GSOC feared ‘bug’ after garda slip-up
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has rejected criticisms of the force by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission following its investigation into alleged collusion between members of the force and a convicted drug dealer.
The Ombudsman accused gardaí of delaying its investigation and expressed serious concern about informant handling procedures.
The Minister for Justice this afternoon published the Ombudsman's "special report" to him, which strongly criticises the garda informant handling procedures, training, management and governance and recommends changes.
The Ombudsman is also seeking independent access to the garda PULSE computer system.
Minister Alan Shatter said after he has received the Commissioner's observations on the Ombudsman's report he will convene a meeting to make sure that any difficulties have been resolved.
The Ombudsman Commission accused gardaí of delaying its investigation into the case of Kieran Boylan, a convicted drug dealer against whom further drugs charges were dropped in July 2008.
The public interest inquiry examined the nature of the garda relationship with the drug dealer.
A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who directed that nobody should face prosecution.
The Ombudsman has also decided that no gardaí should face disciplinary action.
The report took the Ombudsman over four years to complete. The DPP took four months to dismiss the report as insufficient to sustain a criminal prosecution.
The commission's investigation focused on whether or not gardaí colluded with Boylan in the movement and supply of drugs.
The convicted drug dealer faced six charges in connection with the seizure of €1.7m worth of cocaine and heroin at a transport yard in Co Louth in October 2005.
He was on bail at the time after he had been caught with €700,000 worth of cocaine and heroin in Dublin and Louth, for which he was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison.
However, on the last day of the court sittings in July 2008, the 2005 drugs charges against Boylan were dropped without explanation.
The Ombudsman's investigation into why those charges were dropped also examined the nature of Boylan's relationship with gardaí.
It sought to establish whether or not he was acting as an informant for gardaí, registered or not.
The Ombudsman investigated whether or not any gardaí knew he was dealing drugs while acting as an informant; if he supplied drugs to other drug dealers and then gave information about those drugs to the gardaí; and whether or not a conviction secured on the basis of such information is now unsafe.
However, the DPP directed that no gardaí should face prosecution and that there was not sufficient evidence to support claims that convictions connected to Boylan were unsafe.
The Ombudsman today accused gardaí of repeated delay and debate and not supplying all the information within the 30-day agreed time frame.
However, it acknowledged that it got all but one of the documents it sought.
GSOC bugging? Move along....Nothing to see here. Trust your government and the Gardai
Motive of bugging: Investigation by GSOC into high level corruption with Garda and State with Drug Crime
Garda Ombudsman, under fire
from forces of corruption?
It was suspected that offices of the GSOC (garda siochana ombudsman commission) were being bugged. Shrouded in secrecy, they brought in specialists from the UK under advice from their equivalent body in the UK, the IPCC. These specialists did a high tech sweep of their offices under cover of darkness and a report was created which suggests that it was extremely likely that highly sophisticated bugging of the office had occurred. Government and high ranking gardai have closed ranks and are trying to spin this as a problem with GSOC instead of addressing the strong possibility that GSOC was bugged and who would want to do that and have access to do so except the gardai themselves. If true this is a grave issue. It is believed in some circles that this bugging may be related to investigations by GSOC into the case of large scale heroin importer Boylan who it is alleged has been working with gardai and has "magically" evaded conviction in the face of overwhelming evidence of trafficking huge amounts of drugs. This affair may go right to the top and has the potential to sink this government
External Links: Black Ops Being Run Off The Books | The Gardaí And The Drug Dealer | The Appalling Vista |PoliticalWorld.org thread on GSOC preparing report on drug case collusion | IMSI-Catcher | Court Report On “rape-tape” Sergeant Being Awarded €33,0000 | Garda shell booze controversy airs at Belmullet court | Sullivan: Ombudsman investigation 'about protecting Gardaí' | Jail! | gardai denigration of McKenna funeral must be condemned | Release of Garda exposes Corrupt Two - Tier 'Justice' System | Students Occupy Department Of Finance | 600 March Against Garda Violence at Student Demo Last Week. | An Undercurrent of Malpractice and Deceit | Lies, Lies And More Lies - Garda Corruption Systemic | The ministry of injustice, administering injustice near you sometime soon | The McBrearty Tapes | Terence wheelock case - interview with family member | Another death caused by Garda Hospitality? - The parents of John Moloney demand an independent inquiry
This whole storm arose from an article by John Mooney in the sunday times which seems to have originated from a leaked document from GSOC.
Without that leak, this would probably have sunk like a stone without a trace.
Hats off to Mr Mooney for his work on this and the Boylan case.
By contrast, our public broadcaster was in no hurry to cover the matter and it was not even mentioned until the 9pm news.
Other news outlets have chosen to prioritise unimportant trivia over what might turn out to be the usurping of the credibility and integrity of our garda force at the highest levels by large drug criminals with the collusion of top politicians.
However over the last few days some people with commendable tenacity on several popular Irish websites and chat forums have tried to keep the momentum going on this and it has snowballed out of the control of the government and it's spin doctors. Many thousands of views of the thread on P.ie for example.
Clearly this will not go away so the MSM have had no choice but to cover it properly now.
What was the Boylan case most people are asking?
The fact that people are now asking this is a testament to how little coverage it got in the mainstream media. This in itself is incredible given the size of the drug shipments in question and the very suspicious dropping of the case in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Rather than paraphrasing Here's a link and a quote from a previous article dealing with the Boylan case:
Kieran Boylan fidgeted nervously as he took possession of a drug shipment in the yard of his trucking firm in Ardee, Co Louth. It was October 6, 2005, and members of the Garda National Drugs Unit (GNDU) watched from a safe distance as the truck driver went about his business. Minutes later, Boylan was caught with heroin and cocaine worth €1.7m.
