Sinn Féin TDs Jonathan O’Brien and Pearse Doherty have today published a Bill which seeks to reduce the costs of Tribunals of Inquiry including the one set up last week to look into the alleged smear campaign against Garda Whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
Speaking today Teachta O’Brien said;
“The government has established a Tribunal of Inquiry rather than a Commission of Investigation into the alleged smear campaign against Garda Whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
“This is a decision that we welcome and last Thursday the Dáil passed the extended terms of reference for the Tribunal of Inquiry without opposition.
“While there was no opposition to the terms of reference, a number of Deputies raised the potential cost of a Tribunal given recent experiences with other Tribunals.
“While the Minister gave a commitment to examine whether that legislation could be progressed, Pearse Doherty and I have today published our own Bill, the Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Bill 2017, which would address the issues of costs.
“We have submitted it to the Ceann Chomhairle today seeking leave to introduce it as soon as possible.
“We are hopeful that the Government will accept the Bill and allow its speedy passage through the Dail.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that the Charleton Tribunal is allowed to do the important job of work it has been allocated without incurring the types of exorbitant costs which we have seen associated with past tribunals.”
Speaking today after a briefing from the ISPCC on cybersecurity for children, Sinn Féin’s TD for Carlow Kilkenny said that cyber-safety is a major child protection issue of our time.
“The dangers presented via the internet to children today have advanced significantly through the use of smartphones and what that brings; easier access to predatory behaviour, cyber bullying and inappropriate content for younger children. We also know that technology advances at incredible speed leaving many adults and parents naive or ignorant to what is accessible to their children online.
“The ISPCC are calling on government and policy makers to take heed and direct some much needed attention to this child protection issue. Current legislative and policy provisions need to be modernised.
“I fully support their call for the immediate development of a National Strategy on Children’s Cyber Safety and for this to be made a priority by government. This should include key education measures regarding online behaviour such as: 1. Reform of the legal framework regarding children’s cyber safety and 2. The establishment of an Office of the Digital Safety Commissioner and a regulatory policy framework.
“The ISPCC’s recent research carried out in 2016 showed that perpetrators often groom many young people simultaneously and within a relatively short space of time, with An Garda Síochána reporting that children are being groomed in 3-4 interactions.
“This is terrifying information but valuable evidence that the risks to children online is escalating at a rapid pace and it further substantiates the need for government to tackle this growing issue immediately.”
Deputy Adams was speaking in Belfast this afternoon on the controversy surrounding the Government’s handling of the campaign against Maurice McCabe.
“They have covered up on the NAMA scandal and they are now playing the public for fools on the Garda/Tusla/McCabe controversy.
“Fine Gael is in power only by dint of patronage from Fianna Fáil, and Fianna Fáil is keeping the wreck afloat.
“Citizens are scandalised by the arrogance of Enda Kenny and his Cabinet colleagues. The Taoiseach should do the right thing. So should Micheál Martin. He should withdraw his support for the government.
“Sinn Féin in government would not tolerate this type of behaviour.
“People deserve an election. They deserve to have their say on all of these matters.
“The Sinn Féin Chief Whip has written to the Business Committee in the Dáil seeking a debate on the Commission of Investigation to be brought forward to Tuesday to allow the Tánaiste and the Minister for Children to clarify their positions.”
Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien, has called on the Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan, to step aside without prejudice during the course of the Commission of Investigation into whistleblower allegations.
Deputy O’Brien said;
“It is our understanding that Judge Charleton has been tasked with leading the Commission of Investigation into the whistleblower allegations that go to the heart of Garda management.
“Therefore, we are asking that Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan, step aside for the duration of the Commission of Investigation as she has been specifically named in these allegations.
“This is no reflection on Commissioner O’Sullivan or a comment on the validity of the allegations, but rather a statement on the need for there to be continued public confidence in the operation of An Garda Síochana.
“Morale has been at a low ebb in recent times in the service, and the public are entitled to see the Gardaí acting in a transparent and accountable manner.
“For that reason, we are calling for the Garda Commissioner to step aside, without prejudice to its outcome, for the duration of the Commission of Investigation.”
Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has again demanded that Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald formally request the extension of the terms of reference of the Pitchford Inquiry in Britain into undercover political policing to cover Ireland, North and South.
The Dublin MEP made the call after attending a press conference in Buswells Hotel in Dublin on Monday, organised by core participants of the Pitchford Inquiry and Shell to Sea activists.
“The press conference heard first-hand accounts from two British female activists who had been persuaded to come to Ireland by discredited British police agent, Mark Kennedy, to help cultivate his cover as an environmental activist.
“One of the women told how she was in a long-term intimate relationship with Kennedy unaware that he was, in fact, a police spy.
“In light of these revelations, I am again demanding that Minister Frances Fitzgerald formally requests that the Britain Government extend the terms of reference of the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover political policing to cover Ireland, North and South.
