Friday, 26 February 2010

Trevor Sargent and the assault in Balbriggan

It's not often that you'll see expressions of sympathy for politicians on Gombeen Nation, but there actually is a small amount for Trevor Sargent with regard to the Balbriggan affair.

Sargent, despite once calling for Gaeilge to be used as the day-to-day language of the Dail, seems intelligent and sincere enough. He had nothing to gain by approaching the coppers on behalf of a constituent who was charged with  "threatening behaviour" after he had been head-butted by a neighbour with previous convictions.  The man who was assaulted, Dominic McGowan, had no connection with the Greens and was a victim, not a perpetrator.  In short, it was hardly the the Sheedy Affair.

Why was the man charged in the first place?  He saw some brats engaging in vandalism on his housing estate which is burdened by a high degree of anti-social behaviour.  He told them to stop and played the gambit of threatening to tell their parents, to which they reacted with unconcern.  Thinking he was calling their bluff, he led one of the brats to the wellspring of its existence to be met by more apparent unconcern.  Things got verbally heated, and he ended up being headbutted in the face by the aforementioned resident (and upstanding parent of one of the other brats) who seemingly did not share the complainant's regard for the well-being of the Balbriggan estate. 

The rozzers came and charged Head Butt, one Stephen Mulvany, with assault and threatening behaviour, and decided to charge the complainant - who no doubt was understandably agitated and angry - with threatening behaviour.  A cynic who was not witness to events might conclude that the coppers were after convictions, and weren't too fussy where they came from, annoyed as they were at being forced to leave the comforts of the station.

If I were a politician sitting in my clinic, and a local came and related this story to me, I would want to know why the man had been charged too, and ask - as Sargent did - why he was not simply being called to court to attest against the scumbag who assaulted him?  That's all he did. 

The other worrying aspect here is the propensity of the coppers to leak information.  From what I understand, the letter was initially ignored before finding its way into the public domain - yet Sargent was not charged with any offence by the coppers.  It follows the recent Willie O'Dea affair - a man I'd have no sympathy with on any level whatever - who allegedly repeated slanderous information he had been given, off the record, by a Limerick garda. 

Two questions.  1) Why was the victim in the above case charged?  and 2) When are we going to see resignations from the Garda for leaking information and for rumour-mongering?

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Anna said...

TS is a Very decent politician (a rare species here). When he was a councilor he produced a developer’s Chq, causing riots in the council, asking ‘did anyone else get one’, This let to the planning corruption tribunals.
Irelands official institutions and some papers like to repeat the lie,
‘We’re as good as other nations, everything functions well’. NO WE’RE NOT.
I was up North when this broke and could only get the Irish Independent a paper very bad for my blood pressure (why I only read it once every 5 yrs..and my GP says even this is too much exertion …I’m a V healthy 49 yr old…the II leaves me with the blood pressure of a 98 yr old on 90 cigs a day )
The II was full of Rubbishy articles, eg, what an affront to democracy TS’s behavior was, ‘interfering the process of law and order’ etc . Oh, and going on about the ‘holier than thou greens’ and how ‘all politicians are the same’ and comparing his behavior to that of (usually ) FF politicians who have made shocking intrusions in the judicial process: R Molloy tried to get a lenient sentence for a man Already found guilty of rape of a daughter, another West of Ireland FF TD, tried to get a lesser sentence for someone in prison for, I think rape or murder etc…
TS WAS ONLY ASKING why the Garda were NOT doing their job right in the first place…and that to me was the REAL story here.
Obviously on coming here from NI I found it reassuring, even admirable that the Garda had Very high acceptance rate..essential for a mature modern democracy. Then you see the cracks- eg tribunal on Garda behavior in Donegal, other allegations of misuse of Garda powers.
Most disturbing: Emily O’Reilly, Ombudsman says we have 100’s of public bodies, funded with OUR money with unelected board members ( often ex politicians & their friends) getting vast fees, these bodies are NOT open to Freedom of Information requests AND NEITHER ARE THE GARDAI- She says this situation re Garda is unique in Europe . And that’s the real story here. Lack of accountability and transparency in the Garda.

Anna said...

I emailed the Irish Independent - asking WHY they Never do in-depth articles re real issues. EG- lack of accountability in the Garda- instead of bleating on about how Shocking it was a politician in our Wonderfully run country could ‘interfere’ with Garda in the course of their duties etc..… Shocking misinformation, The REAL story is how the Garda could be allowed to misuse their powers. ie in managing to charge a victim- who was in hospital overnight with a broken nose.
Also the Garda NEVER managed to interview key witnesses. The suspicion did arise in my mind- are they SO afraid of a thug in Balbriggan - that they had to also charge his victim to keep him appeased? And then BOTH men appeared to be given almost the same sentence?
If I was a TD I’d certainly want this looked into- NOT to ‘ interfere;’ with the process of justice and operations of Garda- but simply to make them better and more accountable force. When I was a school kid I was V impressed by the campaigning journalism then prevalent in the Sunday Times. You won’t get anything like that in the Irish Independent - there may be some good journalists there- but it produces a stream of drivel & smug misinformation (This after all is a newspaper that less than 3 yrs ago, was still cheering on the so –called building boom- and anyone urging caution was derided as a scare mongering idiot), but it is Shocking to see how many people’s opinions are formed by such fish & chips wrapping paper.
It’s left to REAL Irish newspapers to ask the REAL Questions: Although the Garda can be an Admirable institution, why is there not more accountability and transparency re their actions? Why no Freedom of Information requests? And why aren’t they given enough money and equipment and personnel to do a decent job? Rather than charging the innocent with a ‘crime’ to bump up their ‘solved crimes’ stats? Well meantime, violent crime will soar while the Garda engage in these antics.

