Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Sergeant and The Secretary-General: Can We Trust Our Civil Servants?

Noel Waters - former Secretary General Dept of Justice and Equality

Sergeant Maurice McCabe - Whistle-blower Extraordinaire

Introduction and Summary

Since 2014 the Garda Whistleblower Scandal - mainly centering on Sergeant Maurice McCabe - has resulted in the resignation of two Ministers/former Ministers of Justice (Alan Shatter in May 2014 and Frances Fitzgerald now on 28 November ), two Garda Commissioners (Martin Callinan in March 2014 and Noirin O'Sullivan in September 2017), two Secretary-Generals of the Department of Justice and Equality (Brian Purcell in July 2014 and now Noel Waters on 28 November). The reputation of Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar has been weakened as has that of the current Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan. Charlie Flanagan has been forced to apologise in the Irish Parliament to one of his chief critics Alan Kelly TD. and  retains his position largely because nobody wants an election before Christmas. (Also the opposition have already got their pound of flesh following the recent resignations of Frances Fitzgerald and Noel Waters!) 

The effect of the allegations made by Maurice McCabe has been extra-ordinary - not least because the report of the O'Higgins Commission published in May 2016 found that many of his dramatic allegations were false - a point I covered in my recent article "Sergeant Maurice McCabe and 'Corrupt' Garda Officers. For example

(i) The report cleared the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan of an allegation of corruption made by Sgt McCabe regarding the alleged placement of a senior officer on a promotion list. The allegation had no foundation
(ii) Complaints of corruption made by Sgt McCabe against Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne, Chief Superintendent Colm Rooney and Superintendent Michael Clancy were all found to be hurtful and unfounded. Sergeant McCabe also made allegations against his immediate superior Inspector Noel Cunningham– later promoted to superintendent. These were also dismissed and categorised as “unjustified criticism".

(iii) Claims of corruption in investigations. The report found no evidence of garda criminality or corruption, but found junior gardaí were allowed investigate cases without sufficient supervision from more senior officers..............

MY QUERY:How is it possible for anyone to mistakenly accuse FIVE superior officers - and some colleagues - of corruption?

The Current Position:

In February 2017 the then Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald set up a "Tribunal of Inquiry into Protected Disclosures", sole member Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Judge of the Supreme Court. This is to investigate whether former Garda Commissioners Callinan or O'Sullivan or other senior Gardai, contacted the media or otherwise tried to discredit whistleblowers who made disclosures of wrongdoing - mainly Sergeant Maurice McCabe but also Garda Keith Harrison. Also to investigate if senior Gardai attempted to use false allegations of sexual abuse to discredit Sergeant McCabe or Garda Harrison.

On 30 November Mr Justice Charleton published an Interim Report which dismissed the allegations made by Garda Keith Harrison in the  strongest terms. An article in is headed
 'This is utter nonsense': How Justice Charleton eviscerated Garda Keith Harrison's claims 
with subheading
"Unequivocally, confidently, and often brutally, Charleton has dismissed the claims made by Harrison"

On 2 December the Irish Independent carried a short article headed "The TDs Who Backed Keith Harrison" and named them as Labour TD Alan Kelly, left-wing Independents Clare Daly and Mick Wallace and Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty. All have also supported Sergeant Maurice McCabe. (For example see article in the Irish Times on 20 February 2017 Mick Wallace: To change An Garda, get rid of its hierarchy ).

The Current Problem - Desperate Politicians Targeting Civil Servants

Politicians, members of An Garda Siochana and senior civil servants are being targeted by an out-of-control media bent on whipping up hysteria and bringing down any prominent citizen. However the politicians are not just victims of hysteria. Several of those caught up in the current witch-hunt are left-wing and 'liberal' types who were very happy to use the media against their own perceived enemies. Now they find to their horror that they themselves have become prey for the monster they helped to feed! The reaction of Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to blame their civil servants - who are forbidden by law to engage in politics and therefore have great difficulty in defending themselves. 

[The targets of these previous witch-hunts have been either Catholic clergy and religious or 'reactionary' journalists. However the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland today is less than zero and the number of Irish journalists with viewpoints opposed to the 'liberal' consensus is also very small. One response  of 'liberals' is to turn on each other but for politicians, it is also tempting to blame their civil servants!]

Alan Shatter claimed in 2009 that the Catholic Church was implicated in the murder of a 10 year old girl in 1970. He demanded - and got - a high level Garda inquiry lasting a year,  into his false allegation. 

Charlie Flanagan slandered Nora Wall in the Dail (Irish Parliament) also in 2009 - repeating an allegation in respect of which she had received libel damages from the Sunday World in 2002. 

Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald supported the witch-hunt against journalist Kevin Myers a few months ago - and approved of the fact that he had been fired by the Sunday Times. 

Alan Shatter's political career has since  been terminated - and that of the others adversely affected - by the type of media hysteria that they themselves had endorsed when it suited them to do so. Now the politician-survivors want to present the media mob with other targets!

Resignation of Secretary General Noel Waters on 28 November

When the previous Secretary General of Dept of Justice Brian Purcell stepped aside in July 2014, following criticism of his Department in the 'Toland Report', he hinted that he did not agree with the findings of that Report. His reluctant successor Noel Waters went  a lot further when he told Minster Charlie Flanagan of his decision to resign. An article in the Irish Independent by Shane Phelan on 29 November is headed Departing Justice Boss Makes an Unprecedented Attack on Taoiseach

It is indeed unprecedented for a senior civil servant to make an attack on politicians but this is this is what Noel Waters has done in defense of his own staff in the Department of Justice. 

