Saturday, 15 February 2014



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.’”

Jack Lynch

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

marty says:
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

Niall says:
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'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



James Talbot, 46 had a distinguished boxing career, was murdered by a gang who forced their way into his home in Lucan, Co Dublin, late on Thursday night. He was shot several times in the chest.The murder bears all the hallmarks of being carried out by organised hitmen or women.

Mr Talbot formally worked as a personal fitness trainer of wealthy people and had served a seven-year sentence in 1998 for drug offences but was not prosecuted by the gardai since.

After being shot in Abbeywood Court, Lucan, just before 10.30pm he was taken by ambulance to Connolly hospital, Blanchardstown, where he was later declared dead. His murderers left in a beige Toyota, Avensis, that had earlier been stolen in Coolock and was later burned out in the Earlsfort Estate.

A gun, believed to be used in the attack, was found in the burnt out vehicle and is apparently being examined by the Gardai. Investigators are supposedly attempting to establish a motive as to why Mr Talbot was targeted but it is believed to be related to the GSOC cover-up. A Garda admitted that while the deceased had a serious criminal conviction, he was officially, “below our radar”.However other reliable sources say he lived a lifestyle not in keeping with his level of official income.

Mr Talbot studied law at university but was arrested in 1997 in possession of £300,000 worth of heroin by senior gardaí who spent two weeks under cover waiting for the expected drugs to be collected. After arrest he pleaded guilty in Trim Circuit Court in 1998 with possession of the drug and possession with intent to supply in Co Meath, back in March 1997.

Friday, 14 February 2014


GSOC Controversy Highlights the Joke of a Democratic Ireland

The notion that we live in a true democracy is a joke, judging by the response by Government, gardaí, and parts of the media to suspected bug at GSOC offices, saysMichael Clifford

By Michael CliffordWHO would be a watchdog in a dysfunctional democracy? The events of the last five days demonstrate that in one vital area, this State resembles something plucked from the dark imagination of Franz Kafka, rather than amodern European country.

Last Sunday, The Sunday Times revealed that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s premises had, in layman’s terms, been bugged.

Three different potential security breaches were identified in sweeps last September and October. Modern surveillance techniques ensure that the presence of interception cannot be definitively established. But in one of the three threats, the possibility that it was not bugged was rated at “close to nil” by the counter-surveillance company which discovered it.

In most democracies, this would be a matter of grave concern. Who could be bugging GSOC? Who, other than members of An Garda Síochána, would have any reason to do so? It is possible that highly organised criminals might engage in this behaviour, but surely they would have more interesting targets to bug — the gardaí themselves, for example.

The implications are enormous. Yet among large sections of government, media, and the national police force, a concerted effort was made to divert all attention from a possible assault on the heart of our alleged democracy.

On Monday, the Irish Independent ran with the headline ‘Garda Watchdog to be grilled over failure to report spying probe’. The thrust of the story was that GSOC was in the dock for not reporting that it had been bugged. It was akin to suggesting that the victim of an assault was to blame for the crime because they didn’t report it to the gardaí.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny picked up on the theme. Later that day, he played down the notion of a bugging scandal, and instead had a cut at GSOC.

“Most importantly, Section 80 subsection 5 of the Garda Síochána Act requires that GSOC would report unusual matters or matters of exceptional importance to the minister for justice and that’s a fundamental issue that GSOC needs to explain to the minister for justice,” said Kenny.

Kenny is not noted for his grasp of detail, but here he was quoting the exact provision of a law. Except there was no such law, unless the Taoiseach had, in a Kafkaesque flourish, taken it upon himself to invent one as he went along.

The section he quoted states that GSOC “may” inform the minister if it believes a serious issue warrants his attention. There was no obligation on GSOC to inform Shatter, but Kenny, like others, was seeking some deflection from the real story.

It didn’t matter who had bugged GSOC. What was at issue was the GSOC heads hadn’t informed the minister for justice. If they had, Alan Shatter would presumably have donned a Superman cape and flown off to nab the bad guys.