The size of the haul should have guaranteed a prison sentence of at least 10 years as Boylan was out on bail at the time. In December 2003, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) had mounted a similar operation at Dublin Port which caught him with heroin and cocaine worth €750,000.
Boylan was freed on bail despite having a previous drug trafficking conviction.
Last week, following two years of allegations and counter-allegations about his relationship with members of a garda unit, charges against Boylan over the Ardee drugs seizure were dropped.
The decision has raised more unanswered questions about his relationship with gardai.
It was shortly after Boylan’s arrest in 2005 that what seemed like a routine drugs seizure became complicated.
While he was in custody, Boylan claimed he was working for other gardai.
He admitted to possessing the €1.7m haul but claimed the other gardai knew he had the drugs and alluded to his involvement in extra-judicial operations.
After Boylan was charged, and committed to prison, Cormac Gordon, the then chief superintendent of the GNDU, wrote to Martin Callinan, an assistant commissioner in charge of operations, to clarify whether or not Boylan was an agent involved in a controlled delivery.
Weeks later, on December 2, Callinan confirmed in writing that Boylan was “not a registered source”.
Here is another transcript from Late Debate quoted from Broadsheet.ie from their article today:
Last night Mr Mooney, who broke the GSOC bugging story last Sunday; Padraig MacLochlainn, Sinn Féin Donegal TD; Michelle Mulherin, Fine Gael Mayo TD; and Mark Kelly, director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, appeared on RTÉ’s Late Debate with Audrey Carville last night to talk about the story.
During their discussion, Mr Mooney set out to explain what he believed was behind the surveillance, while also accusing the Fine Gael/Labour coalition of trying to cover up the story.
John Mooney: “This whole matter goes back to a collusion investigation, a Garda Ombudsman Commission investigation going back a number of years, I was actually involved in it. Actually, I suppose to quote Enda Kenny, when he was in Opposition, saying – this was the Kieran Boylan affair – where he was demanding that the Government of the day provide explanations: ‘I want to give the Government…to give a full explanation of these cases, I will be tabling questions on the nature of the inquiry into both Boylan and why he isn’t before the courts when he was caught with large amounts of drugs, heroin and cocaine’. This was a drug trafficker who was working with a group of guards in the Dublin area, who served their way to promotion on the basis of turning a blind eye to these activities, in return for setting up people, including very young men in the Dublin area for arrests, and GSOC were in the middle of a very, very sensitive investigation into that which revealed all sorts of wrongdoing and all sorts of what could only be described as corruption within the intelligence services. And this particular escapade or what’s been happening, to the Commission, followed on, as they were drawing to a close, their big, public interest inquiry into this. And there were various people within the State apparatus who were desperately needed to know what they knew. And if you’re asking me, and it’s a very well-informed opinion, this is what this is all about. To be perfectly frank, I’m astonished at what’s going on in Government level.
I remember Pat Rabbitte, when he was a justice spokesman in Opposition, screaming from the rooftops about Kieran Boylan getting given a haulage licence on the basis of false documentation and information to the Department of Transport. I remember when this individual, whom I should say whose associates were issuing threats against myself and others, was being brought up and being charged, and then the charges would be dropped secretly and then recharged again and again charges dropped secretly in discreet manners, to try and get this man off because he has so much dirt on the guards.
There was a lot of, there was a lot of people at risk over what had happened, because this all totally contravened the new rules that were brought in, following the Morris Tribunal. And I am actually astounded at what’s happening in Government at this level. Brendan Howlin himself, I was a witness in the Morris Tribunal, I’ve done a lot of work in security issues in the last 15 years, Brendan Howlin was one of, I remember he played a very noble role in exposing what happened there. And the silence of the Labour party in this matter is absolutely deafening. How anyone, at all, could suggest and you know, I’m just, I’m just speechless at these kind of defences that ‘well nothing can be proven’. Simon O’Brien was very categoric tonight [last night] right.
And I know modern surveillance, because I deal with this stuff for a living, it doesn’t leave traces, you can’t prove that someone has done something because it’s so high tech. We published a report last week, which has proved to be pretty accurate, despite Alan Shatter and Enda Kenny’s attempts to [inaudible] to cover this up…”
Audrey Carville: “And your implications, John, about who was behind it, is pretty clear as well.”
Mooney: “I’m not saying who is behind it because I think there’s two issues here: you have to differentiate between the guards as an organisation and elements within the State security forces that are doing their own thing and they’ve the know-how and the knack to do this stuff, on the QT and abuse State systems. I can hazard a guess, at this, because I’m pretty familiar with the types of people that may be suspected of involvement in this and what might be motivating them. But, at the end of the day, this has developed into something else now. We had the Justice Minister stood up in the Dáil yesterday and poured cold water on the most serious allegations to come out, concerning spying an espionage, illegal, I should say.”
Broadsheet.ie have covered the GSOC case and posted this transcript of a previous interview between John Mooney and Fergal Keane on RTE's late debate, one of the few shows to run with this story early on.:
Fergal Keane: “John Mooney, this is some pretty extraordinary statements there by the Garda Ombudsman who were there given oversight of the gardaí, saying the gardaí didn’t cooperate with them, didn’t give them information. It’s an incredible state of affairs. And very, very serious?”
John Mooney: “Well, it’s not for anyone who’s familiar with the story. I began investigating Kieran Boylan’s activities…”
Keane: “Who is this alleged informant.”
