The estimated cost to the taxpayer would have been 2 million a year and 20 million if Dr. Holohan remained in his post for ten years.
Neither Watt nor Holohan had the authority to create this position. No civil servant, no matter how senior has the authority to spend such sums of taxpayer’s money without the knowledge and permission of his minister.
My complaint against Watt is based on his misbehaviour and failures as a senior civil servant.
After a number of enquiries to SIPO on the progress of my complaint I was informed that no action would be taken until after the publication of an independent report ordered by the Minister for Health into the scandal.
The drafting and sending of the letter of intent by Mr. Watt to Professor Linda Doyle of TCD. Mr. Watt was in breach of his duties and responsibilities on two counts regarding this letter.
One: He did not possess the authority to write such a letter without the knowledge and permission of the minister.
Two: He did not possess the authority to offer a contract to TCD that involved a potential cost to the state of several millions. In his briefing note Mr. Watt defends his actions by claiming that the final details regarding Mr. Holohan’s secondment were not finalised.
This defence does not stand up. Whether or not the final details were agreed is irrelevant.
It is the act itself of drawing up the letter and sending it to Professor Doyle for signature that constitutes Mr. Watts breach of the code under section 11. Regard for state resources [11.1] [11.2]
11.1 Civil servants should endeavour to ensure the proper, effective, and efficient use of public money.
11.2 Civil servants are required to: • take proper and reasonable care of public funds and departmental property and not to use them, or permit their use, for unauthorised purposes; • incur no liability on the part of their employer without proper authorisation and • ensure that expenses, such as travel and subsistence payments, are not unnecessarily incurred either by themselves or by staff reporting to them.
Complaint – Part Two
In his Briefing Note Mr. Watt, in an obvious attempt to spread responsibility for his own decisions and actions, dishonestly implicates other agencies and individuals in those decisions.
 He promised an allocation of €2 million for the duration of Mr. Holohan’s secondment to be administered through the Health Research Board [HRB]. The HRB have made it absolutely clear that they were neither informed nor consulted in regard to this decision. Whether or not the HRB would have administered Dr. Holohan’s salary is irrelevant in the context of this complaint.
What is relevant is that Mr. Watt failed in his responsibility to inform or consult with the HRB on a decision that would have had a serious impact on the obligations and resources of that organisation.
Furthermore, Mr. Watt’s failure to inform or consult with the management of the HRB regarding his decision demonstrates a serious lack of respect and consideration for his civil service colleagues.
 Mr. Watt strongly suggests that the Secretary to the Government, Martin Fraser, the Taoiseach and other members of the Government were aware of the proposed secondment.
Mr. Watt writes:
The Secretary to the Government was aware of the proposed secondment move (but not of course the precise details) and I understood that the fact of discussions regarding the CMO’s future plans were known in the Department of An Taoiseach. I assumed that key decision-makers were aware of the proposal but of course not the precise details. [Source: Robert Watt’s Briefing Note: Other Matters .
The facts are: The Taoiseach has made it crystal clear that he had ‘no hand, act or part’ in the plans surrounding Dr. Holohan’s secondment.
Similarly, no other government minister had any knowledge whatsoever of the details as drawn up by Mr. Watt and Dr. Holohan and agreed to by the provost of TCD, Linda Doyle. Mr. Fraser and Mr. Watt’s boss, the Minister for Health, were given only the vaguest details of what was planned.
Mr. Watt’s use of terms such as ’I understood that’ and ‘I assumed that’, in mitigation of his actions are not credible coming from a public official of his rank, power and responsibilities.
I believe that Mr. Watts’ decisions and actions in respect of the above are in breach of Part 2  [Impartiality] [paragraphs [a] [b] and [c] of the Code.
Civil servants in the performance of their official duties:
(a) must conscientiously serve the duly elected Government of the day, the other institutions of State and the public;
(b) must advise and implement policy impartially and, in particular, be conscious of the need to maintain the independence necessary to give any future Minister or Government confidence in their integrity and
(c) should not display partiality whether as a result of personal or family ties or otherwise.
