Leo Varadkar Calls on Callinan to Retract “Disgusting” Slur Against Garda Whistle-Blowers

I bet Leo Varadkar was that annoying toddler who tried to pull the chin-whiskers of elderly aunties, but it’s hard not to like his bull-in-a-china-shop indifference to other people’s sensitivities.  When he came straight out and called Martin Callinan on his bullshit, Varadkar was only saying what everyone else in the country thinks.  Come off it, Martin.

Martin Callinan Garda Commissioner Public Accounts Committee

Who believes Callinan when he says that his disgusting comment was about inappropriate access to confidential information?

I don’t.

Trying to justify his comments, this is what Martin Callinan said:

I want to clarify that my use of that term was not in reference to the character of either Sgt McCabe or former Garda Wilson, but the manner in which personal and sensitive data was inappropriately appearing in the public domain without regard to due process and fair procedures.

What I heard when the Garda Commissioner addressed the Public Accounts Committee was something quite different.  I heard him saying that, of thirteen thousand Gardai, only two whistle-blowers were making allegations of corruption and malpractice, and he found it disgusting.

Don’t take my word for it.  Judge for yourself what you think Martin Callinan said.

Here is the head of our national police force which, unfortunately, is also the national security agency, attempting to rubbish suggestions of malpractice in his force.  This is the same police chief who dismissed out of hand the critical findings of a High Court judge, Peter Smithwick, with a bland soundbite: this is not the force I lead.

Callinan’s pugnacious defence of the force he leads might have been laudable in an earlier era, but not today, and especially not in the wake of a report from another High Court judge, Fred Morris, who absolutely excoriated the force for its systemic corruption. After seven years, no action has been taken on foot of the Morris Tribunal’s findings.

Of course, this has always been a society based on the nod and the wink, and whether Martin Callinan would acknowledge it or not, he is as much a product of our nod-and-wink culture as anyone else.  Who hasn’t been friendly with a Garda willing to get a summons squared or a ticket fixed?  Well, the answer is that plenty of people aren’t in that fortunate position, but they’d be the people who don’t matter anyway.  The poor, the unimportant, the weakest.

For the rest of society, as often as not, it has always been possible to get minor charges fixed, depending on your relationship with the right people in our police force who, incidentally, need not be at a senior level.  In a monastic organisation such as an Garda Síochána, everyone is equal.  Templemore stays in the blood long after you’ve hopped on the last train out of it.

It’s ironic that Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s access to the PULSE system is strictly limited given the fact that other more junior Gardai routinely plug their USB sticks into it and download information that can, at best, be described as gossip about unconvicted citizens.  It’s doubly ironic, in an age of viruses and trojans, that those Gardai’s laptops could easily be used by their children to access the web, to interact on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or a dozen less reputable networks and therefore that confidential PULSE data is vulnerable to hacking by anyone wishing to read it.

Some IT technicians have suggested that the simplest way to access the PULSE system is to turn up at a Garda station with an aluminium case, catch the eye of the Garda at the desk and point to the door.  I believe them.  That’s how Ireland works, unfortunately, and yet a decent Garda is only permitted to access the system under strict supervision, because he tried to expose corruption.

It’s good that Leo Varadkar rejected the disgusting slur on two honourable policemen, and called on the Garda commissioner to retract it.  It’s good that Joan Burton agreed with him.  It’s good that Pat Rabbitte, however equivocally, supported the call to vindicate the whistleblowers.  It’s also good that Willie O’Dea, of all people, called on the commissioner to stop digging when he’s in a hole.

This is Ireland, however, and that’s why I have no confidence that Callinan will do anything other than reinforce his bunker.

In this land, we don’t retract and we don’t resign, even when we’ve lost the confidence of half the cabinet and all of the people.




Garda Commissioner Tells Public Accounts Committee To Get Stuffed

There are no flies on Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan but he does have a rather dodgy moustache distracting attention from his message and  I don’t like the idea that our national police force is headed by Freddie Mercury.

martin callinan garda commissioner

Martin doesn’t like the idea of individual guards breaking ranks and revealing facts about The Force, because, of course, he himself made his way through the progression as all commissioners have done before him, pounding the beat, studying for the Sergeant’s exams, making Inspector, then getting Super, followed by Chief and on and on and on.  Martin knows full well the shit that goes on in the Guards, and if he doesn’t he’s not fit to be the head of our police force, but let’s not forget, this is the Commissioner who felt entitled to dismiss out of hand the findings of  High Court judge regarding the force he leads.