The chairman of GSOC, Simon O’Brien, was summoned to Shatter’s office to explain why he hadn’t informed the minister. After the meeting, O’Brien issued a statement in which he said he “regretted” not telling Shatter earlier.

Shatter is charged with overseeing justice, security, and policing in this state. Yet his main concern over the breach of surveillance in GSOC was that he hadn’t been filled in.

Shatter effectively carpeted O’Brien. In doing so, the minister dealt a blow to the independence of GSOC. Could anybody imagine Shatter dressing down the Garda commissioner in a similar manner? Since he came to power, Shatter has repeatedly sided with the gardaí when tensions flared between the force and GSOC. Here he was now, putting the independent agency in its place.

The GSOC statement on Monday evening included a line that the security breach unearthed “no evidence of garda misconduct”.

Cue righteous indignation from Garda commissioner Martin Callinan. A few weeks back, the commissioner didn’t mince his words in relation to whistleblowers in the force making allegations about garda misconduct. “Frankly, I think it’s disgusting,” he said then.

Now, with grave suspicions that the offices of an independent state agency had been bugged, the top cop in the country was more concerned with perceived insensitivities towards the force. He lined up to take a shot at O’Brien and his colleagues.

“It is a cause of grave concern that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s statement contains a clear indication that An Garda Síochána was in some way suspected of complicity in this matter despite GSOC’s overall finding that the existence of technical and electronic anomalies could not be conclusively explained,” Callinan stated.

Who did he think might be suspected of bugging an organisation charged with investigating gardaí? Mrs Brown’s boys? Donald Duck? The reference to the gardaí in the GSOC statement was made in the context of the whole country assuming that the person or persons most likely to have bugged the office would have come from Garda ranks. However, Callinan couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a cut. Another blow for GSOC, another chip away at its independence, a few more inches gained in shoving it towards the abyss of irrelevance.

By the next day, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors was calling for O’Brien’s head. Who cares who bugged GSOC? The commission was on the ropes, lined up to hand out another pummelling.

SINCE its inception under the 2005 Garda Síochána Act, GSOC has been held in barely concealed contempt by large swathes of the force.

In the early days, the investigative body made some mistakes. On one occasion, when an officer had taken his own life, GSOC swooped on the station with precious little sensitivity for bereaved colleagues of the dead man. In another instance, a GSOC member left a voice message for an officer which was interpreted as heavy-handed and legally threatening.

Yet, apart from incidents such as these, the main issue is that many in the force still balk at the spectre of an outside agency investigating how it does its business. Both the AGSI and the Garda Representative Association have been highly critical of GSOC at various junctures in the last six years.

This is the context in which the AGSI stuck the boot in this week, calling for O’Brien’s head, which would have undoubtedly further weakened GSOC’s independence.

On Tuesday evening, Shatter told the Dáil there was nothing to see here. There was no “definitive evidence” of a bugging, but the failure of GSOC to tell him about it “is a matter of substantial concern to me”.

Tell him about what? If he was to be believed, there was precious little to report. The main thing, though, was that everybody got off the bugging business. Move along there, now.

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.

It is almost certain that somebody attempted to, or succeeded in, bugging the offices of an independent agency charged with policing the police. So what?

Those holding the reins of power apparently see their responsibilities purely in terms of their own positions. The notion that we live in a proper democracy is little short of a joke.


GSOC bugging? Move along....Nothing to see here. Trust your government and the Gardai

category national | crime and justice | other press author Thursday February 13, 2014 23:34author by fred Report this post to the editors
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
Garda Ombudsman, under fire from forces of corruption?
Garda Ombudsman, under fire from forces of corruption?
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 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 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.” 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 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?
Kieran Boylan, teflon large scale drug trafficker. Who has he compromised?