HSE board member and Irish Examiner columnist Fergus Finlay is so strongly in favour of the current arrangement for building the National Maternity Hospital that he took the unusual step of breaking board confidentiality rules to support the Government’s plan for the project.
Here’s my bottom line. As a citizen, campaigner, and advocate; as a husband; as the father and grandfather of women and girls; there are simply no circumstances under which I would support the development of a new national maternity hospital in Ireland that was influenced by anything — anything — other than the public interest and the interests of women.
He then went on to outline the enormous amount of work he and his colleagues on the audit and risk committee put into checking every aspect of the deal to ensure that nothing was left to chance.
We devoted many, many hours, over many months…examining and analysing the huge set of documents that had been developed to give legal underpinning to the project. We worked with senior management colleagues and had the benefit of legal advice at every stage.
Given all that, it would be reasonable to assume that Mr. Finlay is familiar with all aspects of the project and would have no difficulty in answering questions put by those who are deeply concerned about the entire project.
Such an assumption would be badly mistaken.
During a discussion on RTE radio with Prof. Louise Kenny, who has serious question on the issue, Finlay was unable to answer even the most basic questions.
For example: Why is St. Vincent’s so determined to hold on to ownership of the site?
Well, you would need to ask them that but I would hazard a guess: I think they see it as a great act of generosity and they don’t understand why they should be asked to go further. The rest of the world would like them to gift the land to the state, but they haven’t.
St. Vincent’s have claimed that ownership of the land is required in order to facilitate integrated care.
Prof. Kenny refutes this. It doesn’t stack up, she said. There are many hospitals across the UK and Europe where the leasehold has no effect whatsoever on care integration.
Incredibly, Finlay agreed, contradicting his core claim that everything has been checked, that months of forensic investigation with the best legal minds has answered all the questions:
I think you can work out arrangements for integrated care without owning the land…I don’t think that’s a good reason. My hunch is that it’s about tradition, it’s about history, it’s about pride in their own ownership.
So here we have a member of the HSE board, the authority that will decide whether the project proceeds or not, guessing and expressing hunches surrounding the most fundamental questions being asked by those who are deeply worried about the consequences if the project is allowed to proceed in its present form.
Finlay was equally befuddled when asked about the worrying inclusion of the term ‘clinically appropriate’ in the contract. Kenny said the term was incredibly vague and open to interpretation. It could mean a doctor having the power to override the wishes of a woman seeking a particular service.
I think that phrase has been misinterpreted and I wish to god we could find a better phrase that wouldn’t be open to misinterpretation.
When asked if lawyers should come up with a better phrase Finlay did a lot of muttering before lamely concluding with the by now standard excuse of those defending the project – it would involve further delay.
In addition to his ignorance of the facts Finlay’s attitude was also patronising and insulting, not just to Prof. Kenny but to all those who have genuine worries about the Byzantine conditions surrounding this project. Effectively accusing Prof. Kenny of being a conspiracist, he asked:
Is it that you really believe that somewhere in the background there’s someone waiting to leap out and say ‘we gotcha now’?
Clearly Finlay is unaware of or not concerned about a number of clauses in the contract. For example, the strong possibility that the apparent generous €10 per annum rent could mushroom into an astonishing €850,000 per annum if certain conditions are not adhered to.
Given the shady and convoluted shenanigans surrounding this whole deal, only the most naïve would believe that it will not eventually turn into a very, very expensive ‘gotcha’ trap for Irish taxpayers.
Writing in the Irish Times recently about the continuing decline of the Labour Party, historian Diarmaid Ferriter asks:
Is there really much difference between the Labour Party and the Social Democrats and would it not make sense for them to coalesce?
The same question has been asked many times by journalists and politicians since the people effectively rejected the party in the 2016 election. The question is always advanced as a possible strategy for rescuing Labour from extinction.
That mainstream journalists and politicians would scramble around looking for strategies to save the party is not surprising but it is disappointing to witness a prominent historian engaging in the same hopeless delusion when he really should know the answer.
So, for Mr. Ferriter’s benefit and other’s hoping that, by some miracle, the Labour Party can be saved – here’s the unvarnished truth.