Mooney: “He’s not an informant. He was an international drug trafficker who was operating in the State, between here, Britain, Northern Ireland and Holland, and Spain at one stage. This individual entered into a relationship with a handful of guards. That was unknown to anyone. So there’s a lot duplicity going on at the moment and a lot of, sort of, lots of people running for cover, particularly in the Government, because very senior figures within the Government screamed very loudly, over the years, about what was happening with this case.”
Keane: “Pat Rabbitte being one?”
Mooney: “Yeah, Brendan Howlin, Enda Kenny himself actually. There were, the late Tony Gregory was very instrumental in highlighting this case. We began looking at this individual back in 2005, when I heard about his arrest with €2million worth of cocaine and heroin and he’d made certain claims, while in custody, he was on bail for a previous offence, he’d been caught with almost €1million worth of drugs, again heroin and cocaine being imported into the State. He seemed to have, he was suggesting at the time that he had high-level contacts within the guards. I didn’t actually believe the story but we commenced an inquiry into…”
Keane: “He made these claims in court?”
Mooney: “No, no, he never…this never got to court unfortunately. He suggested this while in custody with the Garda National Drugs Unit who were part of an international operation, to take him out. He was part of a cartel operating between here and Manchester and with various other major players in the drugs trade in, in mainland Europe. And this guy was involved in transporting huge quantities of drugs. You’re not talking about a couple of kilos of heroin, ones every so often, we’re talking about mega consignments of heroin. So he’s an individual, under any policing operation, who cannot fit into an informant category. People don’t understand. the legislation surrounding this and they don’t understand the rules governing this. The idea of police informants is not to recruit people, who instigate crime and traffick drugs into countries, and destroy communities and everything else. They try get people, who’ve no knowledge of it. But this guy was an instigator, and quite a wealthy individual. So he was caught, the charges were dropped. We highlighted the case, the charges were reinstated. And then, famously, in the last day of a hearing in, what was it, two years ago, in an unannounced, an unscheduled case, the charges were dropped against him. The only way that ended up in the public domain was because I happened to be in…”
Keane: “Ok..on the last day of the court sittings in July 2008.”
Mooney: “Nine. Yes, that was it. And Kieran would have had various choice words with me outside the court that evening, as a result of that. But, we’d subsequently…”
Keane: “Where is he now?”
Mooney: “He’s living in county Louth at the moment. And he, then we, as the investigation commenced, continued, we, as you’re probably are aware, revealed that he’d managed to obtain an international haulage licence, on the basis of paperwork that said that he didn’t even have a criminal record, again provided by garda headquarters. There were other allegations, he had his passport changed into his Irish name, which allowed him to travel internationally without…”
Keane: “Ok, you highlighted all of this. The gardaí…It prompted the Garda Ombudsman to start an investigation…”
You can read the full transcript at the broadsheet.ie link provided.
It will be interesting to see how deep the rabbit hole goes on this one. Mr Alan Shatter was on RTE "prime time" tonight denying any hard evidence that GSOC had been bugged and spinning desperately.
This has the potential to be politically explosive so we can expect more dail confrontations such as the one by Mary Lou McDonald below.
I'm making lots of popcorn! :-)
Kieran Boylan, teflon large scale drug trafficker. Who has he compromised?
Caption: Mary Lou gets stuck in. Usual Guff from Gilmore.
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The Most Fearsome Drug Lords in Europe by brian clarke - All Voices Fri Feb 14, 2014 09:16
Good article Fred, well done!
That's what real journalists report but they are all with the exception of a few, compromised prostitutes like the politicians of Drugs and Bankers !! It has been happening for more than 30 years on an organized scale now, with a lot of dead bodies to show for it. The only way top stop it, is to legalize drugs. Ireland is rotten to the core !
Most Fearsome Drug Lords of Europe
Related Link: http://irishblog-irelandblog.blogspot.com/
another interesting post on P.ie by fred Fri Feb 14, 2014 14:39
When I said the thread on P.ie on this had thousands of views, I meant it's up over 150,000 !!
It's now running to over 500 pages of posts.
Quite an Interesting post from JT on that P.ie thread. hope he doesn't mind me repeating it here. It might help explain the indo behaviour on this and other garda matters:
The indo got a bailout from the government.
It's editor Stephen Rae,was also the former editor of the Garda review magazine.
Mr.Rae it's said, got penalty points quashed by the Gardai.
We know where their reporting priorities lie.
Both The Irish Post and The Guardian report that Stephen Rae, had penalty points generated by driving offences removed by the police force itself. Rae, a former editor of The Garda Review, the in-house magazine of An Garda Siochana, oversaw the sacking (from the Irish Independent) of Journalist Gemma O Doherty. O Doherty was chasing up a story that the Garda commissioner himself Martin Callinan, had his own penalty points wiped off the system. There’s a wang of shyte of this of epic proportions. Its seems as if the editor-in chief of the state largest media corporation, who has previously worked for An Garda Siochana and seems to have had penalty points removed by them, sacked an investigative journalist who was investigating how the head of An Garda Siochana had his own penalty points removed. Whilst her sacking was officially described as part of “restructuring” within the paper, she was the only journalist forced out of here job. The sacking was framed to her in terms of “readjusting to digital the age”.
Some links from Broadsheet on Gemma O'Doherty
indo and RTE coverage widely berated by fred Fri Feb 14, 2014 16:58
Some good commentary and coverage in the Irish examiner by Michael Clifford:
"By Wednesday, the Indo had the whole thing nailed down: “Watchdog defies call to quit in ‘bugging’ scandal”. It was all about O’Brien limping on in this scandal that required inverted commas. Eyes front. No bugging in sight.
