Data Protection Commissioner farce continues

The farce that is administrative/political governance in Ireland continues with the latest episode surrounding the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC).

When Austrian law student Max Schrems first made his complaint to the DPC regarding the transfer of data by US companies to data centres outside the EU he was arrogantly dismissed as being vexatious and frivolous.

But the European Court of Justice thought otherwise and ruled that the practice was invalid.

Now the High Court has quashed the DPCs decision and ordered her to conduct an (real) inquiry into the matter.

The DPC has now pledged to the court that it will investigate the original complaint as quickly as possible.

Max Schrems will not be holding his breath on that promise. He was (rightly) contemptuous of the DPC today over the fact they she took three years to deal with his initial complaint.

Dear fellow citizens…

Dear fellow citizens,

We live in a state where the Prime Minister can casually and illegally dismiss the most senior police officer in the state without the slightest worry that he will be brought to account for his corrupt act.

We live in a state where a judge, employed to investigate the matter, makes a finding that the guilty Prime Minister can easily manipulate to suit his defence. This is despite the fact that the average five year child knows very well that the Prime Minister is as guilty as hell.

We do not know whether the judge was acting out of fear or favour and we never will but we do know that his report is a disgrace to the principles of democratic accountability.

We live in a state where the media, and in particular the state media, readily allowed itself to be used and abused by the guilty Prime Minister in his cynical manipulation of the reporting of the judge’s report.

There was no angry, embarrassed or protest reaction by the media so it is reasonable to assume that the majority of our journalists are docile sheep more interested in careers and scoops than making the state accountable.

We live in a state where the chief legal officer, the Attorney General, can inform the guilty Prime Minister that the police had been involved in serious criminal activity for years and then turn around and deny to the commission that she ever made such an allegation.

We live in a state where the most senior police officer, who was involved in some very serious controversies one of which led to his sacking, can casually destroy large amounts of documents on the day he was dismissed by the guilty Prime Minister. It is almost certain that the destroyed documents would have provided the investigation with crucial evidence.

We live in a state where every single regulatory/law enforcement authority operates under the all embracing, all corrupting influence of our corrupt political system.

And because there is no law enforcement authority operating independently of our corrupt political system there will be no accountability. The state, as always, will act to protect the interests of the wrongdoers at the expense of democracy and the interests of the people.

We live in a state where the political/administrative system operates exclusively for the benefit of the corrupt ruling elite.

Fake regulatory authorities still betraying consumers

Grainne was on Liveline during the week telling the nation how she felt ripped off by a company that placed a limit on the life of her gift voucher.

She had a voucher worth €200 for a sky dive but because of bad weather there were several cancellations. Eventually, the company told her that she would have to pay a further €120 if she wanted to do the jump. It was all legal, all in the small print, she had no comeback.

For decades gift voucher scams have been endlessly discussed on shows like Liveline but nothing is ever done.

And nothing is done because all our so-called ‘regulatory authorities’ are fake. They are not set up to actually enforce the law but rather to give an impression of law enforcement. (See Irish cowboy town and fake regulatory agencies)

The fake authority in this case is the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC). There seems to be an inverse law that the more useless a regulatory body is the more cumbersome its title. It’s as if the organisation is trying to compensate for its complete lack of effectiveness with a long fancy title.

The CCPC also has a complex structure (again, it must be complex to impress and allow for buck passing) including an executive chairperson assisted by no less than four commissioners. All, no doubt on high salaries and generous expense accounts.

The CCPC was spawned from the merger of two other fake authorities – the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency.

So what will this super quango do if it’s not actually engaged in law enforcement?

Well, it’ll do what every other so called regulatory authority in Ireland does.

Conduct polls, carry out surveys, produce shiny/expensive annual reports and advise consumers to shop around while gobbling up millions in taxpayers’ money.

And it’s easy to monitor fake authorities like the CCPC. All we have to do is listen to victims like Grainne telling their stories on programmes like Liveline.

As soon as the airwaves go quiet regarding such scams we’ll know that consumers are receiving the protection they pay for.

Ripped off consumers are strongly advised not to hold their breaths.

Copy to:

Government introduces fake legislation on media mergers

I wrote recently about how our state is populated by fake regulatory authorities created to give the impression that Ireland is a functional democracy while at the same time allowing white-collar criminals free rein to plunder and rob at will.

Another device employed by our corrupt political/administrative system is the creation of fake legislation to give the impression that fake regulators have the power to bring white-collar criminals to account.

The latest, and most blatant example of this legislative fakery; is the recent announcement of plans to regulate the area of media ownership.

A report in the Irish Times tells us all we need to know about the fakery of this legislation.

