station, but anyway..

MS: Yeah but I mean first and foremost, as I say, it’s regrettable that any child, at the end of the day it’s a child

VB: We all know that, and when somebody starts off…

MS: Ah no no

VB: …some blather…diversionary blather..

MS: Not it’s not, it’s not. In defference to the family because they’ve lost a child.

VB: We know, everyone knows that…

MS: Just want to say….secondly, certainly if my 14 year old was arrested there’s absoultely no way, Vincent, that I would allow him to remain in a Garda station, no matter what he had done. Like he’s still a child, and…

VB: Deal with the main points

MS: Thirdly, this young man appears to have been assaulted before he ever got to the Garda station. He had been on the streets for a number of nights, apparently, before it happened.

VB: He’d been playing around the streets beforehand…on the streets doesn’t mean that he was living rough or something. He wasn’t.

MS: Well he was on the streets anyway and he was obviously being watched by the Gardai, because…I am only sayingthat this is my comprehension of what I’ve read, eh, about the case. And, so, I have to ask the question, y’know, why was he brought in and left there by his parents who should have been there…

VB: His father…

MS: Somebody should have been there…

VB: His father..

MS: Well his father but someone should have been there in loco parentis, that’s the first thing I’d say in this particular case.

VB: That’s the first thing you’d say? My god. Breathtaking.

MS: Having said that, I am trying to defend what you are saying in relation to the reports that appear to have been given by Michael McDowell or to Micheal McDowell from the Gardai. I imagine that the first report would have been pretty much the same as any other reports, you can’t get involved in a case that is being pursued by the Gardai until it’s finished. I understand that there was a civil case being pursued as well which would have excluded the Ministers involvement in it.

VB: No, no, no, no. What happened was that the fella who assaulted…and this too is a bit worrying, I would have thought. The fellow who assaulted him on the Sunday night was charged with manslaughter. So get in first and charge this fellow with manslaughter, fix the blame straight away. Now they’ve backed off that and they’re not going to charge him with manslaughter anymore they are just going to charge him with assault.

MS: I’ll just finish the point I’m making, that there would appear to be a whole load of people responsible for what has happened. I would absolutely agree with you though, and Vincent I grew up beside the Garda barracks in Longford and I have the height of respect for the Gardai. But I am also fully aware that there are groups, in the country, of Gardai, who are capable of doing things that they shouldn’t do but I would be concerned first of all to hear exactly what the assault that took place was, and the reports on that assault.

VB: Mae, Mae. The fact of the matter is that a boy, a 14 year old boy, died in Garda custody.

MS: Absolutely

VB: Wouldn’t you think that would necessitate an independent examination on it’s own?

MS: Well I, yes I would imagine that will happen now..

VB: It didn’t happen

MS: Well…

VB: It hasn’t happened since, just a minute, just a minute. And then when this evidence begins to mount that there’s reason to be greviously worried about what happened to a boy in Garda custody. Wouldn’t you think after all we know about the Gardai that the Minister for Justice woul day, would now have the sense to say, let alone the humanity, but the sense to say ‘My god we better make sure we are not caught on the wrong side on this one, let’s have some independent examination of this’.

The conversation then broadens, but comes back to VB versus MS:

VB: Mae Sexton’s first response was to fix blame on the father

MS: I absolutely believe that as a parent I have a responsibility…my 14 year old, anytime…and I make no apologies for that Vincent. Even though I am sorry for the father who didn’t….I still believe I would not leave my 14 year old in a Garda station. And I’ll tell you what, particularly when you talk about the McBrearty case and all that has gone on, who in their right mind would leave a 14 year old in the custody of Gardai?

VB: You go on about this as a diversionary tactic to avoid the responsibility of Michael McDowell.

MS: I’m not, I would welcome an investigation…absolutely

The above marked comment is very strange indeed. Mae Sexton is saying that no minor is safe to be held in any Garda station anywhere, and by implication I would assume that if a 14 year old boy is not safe, then neither is anyone. Bringing the McBrearty case into only deepens the hole she has already gotten herself in. The question she poses is correct, but she doesn’t seem to realise that it makes her look incredibly hypocritical. Who indeed would either leave a 14 year old in Garda custody, or indeed an 18 year old, or a 30 year old, or anybody for that matter?

