Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Maurice McCabe Affair - Six Top Level Resignations To Date (and More to Come?)

Alan Shatter - Resigned May 2014
Frances Fitzgerald - Resigned Nov. 2017

To date the saga of whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe has resulted in the forced resignations of  six prominent individuals and has had a negative effect on the careers of  two successive Irish Prime Ministers - and on the current Minster for Justice Charlie Flanagan (whose two predecessors, pictured above, had to fall on their swords in disgrace). Meanwhile Sergeant McCabe has gone from success to success - "he who must not be criticised" - even though the O'Higgins Commission was less than supportive of his claim that five senior Gardai, ranging from his immediate superior to the Garda Commissioner, were corrupt.
"It's a bit Irish" our former colonial masters used to say about some especially farcical situation. However they are in no position to laugh now. In recent years in the UK, two major investigations  - Operations Midland (London Metropolitan Police) and Conifer (Wiltshire Police) - were carried out into allegations of paedophilia, homicide and Satanic Ritual Abuse leveled at former Tory Prime Minister Ted Heath who died in 2005 i.e. a decade before the investigations began. In Ireland we still have some way to go  before we plumb those depths of insanity - but we are getting there!

To summarise the Irish saga, the casualties to date include: 

  • Two successive Ministers for Justice - Alan Shatter and Frances Fitzgerald.
  • Two successive Secretary-Generals of the Department of Justice - Brian Purcell and Noel Waters.
  • Two successive Garda (Police) Commissioners - Martin Callinan and Noirin O'Sullivan.
Moreover the affair contributed to the controversies surrounding the retirement of  former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny in June 2017, while his successor Leo Varadkar has been weakened by the resignation of deputy PM Frances Fitzgerald.

[ I have photos only of Shatter and Fitzgerald above. Both may well be  innocent in the present case, but they previously whipped up the media mob against their own "reactionary" enemies. (See links on their names). Now they have fallen victim not to the "reactionaries", but to their former media friends who have turned Nihilist, and now hate everyone in power! ]

The most dangerous and long-lasting consequence of this fake scandal is likely to be on the morale of An Garda Siochana (Irish police). However the immediate consequence will be the difficulty in getting a credible candidate to take on the post of Secretary- General of the Department of Justice. Noel Waters reluctantly took over from Brian Purcell in 2014 as Acting Secretary General on the understanding that he would pass on the poisoned chalice to a newly appointed SG after a few weeks. However no credible candidate applied for the job and Noel Waters was appointed on a permanent basis in October 2016. Now he has gone too!

Enough of shameful tokenism, dismantling 'Independent Republic' must be next step

The above is the headline over an article in the Irish Independent on 29 November 2017 by Ivan Yates, a businessman and broadcaster who is also a former Fine Gael politician who was once a Minister (of Agriculture). The 'Independent Republic' he refers to is the Department of Justice and his article demonstrates the danger to the institutions of the State posed by people who treat a whistleblower with uncritical adulation. ("Shameful tokenism" is supposed to describe the multiple resignations and general hysteria to date.) Yates also provides a useful summary of how this scandal developed:

The entire tenure of Frances Fitzgerald as justice minister covered May 8, 2014 to June 14, 2017.To ascertain the first she knew of Garda management's campaign of retaliation against Sergeant Maurice McCabe was in June 2016, could never be sustained. .....Appointing and constantly defending Noirin O'Sullivan as Garda commissioner and Noel Waters as secretary general at Justice meant she favoured and protected the status quo rather than seeking radical reform. 

The first wave of the toxic fallout for the failed McCabe character assasination ended the careers of former justice minister Alan Shatter, Garda commissioner Martin Callinan and secretary general of the Department of Justice Brian Purcell. The second wave toppled Taoisceach Enda Kenny, Ms O Sullivan, Mr. Waters and Ms. Fitzgerald. But more need to go. Management structures at An Garda Siochana in the Phoenix Park and Department of Justice in St. Stephens Green need to be deconstructed. ........

The 'Independent Republic' of the Department of Justice needs to be dismantled. It hasn't so much regulated the Department of Justice as acted as its downtown office. It has used the cloak of 'state security' to operate a secretive culture unanswerable to the elected government. It is dysfunctionable in passing communications to ministers in time, proving this week that it always covers its own backside. 

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan risks becoming its latest victim by failing to assert his ministerial authority.......