The Labour Party is heading for extinction because it is, first and foremost, a loyal member of the ruling political class. A large and increasing number of voters have come to realise that the party does not represent their interests and vote accordingly. Election results do not lie, the brutal political reality is out there for everybody to see.
Also, in recent years, particularly since the economic catastrophe of 2008, more and more voters have come to realise that the political establishment itself is rotten to the core.
The people have delivered the same message in every recent election – a demand for radical political change. Labour, instead of answering that call, has doggedly remained loyal to the corrupt political regime that the electorate is rejecting in their droves.
And this is where the difference between the Labour Party and the Social Democrats crystalises, this is what Mr. Ferriter should know.
The Social Democrats are anti-establishment, they were created as a direct result of political corruption within the establishment. The party’s raison d’être is to rid the state of the disease of political corruption that has infected the body politic for decades.
If the Social Democrats was to merge with Labour they would almost certainly suffer the same fate as the Progressive Democrats. They too came into existence in protest against political corruption, principally under the corrupt politician Haughey. But over the years and particularly under the leadership of Mary Harney, the party returned to its rotten Fianna Fail roots. That betrayal of hope and trust signed the party’s death warrant.
In the run-up to the 1992 election Labour Party leader, Dick Spring convinced many, including myself, that the party was determined to represent the people rather than powerful interests.
I was particularly impressed when Spring, most unusually, revealed the truth about a fellow ruling elite party when he accurately described Haughey and Fianna Fail’s influence on politics as ‘a cancer in the body politic’.
Shortly afterwards, Spring cravingly led Labour into coalition with the ‘cancerous’ Fianna Fail exposing the naked truth that his true loyalties lay with the power and privileges of the ruling political class and not with the people.
Mr. Ferriter, in common with all mainstream commentators is unaware of or refuses to acknowledge the truth behind the rapidly changing political landscape. Instead of facing reality, he clutches at straws of hope for the doomed party.
Perhaps, he suggests, Labour may regain momentum if Sinn Fein suffers as a consequence of making hard decisions in government.
That a negative performance by one party might help save Labour is as ridiculous as the idea that a positive performance of another [Social Democrats] might do the same.
The choice facing Labour is simple – remain loyal to the current dying political regime or respond to the demands of the people for radical political change by becoming a genuinely radical left wing party.
No prizes for guessing which road Ivana Bacik will take.
Irish Examiner columnist Alison O’Connor found herself all alone on Valentine’s night last. Claire Byrne/RTE had invited her to participate in a discussion on the dramatic rise in Sinn Fein’s popularity.
As a favourite of the establishment media and strident anti-Sinn Fein commentator Ms. O’Connor probably expected that she would be joining the usual RTE anti-Sinn Fein panel.
But, amazingly, that didn’t happen, the panel was balanced and fair. O’Connor seemed to be genuinely confused with the situation. She began by telling the nation that, given how bad things are, even an opposition of chimpanzees would find it easy to pick it [the Government] off.
This crude and insulting political analysis was followed up with the usual tired guff about Sinn Fein being a ‘strange, cultish party’ that could cause a lot of offence if it got into power.
But then, O’Connor ran out of words. It was as if she suddenly realised that nobody was really listening to her, that they had heard it all before, and, of course they had, ad infinitum
So, in desperation, she did something that no establishment journalist has ever done before – she criticised RTE for imbalanced broadcasting.
I would say about some of the debate I heard tonight…that there was some imbalance there. Listening to some of it you’d think we live in a banana republic and that’s not true… I think balance is important.
O’Connor was confused because by the time she joined the panel, the anti-Sinn Fein side had been routed.
Passionate, articulate Sinn Fein members backed up by others such as Martin Ward and Tony Groves dismantled every argument put by supporters of the political establishment.
Property developer Michael Flynn’s condescending claim that people were being ‘over simplistic’ on the housing crisis, and Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeil’s defence of the private sector’s role in solving the crisis was torn to shreds by a well-informed opposition.
The opinions expressed by the eccentric financial advisor and failed politician Eddie Hobbes provided some light relief. Anybody tempted to take Hobbes seriously has only to recall that after co-founding the far-right party Renua Ireland, he refused to stand for election because he was too busy with other stuff.