The departing secretary general of the Department of Justice fired a parting shot at TDs and the media as he retired yesterday with immediate effect. Noel Waters defiant email to colleagues notably came within hours of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar making a speech in which he described the department as "dysfunctional". Mr Waters ...claimed that much of the criticism voiced in the Dail and the press had been "unwarranted" and that he expected the department to be vindicated by an external inquiry......His decision came after much criticism of the department's failure to disclose emails to the Charleton Tribunal when it sought information earlier this year.

Mr Varadkar announce he was ordering an external inquiry into why important emails "were not found and therefore not sent on" to the tribunal. This inquiry will report before Christmas. If the emails were deliberately withheld from the tribunal, something the department denies, it would amount to a criminal offence. The emails revealed Ms Fitzgerald had been told of the "aggressive stance" then Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan's legal team was taking against Sergeant Maurice McCabe at the O'Higgins Commission.

Mr. Varadkar also said the Government was accelerating reforms already in train, and was planning "radical action to restore public confidence in the Department of Justice".

But in his letter to colleagues, Mr Waters claimed the department had been to "a barrage of unwarranted criticism in recent days and most particularly today. I want to assure you that in so far as is humanly possible, this department has sought at all times to act appropriately, upholding the law and the institutions of the State" he said. "Many of the claims about how the Department has acted that have been made in the media and the Dail are not true, and I am confident that the processes that the Taoiseach has announced will show that to be the case".

While the above headline highlights the role of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the  article on top of the same page  is headed  'I Missed Significance of Email at Centre of Row,' Admits Flanagan and features our current Justice Minister disclaiming personal responsibility and blaming his own officials. I suspect that  is the more likely cause of Noel Waters resignation!

Extracts from the latter article by 'Group Political Editor' Kevin Doyle:
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan admitted that he "missed the significance" of the email at the centre of the controversy that brought the Government to the The under-fire minister told the Dail last night [28 November] that he was "shocked and frankly horrified" that documents in the possession of the Department of Justice had not been handed over to the Charleton tribunal. He poured blame on officials in his department saying it was "a major challenge at every step to obtain complete information in a timely manner, indeed on a few occasions recently, information has been provided to me, to the Taoiseach, and then to this House, which has proven subsequently to be inaccurate. ". .....

Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin told the Dail the current row "must be the nail in the coffin of the secrecy and silos in the Department of Justice. Yes there must be a fundamental change in the culture of that Department, but Government must also take responsibility and take legitimate questioning by the Opposition, not as partisan grandstanding all the time.. Over the past three weeks the Government has taken too dismissive an attitude to Opposition members who raised very important and profound questions," he said.

As part of the reforms being planned for Justice, TDs are to be given an opportunity to sit down face to face with the senior officials to ask questions........

There is a discussion on the website regarding the topic  "Charlie Flanagan Next" and at one point I tried to summarise as follows:
The basic issue is fairly straightforward. Sergeant Maurice McCabe claimed that FIVE of his superiors were corrupt - all the way from the Inspector who was his immediate boss right up to Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. These claims were found by the O'Higgins Commission to be false and it was inevitable that the Gardai were going to contest them. But at the same time politicians, like the then Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, felt obliged to treat Sergeant McCabe as a paragon of virtue and truth. There was an obvious contradiction there. The way to avoid this in future is for claims by Whiste-blowers to be treated in the same way as any other allegations of wrong-doing. This means they are NOT to be automatically accepted OR rejected from the word go!

The politicians - including Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar and current Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan - have tried to iron out the contradiction and evade responsibility by accusing their civil servants of failing to supply them with accurate information. One result of their behaviour is that it will be very difficult to find anyone of suitable caliber to replace Noel Waters as Secretary General of the Department of Justice. His predecessor Brian Purcell was obliged to step aside in similar dubious circumstances in 2014. Noel Waters was originally supposed to fill the position on  a temporary basis for a few weeks until a new Secretary General was appointed but  no suitable candidate emerged to accept the poisoned chalice. So who on earth is going to accept it now?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sergeant Maurice McCabe and "Corrupt" Garda Officers

Sergeant Maurice McCabe - Whistle-blower Extraordinaire

Introduction and Background

[As there are numerous actors in this drama I have highlighted in red those who have already resigned and in pink those who may be forced out in the near future]

According to the Wikipedia article on Garda Whistleblower Scandal
"In 2014, material revealed by two Garda Síochána (Irish police) whistleblowers, Maurice McCabe and John Wilson, as well as the handling of the material and of the whistleblowers, led directly to the resignation of Ireland's then Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter. It was also part of the background leading up to the resignation of the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan. It was also part of the reason for the retirement of his successor [as Garda Commissioner] Nóirín O'Sullivan."

This summary fails to mention the fact that the Secretary General of the Department of Justice Brian Purcell was also forced to resign in 2014 after the then Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said his Department was "not fit for purpose" and the new Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald failed to support him. Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald are now respectively Taoiseach (Prime Minster) and Tanaiste (Deputy PM). The former is facing a demand from the opposition that he sack the latter - or else- for her alleged failure to deal with an alleged campaign of intimidation by Garda officers against Maurice McCabe. 

Meanwhile the present Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has accused Labour Deputy Alan Kelly of carrying out a "smear campaign" against himself. This allegation is rich considering Flanagan's own previous behaviour - as detailed in this blog. However there is little doubt that IF Leo Varadkar is forced to drop Fitzgerald, then Charlie Flanagan will become the next target for political liquidation!

It should be noted that in 2009 the then TD Charlie Flanagan slandered Nora Wall in a speech to Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament). Similarly, prior to becoming Minister for Justice Alan Shatter had thrown his weight behind an allegation that the Catholic Church was implicated in the murder of a 10 year old girl in 1970. AND only a few months ago, both Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald had placed themselves at the head of the mob that slandered journalist Kevin Myers by describing him as a Anti-Semite and a Misogynist!  