“To date, the Minister has refused to follow the example of her counterparts in Germany, Scotland and the North by seeking an extension of the terms of reference of the Pitchford Inquiry, despite acknowledging that Garda authorities were aware that undercover police officers were operating in Ireland.
“The testimony raised by participants at today’s press conference raises serious questions about the extent to which An Garda Siochána was aware of the activities of these undercover police officers in this jurisdiction.
“We know for sure that at least one undercover police officer, Mark Kennedy, visited Ireland on a number of occasions and infiltrated a number of campaign groups, including Shell to Sea and Shannonwatch.
“The fact that undercover British officers were operating on the island of Ireland and spying on legitimate, democratic campaign groups and organisations is deeply concerning. There are so many questions that need to be answered.
“Some 56 convictions have already been overturned in Britain because of the actions of Mark Kennedy alone. Among many other questions, we need to find out if these spies have been responsible for similar miscarriages of justice in our jurisdiction.”
Louth TD Gerry Adams has commended the family of Seamus Ludlow for their “courage and perseverance for over 40 years in seeking the truth about his murder in 1976”.
Gerry Adams said:
“This week, a three day hearing will take place in the High Court in Dublin at which the family of Seamus Ludlow will seek the establishment by the Minister for Justice of the two commissions of investigations recommended by the Barron Report.
“The Final Report of the Barron Commission was critical of the treatment of the Ludlow family, Gardaí conduct, missing documents and possible collusion by the British state. It concluded that ‘…a further inquiry is essential in order to ensure justice is both done and seen to be done. It is also necessary to address the potential damage to the rule of law that would occur if the investigation into the murder of any citizen of the State is not treated in a thorough and professional manner as is the right of every citizen’.
“The appalling treatment of the family by the state has been compounded by the refusal to establish the Commissions of Investigation and now by forcing the family to take the Minister to Court.
“Sinn Féin supports the family in their efforts to get truth. I would urge the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald not to force the family to endure a High Court case, but to resolve this matter by setting up the Commissions of Investigation recommended by the 2006 Barron Report.”
David Cullinane, Sinn Féin spokesperson for public expenditure and reform, has criticised Fianna Fail’s continued defence of pay rises for TDs above teachers and gardaí, saying that pay equality has to be about more than just words and good intentions.
Deputy Cullinane said: “Fianna Fáil has been quiet on the industrial unrest within the public sector. That is no real surprise as they were the party that created the mess of a two-tier pay system in the first place.
“Their confidence and supply agreement with Fine Gael is not about achieving fairness but about maintaining the status quo, even if this means an unprecedented strike by Gardaí.
“Fianna Fáil are quite happy to take their pay rise and to sit on their hands when it comes to low-paid teachers, gardaí and nurses.
“During their time in government they unleashed a sustained attack upon ordinary working families and upon essential public services such as education, health, justice and housing.
“Today, they are more willing to prop up Lansdowne Road instead of seeing past it as Sinn Féin has done and address the core issues of pay equality and pay restoration.
“It is clear that Fianna Fail’s purpose is to keep things as they are.
“It is not interested in changing the direction of this state, even when it is clear that change is needed.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, has said that hopefully the proposed strike by Gardaí can be averted, but that “the issues involved need to be dealt with”.
He also said that last night’s intervention by the Tánaiste, in which she warned that Gardaí participating in Friday’s strike will have their pay docked, and her threat to make Gardaí liable for any damages that occur, was unhelpful and unnecessary.
Teachta Adams said: “In the coming days, the State faces an unprecedented crisis in policing that’s been known about for months, yet the government failed to actively seek an early resolution. Instead, they allowed the summer to pass with no real effort to engage in dialogue with the Garda representative bodies.
“The pay proposals put belatedly by the government have been rejected. The AGSI has described them as ‘inequitable’. The GRA’s Executive Committee has unanimously rejected the proposed deal and said that the government’s propositions are not acceptable to their members. So, both unions have given a resounding no to the government’s proposals.
“Last night’s intervention by the Tánaiste, in which she warned that Gardaí participating in Friday’s strike will have their pay docked, and her threat to make Gardaí liable for any damages that occur, was unhelpful and unnecessary.
“Surely, the Taoiseach knows that it is his government’s intransigent stance on pay for An Garda Síochána, for teachers and potentially for doctors and nurses that is fuelling Friday’s strike action and the industrial action planned by teachers.
“Hopefully, Friday’s strike by Gardaí can be averted, but the issues involved need to be dealt with; so too with the planned industrial action by teachers on Monday.
“What the vast majority of public servants want and deserve is the fair and timely unwinding of FEMPI cuts and pay restoration.
“The government must commit to entering into discussions to that end as soon as possible to achieve a new public sector pay agreement before September 2018.”