“I think the idea of some group of citizens setting themselves up with absolutely no justification, to enquire into others, is something that I always thought was quite sinister and inappropriate.”
(Mary Harney, RTE News, 8th December-2nd item).
This quote is not directed at a terrorist group, mafia organisation or an organised crime gang. It is aimed at the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI) whose mission statement is;
“To independently promote the highest standards of integrity, ethics and accountability across Irish public and business life and to investigate and publicise breaches of those standards where they arise.”
The centre is facing closure after the so-called Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell convinced Atlantic Philanthropies, the trust founded by Irish-American millionaire Chuck Feeney, to withdraw funding.
The decision was made because of the alleged connections of CPIs chief executive, Frank Connolly to the IRA. But the real reason for the attack on CPI is the fear of how effective it may be in exposing corruption.
If the centre is forced to close, it will represent the single greatest victory for those who are determined to prevent effective investigation into corruption in Ireland.
According to the ‘police state’ polices of Harney, McDowell and Ahern this website could be described as ‘sinister and inappropriate because it is maintained by, to quote Harney –
“A small group of self-appointed citizens.”
Are we to soon expect a ‘knock on the door’ in the middle of the night?
I copy below the complete letter from a Prof Dermot Walsh in today’s Irish Times. I think he provides a good explanation of the damage that this Government is doing to Irish democracy.
Madam, – One of the hallmarks of a police state is the extent to which the government of the day uses police intelligence to undermine any source of opposition to its hold on power. A standard example is declaring political opponents guilty of serious crimes on the basis of “reliable” police evidence which is available only to the government.
That, of course, is exactly what the Minister for Justice did some months ago with his allegations against the Sinn Fein leadership.
His current allegations against journalist Frank Connolly are even more sinister. This goes much deeper than a move to derail any attempt by Sinn Fein to replace the PDs in power. It is a direct attack on investigative journalism that has exposed deep-rooted corruption in government. It will also have the effect of undermining an independent body working to expose corruption, to promote the highest standards of transparent, democratic government and, by implication, to prevent the current slide into a police state.
This is not the first occasion on which a Minister for Justice has used Garda intelligence or resources in a manner that has curbed investigative journalism. It is a first, however, for the use of Garda intelligence to smear individuals with serious criminal allegations as if they were fact. Not only does this deny the individuals in question the fundamental right to have criminal allegations against them determined in accordance with due process, but it also blurs the distinction between police intelligence and judicially proved fact.
The folly of this approach is vividly illustrated by the growing number of individuals who have been at the receiving end of serious criminal allegations on the basis of Garda intelligence which subsequently proved defective.
That the Minister should use Garda intelligence in this manner is a disturbing indication of the extent to which this country is assuming the mantle of a police state. This is a development which should be of concern to everyone, irrespective of political creed, who values basic principles of transparency in government, independence in the administration of justice and a person’s right to due process before being declared guilty of a criminal conduct. – Yours, etc,
Prof DERMOT WALSH, Newgarden North, Lisnagry, Co Limerick.