The report reveals:

One: The legislation is based on guidelines. In other words, powerful media moguls will be presented with the guidelines and politely asked to abide by the non-enforceable principles contained in them.

Two: The guidelines will not be retrospective. This means that the enormously powerful and dangerous media mogul Denis O’Brien can retain the massive power and influence he already wields in the media sector.

Three: The 20% limit on ownership of media outlets is a joke. The Minister tells us that the like of O’Brien would find it more difficult to carry out mergers. ‘More difficult’ is a meaningless measure that will be laughed at by the likes of O’Brien.

Four: The guidelines are expected to say it is ‘undesirable’ for one person to hold excessive influence. Again, this is an utterly meaningless measure. Again, it will be laughed at by the likes of O’Brien.

Five: In an RTE interview (Drivetime, 49′) the Minister, Alex White, peddled the lie that it was not possible to make legislation retrospective, that to do so would raise very, very significant constitutional obstacles.

Six: In the same interview, as the Minister insulted and patronized the intelligence of listeners, he announced that it will be the minister who will make the final decision on whether a merger may go ahead or not.

It is this last aspect of the legislation that really makes it fake. Alex White operates within a corrupt political system that places the interests of powerful people far above the interests of the country or its citizens.

Copy to:
Minister White

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.

Irish cowboy town and fake regulatory agencies

It’s not often a minister for justice makes me laugh but the latest comment on police reform from Frances Fitzgerald had me in stitches.

Making excuses for her complete failure to establish a police authority the minister said that, in the meantime;

A kind of shadow board would be set up.

Ok, let me first state an absolute fact. This government will not set up a police authority. The next government; if it is spawned from the same corrupt political/administrative culture, will not set up a police authority.

The reason is simple; the establishment of a genuinely independent police authority would end the corrupt nexus between the body politic and the police force. That corrupt nexus has served the interests of politicians, their friends in the Golden Circle and senior police officers since the foundation of the state; it will remain firmly in place for so long as that culture exists.

What we will see is the establishment of a fake police authority, an authority that from the outside looks and acts as if it’s the real thing but, in reality, is a fraud.

The setting up of fake regulatory agencies is the single greatest achievement of our corrupt political system. These fake authorities are so successful that they have not only fooled ordinary citizens, they have fooled the media, the international community and even many of the politicians who established them in the first place.

The system can best be understood by comparing it to those fake Hollywood wild west towns built to make cowboy movies.

Walking down the main street everything looks real so long as nobody actually believes there’s anything of substance behind the facades.

So, for example, when a citizen opens the door marked ‘Financial Regulator’ they find themselves in a wilderness populated by drifting tumbleweeds, each one with a tag reading – secrecy laws forbids the answering of any questions.

When the door marked ‘Standards in Public Office’ is opened citizens are met by an official endlessly chanting – Political accountability? No, never heard of it. We just dig holes in the sand and fill them in again.

When the Troika arrived they already knew there was something odd about the way things were done in this town so they opened more doors than usual.

Inside the austere and impressive door to the legal system, for example, they found mountains of stolen loot surrounded by hundreds of partying solicitors and barristers. Clear out this den of iniquity they instructed the government, we’ll be back to check on it.

When they returned a year later they failed to notice that the apparent reform activity was an act performed by actors hired for the day from a nearby spaghetti western movie set. The drunken party was (and still is) continuing just over the hill.

Down at the end of the town there’s a brand new, freshly painted building with the title, Charity Regulator. Inside there’s a large office with an impressive array of filing cabinets, desks and stern looking officials.

On closer inspection however, the files are just blank paper, the desks are made of balsa wood and the officials are shop mannequins.

So what, at first glance, looks like a real regulator turns out to be nothing more than the usual cynical exercise in deception.

Because it’s new, no citizen has yet been damaged by this latest fake regulator but, in time, thousands will suffer just as countless thousands have suffered when, in desperation and trust, they opened the doors of other so-called regulators only to find themselves slowly strangled to death in an arid desert of ruthless, self-serving bureaucracy and political corruption.

Copy to:
Frances Fitzgerald

Vincent Browne: Captured by the bankers

US banking expert Professor Bill Black recently gave evidence at the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry where he pulled no punches.

He effectively stated, correctly, that at the time, Ireland was a country without a financial regulator, governed by a bunch of morons.

Later he appeared on the Tonight with Vincent Browne show where we witnessed a perfect example of the mindset that makes it possible for our country to be governed minus a financial regulator and led by a bunch of morons.

Professor Black was telling us (correctly) that the bankers were lying about the state of their finances in the run-up to the crisis.

Vincent Browne took great exception to this smear on the reputation of bankers.