As I’ve often pointed out here before, an Garda Síochána is more like a Masonic brotherhood than a police force.   I’m not aware of any other European law-enforcement agency that refers to its employees as Members — are you?  In the building boom, and long before that, going right back to the Sixties, the Guards we well known as inveterate purchasers of real estate.  Many a penniless student, including myself, right through the following decades, rented houses and flats from fresh-faced young Gardai the same age as ourselves, though probably much older in their outlook.  These solid sons of farmers didn’t look too kindly on hippies like me.

I’m also not aware of a European police force that segregates all its neophytes into a single monastic environment like Templemore, inculcating the idea that the general public are all potential lawbreakers (or gougers as the Gardai refer to them).  As far as I’m aware, there is no possibility to recruit highly-qualified professional people into An Garda Síochána at a senior level.  There is no other Irish public-service organisation that does this and to the best of my knowledge, no other European law-enforcement agency has a single-tier entry system, in which all senior staff start at the bottom, though I’m open to correction.

Whatever spin Martin Callinan might be trying to put on this whistle-blower controversy, the truth is that he’s pissing up a rope, because every single person in Ireland knows what the Guards are like.   Every Irish adult remembers getting summonses fixed.  Every trader knows about the pressure to supply goods at cost or below in order to retain the goodwill of the local police.  The Guards even have a word for this: Hawk.  One of them has a hawk in vacuum cleaners and another has a hawk in computers.  It’s part of the Garda language.

We all know this.  Why are we pretending it doesn’t exist?

Who hasn’t, at the very least, considered the possibility of getting something fixed?

Now, Martin Callinan’s barely-disguised contempt for the Public Accounts Committee was, to my mind, very revealing, because it lifted the veil briefly on the central problem afflicting An Garda Síiochána which is this: the organisation doesn’t know what its role is.  Is it a security service or is it a police force?

A security service like MI5, is a properly secret organisation, amenable only to the appropriate government minister and, by virtue of national security, outside normal democratic constraints.  A police force, on the other hand, is simply that: an organisation responsible for civil policing, fighting crime, managing traffic and attending to the general business of public order.

In Ireland, since the foundation of the State, the two functions have been conflated and this has, in my view, tended to encourage on the one hand, an abuse of personal authority by individual Gardai and on the other a general feeling of impunity in the organisation as a whole.  Of course, needless to mention, the activities of the fearless Freedom Fighters in recent decades has only served to consolidate this viewpoint among the force’s “members”.

This is not to suggest that the majority of Gardai are either corrupt or power-mad.  I’ve personally known extraordinarily dedicated policemen and women, but Ireland is Ireland.  We know how this place works, and when Martin Callinan issues veiled threats towards those members of his force who might be prepared to reveal the dark secrets, all he does is damage his credibility and that of the force he leads.

When the head of an organisation that is not only a police force, but also a security service, displays such insolence to elected members of our national parliament, we need to take the implications very seriously indeed.



The Unbearable Shiteness of Cowen

He really is a dog, isn’t he? A dog and a muppet. A muppet-dog.

They told Cowen a full nine months before the blanket bank guarantee that the two fake banks were screwed, but he did nothing until nine months later when the heads of the two biggest banks walked into his office and spun him a little bit of the truth mixed with a big heap of lies.

We’re screwed, Brian, and you have to dig us out or the country’s ruined.

How did he dig them out so the country wouldn’t be ruined?  By ruining the country.

He issued a €440 billion guarantee, that nobody in the entire world believed Ireland could ever deliver on.  It bailed out not just the depositors, and the senior bond-holders, but also the subordinate debt : the people who took a high risk in return for high returns.  The finance gamblers who are used to getting burned.  He bailed them all out.

But wait.

Where were the media while all of this was going on?

What were they saying about Anglo-Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide?

Nothing, that’s what, because they were shit-scared to suggest that these banks were nothing more than pyramid schemes in case Fingers or Seánie slapped them with a lawsuit.  Check the records and you will see that no newspaper, radio or TV station pointed out the truth of Anglo and Irish Nationwide.  Instead, they all insisted on treating these two jokes as genuine retail banks.