As the old saying goes - Curses are like chickens: they always come home to roost!

The Findings of the O'Higgins Report

A commission of investigation was established in February 2015 to investigate and report on certain matters relative to the Cavan/Monaghan Division of the Garda Síochána (Irish police). Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins was the Commission’s sole member. The Commission arose from the report of May 2014 from Mr Sean Guerin, SC, to the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) concerning allegations made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe. The then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald officially published the report on 11 May 2016.

A detailed account of the O'Higgins Report is contained in an article by RTE crime correspondent Paul Reynolds  dated 9 May 2016 headed "Report: McCabe Dedicated But Prone to Exaggeration". In my opinion that is a very charitable description of Sergeant McCabe!

In Brief:

(i) The report cleared the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan of an allegation of corruption made by Sgt McCabe regarding the alleged placement of a senior officer on a promotion list. The allegation had no foundation

(ii) Complaints of corruption made by Sgt McCabe against Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne, Chief Superintendent Colm Rooney and Superintendent Michael Clancy were all found to be hurtful and unfounded. Sergeant McCabe also made allegations against his immediate superior Inspector Noel Cunningham– later promoted to superintendent. These were also dismissed and categorised as “unjustified criticism".

(iii) Claims of corruption in investigations The report found no evidence of garda criminality or corruption, but found junior gardaí were allowed investigate cases without sufficient supervision from more senior officers.

(iv) The former justice minister Alan Shatter was also completely vindicated in the report. The commission of investigation found that Mr Shatter, who was the subject of an unprecedented, hate-filled campaign, did indeed take Sergeant McCabe's allegations "very seriously" and his actions on the matter were "entirely reasonable and appropriate". (Note: It was actually the publication of the report by Sean Guerin SC in May 2014 that caused the resignation of Alan Shatter - not testimony by Sergeant McCabe.)

MY QUERY:How is it possible for anyone to mistakenly accuse FIVE superior officers - and some colleagues - of corruption?

There is no need for conspiracy theories in relation to this 'scandal', no need to imagine senior Garda management setting up a smear campaign against Sergeant McCabe. Apply 'Ockham's Razor'to the problem; this is the explanatory principle developed by the Franciscan philosopher William of Ockhan several centuries ago i.e. 'among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected'. (Or 'if there are two alternative explanations, the simpler one is most likely to be true'.) 

Sergeant McCabe made himself extremely unpopular with his superiors and his Garda colleagues by falsely accusing them of corruption. Justice O'Higgins assumed that he was mistaken rather than malicious but in practice this makes little difference to the people affected by his false allegations. But why should they - or any other Gardai, or the Minister for Justice - engage in a secret conspiracy to damage Maurice McCabe's reputation when he did it all by himself?

Article by former TD and MEP Gay Mitchell in Irish Independent on 27 November

The article is called "Varadkar has golden opportunity to show leadership mettle and stand up to Sinn Fein"

"To this day I do not know why Alan Shatter, a conscientious and able justice minister was pushed from office. Two Garda commissioners have also departed. We have now lost to premature retirement the secretary general of the Department of Justice. Ms Fitzgerald's "offence" seems to be that she saw an email about which she was required by law to not intervene, even if it had registered with her. She obeyed the law."

Gay Mitchell believes that Sinn Fein want another official decapitated and that Fianna Fail feels obliged to assist for fear of missing out on the publicity. He concludes correctly that "the tail is wagging the dog". However I don't think that this analysis goes deep enough. 

Basically the problem does not lie with Sinn Fein or Fianna Fail or with any politician. The problem is that nobody is questioning the bona fides of Sergeant Maurice McCabe - certainly not the media and consequently not politicians or the public either. It's not a question of citizens thinking - well Sergeant McCabe has made some serious mistakes but in general I support him. People seem to be  unaware of the most basic facts about this fake scandal - because the media have arranged it that way. The public seem to view Maurice McCabe as a lone hero who is fearlessly defying the might of vicious and powerful politicians. The opposite might be closer to the truth!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tom Humphries and Judge Karen O'Connor: Too Light a Sentence?

Tom Humphries

Judge Karen O'Connor

The funny thing about outbreaks of hysteria is how quickly they come to an end.  It's not really a positive factor however - more like a breathing space so that the media can prepare itself to launch the next one. It now looks like David Walsh is NOT going to lose his job with the Sunday Times for giving a character reference to the court. It may not be a CRIMINAL offence for his employer to fire him.

HOWEVER I suspect that an employer who did so in such circumstances, could be sued and the employee might well be awarded exemplary and punitive damages.

The OTHER issue that seems to have run out of steam is the denunciation of the judge for giving what was described as too light a sentence. There were several articles by journalists suggesting that the Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus was likely to appeal the sentence and demand a tougher one.  However even at the height of the hysteria Shane Phelan wrote in the Irish Independent that "opinion is divided in legal circles as to whether such an appeal would lead to a different outcome". 

TRANSLATION: There isn't a hope in hell that an appeal by the DPP would result in an increased sentence. However if the media were still denouncing Judge Karen O'Connor, my guess is that the DPP would go ahead anyway just to appease the mob!

Barrister Tom O'Malley, who is senior law lecturer at NUI Galway had a detailed article in the Irish Independent on 28 October entitled "Why the Judge in the Humphries Case Got It Right"

The key parts of Tom O'Malley's article are here:

...The maximum sentence for the defilement offences to which Tom Humphries pleaded guilty was five years imprisonment. The judge clearly ranked these offences high in the scale of gravity because she set the headline sentence at four years for each (an element of her decision that has been largely ignored in media comment). Having given due credit for mitigating factors, notably the guilty plea, his medical condition and remorse, she arrived at a final sentence of two and a half years. ......