Later that day, at an Oireachtas hearing, O’Brien laid out the reality. He had been highly suspicious that somebody had at least been trying to breach the security of the agency. This position was at odds — certainly in emphasis — with that laid out by Shatter the previous day.
What angle is taken by RTÉ? That a major hunt was now on in GSOC to find out who leaked the story to The Sunday Times. Bugging, what bugging? The story had moved on from the failure to report to Shatter to the hunt for the leaker.
Quite obviously, some reporters who followed this thread have no grasp of irony.
Many crime reporters in this country, with some honourable exceptions, rely nearly exclusively on highly placed leaks within the force for their information. The relationship is grossly imbalanced, ensuring that reporters are reluctant to say or write anything that might not meet with approval in garda management. Yet now the GSOC story was the leak. What dastardly cur dared to leak information from a State agency concerned with security? It was a revealing week.
When faced with the prospect of upsetting their cozy cartel, garda management, government, and elements of the media moved swiftly to eliminate unpalatable truths. A possible scandal drawing in members of the gardaí would just not be tolerated by any of the parties. There is simply too much to lose. Lip service to democratic values is all very well, but when it comes to the crunch, everybody knows where their bread is buttered."
And from Alison O Connor:
There is clearly another issue at play here concerning a high level GSOC leaker, and it is understandable why it should investigate this matter. But as time moves on, we may find ourselves even more sympathetic to the motivation behind this leak. The Commission had reason long before this week to tread carefully over who it should trust. Yet the political line was fed out, and swallowed seemingly unquestioningly by large sections of the media, that the more interesting fact of all of this was its non-communication with Minister Shatter.
How strange was it that the thrust of the follow-up to the Sunday Times story was this angle, rather than the far more interesting, and indeed racier fact, that the people charged with policing our police force had good reason to believe they had been bugged.
There is an expectation when it comes to crime reporting that there is a certain level of give and take in the relationship between a crime journalist and a Garda source. These reporters, who operate in a highly competitive area, are hugely reliant on the Garda as a source and know they risk suffering from a “blu flu” of information if they are seen to step too far out of line. Needless to say, this operates at different levels with different reporters and different organisations. It’s no huge surprise, for instance, to see the anti-GSOC coverage in the Irish Independent in recent days, but the extent of it from the RTE newsroom this week was very surprising.
IMSI Catcher and GSOC by T Sat Feb 15, 2014 02:05
This is from Broadsheet.ie and it relates to the Third Threat listed in the GSOC report on interception for a device called an IMSI-Catcher which is basically a way to intercept calls. Some of the media coverage has been saying that only organisations such a state could do this kind of interception, but reading the text below, it is clear that this interception technology has advanced so quick and the price has come down so low, that rogue elements within a state organisation or even organised crime groups could potentially carry out this sort of thing.
Surveillance expert Dr Richard Tynan, of Privacy International, writes:
A misconfigured base station hastily rolled out by an Irish mobile operator could have caused this. However, if one of the Irish mobile telcos deployed such a misconfigured device then one would hope the firm would have come forward by now.
Yet, no one has. The only remaining possibility, then, is that a device used to conduct surveillance was intentionally deployed that purported to be a legitimate mobile phone tower. In surveillance circles, such a device is called an IMSI Catcher (aka IMSI Grabber or Stingray).
IMSI Catchers are used by authorities around the world to put large groups of people under indiscriminate mass surveillance via their mobile phone. IMSI Catchers started off infiltrating GSM networks with the only goal: capture the unique SIM card number that identifies the user called the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) – hence the name IMSI Catcher.
When the IMSI Catcher is turned on, it signals to all nearby devices that it is a legitimate part of the mobile communications network, even though it isn’t. The IMSIs of the mobile phones are voluntarily surrendered by the mobile phone when it connects to the tower. By having the strongest signal or manipulating certain parameters, an IMSI Catcher entices all phones to connect to it and thereby get the unique identifier for every individual in an area. This works remarkably well in protests and public demonstrations and events, as was reported by the people of Ukraine recently during their protests.
However, in the last 10-15 years as the use of IMSI Catchers has likely grown, they have evolved to include much more sophisticated capabilities. Nowadays, they can:
- Force phones to stop using encryption (A5/1) and move to unencrypted channels (A5/0) to allow for easier interception;
- Jam the 3G spectrum so phones would default back to 2G where interception could occur;
- Get an accurate location of every individual within its reach of around 1km
- Deny service to one or all users;
- Intercept the content of calls, text messages and data;
- And reportedly alter messages in transit.
Nowadays, full 3G IMSI Catchers are the pride of many surveillance companies attending government-sponsored trade shows to sell their wares to any interested agency. Companies such as CellXion, Forensic Telecommunications Services, and Gamma International provide such products. Not only have the capabilities improved but the devices have shrunk to the size of a large mobile phone and costing around €250-€500.
However, if you prefer to get your hands dirty, you can build one for yourself using a Software Defined Radio and free software called OpenBTS. You can also put together a full GSM call, text and data interception device (even where the target’s data is encrypted) using a €10 phone, free software from Osmocomm and a laptop running open source software. The legality of doing this, however, will vary by jurisdiction.
Given the number of mobile network operators and handsets in a given area, IMSI Catchers need to operate as multiple fake towers simultaneously to harvest as much data as possible in a short amount of time. Some report a rate of 1200 IMSIs per minute across 5 networks while others boast simultaneous voice intercepts as featured on the Surveillance Industry Index. Often it will operate by purporting to be many towers from the same network provider thereby reducing the time it takes to get all the IMSIs from users on a popular network.
