Skip navigation

Tag Archives: John McGuinness

The RTE Primetime programme of February 9th 2017* performed a solid public service by exploding the story of the HSE’s and Tusla’s involvement in smearing the reputation of Sergeant Gerry McCabe. The programme of February 14th ** had the makings of something similar but the framing decided upon led it down a different path right through the obsessive question about a change of party leader and to the ridiculous suggestion by Paul Murphy T.D. near the end of the programme that the crucial issue is the credibility of the Taoiseach. No, no, no, the crucial issue is the operation of a system of silence operated by politicians and journalists which allows those who whisper falsehoods to remain anonymous. “Sources”, it would appear, must remain anonymous; they must remain so even years later when it is recognised that they were lying.

There would seem to be just one exception: John McGuinness, the former chairman of PAC, provided a name. He told the Dáil that he was approached before Sergeant McCabe’s PAC appearance by then Commissioner Martin Callinan who allegedly tried to discredit Sergeant McCabe.

Contrast this with Mick Wallace T.D. at c. 4 mins into the 14th Feb. programme who names people under privilege except that he withholds one name: that of a journalist spreading the smear.

Then watch Pat Rabbitte at about 21 mins. tell of being approached by a retired Garda who smeared Sergeant McCabe. Even at this stage – years later – Pat did not name the retired Garda and David McCullagh didn’t ask him.

Now go to 25 mins. and listen to John Deasy tell of being approached by a “very senior Guard” who smeared Sergeant McCabe. John did not name the senior officer and Katie Hannon didn’t ask him.

Journalists generally talk of culture and a quite comprehensive system of smearing but it would seem that just two have come out and said that there is no public benefit in keeping confidential the names of liars.***

Primetime has a team of respected journalists. It is inconceivable that they have not discussed the practice of protecting the anonymity of lying sources, the chancers who exploit for nefarious ends and undermine the accepted protection of sources.

Primetime could perform a public service by turning their attention to journalism and confidentiality generally. Right now there is a newsworthy vehicle available: the role of confidentiality in creating the current scandal whereby decent police officers were smeared.

___________________________

* http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/prime-time-30003251/10685085/

** http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/prime-time-30003251/10687165/

*** Justine McCarthy: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/name-and-shame-the-rumour-mongers-who-slurred-maurice-mccabe-sl29g5f7c

and

Colum Kenny: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/whistleblower-row-malicious-sources-have-no-right-to-protection-1.2971029

In contrast, here’s a case in which a journalist, having reported lies from Garda sources, invoked the guidelines of the National Union of Journalists in declining to reveal the identity of his sources. https://www.gardaombudsman.ie/docs/publications/Report_October2008.pdf (See in particular paras. 10 and 13.)

Here’s the story: http://www.independent.ie/national-news/revealed-the-whistleblower-behind-crash-warnings-3088276.html

This story is ridiculous. What it states explicitly is that after the start of the debate about soft vs. hard landings at the end of Ireland’s property-bubble scam, a civil servant wanted to have Ministers warn of a possible collapse. However, the use of the word “whistleblower” misleads and it perpetuates one of the great fairy stories of recent Irish history.

A whistleblower reveals information which is vital to the public good. Without wishing to underestimate the courage of the civil servant at the centre of the story, there are two problems with this story and its framing. Firstly, the incidents related are far too late to have had an enormous bearing on avoiding the damage done to Ireland; once the “landing” appeared on the agenda, all that was in doubt was the scale of the damage.

Secondly and more importantly, what is needed is evidence of earlier civil service opposition to the virtually insane policies that created the bubble. Such evidence would tend to exonerate civil servants generally from the suspicion of utter stupidity or shameful lack of integrity. It is at this point that use of “whistleblower” perpetuates the lie.

You see, what happened in Ireland did not involve a secret and seeing it coming did not require expertise in economics. It happened in plain sight and only a complete fool could have failed to notice and failed to realise that it would end very badly. Very few of those in Ireland who are paid to think and speak (The group includes journalists, managers, teachers, politicians etc.) showed themselves competent. It is not credible that so many professionals are so wilfully ignorant or stupid that they were unaware of the approaching mess. It is more likely that they lacked the integrity to speak out again and again in opposition.

Should journalism want to redeem itself, some of its better practitioners would do well to focus on who stayed silent as the bubble was intentionally inflated before everyone’s eyes.

See here:  https://colummccaffery.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/time-for-a-clear-out-who-misled-and-who-remained-silent-as-a-completely-irish-made-fiasco-developed/