Thursday, 13 February 2014


Explosive evidence to the Oireachtas committee, by Simon O’Brien directly contradicts Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s statement to the Dáil on the controversy in a number of key respects.
The bugging of the Garda Siochána Ombudsman may have been authorised, according to the Irish police watchdog says Simon O'Brien who also says the matter is a 'crisis'

Branding it a “crisis”, Mr O’Brien said he suspects the Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has been put under electronic surveillance and he cannot rule out the gardaí being suspects.This also contradicts Mr Shatter’s story that no bugging had taken place and the gardaí are being subjected to “baseless innuendo”.

Mr Shatter’s claim the security sweep of GSOC offices was “routine” also contradicts Mr O’Brien’s evidence caused by serious breaches of “confidentially”. He said that he had not asked Mr Shatter or Garda commissioner Martin Callinan if the surveillance had been authorised.

Pressed on whether he believed it had been authorised, Mr O’Brien said: “We have no idea if that piece of capability was being used lawfully,” saying gardaí became suspects after the first two security threats were uncovered following secret, late-night surveillance sweeps at GSOC headquarters.

“Shatter needs to declare whether it was authorised by the State. The Justice minister needs to explain why he didn’t inform the Dáil that an inquiry was commenced into An Garda Siochána by GSOC,” said Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Niall Collins.

The ombudsman said GSOC had launched an internal leak probe, as less than seven people knew the contents of the secret security report, that ended up in the media. Expecting fresh revelations this weekend, Mr O’Brien claimed that so far unreported parts of the dossier were misleading as to the motivation that triggered the security sweep.

The latest contradictions in the GSOC bugging saga came as Taoiseach Enda Kenny ordered a report into allegations, that a transcript existed of a conversation between garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe and his confidential recipient, when he was warned: “If Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished.”

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has described as “highly credible” reports of the offices of the Irish police, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission were bugged. 

ICCL director Mark Kelly had said the body was “gravely concerned by highly credible reports that GSOC has been subjected to covert surveillance” by persons unknown.

The claim revealed in The Sunday Times of a security analysis by a British company which found that emails, wi-fi, and phone systems in the offices were targeted.
In a last minute effort of cover-up on speculation of Garda involvement,reports have now been changed to say there was “no evidence of Garda misconduct”.

The new report was issued after a two-hour compromise meeting between GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien and Alan Shatter playing hardball as the Fine Gael justice minister.

Initial reports had claimed the equipment used to bug GSOC offices was “government-led technology” but the story has now been changed as a result of pressure and arm twisting, demanding GSOC resignations.

Mr Kelly of t
he Irish Council for Civil Liberties  said: “In this State, two specific agencies, Garda Special Branch and the Defence Forces Intelligence Branch have been granted surveillance powers of the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages. Since both of these agencies are under the ultimate authority of minister, Mr Alan Shatter TD, the ICCL demands that the minister provide unequivocal assurances that neither agency has been involved in spying on GSOC. He said it was “deeply troubling” that the privacy and security of the body entrusted with independent oversight of the police service had been violated.

He also said “In the event that it remains impossible to identify the culprits with the necessary degree of certainty, an inquiry of a judicial nature may be required.” He further stated that the ICCL said the current oversight of surveillance in Ireland was “inadequate”, with no direct parliamentary scrutiny.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan expressed “grave concern” that gardaí were “suspected of complicity in this matter” by GSOC and wanted to know the basis of this suspicion. He has also asked for clarification as to whether GSOC believe a criminal offence had been committed and did the matter require investigation by gardaí.

GSOC statement stated:

In the course of our operations, the Commission has always been conscious of the need for appropriate confidentiality and proper levels of security. The Commission has brought this to the attention of staff from time to time. On two occasions, since commencing operations, security experts have been consulted. A sweep of the building, and tests on the integrity of our telecommunications security, have been undertaken.

A security sweep of GSOC’s offices was conducted on the evenings of 23 to 27 September, 2013. This was conducted by a specialist UK security firm that had been recommended. The overall cost of the security checks undertaken was just under €18,000.