The statement made by Judge O'Connor when sentencing Mr. Humphries shows that she approached the case with great care. She took account of the aggravating as well as the mitigating factors (as reflected in the fact that she adopted a headline sentence close to the maximum for the defilement offences) and noted that he had not entered a guilty plea until a relatively late stage. She dealt in detail with the impact on the victim and in saying that one might have some sympathy for the offender's present situation, she stressed that this was not to be interpreted  as condoning in any way his criminal conduct.....

I predict that the sentence will stand. At this stage the DPP will probably not even try to appeal it, because the media and the mob have moved on to other things!

Tom O'Malley is a Senior Lecturer in Law in NUI Galway, a member of the Irish Law Reform Commission and a practising barrister specialising in judicial review

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tom Humphries: Can an Employer Fire a Person who Gives a Character Reference for a Convicted Sex Offender?

David Walsh - Chief Sports Writer Sunday Times

Donal Og Cusack - former coach Clare Hurling Team

David Walsh and Donal Og Cusack were subjected to savage criticism in the media because they provided the court with character references for Tom Humphries after he had been convicted of having sex with a 16 year old girl. Cusack stepped down from his position as coach to the Clare senior hurling team while journalists demanded that the Sunday Times provide a statement regarding their chief sports journalist David Walsh. (The obvious idea was that the ST should fire him.)

The following is an extract from a discussion on the website

Originally posted by Prof Honeydew 24 October 2017
I gave a character reference once for a fella I knew both personally and from work. He asked me himself to put in a word for him. The prosecution made out he was a callous scheming criminal swindling grannies out of their savings but, from what I knew of him, it appeared he'd got out of his depth and started making stupid reckless decisions in the belief that everything would work itself out. I would have considered him a friend and I still do but he was one of these guys who'd jump into something without ever figuring out what he was getting into.

I asked his solicitor afterwards did my statement make any difference and he said it didn't. My mate got a stretch that was in the middle of the range his barrister had expected.

On another matter, I knew Tom Humphries a bit because I work in the same line of business. In my opinion, he was the best Irish sports writer I ever came across - original, observant, knowledgeable, colourful, good insight and easily the best stylist in a branch of literature which has developed cliche into an art form. And unlike many of the prima donnas who occasionally venture down to the sticks when there isn't a match that Sunday in Croke Park, he'd engage with the local grunts if asked. It wasn't all one-way with him in contrast to some others who'd milk you for local information and give nothing in return.

The level of vitriol being thrown at David Walsh is disturbing. He was always quite open about Humphries being a friend of his and hasn't jumped on him just to suit the storm whipped up by others in what is a very bitchy sector of the media. I can't say the same of Donal Og Cusack who, not for the first time, appears to have changed his tune so as not to derail his media image.

Reply by borntorum to Prof Honeydew

I agree with you that Humphries was a superb writer. However he had an increasing tendency towards self-indulgence, and the anti-rugby bigotry became really tiresome as the years went on.

I also agree that the vituperation heaped on Walsh is over the top. I suspect there’s a bit of schadenfraude involved from those journalists who might be jealous of the Walsh’s esteemed reputation (which he himself has not been slow to burnish)

Posted by Prof Honeydew 25 October 2017
I didn't contribute to this thread until yesterday. It came across as one of those where the facts didn't matter and, if they did, they were interpreted in such a way as to support whatever hangup monopolising the poster's view of the world. There isn't much point in adding to a discussion where everybody's mind is already made up.

Condemnation orgies are a fact of life on but this one took another turn when the theme moved on to denouncing those who provided  character references for Tom Humphries. That's going into guilt-by-association territory, the McCarthyism turned on anyone who doesn't fit in with the narrative decided by those dominating public comment. Much of it was based on a lack of understanding of the role character references play in the legal system.

As someone who actually supplied a character reference in a criminal case (and, no, I'm not someone famous or well-known), I posted what my experience of it was. As probably the only poster on this thread who knew him, I added my own impression of what dealings I had with Humphries in order to show why David Walsh may have held an opinion not quite in tune with the wolf-pack intent on demonising him.

Reply by Myself (AKA Kilbarry1) to Prof Honeydew
A general question. What would happen if a man lost his job because he provided such a character reference - a procedure that is provided for in Irish law? I would say he could be entitled to exemplary and punitive damages from the employer. But let's go a bit further.

Suppose a witness gives evidence in a highly controversial criminal case where the mob want the accused to be convicted - but this guy's evidence tends to exonerate the accused. (Let's take it for granted that his evidence is honest.) Suppose his employer then fires him.  In addition to punitive and exemplary damages in a CIVIL Court, the employer could find himself facing criminal charges for attempting to pervert the course of justice. And saying that "My customers hate this guy and insisted that I fire him" won't serve as a defence!

Could an employer face criminal charges for firing an employee who provides an honest character reference in court?  I'm not at all sure because a character reference is a lot less important than giving evidence under oath, but it's worth discussing the issue.

Reply by Gurdiev77 26 October 2017
The Icelandic government has recently been brought down by a similar circumstance. As I understand it, the PMs father wrote a character refence for a covicted paedophile. This apparently is part of the process of rehabilitaion after conviction in Iceland.

I dont know whether that relates only to sex crime or to all crime. But evidently the nation feels very strongly about it.

Reply by Me to Gurdiev77
One must always take public opinion into account and said opinion might go against the letter of the law. In this day and age, it wouldn't surprise me if a jury refused to convict an employer who fired a man who had given honest evidence in court. Because some jurors might be more concerned with virtue-signalling than applying the law!