It's a nihilistic view and unsurprisingly Ivan Yates praises the media and TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly for voicing  the same criticisms over the years. I see that Yates gave an interview to Eolas magazine recently in which he gave this interesting overview of his career to date:
“It’s funny,” laughs Yates. “When I went into politics a lot of Protestants said: ‘Tut Tut, politics is the lowest form of animal life and you shouldn’t be doing it.’ And when I was getting out of politics into bookmaking the politicians said: ‘What are you doing? Bookmaking is the lowest form of animal life!’ So I kept going down-hill and ending up in the media is the gutter altogether.”

Well that's honest anyway - and accurate as well!

Garda Controversies:The Personnel and Casualties to Date

 Maurice McCabe: Actually more an instigator than a casualty. Whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe began raising his questions about alleged garda malpractise more than a decade ago. The ongoing Disclosures Tribunal chaired by Mr. Justice Peter Charleton is investigating if he was subjected to a "smear campaign" by the gardai he was accusing of corruption. (Does this "campaign" amount to anything more than gardai defending themselves against allegations that the O'Higgins Commission found were false?)

Martin Callinan: The former Garda commissioner resigned in March 2014 with the force embroiled in two controversies - namely the whistleblower issue and concern over the practise of recording phone calls at Garda stations. (Giving evidence before the Public Accounts Committee in January 2014, Martin Callinan had described the actions of  two Garda whistleblowers John Wilson and Maurice McCabe as "disgusting".)

Alan Shatter: The ex-Fine Gael TD quit as Justice Minister in May 2014 after his handling of the whistleblower claims was challanged in the Guerin report. The O'Higgins Commission subsequently found that Mr Shatter had handled the concerns appropriately. The Report of the Commission was published in May 2016 - but Shatter had also lost his Dail seat in the General Election of February 2016.

Brian Purcell: Former Department of Justice Secretary General Brian Purcell stood aside in July 2014 after then Justice minister Frances Fitzgerald published theToland Report on the Department, which identified a "closed, secretive and silo-driven culture" there. 

Enda Kenny: Mr Kenny's departure as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in June 2017 is said to have been  accelerated over his handling of revelations the previous February, that false allegations of child abuse were made against Sergeant Maurice McCabe. (A gross blunder by a social worker had led her to cut and paste details from a diferent case, onto a file dealing with Sergeant McCabe!) 

Noirin O'Sullivan: Ms. O'Sullivan quit as Garda commissioner in September 2017. She said that the "unending cycle" of investigations and inquiries into Garda controversies was making it difficult to "implement the  deep ... reform necessary to modernise" the Garda. She was the second garda commissioner to resign over the Maurice McCabe affair.

Noel Waters: Mr.Waters served as acting secretary general of Department of Justice after Mr. Purcell's departure. He was appointed on a permanent basis in October 2016. He had planned to retire in February 2018 but instead resigned on 28 November 2017 while issuing a statement that those working in Justice had been "subjected to a barrage of unwarranted criticism". He was the second Secretary general of Justice to resign over the McCabe affair.

Frances Fitzgerald: Frances Fitzgerald resigned as Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation on 28 November 2017. She had been Minister for Justice until June 2017 and thus became the second former Minister for Justice to resign over the whistleblower "scandal". 

Fitzgerald was a close ally of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar but Fianna Fail had threatened to withdraw from their co-operation agreement with the Government and thus cause an election, if Fitzgerald did not resign. Varadkar is therefore the second Taoiseach to be adversely  affected by this "scandal" based on the allegations of Sergeant McCabe.

Charlie Flanagan: Charlie Flanagan is our current Minister for Justice. As indicated in previous posts and especially this one, he survives because he is prepared to throw his own civil servants under the bus in order to save himself. To do him justice (no pun intended), the almost simultaneous resignations of  Noel Waters and Frances Fitzgerald also took pressure off him and served to sate the media witch-hunters. For the time being, no one wants to force a third Minister for Justice to fall on his sword!


It is notable that all of the politicians who have been adversely affected by this fake "scandal" have themselves  slandered other people or joined in media witch-hunts against their ideological opponents. 