Each fake tower will emit a signal containing numbers to tell a mobile phone how to talk to it when it wants to make a call or send a text. Or information on how to register with it so the tower can contact it when an incoming call or text arrives. Specifically, the tower will send a country code and an operator code to the handset. In normal circumstances, this allows phones to stay connected to their operators’ towers and not to start roaming in border areas if another native tower is present.
It is these values that were problematic in the GSOC case. Irish towers should not be identifying themselves as being in the UK or offering the service of a UK network provider. The mobile phone of a UK visitor to GSOC would have spotted its native tower and connected to it. Depending on the model of IMSI Catcher used, full intercept of all data to and from that handset would then be possible.
It is interesting to note that the fake UK network was the only one detected by Verrimus.However, given that IMSI Catchers operate multiple fake towers simultaneously, it is highly likely that one or more Irish networks were also being intercepted. Very often a misconfiguration, such as an incorrect country code, is the only evidence available of an IMSI Catcher being deployed when forensic tools are not being used to look for one. This recently occurred around the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where base stations from a Ugandan telco were mysteriously popping up.
It is remarkable that this type of invasive and mass interception is so easily done over Ireland’s critical infrastructure, which is relied upon by citizens in their daily lives. Given the utility and ubiquity of modern cell phones, from mobile commerce, personal and business communications, to emergency phone calls, the threat this type of surveillance poses to the security and privacy of citizens cannot be understated.
Related Link: http://www.broadsheet.ie/2014/02/14/catchers-and-the-spies/
G S O C by Con Carroll Sat Feb 15, 2014 16:48
if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck it must be a duck. well we not it wasn't Moscow who was bugging the GSOC. it wasn't Havan who gave the orders. one can ask the audience, phone a friend. be careful now down with that kind of stuff. it must be the minister for justice friends. MOSSAD
remember the Irish passport issued Israeli military terrorists. attached to embassy in Dublin
as for drug lords Jim Mansfield of City West hotel. sons. garda commissioner famous words. nobody touches my boys
Ed Moloney & Bob Mitchell with a piece throwing light on the nature of British Irish relations after the war crimes of Bloody Sunday. It initially featured on The Broken Elbowon 26 January 2014.
The British government’s archive at Kew has, thanks to the ferreting of my colleague Bob Mitchell, produced a document that sheds fascinating light on the nature of the relationship between the British and Irish governments a year or so after Bloody Sunday, when the killing of fourteen unarmed civilians at a civil rights demonstration in Derry by the 1st Parachute Regiment pitched Anglo-Irish relations into their gravest crisis since the creation of the Irish state.
Those of us who were alive at the time can never forget the huge wave of anger and sympathy for Northern Nationalists that rolled through the South in the ensuing days. Factories and workplaces throughout the country came to a standstill as thousands of people staged impromptu strikes and marched to town centres carrying placards condemning the British. Buses and trains stopped running, Aer Lingus planes were grounded and the government recalled the London ambassador in protest.
A victim of the Paras’ violence on Bloody Sunday is carried away
Not since partition had Southern and Northern Nationalism been so united, and not since the Anglo-Irish war of 1919-1921 had there been such anti-British fervor in Ireland, and it all culminated in a massive protest outside the British embassy in Dublin during which the building was burned to the ground. A gelignite bomb blew down the embassy’s solid Georgian door and soon petrol bombs rained through the opening. A crowd estimated at 20,000 cheered as the flames consumed the building and stopped fire engines getting near the inferno.
A huge crowd gathered outside the British embassy in Merrion Square, Dublin to protest at the Bloody Sunday killings
The Guardian reported:
Hatred of Britain in the Republic reached fever pitch as the embassy’s interior blazed fiercely, watched by several thousand. ‘Burn, burn, burn,’ they shouted as chunks of masonry and woodwork fell blazing onto the street. They redoubled their cheering whenever they saw the fire breaking through into new parts of the building.Symptomatic of Nationalist anger at the slaughter was the response of the normally cautious and moderate John Hume, a leader of the pro-Irish government SDLP who said sentiment in his area was now: “It’s a united Ireland or nothing”. But those expecting all this to be reflected in a more aggressive stand towards the British on the North by the government in Dublin, then led by Fianna Fail chief Jack Lynch, were to be disappointed. A seminal article by Eamon McCann in the Irish Times in January 2012, written to mark the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, describes how, whatever the ordinary people of Ireland felt, the dominant emotion in establishment circles was nervousness at the boost all this could give to the IRA and the alarming consequences there might be for political stability in the Southern state. Irish prime minister Jack Lynch betrayed his inner fears in a late night phone call to British prime minister, Edward Heath just hours after the guns had fallen silent in Derry. One account of the conversation quoted him saying:
“’……from reactions received from around the country at the moment it looks as if a very serious point has now been reached, and the situation could escalate. . . my role is becoming more and more difficult, and I am very, very fearful of what is likely to happen. I just want to tell you how gravely apprehensive I am.’”
The account continued:
“Lynch apologised to Heath for ringing him so late….the apology ‘set the tone for the conversation, with Lynch timidly trying to express his apprehensions while an irritated Heath blamed the marchers for the deaths and Lynch for not doing more to combat republicans.’”In the days and weeks following Bloody Sunday the southern political mainstream mobilised against the IRA, making it clear that the Provisionals were now considered a threat to the southern as well as the northern state. Lynch’s government quickly announced plans to recruit an extra 600 policemen and warned that it might introduce special courts to try IRA members. The British ambassador, Sir John Peck had complained that before Bloody Sunday juries would “frequently” refuse to convict IRA suspects but afterwards that it was “impossible” to secure a guilty verdict. To Peck’s satisfaction, the juryless Special Criminal Court was established in May 1972, four months later and soon began to jail IRA suspects unimpeded by the pro-nationalist perspective from the jury room.
