Meanwhile the Irish media tip-toed around the scandal that would ultimately rock the government and lead to the Taoiseach’s resignation. If the Irish media had any moral sense they would be reporting the facts about this scandal and ensuring people are informed well enough to bring down this Government.
At the time I wrote a post called Bon Voyage about Enda Kenny's leadership leaving a lot of people disillusioned with Irish politics, his 2011 campaign built around a slogan of ‘Burden Sharing’ has proven to be a complete lie and was eroded time and time again by this Fine Gael lead government. You can read more about Fine Gael tactics to embellish the rich in a post called unconscionability.
I didn’t get an opportunity to discuss the McCabe scandal at the time. So first of all I’d like to put a few things in context with the following timeline of events.
- January 2006 Sgt Maurice McCabe makes a complaint about how two Garda colleagues arrived drunk at the scene of a suicide and claims they mishandled the investigation. One Garda, unnamed, is later disciplined as a result, for further reference let’s call him Garda X.
- In 2008 Sgt McCabe raises concerns about Garda overturning registered penalty points without investigation (media later report the buddy system and corruption are rampant in the force).
- In 2012 Sgt McCabe started using the Garda Pulse System to investigate large scale abuse of the penalty point’s system. We all know the findings at this stage. Millions of fake breath tests and illegal expense accounts created by the boys.
- Still 2012, following intimidation by other members of the Gardai and orders from his superiors to cease his investigation, Sgt McCabe met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Long story short Alan Shatter requested Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney to set up an inquiry into the penalty points scandal known as the ‘Ticket Fixing Controversy’. John O’Mahoney did not approach Sgt McCabe to take part in the inquiry and Alan Shatter accused Sgt McCabe of refusing to co-operate with the inquiry. John O’Mahoney finds no evidence of criminality.
- February 2014 Fianna Fail put the Government under pressure to investigate Sgt McCabe’s allegations further, Fine Gael commission the Guerin Report (conducted by Sean Guerin).
- March 2014; Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigns before Sean Guerin begins his review.
- May 2014 Justice Minister Alan Shatter resigns prior to findings in the Guerin Report being published which show the Justice Minister failed to investigate allegations of corruption and malpractice in the force.
- 8th May 2014 Frances Fitzgerald is appointed Minister for Justice and Equality.
- February 2015 Fine Gael establish the O’Higgins Commission to investigate matters raised in the Guerin Report, relative to Cavan/Monaghan Division of the Gardai.
- 6th May 2016 Taoiseach Enda Kenny promotes Minister Frances Fitzgerald to second in command as Tanaiste of the country.
- 11th May 2016 The O’Higgins report was published, it’s findings suggest that by in large McCabe’s complaints were either ‘unfounded or over stated’. Former minister Alan Shatter is vindicated and Fine Gael leader (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny orders The Guerin Report to be removed from the Government website (MerrionStreet.ie) and for Sean Guerin to deliver a corrected version to the Government asap. Again this is Ireland 2016 not Soviet Russia 1961.
- October 2016 Former Head of the Garda Press Office, Superintendent David Taylor, makes public an orchestrated campaign within the Garda to discredit Mr McCabe. Taylor reveals a file was opened in Garda Headquarters under the name ‘Oisin’ to gather information about McCabes private and professional life, and to keep McCabe under surveillance. Taylor further states he can evidence that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and his successor Noirin O’Sullivan knew of the campaigns existence. Taylor makes a protected disclosure under whistleblower legislation to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
- 9th February 2017 the Irish Examiner reveal a Garda conspiracy of intimidation against Sgt Maurice McCabe involving reports to the Child Family Agency (Tusla) claiming he was sexually abusing a child. Tusla issued letters to Sgt McCabe but the letters went to the incorrect address further smearing McCabe’s name in the community. Turns out the allegations were made by Garda X’s daughter in 2006, for an incident which supposedly happened in 1998 and the DPP threw out the allegation as there was no evidence to support them and even then it could not have characterised the incident as ‘anything more than horseplay’.