There's a very interesting article on this subject in the Irish Times on 25 October quoting a leading barrister Michael O'Higgins SC. He said that giving a character reference in a criminal case is NOT an error of judgment, is  part of the court process and does NOT condone the actions of the accused.

“You’re not in any way condoning the activity, you’re not in any way making any disparaging comment about the abused person, you’re not showing a lack of sympathy,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. “You’re simply highlighting one particular, one discrete aspect of the case, namely that the person has done other good things and a court is entitled to take that into consideration.

“There’s no error of judgment. You’re giving a view of a person in a very narrow and very well defined circumstances, you’re not in any way saying what they did was right, or correct, on the contrary.  “The idea that anyone would think that giving a reference is an error of judgment in circumstances where they are expressly indicating they’re not condoning the criminal behaviour, but simply pointing out other aspects of the person’s character, because character is a rounded thing, I think that’s grossly misconceived.” ........

“People who criticise references don’t understand the sentencing process which is that the prosecution outlines their case against the accused and its the function of the defence to highlight such points as may go to mitigating the sentence. “Of course, if you have an otherwise unblemished character, if you can point to good things that you might have otherwise done in your life, I pose the question rhetorically:What could be wrong about highlighting that?”

Mr O’Higgins expressed concern that people would not give references if they thought they were going to be “excoriated” for doing so. “There’s no question that a person would not want to give a reference in these circumstances if they’re going to be excoriated for it and if their action is going to be misinterpreted as in some way or other showing a lack of support for an abused child or showing some support for the actions of the abuser, but a reference doesn’t do either of those things.”

MY COMMENT: Perhaps it's time to launch a witch-hunt against Michael O'Higgins SC -  for telling inconvenient truths that the mob doesn't want to hear?

Perverting the course of Justice?

Originally Posted by GJG on 7 November 2017
Perhaps you don't realise that criminal charges can only flow from an offence against the criminal law. What statute are you referring to that you think is being breached?

Reply by Myself to GJG
I think I answered that above. Perverting the course of justice is a serious crime. I see from a UK website that this includes "intimidating or threatening a witness or juror in a case "

So an employer who fires an employee for giving honest evidence in a court case could be jailed e.g. the accused is unpopular with the public but the employee has witnessed the events and gives evidence that the accused is likely innocent. So the employer fires him in order to appease the mob who want the accused found guilty. I am almost certain that this would constitute the crime of attempting to pervert the course of justice and an employer could face prison time for doing that.

My main question relates to an employer who fires an employee because he gave an honest character reference for a person who had been convicted of a crime.  It's not the same thing as "intimidating or threatening a WITNESS". Would it come under the heading of "perverting the course of justice"? I don't know. The question is worth discussing in the light of the thuggish attacks on David Walsh and Donal Og Cusack - including obvious attempts to get the Sunday Times to fire David Walsh.

Further Reply by Myself to GJG
Perverting the course of justice seems to be an offence under common law rather than statute law. This is from an Irish Times report of an extradition  from Ireland to the UK involving someone accused of this offence.
Extradition granted to face charge of perverting course of justice

Counsel for the Minister [for Justice] said that if the same activity was carried out here, it would amount to the same offence as that contained in the warrant, that is, perverting the course of justice contrary to common law.

The IT report also indicates that the offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Presumably THAT would only come into play if an attempt was made to intimidate  a witness, juror or the judge himself. Maybe  a lesser penalty should apply to a criminal [employer] who ONLY tries to intimidate someone who supplied a character reference??

Reply to Me by fellow
It’s worth posing the question. However, neither Walsh nor Cusack gave evidence. They wrote letters and I wonder what the status of those is. The judge did take them into account.

Perverting the Course of Justice? [2]

Objections by GJG
....The statute in Ireland was incorporated in an act (not looking it up at this hour); it does remain a common law offence in the UK. In both, the offence is clearly limited to acts likely to influence the outcome of actual or potential legal action. An action that takes place after the legal action clearly cannot meet that test.

  So someone who threatens to fire an employee if they don't give the right evidence is clearly guilty. Someone who fires them without warning in pique afterwards is not. ....
 ........The key here is whether the employer did something with a view to influence the outcome of the trial. Actions post-trial might be evidence of the nature of pre-trial behaviour (firing someone might prove that an earlier threat was serious), but nothing after the trial can be an offence in this case.

 My Reply to GJG
This is from a UK website "Human Rights in Criminal Justice" and of course it refers to your normal witness in a trial - as distinct from a character witness like David Walsh or Donal Og Cusack. However it includes threats NOT intended to influence the course of the trial, made AFTER the trial, and threats made by persons other than the defendant. It may come under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the maximum sentence is 5 years so it's NOT the law relating to perverting the course of justice (for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment). It seems to envisage physical threats but I suspect that firing an employee because the employer didn't like his evidence could also come under this heading.

Freedom from witness intimidation
"Witness intimidation can have a significant effect on the course of a trial – however, any harm or intimidation visited upon a witness before, during or after trial is illegal. If you have been called as a witness and you do fear intimidation, the prosecution can apply to have your written statement serve as your testimony, preventing your need to appear in court before anyone who could intimidate you.

 "If it is found that intimidation was used by the defendant, or a party on behalf of the defendant, and the court accepts that this intimidation may have genuinely affected the outcome of the case, the court has the power to order a re-trial.

 "Intimidation isn’t always designed to affect the course of the trial – a defendant could attempt to intimidate a witness after a trial has ended, contacting them or following them once they leave prison, and sometimes even contacting them from inside.

