The “Saint’ over at The Dossing Times has taken me to task on a number of points.Â I will deal with them individually.
First, the Frank Connolly/Michael McDowell case.Â In theory, our justice system is based on the principle of innocent until proven guilty.Â Frank Connolly is, as I write, an innocent citizen.
At some point, he was suspected of breaking the law and was investigated by the State.Â The outcome of that investigation was that there was not enough evidence to proceed with the case.Â In a real democracy, the matter would end there.
Frank Connolly would be seen and treated as an ordinary and totally innocent citizen.Â No matter what he works at, no matter what his political beliefs are, no matter how hypocritical he may seem to others, he is entitled to be presumed innocent until and if the State can produce sufficient evidence to charge him.
As we know, the matter did not rest there.Â The Minister for Justice, with the full knowledge and support of the Government, set out on a course of action that has done serious damage to the reputation and future prospects of Frank Connolly, a man who is still an innocent citizen.
We are told that these actions, which are unprecedented in the history of the State, were necessary to “prevent the subversion of democracy’, and “deal with “a threat to the State’s democracy and authority’.Â Yet no evidence whatsoever, apart from rumour and innuendo, has been produced to back up these very serious claims.
This so-called threat to the State did not become public until McDowell was forced to admit that he had secretly passed on a confidential police file, concerning a still innocent citizen, to a favoured journalist.
In my opinion, McDowell’s motives were twofold.Â Firstly, The Centre for Public Inquiry, headed by Frank Connolly is an independent organisation dedicated to investigating and exposing corruption in Irish public life.Â It therefore represents a serious threat to a state which is itself a corrupt entity.
Secondly, it is obvious that this government, with the implicit support of the main opposition parties, is determined to undermine the growing political support enjoyed by Sinn Fein and anyone connected to this legitimate political party.Â This has led to some idiotic and hypocritical statements by politicians.Â (See “Political Joke’ below).
However, McDowell’s actions are no joke.Â In pursuit of what I believe is a political agenda he has set a very dangerous precedent.Â It is now generally accepted by the body politic, sections of the media and apparently a good percentage of the public that a Minister for Justice can legitimately decide, without producing any evidence, that a particular person/organisation is a threat to the security of the state.
He can then proceed to take any action he deems necessary, in total secrecy if he wishes, to destroy that perceived threat.
I wonder where that leaves bloggers, especially those who are critical of politicians and the State.