The day after the funerals of the Bloody Sunday victims, Lynch had issued a warning to the IRA during a speech to the Irish parliament: “The institutions of this State will be upheld without fear or favour. The laws will continue to be enforced. Those who seek to usurp the functions of government will meet with no toleration.” His Justice Minister. Des O’Malley ordered the retrial of IRA suspects acquitted on arms charges and the government’s toughening line against the IRA was endorsed by opposition parties in the Irish parliament. At the government party’s ard-fheis, or annual conference, held three weeks after Bloody Sunday, Lynch’s aides successfully prevented any motion on Bloody Sunday or the North being debated. Arrests of leading Provisionals started in March and in May, the head of Sinn Fein, Ruairi O Bradaigh and former Belfast Brigade commander, Joe Cahill were jailed.
British prime minister Ted Heath (r) meets Jack Lynch
As McCann wrote:
The North had seemed as never before to have become a visceral reality in the South. But literally within days, alarmed at the appalling vista suddenly revealed in the mood and scale and class composition of the demonstrations, in the burning of the embassy and the strut in the step of republican paramilitaries, the main parties of nationalism emotionally and intellectually disengaged from the North and resolved to come down hard on any elements that in the name of the North dared challenge the integrity of the Southern State.Bloody Sunday has often been described as a prodigious boon to the IRA, which it undoubtedly was; recruitment to the organisation soared afterwards and with its ranks swollen the IRA was able to make 1972 the most violent year of the Troubles. But it was also a turning point for the British as well, for the other consequence was that afterwards London and Dublin united against the IRA with a new determination and agreed a political strategy – support for constitutional nationalism, a power-sharing government in Belfast and a cross-Border mechanism of some sort – that not only survived the subsequent decades but emerged triumphant on Good Friday, 1998.
In the post Bloody Sunday atmosphere, MI6 launched an operation to recruit spies in the Irish police force
Given the Irish establishment’s alarm at the national mood after Bloody Sunday, it would have been surprising if British intelligence had not concluded that this might be a propitious time to step up its activities against the IRA south of the Irish Border. After all it was now clear that the two governments were at one in their hostility to the IRA; and who in the Dublin government and security apparatus could seriously object? And so some time in 1972, when exactly we don’t know, MI6 dispatched one of its agents, East African-born, John Wyman (36) with an address at Swan Walk in Chelsea, London to Dublin with instructions, it seems, to recruit sources inside the intelligence sections of an Garda Siochana, the Irish police force. From reports of interviews with Garda detectives later it seemed he had made several trips and had meetings with a number of “contacts” in hotels. His cover was that he was recruiting staff for a security firm based in Oxfordshire, England, which in a way was true.
A street scene in Swan Walk, Chelsea, the fashionable address given by John Wyman. This is a screen grab from a Google maps street view.
We know the name of only one of his contacts, 38-year old detective Patrick Crinnion (his name was sometimes spelled Crinion in contemporary reports), a registry clerk with C3, a specialist counter terrorism group that is part of the Special Branch, based at Garda headquarters in Phoenix Park. Crinnion was an ideal source for a group like MI6 because his job in C3’s archive gave him access to a treasure trove of intelligence documents. There was a great irony here. During the Anglo-Irish war, IRA leader Michael Collins was given access by police sympathisers to the British intelligence archive in Dublin Castle; some fifty years later MI6 had, courtesy of a sympathetic policeman, gained similar entreé to the Irish government’s intelligence repository.
Whether Wyman had recruited other spies in the Irish governmental system to work for MI6 is not known but it certainly seems possible; both his interrogators and the Irish government suspected he had. He was arrested in late December 1972 at the West County Hotel in Chapelizod, west Dublin where he had arrived by car and was waiting in the hotel car park, as if to meet someone. He was staying in an hotel miles away in the south of the city, the Burlington, where he had made an arrangement to meet Crinnion later on the night he was arrested, so the trip to the West County raises obvious questions.
Exactly how the Irish police got on to Wyman was never explained. When he was arrested he was told it was because he was suspected of belonging to a proscribed organisation; but MI6 was not banned in Ireland. Citing this as a cause for his arrest might have been a ploy by the Irish police but it does raise the interesting possibility that Wyman was also meeting IRA members who had been under Garda Special Branch surveillance and had himself come under suspicion. The West County hotel was, because of its convenience to those travelling into Dublin from the west of Ireland, favoured by republicans as a meeting place; the hotel was where IRA dissidents met in 1986 after a split in the Gerry Adams-led Sinn Fein over dropping abstentionism to form Republican Sinn Fein. Gardai evidence given later in court suggested that they did not know about Crinnion before Wyman’s arrest although this could have been a subterfuge to hide methods or sources. The Irish police claimed they got on to him when they searched Wyman’s hotel room and found an unsigned note, apparently pushed under the door, re-arranging that night’s meeting with Wyman for the following evening.
Detectives waited in Wyman’s room for the MI6 man’s mysterious visitor the following night and arrested Crinnion when he turned up. When Crinnion and his captors reached the hotel’s ground floor, he tried to flee to his car but got only 40 yards when he was brought to the ground and taken to the Bridewell for questioning. A search of his vehicle led to the discovery of ten documents hidden under the carpet behind the passenger seat and more documents, all from C3’s files, were found at his home in Kilmacud.