And then there was the Fianna Fail politician, Cllr. Briege Mac Oscar who said parties should be judged on their record. Let’s just repeat that – a Fianna Fail politician thinks that parties should be judged on their record. Surely, if that was true, Fianna Fail would be struggling for its very survival…oh, wait.
So what happened in that RTE studio on Valentine’s night when Ms. O’Connor, at one point, found herself all alone in her titanic struggle against the evils of Sinn Fein?
Could it be that RTE was testing out a new producer who was unaware of the station’s long-established policy of packing discussion panels with anti-Sinn Fein commentators?
Or…could it be that the national broadcaster has finally conceded that Sinn Fein is a legitimate political party and the 500,000 plus citizens who voted for the party deserve a fair hearing?
On September 23 last I submitted a complaint to Cobh Gardai regarding the alleged criminal leaking of information at Cabinet table discussions. Over the years I have submitted a number of similar complaints regarding alleged political corruption.
I do not submit these complaints with the expectation that those suspected of corruption/criminality will face charges or even be investigated.
Irish citizens will be painfully aware that when it comes to political corruption the wheels of justice remain rusted to the tracks.
The principal reason for submitting the complaints is to substantiate my belief that we live in a dysfunctional democracy where the rich and powerful are allowed to operate outside the law.
I was therefore surprised and delighted to get a telephone call from Cobh Gardai requesting my presence in the station to make a statement regarding the complaint.
It would appear that somebody in Garda Headquarters has decided that the matter warrants investigation.
Could it be that those rusty wheels are beginning to move?
The issue was housing and O’Brien was telling the nation that house prices and rents were declining and that people should stop catastrophising everything.
It’s astonishing that O’Brien, the chief economist with the Institute of International & European Affairs, is so ignorant of the extent and causes of the housing crisis.
Ms. Nolan also admitted that she didn’t fully understand the underlying reasons but during the discussion she uttered two words that come into common use when a political system becomes hopelessly corrupt – treason and revolution.
Government policy on housing is tantamount to treason
Why treason, O’Connor asked in surprise?
Her reply [paraphrased]:
Because the government has betrayed the people by ignoring their needs in favour of facilitating profit for private landlords.
She’s not the only person to hold this opinion. Here’s Dr. Rory Hearne, Assistant Professor of Social Policy at Maynooth University:
Rising rents is Government policy, and has been since 2011, in order to attract the vulture and real estate investor funds and raise property values to benefit banks.
Ms. Nolan outlined her personal position in stark terms:
I’m in the professions, I work 52 weeks of the year and I am nowhere near to being able to buy a one bedroom apartment for me and my son, and that is wrong. There will be a revolution on this soon if it isn’t fixed.
O’Brien, in a further demonstration of his ignorance, asked Ms. Nolan:
Why would any government who wants to win votes have a policy to make housing more expensive?
Nolan admitted she didn’t know but then, unwittingly, provided the answer:
They wanted the rents to go higher and it is now out of control and everybody’s being affected. It didn’t matter so much when it was a certain class being affected, that’s not my view but I notice that socially…and now that it’s moving up the ladder, it’s affecting middle class people with good wages.
As Ms. Nolan says, things have got out of control. The disease of corruption has debased the political system to such an extent that there is now only one policy – ensure that house prices and rents continue to soar in order to feed the greed of the rich few. That policy, long inflicted on the poor, is now beginning to destroy the wealth of the middle class.
All corrupt regimes exploit and abuse the powerless poor at the bottom of the pile principally by denying basic rights and inflicting oppressive taxes.
European aristocracies engaged in this despotism for centuries until an emerging merchant/middle class found it necessary to begin cutting off heads in order to gain power and respect.
Ms. Nolan describes herself as being ‘in the professions’. In other words, she [accurately] sees herself as middle class. And it is the middle class that invariably leads the people in destroying corrupt political regimes.
When the middle class begin to [correctly] describe government as treasonous and suggest revolution as a possibility then a bout of head rolling cannot be far away.
The political administration of Ireland is corrupt. There’s an endless list of examples of such corruption stretching down through the decades but there is no need to delve into the past to make the point.
