Crazy Frog company admits to overcharging

€4 per week for some ringtones? Argh. One has to wonder how the company could have made such a mistake – even when consumers ordered the service to be stopped, it still persisted.

Ms Foley said many mobile customers are unaware that when buying a ring tone, they are often agreeing to a long-term subscription costing a minimum of €4 per week.

In a related issue, Fianna Fail’s John McGuinness last night demanded a crackdown on ‘rogueâ€? companies operating premier rate phone charges for services, such as the offer of money and holiday prizes.

Barrons sue State after nine years of suffering

The family of Richard Barron have begun legal action against the State:

Along with their High Court proceedings, the Barrons are demanding an apology from Justice Minister Michael McDowell and Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy for the way Mr Barron’s death was handled and his family’s treatment in the years that followed.

They also want a definitive ruling on the cause of Mr Barron’s death and say they are prepared to call for another inquest and assemble a fresh set of forensics experts if it will help them get to the truth.

The first protracted inquest into Mr Barron’s death two years ago reached an open verdict after finding the evidence inconclusive as to whether he was the victim of a hit-and-run, assault or murder but the second Morris Report, published earlier this month, concludes there was no murder and that a hit-and-run accident was to blame.

11 months after the first Morris Tribunal report, the Dail are finally discussing its implications. And still:

…opposition politicians claimed the Government was merely going through the motions as deputies would be confined to reading statements and no debate would be allowed or questions asked.

Labour will seek to have the Morris reports referred to the Oireachtas Justice Committee so that the commissioner, former ministers and justice officials can be invited for questioning. Fine Gael will ask that the passing of the new garda bill on reorganisation of the force be deferred until Justice Morris’s recommendations can be incorporated into it.

The Examiner also pose some questions:

Why has it taken 11 months for the Dail to discuss the tribunal reports?

Why are gardai criticised in the reports allowed retire without facing disciplinary proceedings?

How long before Justice Morris’s recommendations are implemented?

Why won’t tribunal terms of reference be widened to examine the role of current/former ministers, attorneys general, garda commissioners and DPPs?

Why can’t McBreartys have tribunal legal fees guaranteed like gardaa­?

Why was Frank McBrearty Jnr’s action against the State fought before settlement plans were suggested?

What will the Government do about the other 40 similar actions pending?

Why have the family of Richie Barron received no formal apology?

When was Richie Barron’s death reclassified as a hit-and-run, on whose instructions and on what basis?

Who killed Richie Barron and what efforts are being made to prosecute the person responsible?

McBreartys say they will not return to tribunal

I tend to agree with McBrearty on this one, I can see his logic:

Frank McBrearty jnr told The Irish Times his family’s legal representatives had worked on the tribunal for almost two years before the family withdrew from the proceedings in May 2004.

“They haven’t been paid a penny yet for that work and it may be another two years before they see any of the money depending on what challenges might be made [to their application for payment].” He said the tribunal would need to address a number of matters before his family would consider returning.

“We would have to be guaranteed all of our costs, just like the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice. The terms of reference would also need to be widened to include the role of the State, the Attorney General, the commissioner, the Minister and the Department of Justice in what happened to us”.

TD accuses General Electric of 'legal swindle'

Very curious goings-on with GE, a company partnered to controversial Gama construction.

Yesterday Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins named the company involved as General Electric, a partner of the construction company Gama.

He said General Electric in Clonshaugh in north Dublin, “sets up puppet companies so that it can set about a legal swindle to compel the IDA to pay it millions of euro for land belonging to the Irish people”.

He said General Electric had used the proceeds of the sale to “finance its industrial diamond innovations to force a redundancy deal on 50 workers, whom it bullies and pressurises into accepting, so it can replace them with cheap labour for its industrial diamond enterprises”.

General Electric set up a “puppet company” allowing it to buy IDA industrial land outright and lifting restricted usage. The IDA practice of selling property was through a 999-year lease. IDA property leased in 1981 to one company was subsequently sub-leased twice and an anomaly allowed the lease to be “extinguished”.

The Government was even forced to:

rush emergency ground rent legislation through the Dail and Seanad earlier this year when it emerged that the State’s ownership of a further 700 IDA properties was at risk because of the legal loophole.

I never heard about that, strangely enough.

Concerns over omission of TD's statement

It’s an interesting story alright:

In September 2000 a constituent of [TD] Mr Dick Roche came to him alleging he had been beaten by gardaa­ the previous night following a disturbance at a birthday party at a hotel in Dublin’s south inner city. Michael Gaffney (18), from Bray, showed Mr Roche bruises and other marks on his body.