Although Wyman initially maintained to his Garda interrogators that he was an English businessman visiting Ireland to vet potential employees, he soon admitted that he was “an agent of a British Minister” and told one Special Branch detective that he and they were “in the same line” of work. A notebook in his possession indicated that he was especially interested in finding the source of rocket launchers that had come into the IRA’s hands. For his part, Crinnion said he had met Wyman six times but later reduced this to three. So, an intelligence agent from a supposedly friendly neighbour and ally had been caught red-handed suborning an officer in a sensitive counter terrorist police unit who had been induced to hand over valuable documents to a foreign government; to add to this, the agent responsible had very possibly recruited other spies elsewhere in the Irish government.
In such circumstances most governments on the receiving end of such flagrant espionage would react with controlled outrage. It might be going too far for one ally to expel another’s diplomats, as happened regularly between the Soviet Union and Western powers at this time – and since they were bitter ideological foes that was to be expected – but few governments could allow such a thing to pass by without a considered and proportionate response. That, at least initially, appeared to be the Irish government’s posture on the matter, according to an intriguing document recently unearthed at Kew. The document is a three page account of a thirty minute meeting about “the Wyman incident” between Robert Armstrong, the principal private secretary to the then British prime minister Ted Heath and the Irish ambassador to London, Dr Donal O’Sullivan on December 23rd, 1972, just five days after Wyman’s arrest. The document, which is erroneously headed 23 December 1973 but further down gives the correct year, 1972, is marked “Message No 3” and was addressed to Heath at Chequers and marked “Top Secret and Personal”.
Robert Armstrong, Heath’s principal private sceretary
Britain’s ambassador to Dublin at this time was Foreign Office veteran Sir John Peck who was himself no stranger to the byzantine world of intelligence. In the 1950’s Peck had helped turn the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department (IRD) into an anti-Soviet black propaganda agency which fed material via sympathetic journalists to the BBC World Service and Third World media outlets. In the early 1970’s the IRD was very active in Northern Ireland funneling anti-IRA propaganda to the media, paralleling the work of the British Army’s Information Policy Unit then staffed by the likes of Colin Wallace. Around December 20th, 1972, two days after John Wyman’s arrest, the Irish Foreign Minister, Dr Patrick Hillery met Sir John Peck in Dublin to discuss the matter who then reported back to Downing Street. After reading Peck’s report, Ted Heath had called in the Irish ambassador to tell him of his concerns arising from that meeting; the ambassador had then travelled to Dublin to report Heath’s unease to Jack Lynch and on December 23rd he arrived back in Downing Street to tell Robert Armstrong the result of his meeting with the Irish premier.
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time of ‘the Wyman incident’, Dr Patrick Hillery
At the heart of British concerns was a comment from Hillery to Peck that the discovery of an MI6 agent at work in Dublin meant that relations between the two countries were now “back to square one”. The remark, implying Ireland’s loss of trust in the British, indicated a level of anger in official Irish circles at the affair that the detached observer might not consider inappropriate. But it soon became clear that Dr Hillery was speaking only for himself, not his prime minister. Jack Lynch’s priority was still the same as the British: the defeat of the IRA. And so the Irish prime minister denied outright that Hillery had ever said such a thing even though, as Armstrong noted, Peck’s report “had specifically quoted” exactly the same words, “back to square one”; but O’Sullivan maintained that Lynch’s record of the Peck-Hillery encounter made no mention at all of the phrase, and he added:
“….Mr Lynch had asked him to assure the prime minister that there was no question of this on his side. He did not wish the present level of relationships to be impaired in any way. The Irish government had welcomed the British government’s agreement to discuss the Irish dimension and the Council of Ireland and hoped that nothing would interfere with that situation.”And so in a single paragraph we can see expressed the Irish government’s priority in the wake of Bloody Sunday: the agreement of political structures that would help isolate and defeat the Provisionals. That was what mattered in Dublin and to underscore how important it was to the Irish state that friendly relations with the British be maintained, the ambassador even offered, on the day before Christmas Eve, to travel all the way from Downing Street in central London to the Buckinghamshire countryside to deliver Lynch’s message in person to Ted Heath at Chequers should Heath wish it. He was politely declined.
The Irish ambassador had further reassurances from Lynch to deliver to Downing Street. Asked by Armstrong whether the Wyman incident might imperil cross-Border security co-operation, Dr O’Sullivan gave this assurance: “There was no intention or desire that these contacts should be in any way impaired:, adding: “….Mr Lynch was very anxious that his own relationship with the prime minister should not in any way suffer as a result of this incident.” It is clear from Armstrong’s account that the Irish government was as concerned about “the public relations” downside of the affair as anything else. The phrase “public relations” appears three times in Armstrong’s account of the Irish ambassador’s concerns and it is evident by the repeated use of the phrase that the Irish side was concerned that the IRA could exploit Wyman’s arrest for propaganda purposes.