Alan Shatter: In 2009 Shatter demanded - and got - a high level Garda investigation into allegations that the Catholic Church had been involved in the unsolved murder of  a 10 year old girl Bernadette Connolly, four decades previously in 1970. A year later he was told by the then Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern (Fianna Fail) that no evidence of such collusion had been found. A few months after that, Fianna Fail were out of power and in March 2011, Shatter himself became Minister for Justice in the new Fine Gael government. There was not a word from him subsequently about Bernadette Connolly, so we can assume that he did not suspect that Fianna Fail had colluded with the Gardai investigators to protect the Church! However Shatter further aggravated an existing climate of public hysteria - and fell victim to it himself three years later.  

Enda Kenny. On 20 July 2011 the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny condemned the Vatican for its allege role in a "scandal" relating to the Dioces of Cloyne in Co. Cork.  He stated that the Church's alleged role in obstructing the Cloyne investigation into child abuse was a serious infringement upon the sovereignty of Ireland and that the scandal revealed "the dysfunction, disconnection and elitism that dominates the culture of the Vatican to this day" He added that "the historic relationship between church and state in Ireland could not be the same again".

On 3 September 2011, the Holy See issued its response to Mr Kenny's speech noting that "the accusation that the Holy See attempted to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago", which Mr Kenny made no attempt to substantiate, is unfounded. Indeed, when asked, a Government spokesperson clarified that Mr. Kenny was not referring to any specific incident. [My emphasis].  The response added that "Those Reports [...] contain no evidence to suggest that the Holy See meddled in the internal affairs of the Irish State or, for that matter, was involved in the day-to-day management of Irish dioceses or religious congregations with respect to sexual abuse issues."

[NOTE: The reckless invocation of a non-existent grievance is a feature of  anti-clericalism in Ireland and I have written about an extreme example here. Our anti-clerics know that they will not be required to justify their allegations, so they feel free to make absurd claims!]

Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald supported the witch-hunt against journalist Kevin Myers in July/August 2017. Leo Varadkar claimed that the article written by Myers  "is misogynistic and anti-Semitic" and approved of the Sunday Times action in firing him. Frances Fitzgerald added that "there’s an onus on everyone, including the media obviously, to make sure that articles like that do not appear". Few journalists objected to our Prime Minister and Deputy PM endorsing political censorship nor did they pose any awkward questions to our great leaders when the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland declared that Kevin Myers is not an anti-Semite. However Varadkar and Fitzgerald's endorsement of the witch-hunt against Myers did not do them any good later when they themselves were targeted by the same media wolves!

Our current Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan was just an ordinary TD (Member of Parliament) in July 2009 when he made an obscene allegation against Nora Wall (formally Sister Dominic of the Sisters of Mercy). The allegation - that she had supplied children to paedophile priests - was one for which she had received an apology and damages from the Sunday World in 2002. Deputy Flanagan of course knew that he could not be sued for anything he said in the Dail (Parliament). I quote from his speech:
"There is more to this than meets the eye in respect of these social events. It has been suggested that there were frequent visits to the Cappoquin home by some clergy from Mount Melleray Abbey. Access to children may have been a key motivation for these visits. One must bear in mind that Mount Melleray was selected by the notorious paedophile, Fr. Brendan Smith, as a holiday destination or as a haven to which to escape when he was on the run from the authorities in Northern Ireland. This issue must be revisited" [My emphasis]

"This issue must be revisited". Like Alan Shatter before him, Charlie Flanagan is now Justice Minister. Has he revisited the issue? If he has failed to do so - as Shatter failed to follow up on his allegations regarding the murder of Bernadette Connolly - why has this happened? Does the Catholic Church still exercise secret power in Department of Justice?   Are senior civil servants members of Opus Dei or the Knights of Columbanus?  I think that Minister Flanagan has a duty to enlighten us!

NOTE dated 11 January 2018
In addition to slandering Nora Wall (and the Cistercian monks of Mount Melleray) in 2009, I had forgotten that  Charlie Flanagan also defamed a senior civil servant in the  Department of Health. This man had carried out an inspection of the Sister of Mercy children's home in Cappoquin which was managed by Nora Wall and given it a favourable report. In the insane  imaginings of the then Fine Gael Spokesman for Justice (now Minister), that meant the official must have been complicit in child abuse and a member of a Paedophile Ring! See my Comment below dated 10 January.

Charlie Flanagan is now trying to save his political skin by throwing his own civil servants under the bus in relation to the Maurice McCabe "scandal". Clearly this is NOT the first time he targeted civil servants in relation to an invented and hysterical "scandal".