 "The maximum penalty for witness intimidation is 5 years in jail, depending on the severity of the intimidation and the effect that it had on the outcome of a legal case."

 There are probably similar provisions in Irish law to protect the "normal" witness in a trial. In view of the hysteria promoted by the media, it might be a good idea to extend this protection to character witnesses also. Otherwise many people will be afraid to give this kind of testimony.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tom Humphries and Paedophilia ??

Tom Humphries - Paedophile ??

It is very dangerous nowadays to point out certain very simple facts - including the fact that an adult who has sex with a 16 year old girl is NOT a paedophile. As per the Wikipedia definition:
"Pedophilia is used for individuals with a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children aged 13 or younger."

On the other hand, "Ephebophilia" is the recognised term for "the primary or exclusive adult sexual interest in mid-to-late adolescents, generally aged 15 to 19".

I have been writing about false allegations of child abuse for many years now but every time I need to use the latter phrase, I have to look it up in Wikipedia or elsewhere. None of my friends has ever complimented me on my good memory but the main reason I can never recall the word is that the media are intent on demonising men who have sex with adolescents who are below the legal age of consent. But this age varies from country to country even within Europe - and in several European countries, Tom Humphries actions would not even be illegal!

I am no friend of Tom Humphries and I criticised him long before it became compulsory to do so. See my previous article "Tom Humphries, The Christian Brothers and Child Abuse Hysteria"
However what is now happening to him is wrong. Moreover the level of aggression and hysteria directed at Tom Humphries has ugly implications for anyone who works with children and increases the danger that such workers will be subjected to false allegations.

The following is from a discussion on the website regarding Tom Humphries

The Meaning of Paedophilia [1]

Originally posted by Dame Enda on 27 October 2017
The correct term for what he did might be ephebophilia. Paedophilia is when the victim is prepubescent.

My Reply [as Kilbarry1] to Dame Enda
Good point. I have posted similar comments a few times over the years but every time I have to go to the dictionary to check the word. Sex with a 16 year old is not paedophilia. I think some European countries still have 14 as the age of consent or had so until fairly recently. This is from the Wikipedia article on Ephebophilia

Ephebophilia is the primary or exclusive adult sexual interest in mid-to-late adolescents, generally ages 15 to 19. The term was originally used in the late 19th to mid 20th century. It is one of a number of sexual preferences across age groups subsumed under the technical term chronophilia. Ephebophilia strictly denotes the preference for mid-to-late adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of some level of sexual attraction.
In research environments, specific terms are used for chronophilias: for instance, ephebophilia to refer to the sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescents, hebephilia to refer to the sexual preference for earlier pubescent individuals, and pedophilia to refer to the sexual preference for prepubescent children. However, the term pedophilia is commonly used by the general public to refer to any sexual interest in minors below the legal age of consent, regardless of their level of physical or mental development [My emphasis]

Wiki makes it sound as though "the general public" may simply be misinformed. In fact their "ignorance" has been stoked by thuggish journalists intent on whipping up hysteria. (I bet the journalists themselves are well aware of the difference.)

Reply to Me by Lumpy Talbot
You can call it what you like but a fifty year old man grooming 14 year old girls for sex is not really something that should spark a discussion of terminology.

The judge in this case had better hope that when this man is released- in what seems likely to be a very short time considering the crime- that such a man with not even a reputation to protect from here on doesn't re-offend in short order.

Reply to Me by darkhorse
The generic term describing sex between a 50+ year old man and a 14 year old girl is paedophilia. Of course there are variants within that but that is the general term describing the events.

The meaning of Paedophilia [2]

My reply to Dark Horse
From the Wikipedia article on Pedophilia [American spelling]
Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children.
Although girls typically begin the process of puberty at age 10 or 11, and boys at age 11 or 12,  criteria for pedophilia extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13

In popular usage, the word pedophilia is often applied to any sexual interest in children or the act of child sexual abuse. This use conflates the sexual attraction to prepubescent children with the act of child sexual abuse, and fails to distinguish between attraction to prepubescent and pubescent or post-pubescent minors. Researchers recommend that these imprecise uses be avoided because although people who commit child sexual abuse are sometimes pedophiles, child sexual abuse offenders are not pedophiles unless they have a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children, and some pedophiles do not molest children.

The age of consent in Sweden is 15. In Denmark it is the same.  In the Slovak Republic it is also 15. In Spain it is 16 but was 13 prior to 2015. In Norway it is 16. In Portugal it is 14 subject to certain limitations. In Italy it is also 14.

Regarding Ireland the Wiki article on Age of Consent comments:
The age of consent in Ireland is 17, in relation to vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and vaginal or anal penetration. This gives it one of the highest ages of consent in the European Union.

Not quite the highest however, because in Malta the age of consent is 18.

Tom Humphries pleaded guilty to having sex with a 16 year old didn't he? This would never be categorised as paedophilia in ANY circumstances. In several European countries it would not even be illegal.

Reply to me by Wagmore
Listen mate- you should have a good chat with yourself. Humphries was a middle aged obese slob who groomed a young teen. It's been reported that one of his many txts requested her to "be my whore." Nothing to see here? Is that the type of country you want to live in? Count me out

The Meaning of Paedophilia [3]

My post of 27 October 2017
Since SWEDEN is often seen as some kind of liberal paradise, I will quote a few interesting snippets from the Wiki article on Ages of Consent in Europe

...Pornography laws were softened in the 1960s. In 1965 there was a review of previous laws governing pornography depicting children as part of the "child's rights to sexuality". From 1971 to 1980 it was legal to buy, sell, and possess child pornography that featured children as young as 10 or 11.....