“As well as the general check of our building, the Commission also sought expert advice on the sorts of capabilities that exist in relation to the interception of communications, including telephones.

The investigation was completed on 17 December, 2013. It confirmed the existence of three technical and electronic anomalies.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Bringing in British outsiders to conduct a bugging sweep and an investigation points to suspected corruption and criminal conduct at the highest levels of the Irish Department of Justice and the Irish police force, the Gardai...Irish Blog

Comments below Irish Times,

Conor Kelly
"which begs the question as to..." No. That is not 'begging the question'.

Other flabby phrases used: "It is probably fair to say that...."; "... but that points up a disquieting level of..."; "It appears that...".

Good article otherwise.
Malleus Maleficarum
Makes me think that resources were undoubtedly poured into this operation - our taxes - paying people to sit around doing their best to pervert the mission of the Ombudsman's Commission. The people responsible need their backsides kicked, so they do. A posting to Inis Meaan might be in order.
SIMON o Brien is being hung out to dry ,with kenny the main cheer leader ,not one of these guys mentioned the crime committed ,this tells us all where their loyalty lays ,self preservation ,shatter and callinan should go ,not simon o brien ,as jonesy allways says in dads army ,they dont like it up em capt mannering ,callinan must go .
2. Most interestingly, GSOC made the (probably wise) decision not to tell the Dept of Justice because (presumably) the latter couldn't be trusted not to tip off the Gardaí.

This entire imbroglio needs to be investigated thoroughly by an independent, body from beyond our cosy, corrupt, shores. In fact, GSOC should be given the necessary resources. The Dept of Justice needs to be cleaned out too.
Was it wise to call in a British security firm employing ex British security personnel to do this work. Now security at GSOC may be really compromised? If a crime is committed in this state
surely the Garda are the first port of call-- irrespective of suspicion?
Where the victim of the bugging is the agency charged with investigating the Gardaí it is difficult to imaging any body less appropriate to investigate than the Gardaí.
Who else has the powers to investigate crime in Ireland? A Dail committee
perhaps? Don't think so. And by the way are GSOC outside the law? If a member of staff is suspected of stealing paper clips (for e.g.) who should investigate?
Brian Phelan
Paddy. GSOC ought to be capable of conducting its own investigations utilising any resources at its disposal. Failing that, within Ireland, the only other statutory body it might have called upon for assistance would have been the Intelligence Services, a department of the Military. Given that the offices of Minister of Justice and Minister of Defence are conflated in the person of the same man, who would have been required to authorise such an intervention, this would have been (rightly) considered problematic by GSOC.

As yet we don't know that there is evidence of a crime, as such, having been committed. It may be that the 'anomalies' referred to in the report may simply be suggestive electronic 'footprints' within GSOC's systems rather than anything so crude as microphones or cameras.
Hi Brian, have GSOC powers of arrest of citizens? surely only an Garda have such powers? Have GSOC any right to consider an elected government minister as
"problematic"? I think thats outrageous.
1. The notion that there should be "trust" between the GSOC and the Gardaí and Dept. of Justice is a nonsense. GSOC investigates allegations of corrupt policing and police. The important thing is that it keeps itself at arms length from the Gardaí, and given that the Gardaí (rogue or official) must be prime suspects on grounds of motive or opportunity, it would be bizarre to bring the Gardaí in to investigate this matter.
Looks like the Head of GSOC will be the fall guy for their naivety in not bringing this to Shatter forcing him to deal with it and focussing responsibility on him. Now we will have the situation where the lack of accountability of An Garda Siochana and the Minister for Justice will prevail. How convenient for the forces of inertia and stasis.
Taoiseach said: "Section 80 subsection 5 of the Garda Siochana Act requires that GSOC would report unusual matters ..." -

Section 80 subsection 5 of the Garda Siochana Act says: "The Ombudsman Commission may make any other reports that it considers appropriate for drawing to the Minister’s attention ..." -

