Victory for corruption

“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.

2 thoughts on “Victory for corruption”

  1. Certainly the biggest loser in the removal of funding from the center is the irish voter. Citizens who are consistently denied access to evidence of corruption across government.
    It is most worrying to see that the courts are no longer necessary in deciding a persons guilt or innocence since reliable police intelligence (which is often anything but) is sufficient for the executive to pass judgement.
    It is a first, however, for the use of Garda intelligence to smear individuals with serious criminal allegations as if they were fact.
    And with an election looming it will get worse before it gets better.
    Of all departments justice is a very nasty place to try to do business. Its whole culture is corrupt and the lines of authority are terribly blurred.

  2. The CPI must be really challenging the Status Quo in this country given the intensity of government and press attack. Would the government have acted differently if it was an academic in a university publishing reports such as these? It seems to me that fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed freedoms are at stake.

    One would have thought that a philanthropic centre such as this backed up by a retired high court judge and respected journalists would be quite common in places such as the US. It fills a gap between the government and the press to do independent in-depth reporting.

    I don’t understand the fear that the government has in this respect. If there are reports made, it is open to all to debate. It seems the government is afraid of public debate on real issues.

    It is clear in this day and age that public influence can only be achieved by well resourced and sophisticated PR channels, something the public at large has no access to. Obviously the CPI was challenging the cosy relationships that existing vested interests have in this space.

    It is also bizarre that the whole project is cancelled based on Connolly, even if the allegations were true. Wasn’t Fianna Fail founded by a terrorist who narrowly missed being executed for his crimes. The same individual was president up until 1973.

    Fianna Fail and the country were also led in the 80s and 90s by a leader who was massively corrupt and was associated with a plot to import arms illegally to the state. I am sure plenty of the founding fathers of all parties in the state did a lot worse than use a false passport.

    Ivor Callely still retains membership of FF, are the allegations that surround him any worse than those thrown at Connolly.

    It seeems that Chuck Feeney has been got at in some way, presumably with some threats to his tax/financial staus in this jurisdiction.

    I hope they can pull through, the country needs more sources of independent inquiry, not less.

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