....The Swedish age of consent [i.e. 15] also applies if the act takes place outside Sweden but the elder person later goes to Sweden. The elder person doesn't have to be a Swedish citizen or resident, but could be a tourist on a temporary visit. This is regardless of the age of consent in the country where the act took place...

And no, having sex with a 15 year old is NOT paedophilia either but if people  want to get hysterical about this kind of thing, they should really be targeting the Swedes!

Reply to me by Ellie08
Kilbarry what is your point here? This is about Ireland, and something that happened here. Stop deflecting it with what the Swedes do or do not. It looks like you're trying to make the point that is is ok by pointing to some other countries laws on this. This is Ireland, and aren't you a brother or ex brother? Surely you should be more interested in Canon law than Swedish law.

Reply to me by darkhorse
Never mind Sweden this is Ireland
We DONT legalise child sex

My reply to ellie08
Sorry it's late at night and I find it difficult to answer in a short space. There is gross and obscene hysteria about child sex abuse in Ireland and everywhere else. It is partly a reaction from the Sex Revolution of the 1960s and 70s - child pornography was legalised in Denmark as well as Sweden, the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) achieved semi-official status in the UK and in Ireland anyone who spoke out in favour of traditional values was routinely sneered at. John Cooney was religious affairs correspondent in the Irish Times at that time and later produced a biography of John Charles McQuaid containing allegations of paedophilia so ludicrous that even anti-clerics were embarrassed.

The same people who launched the anything-goes Sex Revolution are now getting hysterical about child abuse - and they can see no contradiction. It was Mary Whitehouse who opposed the PIE and British civil rights and gay liberation groups that supported them! "Liberals" seem to lack any kind of self-knowledge and rocket from one lunatic extreme to the other. I could write more but that will have to do for the time being.

And incidentally I personally was criticising Tom Humphries long before it became compulsory to do so!
My article concluded as follows:
"Tom Humphries now seems to have fallen victim to the same kind of hysteria that he once promoted."

Supporting Rape and Child Abuse? [1]

Originally Posted by petaljam 
More to the point though, if you think a support from a poster who consistently supports child abusers is welcome in making a case defending other alleged sex abusers, that really is your own problem, but I can confidently predict that it won't strengthen that case in any normal person's mind.

When he regularly defends child rapists, how could anyone imagine he wouldn't support the alleged rapists of adult women?

Reply by talkingshop 
That's a fairly appalling thing to say about a poster - Kilbarry, I assume?

Reply by myself to petaljam and talkingshop
I saw this exchange some time ago while I was preparing to post on the thread about Mary McAleese. Then I had to go out. I suppose I should have reacted more quickly but I have experienced this kind of thing so often over the years that it doesn't mean much. I remember George Orwell commenting about 1940 that the word "Fascist" no longer signifies anything except that the speaker disagrees with someone else. [I think Orwell wrote  that in an essay called "Politics and the English Language"]. Much the same applies nowadays with calling a person a supporter of rape or child abuse!

The people who do MOST to protect rapists and child abusers are those who make false accusations and I have posted some examples on my blog
"Are There Very Few False Allegations of Rape and Child Abuse ?[1]

In the end the public will become cynical and disbelieve ALL accusers - including those who are telling the truth!

Supporting Rape and Child Abuse? [2]

Reply by petaljam
Well, actually IMO those are the people who do third or fourth most to protect them.
The ones who do the most are those who actively cover up for real abusers. Then there are those who know of abuse and possibly of a cover up, but still choose not to get involved by corroborating allegations that they know to be plausible.

Only after those groups is it reasonable to put people making false accusations - and of course the reality is that by false allegations you often mean unproven ones.

Response by myself

"and of course the reality is that by false allegations you often mean unproven ones."

You didn't even bother to read the article did you? I refer to SEVEN false allegations. In five cases the accuser was convicted and jailed, in the other two, the accusers admitted that they had lied. (One of the latter was a conscience case - her lie would never have been exposed otherwise; the second was a thug who had already been discredited).

I have a follow-up article to the above. It concerns someone like yourself who made a reckless statement without bothering to consider the evidence (and "reckless" is putting it charitably where this gentleman is concerned.)
Are There Very Few False Allegations of Rape and Child Abuse ? [2]

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tom Humphries, The Christian Brothers and Child Abuse Hysteria

Tom Humphries

Several years ago I criticised Tom Humphries myself - at a time before it became compulsory to do so - and curiously enough the issue was the hysteria surrounding the topic of child abuse. Having contributed to the hysteria, he has now fallen victim himself. And no I am not saying he is innocent but the savage attacks on him are disproportionate - and they have also extended to the two men who supplied character references to the court. This procedure is recognised in Irish law but the media mob are now demanding that they be fired from their jobs for this supposed "offence".

The  article on my website entitled "Tom Humphries, The Christian Brothers and Child Abuse" is dated 19 April 2011 but refers back to events a decade earlier. On 9th May 2000 Humphries wrote an article in the Irish Times reflecting on his time spent as a schoolboy  in St Joseph's Christian Brothers School in Dublin. He wrote:
 "Now I've seen so many Brothers who once had nicknames and reputations leaving courtrooms with anoraks on their heads and cuffs on their wrists that I wonder. I search the reports for familiar names. I take care with the jokes that I make."

Replying on 12th May, a deputy head of the Christian Brothers,  Brother Michael Murray wrote:

It is quite disturbing that Mr Humphries can make such an erroneous statement and that his colleague Emmet Oliver can repeat the error on the same page of your paper. It would appear that Mr Humphries actually believes that he has seen photographs of several Christian Brothers leaving our courts having been convicted of child abuse and that he has searched the reports looking for familiar names. It would also appear that Mr Oliver believes this misinformation. Has this belief become part of the mind-set of some journalists?

