Garda body tells Donegal officers to give 'honest' evidence

Last night on the Week in Politics the Garda Representative Association General Secretary, PJ Stone said that the association had been wrong in the past to advise Donegal members not to account for their actions. He is saying now that:

Those who are going out to Mr Justice Morris to give evidence, we are saying to them through our solicitor, give an accurate and full and honest account of the issue relating to your duties in Donegal

Isn’t it mad that we live in a country where the investigating body that investigates Gardai, is essentially run by the Gardai, and that it cannot compel any Garda to give evidence? I am looking forward to seeing the full text of McDowells new Garda Bill.

The Irish Examiner also reports on the story.

Barron death probe a cock-up, says garda chief

Besides the core of this story, McDowell said something very curious in the Dail recently.

But Mr McDowell said a doctrine existed at the time that it was for ‘senior gardaa­ in consultation with the DPP to decideâ€? what he and the then Justice Minister, John O’Donoghue, could see in respect of the Donegal investigations.

Mr McDowell said this doctrine was based on the ‘profoundly legally mistakenâ€? belief that the Garda Sa­ochana was ‘in privityâ€? with the DPP – meaning they kept between themselves matters of such importance.

The Gardai in privity with the DPP? What? How long has this been going on?

When the DPP was established in 1974 by Professor John Kelly it was said that was on of its primary aims was:

…to ensure, as will be generally agreed to be desirable, that our system for the prosecution of offences should not only be impartial but should be seen to be so, and that it should not only be free from outside influence but should be manifestly so.

In 1999 the then Minister for Justice, O’Donoghue said:

I have respected and will continue to respect the separate role of the Garda Sa­ochana in the investigation of crime and of the DPP in prosecuting crime.

But all this time they were working together? Is this only news to me?

The full, and indeed fascinating debate from Friday’s session (the session that is not broadcast on Oireachtas Report) can be read here, with a lengthy explanation from McDowell. The full quote reads:

Unfortunately, it was the case at the time, doubtless in good faith, that there was a doctrine that the Garda Sa­ochana was in privity with the Director of Public Prosecutions and that it was open to senior gardaa­ in consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide what the then Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue and myself could see in respect of the investigations being carried out in Donegal.

As I pointed out later, that view was profoundly legally mistaken.

The debate continues with some clarifications and background, and harsh exchanges with Brendan Howlin who said that

There are people who have suffered, who continued to suffer and who still feel we are exposing the truth like an onion, layer by layer. They feel there is now a rush to say there is an awfulness ‘out thereâ€? and we will close that chapter and move on. That will not wash now. It will not wash to have partial solutions railroaded through this House next week. This House watched with horror miscarriages of justice elsewhere in the world. We have our own scandal here and now, our Birmingham Six and Guilford Four and much more. Few issues matter more to the well-being of our citizens than good policing. For once, let this House be strong enough to do all that is required.

O'Donoghue denies he obstructed setting up tribunal

The former Justice Minister, John O’Donoghue has denied he obstructed the setting up of an inquiry into the events in Donegal:

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O’Donoghue rejected claims he obstructed the setting up of the Morris tribunal when he held the justice portfolio.

“I was never against the principle of a public inquiry, but clearly establishing a tribunal of inquiry was not something to be undertaken lightly. As far back as February 2001, I made it clear to Dail a‰ireann that I had an open mind as regards the setting up of a tribunal.”

Minister agrees that many are owed apology

McDowell has been going on again about this apology that the State is going to make to the families in Donegal affected by Garda corruption.

Michael McDowell said yesterday the McBrearty family would be getting an apology from the State. The first thing they had to do was to allow the Morris tribunal to run its course so that the full number of things in respect of which an apology was due would be known by the public.

“I think it’s very, very clear from the attitude that I’ve adopted that I fully acknowledge that what was done to them was evil and wrong and that they are due an apology,” he said.

Asked if the Barrons would be getting an apology also, he replied: “The Barrons, the Gallaghers, the Peoples, the McConnells and many other people who were damaged and injured by the procedure.”

Meanwhile the impending legal action against the State will continue and the family of the late Richie Barron are not just demanding an apology:

The family including Mr Barron’s widow, Nora, their children and other members, have served legal papers. They are claiming negligence and dereliction of duty by the Minister for Justice, the Garda Commissioner, the Attorney General and the State, in failing to ensure a proper investigation into Mr Barron’s death in 1996 in Raphoe, Co Donegal.

They will seek compensation for trauma and suffering caused to them by grief and anxiety since he died.

“It is not about the money,” Mr Dorrian [Solicitor] added. “It is about the appalling treatment meted out to that family. Nobody paid the slightest attention or interest. They have been sidelined and their dignity has been eroded. They are entitled to the same consideration as any other family concerned in this horrible mess.”

About this weblog

This weblog is an attempt to organise and filter the volume of corruption allegations and reports coming out of Ireland. It is written currently by two people, Anthony and Gavin. If people are interested in this topic, I invite them to email either myself or Anthony with their views. You may be invited to participate in this weblog on a regular basis.

If you have your own story of corruption, or something you feel might be of interest to concerned citizens then please feel free to mail me in fullest confidence to:

GAVIN AT IRISHCORRUPTION DOT COM


ANTHONY AT IRISHCORRUPTION DOT COM

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”.