No such "requirement", Taoiseach. So, why is the Taoiseach lying about what the Commission is "required" to do?
How naive of callinan and the contempt he holds for public opinon that he and the establishment attack the Ombudsman, does he or the politicial low life's think for one moment that their posturing would sway the public ? GSOC's remit hold the police to account,callinan refuses to allow 100% access to GSOC's requests for information.
to carry out their remit, GSOC"s offices bugged, in the court of public opinon, points to one arm of the state only and rightly so, this corroupt regime must go
The other question is why noone in the media challenged kennys blatant untruth about s80. Even this article shies away from prperly calling him out on it
Brian Phelan
There's a rule in politics that when the story is against you, you should change the story. Kenny's application of it in redirecting attention to GSOC's alleged 'failure' has been clumsy. The profound difference between 'may report' and 'shall report' provides GSOC with its operational independence. Kenny has either been ill-advised on this or he has chosen to mislead the public debate for reasons we can only guess at.
Let's not lose sight of the overriding wrong done here - somebody was bugging the watchdog!
Forget the political propaganda and mock horror to defend the reputation of the guards.
Gareth Keeley
This article is so homophobic...
For goodness sake, it was common sense to call in a private company. Any right-thinking organisation overseeing a police force would have done the same. In fact, it would have been irresponsible if not negligent to do otherwise. What a sensationalist headline.
Malleus Maleficarum
You can rely on SC to trot out the preferred official line.
Why, for heaven's sake, should the Garda and the Ombudsman's Commission 'trust' one another?

I don't know about anyone else but the more I see of this story the less I trust the Garda and the more respect I have for the Ombudsman's Commission. They didn't shout about what they had found, they quietly took evasive action. There's no real evidence against the Garda but their virtual fingerprints is all over it.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? "Who will guard the guards themselves?"
Also sometimes rendered as "Who watches the watchmen?", the phrase has other idiomatic translations and adaptations such as "Who will watch the watch-guards?"
In modern usage, it is frequently associated with the political philosophy of Plato and the problem of political corruption.


Astonishingly, none of these Shell officials, nor John Gilligan, Alan Shatter, or anyone else in the Irish government, police, or any oversight body, has asked me to supply the voluminous evidence. No one seems shocked, or even interested. There have been no denials issued, nor have I received any threats of litigation, as could be anticipated if the allegations were without foundation. This seems to be a rotten state of affairs? I am now beginning to wonder if Shell has bought the whole Irish Establishment?


