Fennelly Report is a Sham. There has been no ‘Change’. Please share.
Forgetting the detail of the Fennelly report for the moment, there is a glaring question that needs to be answered:
Martin Callinan spent 40 years in the Garda Siochana, ended up as Commissioner from 2010 to 2014 – how did he not know of the systemic illegal bugging, a vile abuse of power and democracy, taking place through almost all of those years (since the 80s, with the bugging system upgraded in the 90s), in 23 different Garda Stations? If he didn’t know – as he now claims – then surely this on its own was grounds for him to be sacked.
From the report we now do know that the then Deputy Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, didn’t inform Callinan that she knew of that illegal bugging taking place in those stations – that too, surely, is grounds all on its own for being sacked. Instead, she was promoted to Commissioner.
Let there be no confusion about this – our policing is political. Garda Superintendents are appointed by the government of the day, Garda Commissioners are appointed by the Government of the day; why then would anyone be shocked that the same Commissioner appointed by the Taoiseach is also sacked by the Taoiseach? And let there be no confusion also, despite the blurry report by Fennelly that is exactly what happened – Callinan was sacked by the Taoiseach.
The manner of how it was done bleeds irony. Brian Purcell was Director General of the Prison Service during a period when phone calls between inmates and their solicitors were bugged on a systemic basis. Who was tasked with the dirty job of going to Martin Callinan’s house to give him the bad news that his services were no longer required because of – wait for it – bugging on a systemic basis in the Garda Siochana? Yes indeed, the same Brian Purcell. If Putin was caught doing something like this, or Kim Jong-Un in North Korea, there would be a chorus of righteous uproar from our mainstream media. There hasn’t been.
Somehow the substance of this debate has been blurred by the ‘who knew what/when/where’ rubbish. The fact is, our policing needs to be de-politicised, starting with an independent policing board. This government was elected on the promise of ‘Change’ – let’s have some. On this, as in so much else that was promised, the people have again been short-changed.