MS: You have already said that the charges have been changed from what were orginally manslaughter charges to assault charges, I presume he is trying to find out if the assault happened prior to i mean there’s natural justice here Vincent and I still say I would not have left my 14 year old son in a Garda station

MS: (speaking over VB) to learn a lesson, Vincent come here listen, there is personal responsibilty on parents. You know there wouldn’t be any need for ASBOs and all the things that are needed if parents took responsibility for their children. Simple as that. Simple as that. And I fully accept that the Gardai are entitled to be defended, just because you find one group…

VB: (speaking over MS)It’s shocking, shocking, shocking that you fix responsibility on the father for this appalling thing, is really appalling, it really is, I am actually sorry I brought it up, I didn’t think there would be anybody as cynical as you are to blame the boys father in the circumstances. Sorry about this, let’s go to a break.

The above passage was a shouting match. Vincent became so angry he cut to a break.

Brian Rossiter

Vincent Browne has taken this story to heart. It is an extremely serious incident, and one that I believe people do not know enough about. In fact it’s not extremely serious, it’s blatantly and completely unbelievable that this could happen in any country that claims to be a democracy.

The long and short of it is, that in 2002 in Clonmel, a 14 year old boy went into a Garda cell and came out of it, for all intents and purposes, dead.

There are very serious inconsistencies in this story, that would lead a reasonable person to call for a fully independent investigation into the circumstances of the death of Brian Rossiter.

But the arms of the State do not see it that way. There are extremely serious questions to be asked of the behaviour of the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell. Various things about this story could shock a reasonable person, but to me, what is most shocking is the behaviour of An Garda Siochana and the Minister.

Here is the Irish Times reports on it:

Brian Rossiter was involved in a row with an older man in the town around September 8th, 2002, during which he received a black eye. He was also complaining of headaches.

Two days later he was arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of having committed public order offences following the breaking of windows in the town.

His father Pat Rossiter said he consented to his son being held overnight in custody at the time because he felt that a “short, sharp shock” would teach him a lesson.

Gardaa­ told him Brian had overdosed on alcohol and ecstasy, but two toxicology tests showed no alcohol or drugs in his system.

So prima facia the Gardai lied to the family. It is also illegal for a 14 year old to be held in a Garda cell overnight. Brian was taken from the cell in a coma, and died after having his life support machine switched off.

There are reasonable grounds for an independent, non-Garda investigation into the circumstances of someone becoming comatose in Garda custody and subsequently dying. More importantly when that person was a minor.

I will be coming back to this story following the outrageous comments of Mae Sexton (PD) on the VB show last night.

Man claims he was paid for setting up McBreartys

If you don’t know anything about what happened in Donegal, this is small example of the kind of thing the Gardai were up to. And this is a very very small example. There were much more serious goings on than this.

A man from Sligo said yesterday that he received payment from a detective sergeant for getting caught drinking on a premises owned by the McBreartys.

Key witness Bernard Conlon (49), said he testified against the McBreartys after being asked by Det Sgt John White to get caught in Frankie’s Nightclub in Raphoe.

The tribunal is inquiring into an allegation that Det Sgt White set up the McBreartys by asking Mr Conlon to get caught after hours and be a State witness.

It is alleged that a Detective Sargeant perverted the course of justice, bribing a citizen in order to prosecute another citizen, during a vendetta by the Gardai against the McBrearty family. This is actually small fry at the Morris Tribunal, why are Irish people not getting worked up about this?

And how much does it cost to bribe someone to stay late?

Det Sgt White then visited him at home in Sligo. “He said to me I’ve done a good job and he gave me some money as far as I recall in a brown envelope from his back pocket. As far as I remember it was £200,” he said. He made a statement in Sligo station. Later, he received a summons to appear at Letterkenny Court as a witness.

Former Revenue chief tells of Dunne meeting

Yet another lapse of memory at the Moriarty Tribunal. There is definately something in the air at Dublin Castle that prompts people to forget important information.

The former chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, Philip Curran, said he had forgotten by the time of the McCracken (Dunnes Payments) tribunal that his predecessor had met Ben Dunne.

However he did not tell the tribunal that his predecessor, Sa©amus Pairca©ir, had also met Mr Dunne.

Mr Curran said he must have seen a Revenue briefing note of March 1988 stating that Mr Dunne had a number of meetings with his predecessor.

“It would not have surprised me because chairmen sometimes meet people.”

By 1997, at the time of the tribunal, the issue did not occur to him, and if it had he would have thought other people had dealt with the matter. He said that when the tribunal had contacted him in 1997, by way of the Revenue, he “felt it was best” to mention his meeting with Mr Dunne. “It didn’t occur to me that I should talk about meetings others had.”

Mr Curran was a commissioner with the Revenue from 1983 and was appointed chairman in 1987. He retired in 1990. He said he was requested to go to Mr Haughey’s office in March 1988 and did so. Mr Haughey told him Mr Dunne wanted a meeting to discuss his tax affairs.