Clearly, if Cowen was getting his information from the Financial Regulator Patrick Neary, a first-class idiot, the broadsheet newspapers and the national broadcaster, he had no reason to assume that the two fake banks were anything but genuine.  He can hardly have been getting his information from the half-wits in the department of Finance, and he doesn’t possess any special expertise in economics or banking himself.  In fact, to the best of my knowledge, Cowen possesses no expertise in anything.

This is our Prime Minister, who was in charge of Finance when everything went down the toilet.

Three days before the guarantee, Cowen and Lenihan were being advised by Merrill Lynch, hired for $7 million, not to bail out the subordinate bondholders and not to issue a blanket guarantee that would damage Ireland’s credit rating.  They were being advised that Anglo and Irish Nationwide were nothing more than a couple of scams that could happily be allowed to collapse, but they included both of these Ponzi schemes in the bailout anyway.

Why?  I think it’s because Fitzy and Fingers have so much dirt on people at the top of Fianna Fáil they had to be bailed out in case they’d start to reveal where all the bodies are buried.  But that’s just my personal opinion.  I think Cowen and Lenihan sacrificed Ireland to save Fianna Fáil, and I think that’s why Biffo reacted so badly when Eamonn Gilmore accused him of economic treason.

Gilmore hit a nerve.

Banking Favourites

Financial Regulator Says Anglo and Nationwide in Good Shape

Here’s a note of a meeting held three days before the blanket bank guarantee. During this meeting, the financial regulator tells Cowen and Lenihan there’s no reason to believe Anglo and Irish Nationwide are insolvent.

A finance official speculates that combined losses could be 10.5 billion euros.

It seems they had no idea what they were dealing with.

Public Accounts Committee

Economy NAMA

NAMA Millstone Will Sink Ireland

If the government continue to press ahead with the current NAMA proposal, it will bankrupt the country. When are they going to realise this?

There was no need to rescue the crooked banks. They could have been allowed to fail, and the government could have set up a clean, unencumbered bank. It would have hurt the shareholders, and that’s a pity. I feel sorry for them, but now their shares are wiped out anyway, and they were, after all, gambling with their money.

This NAMA idea is quickly revealing itself as the most dimwitted in a long series of blunders by a government unable to think. NAMA will have to pay the banks more than their toxic assets are worth, and in the process, double or even triple the national debt. NAMA will suck money out of public services like healthcare, education, policing and firefighting so that a few billionaires can sleep easy in their beds, knowing that the Irish government will protect their interests.

Last week, Michael Somers, chief executive of the National Treasury Management Agency warned the Public Accounts Committee that the whole thing is heading for disaster. Remember, this is the man who’s expected to run the agency, and he thinks it’s a crock of shit. He expects legal battles every step of the way. He doesn’t know how the assets will be valued. He doesn’t even know how he’s going to set it up, he said, and neither do his staff, because they’ve never done anything like it before. They don’t have the expertise to do this.

Lenihan is still in denial, and refuses to listen to what his foremost expert is telling him: What Dr Somers was pointing to was that despite the enormous media speculation there is an awful lot of practical work to be done here.

Wrong. What Somers was pointing to is the fact that this plan will fail. No more than a hundred developers are responsible for the insane borrowing that has endangered our very survival as a nation. 100 traitors. And these hundred traitors will have a field day in the courts if NAMA tries to take over the assets for anything approaching their true present-day values. Because our legal system is so obssessed with the protection of property rights, these cynical, wealthy bloodsuckers will fight tooth and claw and will care not the slightest for the fact that their actions are destroying this country.

Why would they when they won’t have to live here? Why would they care about the Ireland they raped, as they relax by their swimming pools in some Portuguese golfing resort, using your money.

Why would the bankers and international investors care that nurses and firemen have suffered wage cuts to bail them out of the trouble they brought on themselves?

Who will suffer in all this? Not the bankers. Not the developers. The ones who will suffer are the ordinary workers.

If and when NAMA goes wrong, it will drag this country under, and we might never get our heads above water again. Don’t underestimate how dangerous the NAMA proposal is. It will finish us as an independent country unless the government gets sense now.

You could wake up any morning to discover that our new government is in Berlin, but on reflection, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. At least the Germans have principles and ethics. At least they know how to organise a country. At least they can do things instead of just talking about them.


Elsewhere, Brian Lucey asks the hard questions about NAMA .

Previously on Bock:
National Asset management Agency Takes on Bad Debts of Banks
The Language of Bullshit
Paying For The Celtic Tiger
Property Speculators and Treason
Irish Government’s Budget Deficit