- 10th February 2017 Minister for Children Katherine Zappone issues a statement saying she met with Sgt McCabe to discuss the Tusla allegations and that she had informed relevant government colleagues of her findings. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald deny any knowledge of Zappone’s meeting with McCabe. Taoiseach Enda Kenny is found to be incorrect, dare I say lying about his knowledge of the Tusla file and Sinn Fein call for a motion of no confidence in the Government.
- 14th February 2017 Cllr Brian Murphy speaks out against the Taoiseach on RTE Radio 1 calling for Enda Kenny’s resignation over the McCabe scandal remarking: "The fact we are now going running to Fianna Fail for approval for everything is embarrassing".
- 17th May 2017 Enda Kenny Retires as party leader as a result of growing pressure in the McCabe scandal.
- September 2017 The resignations of Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan following further disclosures in Garda corruption.
- November 2017 An e-mail arises evidencing Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald’s prior knowledge of a smear campaign against Maurice McCabe, the e-mail dates to May 2015 and is in reference to the Garda Commissioner’s legal defence in the O’Higgins Commission. The legal defence sought to discredit McCabes integrity by raising allegations made by Garda X’s daughter. Fitzgerald says she does not remember the e-mail. Opposition TD’s call Fitzgerald’s bluff given the high profile of The O’Higgins Commission. The e-mail suggests that Fitzgerald must have been aware of the allegations and smear campaign or otherwise she would have enquired further on the ‘serious criminal complaint’ referenced in the mail. Opposition TD’s state that either Ms Fitzgerald is lying or incompetent but either way she needs to resign.
So this all brings me to my point, prior to the O’Higgins report being published in May 2016 everyone involved in this scandal was under serious pressure, the former Minister for Justice retired, the Garda Commissioner retired, and the Taoiseach was under serious pressure to keep his misfit government intact.
It was only a matter of time before everything would come out. By May 2016 the new Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald was so deep in the scandal that she too must have been worried about this house of cards collapsing. It’s questionable as Minister for Justice why she continued to support Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and at the height of this controversy why Enda Kenny chose to make Francis Fitzgerald Tanaiste on 6th May 2016.
The only conclusion one can make is that Enda Kenny knew the end was coming and in the politics of old gave Francis Fitzgerald a golden handshake with a promotion to office of Tanaiste.
This has to be questioned by the Irish media, or by someone in the Dail, how does a Tainiste who may be forced into resignation walk away with a golden handshake, a Tanaiste’s pension of €31,435 per year.
How someone so embroiled in this scandal can walk away with an annual pension which far exceeds most people’s annual salary is dumbfounding. (Figure based on former Tanaiste Michael McDowell’s pension).
I’m not suggesting anyone in public service is undeserved of a pension but its disgraceful and unethical for a politician forced out of a job or if they’re not re-elected to claim a pension of such staggering proportions.
You might also be happy to know that Enda Kenny (66) is entitled to an annual Taoiseach’s pensions of €126,000 per year even though he was at the head of this controversy and forced to resign, and promise not to get sick now, but Bertie Ahern (66) and Brian Cowen (57) are claiming over €150,000 each in state pensions every year while Mary Harney (64) also comes close on €129,000 a year.
Politicians don’t even have to be at retirement age to draw a retirement pension. This is a serious flaw and needs to be amended somehow.
There is much more to come in this scandal. Fianna Fail cannot continue to support this government. We are close to an election. It’s clear that everyone close to the McCabe smear campaign has been tarnished by its brush.
Meanwhile the media have stood by and watched each of the culprits either vindicated or financially rewarded. That is the state of play in Irish politics and in the words of George Orwell; “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims... but accomplices”. We must get smart about getting rid of these corrupt villains once and for all.
(Picture by @turnercartoons)