Michael O’Regan: A captured journalist?

I wrote recently that Michael O’Regan, parliamentary correspondent for the Irish Times, may be a captured journalist.

Because O’Regan spends most of his working life interacting with politicians and government officials he is unlikely to even consider the suggestion that he may be a captured journalist.

A recent contribution by O’Regan adds weight to the suggestion that he is indeed a captured journalist.

During a discussion (Today with Pat Kenny; part 3) on the naming of alleged Ansbacher names under Dail privilege by Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald O’Regan said:

I have to say this, when I saw the list of politicians allegedly having Ansbacher accounts I had to laugh. The whole idea that some of the people on that list would have had Ansbacher accounts. Now, that’s just a personal view of the people involved.

This is a deeply disturbing attitude for any journalist to hold. An absolute refusal to even contemplate the possibility that certain people of power and influence may have broken the law.

It is reasonable to assume that before the Ansbacher nest of criminality was exposed Mr. O’Regan would have been outraged at the suggestion that the Taoiseach of the country held such an illegal account.

It is reasonable to assume that this journalist would have laughed if handed the Ansbacher list containing the names of hundreds of some of the most powerful, influential and respected names in politics and business who held illegal Ansbacher accounts.

Here’s another uninformed comment from Mr. O’Regan.

And the other point that you made Pat (Kenny) was, Richard Bruton said it was investigated by his government. It was also apparently investigated by a previous government, so this is not a file that was lying around the place and nobody dealing with it.

Here are the facts:

For two years the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton failed to act on a file given to him by civil servant Gerard Ryan. The file contained very serious allegations of tax evasion by Ansbacher account holders.

It was only after Gerard Ryan contacted the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to highlight his concerns that the Minister handed over the dossier to the Gardai who are now investigating.

So this was a file that was lying around the place with nobody dealing with it until Gerard Ryan forced the Minister to act.

Clearly, O’Regan is either chronically unaware of the details surrounding this latest Ansbacher scandal or he’s a captured journalist who automatically rejects any suggestion of wrongdoing by those he sees as incapable of such behaviour.

For comparison, here’s the contribution during the same discussion by journalist Martina Devlin. Her analysis is informative, questioning and balanced.

What I find interesting is that a privilege given to the Oireachtas by the Constitution is absolute and its been endorsed by the courts. But Dail Eireann itself has limited that privilege with its standing orders. It says that if it’s defamatory you must not say it and she did say something that was defamatory. She needed to be on really solid ground if she was going to do that. I believe she believed that what she said was true. I do believe she felt she was acting in the public interest. However, she wasn’t on firm ground, she tripped up on those standing orders which said if it’s defamatory you shouldn’t say it.

Copy to:
Michael O’Regan

Ansbacher: Alan Dukes and Mary Lou McDonald’s naming of names

Who is Alan Dukes referring to in this quote?

That particular intervention, in my view, was unprincipled, it was unscrupulous, it was despicable.

Is it the brutal terror group ISIS?

Is it the US policeman up on a murder charge for shooting a man in the back?

Or maybe he is referring to someone closer to home.

Perhaps Dukes is condemning the current Fine Gael led government for facilitating the bankers in their strategy of extracting every last cent from desperate mortgage holders.

No, none of these. This great pillar of the establishment was directing his outrage at Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald for her courageous attempts to expose the truth surrounding the very disturbing allegations emerging from the Ansbacher files.

And what McDonald is doing is courageous because she’s taking on some of the most powerful forces in this state. If even a fraction of the allegations made by the equally brave civil servant Gerard Ryan are true then we are looking at an appalling vista for some of the most influential and respected people in the land.

McDonald has claimed that her actions are in the public interest, I agree.

Dail privilege is specifically designed to allow politicians expose suspected wrongdoing in the public interest without fear of court action. It is a particularly powerful weapon in exposing attempted cover-ups by powerful political and/or state agencies.

Village Magazine published a redacted copy of Gerard Ryan’s report in its December/January 2014 issue that, in my opinion, clearly supports Mary Lou McDonald’s claim that she was acting in the public interest when she named names under Dail privilege.

This is just one extract from what can only be described as an explosive report. The series of full stops indicates a redacted section. The extract begins with a quote from the editor of Village Magazine.

In the following pages Village publishes the Ansbacher dossier which ‘Authorised Officer’ Gerard Ryan has been attempting to submit to the Public Accounts Committee. We print it because it seems to us there has been a whitewash to prevent investigation of its mostly tightly documented allegations of widespread offshore untaxed bank accounts being held by the political ascendancy.

Authorised Officer Gerard Ryan.

Following the change of government in 2011 I made two unsuccessful requests for a meeting with Minister Richard Bruton TD to discuss these matters. Subsequently I wrote to Minister Bruton, and later to Attorney General Maire Whelan S.C. enclosing a briefing note dealing with the above matters. I have never received a response to either letter.

I also spent a significant period of time preparing a witness statement at the request of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (the GBFI) in connection with the matters referred to above. I completed that statement and submitted it to Minister Bruton on 3 December 2012. Notwithstanding that this witness statement was requested by the GBFI to assist that agency in possible prosecutions arising from the matters uncovered by my investigations, Minister Bruton has, to the best of my knowledge, failed to forward the witness statement to the GBFI at any time in the period of almost 2 years since I submitted it to him.

As a consequence of the above, and in particular of the termination of incomplete investigations of evidence of significant……….followed by failure of various Ministers and agencies of the State to take any effective action to pursue these matters, the public interest in the collection of tax lawfully due and in the investigation and prosecution of Revenue offences has been ignored. It is also clear that the public interest in the disclosure of the matters referred to above has also been ignored.