We only have to note that serious criminality occurs on an ongoing basis at the very heart of our democracy. A small group of just 18 citizens [ministers] wields executive power on behalf of the people. Under the Constitution it is a criminal offence for any of these ministers to breach Cabinet confidentiality.
We know this law has been broken in the case of the proposed appointment of Catherine Zappone. We also know that no member of the Cabinet has acted to protect the integrity of the Constitution by bringing the minister[s] involved to justice.
With this in mind I have submitted the following report to An Garda Siochana [Cobh] requesting that they investigate the alleged crime.
For attention of:
An Garda Siochana – Cobh
22 September 2021
I wish to report a number of allegations concerning breaches of Cabinet confidentiality as laid down in Article 28.4 of the Constitution.
That a minister in the current Cabinet illegally leaked information to a media source concerning the Katherine Zappone appointment.
I submit the following information in support of this allegation.
Mr. Ross admitted he did not seek a High Court ruling to reveal details of Cabinet meetings as required under the Constitution. He justified his action with the following comment:
”I don’t expect there will be any prosecutions, either, as the precedent is there for them having done this.”
Mr. Ross further revealed that leaks were a big issue when he served as minister and revealed an incident concerning Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
”The result of that was one day Simon Coveney said,
This item we are now discussing, okay, it is out on RTÉ already what is being said at this cabinet meeting.’’
Relevant section of the Constitution:
Inserted a new subsection in Article 28.4:
3º The confidentiality of discussions at meetings of the Government shall be respected in all circumstances save only where the High Court determines that disclosure should be made in respect of a particular matter-
i. in the interests of the administration of justice by a Court, or
ii. by virtue of an overriding public interest, pursuant to an application in that behalf by a tribunal appointed by the Government or a Minister of the Government on the authority of the Houses of the Oireachtas to inquire into a matter stated by them to be of public importance.
I request that this matter be investigated as a matter of urgency.
Green Party TD Catherine Martin is unfit to represent the people of Ireland. On Thursday 2 September she cashed in her political integrity when RTEs Claire Byrne asked her how she felt about the abuse of Cabinet confidentiality.
I think that’s an internal matter for Fine Gael.
This is a lie because Ms. Martin knows that breaching Cabinet confidentiality is a criminal act and that she, as a cabinet minister, is not only obliged to acknowledge the crime but to act on that knowledge.
By failing to act Ms. Martin has tainted the seal of office bestowed on her by the people of Ireland and thrown in her lot with the cabal of political shysters who have inflicted so much damage on Ireland over the decades.
Whenever an individual or party decides to enter government in Ireland they must make a choice. Challenge and expose the rot eating away at the core of the state or abandon all principles and collaborate with those who have no regard for democracy or the interests of the country.
Clearly, Ms Martin has chosen the latter. It’s likely that her motives are based on the genuine but naïve belief that the end justifies the means. That the implementation of her party’s political agenda is worth the abandonment of her political principles – if so, she is seriously wrong in that belief.
Ireland is not a normal democratic state. The disease of political corruption has polluted the administration of the state to such an extent that all who associate themselves with the diseased become diseased themselves.
This disease must first be eradicated before our country has any hope of becoming a healthy democracy. For that to happen good people must deploy the weapons of courage and principle against the political shysters.
Ms. Martin’s failure to do so will see the people remove her and her party from power at the first opportunity.
Copy to Catherine Martin
Relevant section of interview with Minister Martin.
Claire Byrne: How do you feel about Cabinet confidentiality being abused?
Catherine Martin: I think that’s an internal matter for Fine Gael.
Byrne: But it’s not just a matter for one party, it’s a very serious matter for government.
Martin: And that’s why I’m saying I’m not happy with the process. I hope lessons are learned and transparency is put in place.
Byrne: But when it comes to the leak, that’s a criminal offence?
Martin: That’s an issue for, you know, that is absolutely unacceptable that leaks would happen like that but it’s up to that individual…interrupted.
Byrne: No, it’s not, it’s a really serious matter for government, it’s a really serious matter for the entire cabinet and a really serious matter for you as a member of that cabinet.
Martin: It is and it’s a really unnecessary distraction from… blah, blah, blah…