Wait a minute now, this is quite serious, the insinuation on the bankers who went to see the Government that night is very serious, and I know some of them, and I don’t believe they said something they knew was untrue.

Yes, you heard right; Vincent Browne is saying he believes the bankers told the truth to Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan on the night that our economic sovereignty was handed over to the Troika.

Even the most ignorant, the most disinterested, the most ill informed Irish citizen knows that the bankers lied through their teeth that night.

So why is it that a journalist who has spent decades investigating and analysing scandal after scandal in the Irish financial sector can mouth such an idiotic comment?

The answer can be found in these six words spoken by Browne:

And I know some of them.

This comment confirms a disturbing trend in Irish journalism. A trend that sees some journalists loses their objectivity after coming ‘to know’ those they are investigating.

And this is not the first time Vincent Browne has lost his professional objectivity as a result of ‘getting to know’ financial/political criminals.

For many years he was a strong critic of the criminal politician Haughey but in Haughey’s latter years Browne enjoyed some great nights out in Abbeyville drinking wine and discussing the old days with the gangster.

Before long he was a great admirer and defender of the traitor/criminal.

Data Protection Commissioner: Citizens have no right to know the names of law breaking politicians

My question to the Data Protection Commissioner was very simple – do citizens have the right to know the names of politicians who are in breach of the Litter Pollution Act.

The reply from the Data Commissioner is equally clear:

No, citizens do not have any such right. In other words, when a politician breaks the law it becomes a state secret.

The Commissioner’s full reply:

Dear Mr Sheridan

I refer to your recent email to this Office.

In relation to your query,

There is no basis for publishing names of individuals fined in such circumstances.

The introduction of legislation providing for such publication is not a matter for this Office.

Informing you of political parties who have been fined rather than specific individuals would be a matter for the Council to reply to (as it refers to
organisations, not specific individuals) but we are not aware that they
would be under any obligation to release that information.

Yours Sincerely

Further questions for the Data Protection Commissioner regarding election poster fines


Thank you for responding to my query regarding the publication by local authorities of persons fined for not removing election posters.

Unfortunately, your reply has not been very helpful.

Your reply consists of two parts:

Name and Shame Schemes and the situation regarding private individuals.

The Name and Shame Schemes seem to refer to criminal convictions and the Courts Service.

I fail to see the relevance of these schemes to the withholding of names by local authorities of political parties/politicians/candidates who are in breach of the Litter Pollution Acts.

I’m also puzzled by your reference to private individuals when the context of the issue is public elections and public election campaign activities.

Surely a citizen is not acting in a private capacity when involved in an election campaign? Surely when a citizen, who has publicly registered as a candidate for election, publicly breaks the Litter Pollution Acts, they are not acting as private citizens.

It hardly needs to be stated that political parties are, by definition, public entities. It is therefore difficult to understand how local authorities can refuse to divulge the names of such parties that have been fined for breach of the Litter Pollution Acts.

I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions with absolute clarity.

Under Data Protection legislation can local authorities refuse to divulge the names of political parties who have been fined for breach of the Litter Pollution Acts?

Under Data Protection legislation can local authorities refuse to divulge the names of elected officials who have been fined for breach of the Litter Pollution Acts?

Fingal County Council have provided the following interpretation of the Data Protection Act in relation to this issue:

Fingal County Council has obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1998-2003 in relation to protecting the privacy of individuals. Specifically unauthorised disclosure of personal data is prohibited. Section 2 of the Act (as amended) prohibits such disclosure.

Is Fingal County Council correct in this interpretation given that the issues involved are entirely public matters?

I strongly believe that this important issue needs to be clarified to a level where there is no room for doubt or fudge.

Either citizens have the right to be informed of the identities of politicians and political parties who are in breach of the Litter Pollution Acts or they do not have that right.

As custodian and operator of the Data Protection Acts your decisions on this issue could have serious consequences for the rights of citizens regarding access to information in respect of elected representatives and political parties.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Sheridan

Update: Secrecy still protecting law breaking politicians

Fingal County Council has responded to my second request (See first here) as to why the authority is keeping secret the names of candidates and political parties who have been fined for failing to remove election posters in the recent local and European elections.

Dear Mr. Sheridan,

Further to your request to clarify this issue, I wish to advise that Fingal County Council has obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1998-2003 in relation to protecting the privacy of individuals.

Specifically unauthorised disclosure of personal data is prohibited. Section 2 of the Act (as amended) prohibits such disclosure.

I trust this information is helpful to you.

Kind regards,

I’m still puzzled as to how fines against public candidates and public political parties can be treated as a personal matter.