From: John Donovan <>
Date: 6 May 2013 15:32:09 GMT+01:00

Irish Police corruption, booze and violence sponsored by Shell

Dear Mr Shane Ross TD
I am writing to you and all other members of the Dail on an exceptional basis concerning a matter that should be a cause of great concern.
I sent an email to your Justice Minister Mr Alan Shatter over a month ago concerning alleged widespread corruption of the Garda by Shell E&P Ireland.
Mr Shatter is aware that I have in my possession a vast array of what I believe to be related authentic documents and correspondence.  It includes an invoice from a small firm – The OSSL Company – to Shell E&P Ireland for over 35,000 euros (plus VAT) spent on the procurement of alcohol distributed to the Garda by OSSL, on behalf of its long time client, Shell.
I understand that the cost would be substantially higher if the alcohol was purchased on a legitimate basis, bearing in mind the possibility, in view of the content of the invoice in question, that the alcohol was smuggled across the border. If so, that might also raise taxation and criminal law issues.
I also supplied Mr Shatter with a copy of a letter marked “Strictly Private & Confidential” dated 28 February 2011 from The OSSL Company to Garda Superintendent Mr. John Gilligan. The letter discussed the purchase and delivery of festive gifts to the Garda and claimed that the gifts were purchased by OSSL on behalf of Shell E&P Ireland. According to the letter: “At Shell’s insistence these gifts came with a high degree of confidentiality, which we have adhered to until this very day.” 
Emails sent to OSSL from Michael Crothers, the Chief Executive of Shell E&P Ireland, provide some confirmation of claims made by OSSL. There are signs that Mr Crothers is uncomfortable with the toxic mess he has inherited from his predecessors.
Thus far, all I have received from Mr Shatter is a series of acknowledgement emails sent on his behalf, the most expansive one, dated 5 April, stated: “I write to acknowledge receipt of your email today and can confirm the matter is being dealt with.” That could just mean that my emails have been placed on file.
There has been a similar astonishing lack of curiosity by other parties I have contacted, including senior Shell officials Linda Szymanski, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc; Michiel Brandjes,Company Secretary & General Counsel Corporate, and Julia Busby, head of Shell Legal Dept.
Detective Chief Superintendent John Gilligan, who is alleged to have had a direct hand in the scandal, did not reply to my email inviting him to comment.
Astonishingly, none of these Shell officials, nor John Gilligan, Alan Shatter, or anyone else in the Irish government, police, or any oversight body, has asked me to supply the voluminous evidence. No one seems shocked, or even interested. There have been no denials issued, nor have I received any threats of litigation, as could be anticipated if the allegations were without foundation.
This seems to be a rotten state of affairs? I am now beginning to wonder if Shell has bought the whole Irish Establishment? Please tell me that I am wrong? Is there anyone in the Dail who is sufficiently concerned to intervene?
I sent emails to Linda Szymanski on 28 March 2013, 29 March 2013 and 15 April about the OSSL allegations and supplied the aforementioned OSSL.Invoice.
Some of the wording on the invoice seems reminiscent of the prohibition era in the USA. Somebody trying to conceal the illicit transportation of alcohol. OSSL has explained the circumstances behind the long delay in raising the invoice. Shell knew that it was dealing with a very hot potato and put off the day of reckoning by using its power over a small company (OSSL), which naturally wanted to retain its most important client.
Basically Shell funded free alcohol, procured and delivered by OSSL on Shell’s behalf, that was allegedly lavished on hundreds of police officers – a form of reward not conducive to the well-being, ethical standing, safety and demeanor of the Garda. The booze was allegedly delivered to senior on duty officers, with at least one delivery being made at Police premises. OSSL says that on Shell’s instructions, invoices were falsified to disguise what was going on.
By way of background information, I operate an entirely non-commercial independent website, which for nearly 10 years, has monitored the activities of Royal Dutch Shell.
During this period we have received and published a considerable volume of Shell whistleblower information that has generated coverage in newspapers (1) (2) (3),magazinestelevision and radio.
As can be seen from the *extract of a book authored by Lorna Siggin, we published in 2007 confidential minutes of a 2002 committee meeting of Shell Managing Directors, when “The committee queried whether the group had sufficiently well placed contacts with the Irish government and regulators.”  Shell had already spread its tentacles of influence inside the Irish government and regulators, and senior management was apparently intent on increasing Shell’s penetration.
I have already pointed out to Mr Shatter that Shell has prior form in abusing the trust of host governments. For example, Shell sponsored corruption of U.S. Federal employees/regulators in a sex, drugs and alcohol scandalShell embedded spies into every ministry of the Nigerian government. Also in Nigeria, Shell incurred a $30million “criminal penalty” over charges it paid $2million to a sub-contractor “with the knowledge that some or all of the money” would be used to bribe Nigerian officials.