While stressing that any such conviction is one too many, it is grossly unfair to convict others by association or to blacken the good name of those who dedicated all their working lives to Irish education down through the years. This gives the impression that several members of the congregation have been convicted on abuse charges in our courts and are serving custodial sentences for these crimes. This is not true. One member of the congregation has been convicted on such charges. Mr Humphries's statement that he has seen many members of the congregation leaving courtrooms in handcuffs and with anoraks over their heads is simply untrue.

My comment of April 2011 is still valid i.e.
Tom Humphries now seems to have fallen victim to the same kind of hysteria that he once promoted.

The following are the texts of two letters published in the Irish Times in May 2000. I have also added the text of a previous letter from the Christian Brothers dated 9 October 1999 with an accompanying   apology from the editor of the Irish Times. I'm sure it was as sincere as his apology of 15 May 2000!

The Christian Brothers

Irish Times, May 15, 2000

Sir, - Reflecting on his time spent in St Jospeh's CBS, Fairview, Dublin, Tom Humphries states (EL, May 9th): "Now I've seen so many Brothers who once had nicknames and reputations leaving courtrooms with anoraks on their heads and cuffs on their wrists that I wonder. I search the reports for familiar names. I take care with the jokes that I make."

This gives the impression that several members of the congregation have been convicted on abuse charges in our courts and are serving custodial sentences for these crimes. This is not true. One member of the congregation has been convicted on such charges. Mr Humphries's statement that he has seen many members of the congregation leaving courtrooms in handcuffs and with anoraks over their heads is simply untrue.

While stressing that any such conviction is one too many, it is grossly unfair to convict others by association or to blacken the good name of those who dedicated all their working lives to Irish education down through the years.

It is quite disturbing that Mr Humphries can make such an erroneous statement and that his colleague Emmet Oliver can repeat the error on the same page of your paper. It would appear that Mr Humphries actually believes that he has seen photographs of several Christian Brothers leaving our courts having been convicted of child abuse and that he has searched the reports looking for familiar names. It would also appear that Mr Oliver believes this misinformation. Has this belief become part of the mind-set of some journalists?

One mush ask how such misinformation can be published by a reputable newspaper. - Yours, etc.,

Br Michael Murray, Deputy Leader, St Helen's Province, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Br Murray is correct and the error is regretted. The cases of a number of other Christian Brothers are pending in the courts and their appearances have been for charge or remand. All defendants have denied the charges. - Ed., IT.

Irish Times, May 18, 2000

A chara, - May I take issue with the article (EL, May 9th) by Tom Humphries on the Christian Brothers, and in particular the Brothers in St Joseph's, Fairview?

I also was at school at St Joseph's (1924-1930). During those six years I never ever saw any of the violent treatment that Tom Humphries talks about, nor ever was there the slightest whiff or whisper of anything unseemly on the part of the Brothers.

If I were not to write the above I would fail badly in the debt I, and so many others, owe the Brothers for their dedication and self-sacrifice. - Is mise,

Fr Tom Ingoldsby SDB, Salesian House, Ballinakill, Portlaoise.

The response of the editor of the Irish Times on 15 May 2000 is reminiscent of his response when the Christian Brothers pointed out another "mistake" in an IT report several months previously. On THAT occasion the "mistake" related to a report of two boys who allegedly died after having being punched in the stomach by a Christian Brother! 


Letter to Irish Times, 9 October 1999

SIR, - The Christian Brothers note with deep regret and disbelief the seriously misleading article by Patsy McGarry, "Artane Boys faced the music - and straps" (The Irish Times, September 25th). The main source for the story seems to be Mr. Patrick Walsh, a former resident of Artane Industrial School.

 Mr. McGarry made no attempt to check his story with the Christian Brothers. The article refers to boys arriving at the infirmary "clutching their stomachs after being punched by Christian Brothers". In this context Patrick Walsh is quoted as saying that he “recalled two funerals of boys who had been rushed to the Mater Hospital with ‘acute appendicitis’"”.

 It is outrageous that an award winning journalist should include such extremely serious assertions in an article in The Irish Times without even bothering to check the facts. The implication is that the boys who were beaten and seriously injured by the Brothers were then dispatched to hospital where they died. The use of quotation marks around the words "acute appendicitis" seems to imply that the boys died from some other cause. The fact of the matter is that no boy resident in Artane died while Patrick Walsh was there.

 The article also refers to records showing that Patrick Walsh was detained in the infirmary five times between October 1963 and October 1964, “each following severe beatings”. No doubt the reference to records and the inclusion of definite dates are meant to show the authenticity of the story. One would have to ask however if Patsy McGarry has checked these records. In fact the records for Artane Industrial School show that Patrick Walsh was never admitted to the infirmary during that period.

 Your correspondent, and you as Editor, must surely be aware of the Government commission (May 1999) into childhood abuse in reformatory and industrial schools and other places. It is astonishing, therefore, that such an irresponsible and misleading article has been published by The Irish Times. We would ask you please to set the record straight.

 Yours, etc.

Brother J.K. Mullan
 Province Leader
 Christian Brothers Provincialate,
 Cluain Mhuire,
 North Circular Road,
 Dublin 7.

9 October 1999

A procedural oversight occurred as a result of which Mr. Walsh's allegations were not put to the Christian Brothers in advance of publication.

 A further error took place in citing Mr. Walsh's dates of admission to the infirmary. Artane records show that he was admitted four times between October 1964 and October 1965.

 The Irish Times is happy to put this clarifying information from the Christian Brothers on the public record. The errors are very much regrettedEd, IT.