Mr Roche drew up a statement, and sent it to the then minister for justice John O’Donoghue. This was sent on to the then Garda commissioner Pat Byrne. However, while Mr Byrne appointed a member of the force to compile a file for the complaints board, this member decided to exclude Mr Roche’s statement.

Mr Holmes only learned of the existence of the statement after Mr Roche spoke about it in a special Prime Time programme last year. Mr Roche was “astonished” by the handling of his statement.

But apparently such a thing cannot happen again:

Mr Holmes was not satisfied with this explanation. “He [ Mr Roche] wasn’t just making representations, as you often find, he was actually a witness. He saw the person the next day, and saw the marks etc that were on that person. There are witnesses who were involved and he wasn’t involved, so his evidence would have carried more weight with us.

“Certainly, as a matter of practice, an investigating officer should not remove a statement from a person, from anybody, least of all from a very responsible deputy, from a file they are sending down to us.”

However, he was glad to see a protocol had been drawn up to prevent the same situation arising again. The case was highlighted in the 2004 annual report of the Garda Complaints Board yesterday.

A protocol? Hmm.

Bill to make gardaí account for their actions

The ‘Blue Wall’ is what Gordon Holmes calls it. The fact that, currently, a Garda cannot be compelled by a superior to talk. From the IT:

The Minister for Justice Michael McDowell is to introduce legislation which would compel gardaa­ to account for their actions when asked to do so by their superiors.

News that all members of the force are to lose their right to silence comes as the chairman of the Garda Complaints Board, Gordon Holmes, said investigations by the board were frequently met with a wall of silence, “a problem internationally known as the Blue Wall”.

It goes on:

Justice Morris said some gardaa­ believed that before accounting for their movements to a superior officer they had the right to consult their solicitor, their staff representative association or that they had the right to remain silent on constitutional grounds. This was not acceptable, Mr McDowell said.

“It is my intention to make it very, very clear in the legislation … that there is an absolute duty running from the very top to the very bottom of An Garda Sa­ochana to be wholly accountable for the way in which you discharge the functions that you do. That will be written in large letters for everyone to see and for nobody to deny.”

And..

Mr McDowell said the 5 per cent increase in the number of complaints received by the Garda Complaints Board last year was not a significant increase.

But then the complaints system has been known to be inadequate for so long, I doubt the figures published reflect the real figure. Just like crime figures, not everything is reported. And I would imagine that things being the way they are for so long, most people wouldn’t see the point in going near the Garda Complaints Board.

Former Revenue chief gave tax advice to Dunne

So I guess we have some idea of the payback Dunne may have got for giving Haughey the £1.9 million in donations. But then Dunne can’t recollect any of these events anyway. And Haughey is too ill even to instruct his lawyers now, despite sunning himself on his yacht in France.

But let’s break this down a little. In 1987, Charlie Haughey, as Taoiseach arranged a meeting between the Head of the Revenue Sa©amus Pairca©ir, and Ben Dunne. The purpose of the meeting was to arrange a settlement.

Pairca©ir has now said that he didn’t think this information was relevent to the Moriarty Tribunal’s predecessor, McCracken.

Mr Pairca©ir had told the tribunal, in a statement of intended evidence, that he did not view a request from Mr Haughey that he meet Mr Dunne as a representation or submission on behalf of Dunnes Stores.

Maybe we all live on a different planet then. How could Dunne Stores possibly be related to Ben Dunne in 1987?

Indeed now it appears that:

the total amount that has been identified as being paid to Mr Haughey, by various parties, is approximately £8.5 million.

What could a reasonable person assume from these details? Answers on a postcard please.

'A further 120 cases pending against Garda'

Bertie Ahern is waffling and should back down in regard to Fine Gael requests for a review of the impending legislation.

Mr Ahern said that the Bill had been reviewed for the last year. When the first report was published last year, the Minister had taken full account of the issues involved.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny suggested that the recommendations of the second report of the Morris tribunal, and the extent of the Garda Sa­ochana Bill, be examined by a three-person committee with international experience. It could report by the end of September, allowing the Government to enact an effective, modern and acceptable Bill by the end of the year.

“The Taoiseach claims repeatedly that the Minister for Justice is convinced that the Bill will work. However, Mr Justice Morris made recommendations that are not contained in the Bill.” People were concerned, he added, that another McBrearty case might occur. “They are worried that structures will not change sufficiently to have accountability, transparency and professionalism in the Garda force.

Ahern noted:

However, there are 120 cases like that one against the State and the Garda, starting off against actions in Donegal