While MI6 had infiltrated the Irish police and may have recruited other, unknown agents, causing untold damage to the integrity of the state’s security apparatus, the fact that the IRA might enjoy a public relations fest appeared to be of greater import in Dublin. And although there was evidence from the interrogation of the MI6 agent and his Garda spy about “others who might be involved”, the Irish side also seemed more exercised by the fact that the information passed to Wyman by Crinnion was not exclusively concerned with the IRA; some of the material found in Crinnion’s car, O’Sullivan complained, were C3 documents “unrelated to the IRA” that had not yet been seen by the Minister of Justice. Had Crinnion’s documents dealt only with the IRA, the Irish government, it appeared, might not have been so concerned. Strikingly, nowhere in Armstrong’s account does the Irish ambassador seek an assurance on Jack Lynch’s behalf that the British will desist from any further intelligence operations on Irish soil. Rather much of the remaining conversation between Robert Armstrong and Ambassador O’Sullivan touched upon the legal treatment Britain’s MI6 agent might receive in Ireland. While the ambassador told Armstrong that the Irish government could not interfere in the working of the justice system, he went on to hint that it might do exactly that, as Armstrong explained in his message to Heath:
“I have not included in the note the two points which were for your eyes only: “For public relations reasons his (O’Sullivan’s) government would have to oppose bail; but the strength with which they would do so was another matter. “You had expressed concern about the effects of a long sentence. He (O’Sullivan) had the impression that this was unlikely; indeed he said there might be no sentence at all.”Wyman and Crinnion appeared at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin in January and February 1973 and were charged under the Official Secrets Act with passing secret information prejudicial to the safety or preservation of the State, charges that brought up to seven years imprisonment.
The pair did not get bail, as the ambassador hinted they might, and they were held in isolation for their own safety at Mountjoy jail in north Dublin. But, as Dr O’Sullivan had apparently predicted, neither man would serve a single day in jail for their crime; in fact they were acquitted of the most serious charge thanks to an extraordinary move by Ireland’s Attorney-General, Colm Condon, the son of a former Fianna Fail Senator. The entire trial was held in secret, in camera, and reporters were banned from the courtroom. Newspaper accounts were sparse and repetitive and nothing that transpired during the trial was made publicly known. Despite this cloak of secrecy, Condon refused to allow the judges to see the documents at the heart of the case, the C3 papers which had been found in Crinnion’s car. Since the documents would prove one way or another whether the security of the Irish state had been threatened by their disclosure to the British, the judges, deprived of critical evidence, had little option except to acquit both men. Condon had the power himself to admit the documents, the judges would have read them in secret and none of their contents would ever be made public. But the decision to conceal the documents, made by a political ally of Lynch and his predecessor Sean Lemass, ensured that the MI6 agent would be acquitted and the Irish government spared an embarrassing conflict with the British just a few days before the terms were agreed for political talks on the North’s future, talks that would include the Council of Ireland, the institution which Lynch’s government believed would undermine support for the IRA.
A British White Paper on the future of Northern Ireland, published within days of the acquittal of John Wyman and Patrick Crinnion, accepted that the Irish dimension, in practice a Council of Ireland, would be on the agenda for political talks. Securing this pledge lay behind Lynch’s reluctance to confront Britain over MI6′s espionage in Ireland.
A week or so later, Wyman and Crinnion were tried on lesser charges of communicating information about Garda operations and on these they were found guilty and sentenced to six months jail. This trial was held in public and although basic facts about the case became known in consequence, C3′s documents were kept secret. Since they had already served three months on bail and qualified for remission both men were immediately released and left Ireland for Britain, with Crinnion’s lawyer bitterly complaining that his client could never set foot in his native country again. Here is the Armstrong message to Ted Heath followed by an intriguing postscript:
Wyman 1 by emol_74903278
Wyman 2 by emol_74903278
Wyman 3 by emol_74903278
Nearly four years after the arrests of John Wyman and Patrick Crinnion and their trials, a six paragraph story appeared in the Irish Times which showed that “the Wyman incident”, as the two governments called it, was still reverberating strongly through the Irish police force. The story appeared on October 26th, 1976 and was by-lined ‘Irish Times Reporter’:
Wyman by emol_74903278
Posted in: Anglo Irish Relations,Feature from Elsewhere
3:39 PM, February 13, 2014Reply
After reading this excellent post I for one would not be in the least surprised to find that the government in the Dail were implicit in the murder of its citizens in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings,their cringing attitude to the illegal activities of the brits is nothing short of the quisling behaviour of quisling $inn £eind,the only difference is that those who infest the Dail are/were supposed to be a sovereign government.they must have laughed their balls off in Whitehall at the cowardice and grovelling of those so called Irish wankers.
Owen Sullivan says:
6:02 PM, February 13, 2014
All unambiguous evidence of an imperial vassal state relationship proving once again that the so called southern "Free" State is nothing more than a Vichy statelet sponsored and directed by a foreign power via native complicity. What little time the British spy Wyman and his Irish traitor Crinnion served was for public relations reasons only. As in occupied France the Resistance is punished while the Vichy go free.
sean bres says:
8:50 PM, February 13, 2014
Absolutely sickening to read that, the slave mentality of the Irish establishment and their need to be patted on the head by the colonial master is saddening and indeed angering. Almost humiliated to be an Irishman reading that... Very painful
8:30 AM, February 14, 2014
It never ceases to amaze me when talking to people how naive they are when it comes to the activities of the British Intelligence services - they all seem to think that the activities of these secret service groups stops at the door of Irish Republicanism......it's quite astonishing how many unwittingly hold this view....and any attempt to remove the cataracts can be quite exhausting...
Away from Republicanism for it is too easy to see this in operation with them, if we take a close look at certain members of the SDLP and their activities you'll see a pattern develop that calls for further scrutiny...the so called 'Anne's Law' is just a recent one. Backed by and publicly pushed for, by a long-term member, which succeeded in its passing but resulted in the removal of an up and coming leading light by the leadership for betrayal (with the excesses of Stormont, did anyone really believe that the rat was removed for accounting errors!!!)...Wasn't it extraordinary how this long-term member crawled out from under his rock and began to demand that his party support Unionism on this point....who called him out to publicly embarrass the leadership in to a u-turn and look what happened to the poor patsy who was the tool...and tool being the optimum word...but who called the patsy and the long-term