In response to our website activities, Shell has engaged in a global spying operation on its own employees in an attempt to trace our sources and stop the leakage of insider information.
Death threats allegedly made to Shell Corrib Gas Project employees who had leaked numerous Shell internal emails to me, were reported in the Irish Times in April 2011 under the headline: “Gardaí investigate alleged death threats to Corrib whistleblowers
In September 2012, I received the first whistleblower information from OSSL. It had become, over several years, a “Mr Fixit” agent of Shell, distributing gifts and favours to third parties to ease the torturous progress of the highly controversial project.
notified our designated Shell contact, Mr Michiel Brandjes, Company Secretary & General Counsel Corporate of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. I asked if Shell wanted to investigate the allegations. There was no reply.
Based on information subsequently received from OSSL, we have published a series of articles (headlines below).
The matter is obviously serious, with allegations that the Garda has acted as an offshoot of Shell security in brutally policing protests against the Corrib Gas Project – perhaps fueled by the free booze sponsored by Shell. Graphics (1) (2) posted on the Internet confirm a widely held perception by environmental activists, including theShell to Sea campaign, that the Garda are “Shell’s Cops”.
Alleged excessive violence by the Garda against protestors is set out on pages 214 & 215 of the book: “ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST: The Corrib Gas Controversy,” authored by Irish Times journalist Lorna Siggins.
OSSL allege that Shell, in a move to silence them, has threatened to blacklist OSSL in the oil and gas industry.Something that Shell has done before to others.
OSSL also allege that Shell used a third party multinational accountancy firm to convey a warning that OSSL staff risked being jailed for the acts they had carried out for Shell. This threat was also obviously designed to frighten them into keeping quiet.
OSSL is appalled that Shell management involved their small company in such activity. They relied on Shell, its pledge of ethical trading and its army of lawyers, to ensure that it was not drawn into any illegal actions on Shell’s behalf. It now seeks the protection of whistleblower status.
On 31 March 2013, I brought these matters to the attention of Mr Alan Shatter TD in his capacity as Justice & Equalities Minister. I have sent further emails to him, but have never received anything more that a polite acknowledgement as quoted. Legitimate questions that I raised have thus far been ignored.
On 1 May, after news broke of proposals of brand sponsorship for the UK police I sent an email to Mr Shatter asking rather sarcastically, if a pilot scheme was already underway in Ireland, with Shell sponsoring the Garda? I pointed out that if it was, the sponsorship should flow into state coffers, rather than down the throats of apparently very thirsty police officers. Nor was there any evidence of Shell logo’s displayed on uniforms or on police cars.
What is going on is unfair to impartial, honest and sober members of the Garda.
It is under these circumstances that I decided to notify all members of the Irish parliament.
All of the evidence in my possession is available provided I receive confirmation that the allegations will be officially investigated and the findings put into the public domain.
I regret to say that the scandal is wider in scope than has thus far been revealed.
If you are concerned, please ask Mr Shatter what action, if any, he has taken thus far?
If you can let me know what his response is, that would be very helpful.
Though theoretically citizens in a liberal democracy, those who have stood in the way of the exploitation of the Corrib gas field by a consortium led by Shell found themselves with very little protection from their own government. Instead of seeking to negotiate a settlement on behalf of these citizens, Irish governments aligned themselves to an overwhelming extent with Shell, putting the resources of the state behind the acquisition of land and, when locals objected, mounting a policing operation that at one point included the deployment of the navy.
FROM PAGES 126 &127 (“Ahern” is a reference to Bertie Ahern, a corrupt Irish government minister who became Taoiseach)
When the issue arose again in the Dail, the following month, Ahern insisted there was nothing unethical about his discussion in September with the senior Shell executives. There were ‘no deals or arrangements’ with Shell, he insisted, adding that ‘other countries have ways and means of treating large companies, which I do not agree with. I have had a fair few meetings over the years that might border on the unethical, but I am not guilty of it in this case.’
Four years later, in November 2007, website run by Alfred and John Donovan – long-time critics of the multinational –published details of minutes of a meeting of Shell group managing directors on 22 and 23 July 2002. Planning refusal for the Ballinaboy gas terminal in north Mayo was discussed, according to the website, which quoted from the minutes: ‘The committee queried whether the group had sufficiently well placed contacts with the Irish government and regulators. Paul Skinner undertook to explore this issue further in consultation with the country chairman in Ireland.’
Shell Corrib Gas Project: 28 April 2013
Shell Corrib Corruption & Community Complaints: 3 May 2013 (By a guest author)
Yours sincerely
John Donovan