Anonymous said...

Anna FYI all Southern National papers (except the Examiner for some reason) are on sale here in NI although you might have trouble finding them in smaller newsagents or perhaps those situated on say the Shankill Road ?

Anna said...

Dear anon, thank you, Newspapers( N Irish, S Irish , English and American ) were always a big hobby for me and my family. Because NI is in a unique position, if I was bored on a Saturday or Sunday when I lived in Belfast, I would buy 5 papers- English, Southern Irish and N Irish, just to get a big over view on everything. Southern Irish newspapers were available in Belfast as long as I remember - from the 80‘s( and well before)- but can be hard to source simply because, as newsagents sell Belfast Telegraph, Irish News and English newspapers in large no’s- so they will simply stock less of each southern Irish title. However as the Irish Independent is the biggest paper down here, they will stock More copies of it, therefore when others have sold out the Indo is usually till available. I also noted 14 years ago when I lived in Belfast that promoters would sometimes give away free copies of the Indo on the streets of Belfast- when I came here Independent newspapers were doing the same heavy promo drive . Well, Tony O’Reilly DID buy the Belfast Telegraph 10 yrs ago, and the main Independent newspaper printing plant is now located in Newry- much lower staff costs, and operating costs etc
Independent News also made redundant nearly All its advertising sales staff 5 yrs ago- these ads are done now by staff on Much lower minimum wages in Armagh. Tony O’Reilly always seems keen to cut his costs - according to F O’T he hasn’t been tax resident in Ireland since the ‘60s. Despite owning a HUGE media empire here.
I don’t tend to look for newspapers of any type on the Shankill road- as I am never near there. Thank you for your tips on where to shop. I’m sure it’s kindly meant, but was not hugely useful. But thank you anyway.

The Gombeen Man said...

That's true Anna. My sister lives in Lovely Leitrim and even there you'll always get the Indo but the IT won't be as easy to get on occasion. Don't know if it the newsagents not ordering enough copies or the ITs circulation dept not having their eye on the ball, but it happens.

Speaking of O'Reilly, the Indo even outsourced its sub editing, but IN&M have quite a lot of resources to draw on - far more than the IT. In general they'd be more agressive marketing-wise, and their circulation figures include quite a lot of copies given away for free, and in promotional deals (airlines were a big one) and the like.

Anna said...

Sorry I did not mean to sound rude to any anon contributor re availability of southern papers in NI...I realise now he meant well...I just don't want anyone to think I'm a ROI hating person from the Shankill rd...i'm not..I'm just a concerned Irish person who hates to see ordinary people continually screwed over and short changed by those in charge.
Decent people abound here- but people have different ideas about public service, as F O'T pointed out: in the same week Bertie was telling a tribunal he won money on the horses,
( did they even bother asking him the names of the winning nags...) 2 part time fire men ( getting a TWENTY FIVE EURO call out fee) died in a building in Bray. Makes you sad and proud that such people still exist. Carry on indignant bloggers, your country needs you

Anna said...

The Sunday Times said a sergeant in Balbriggan was the source of this leak- someone who was bothered that the aggrieved innocent party in the case IS Actually making a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman, In fact this Balbriggan man was told by the Garda there to drop the complaint.
Does it not even occur to Mr Plod, that the Garda ombudsman might take a dimmer view of this behaviour- ie, trying to stop citizen from exercising his rights to appeal to the ombudsman?
So like any normal public servant the Garda decided to remove a decent minister- ( TS who got the planning tribunals started).
And our concerned largest circulation paper the Indo decided not to bother reporting on this outrageous behaviour by a Garda- or even the fact the Garda here- uniquely it seems in Europe - are not covered by Freedom of Information requests. No the Indo decided to set a mob after a decent TD- after all the decent standards of this country had been sullied by Trevor Sergeant .
Where would you get it? N Ireland in 1930? South Africa in 1960? Russia in 1980? And Ireland of course in 2010.
By the way I gathered Indo News seemed to not mind the government…once.. their editorial line was once supportive (or so I have been told… I never read it).But then I was told, Waterford Wedgwood, also owned by Tony O’Reilly was hoping to get a lot of financial support from the government, didn’t get it and crashed.
And now I gather the tone of Indo News towards the government is somewhat less supportive.

Anonymous said...

The Herald News Paper and The Sky Tv nation and the welfare nanny state, allow criminals and celebrities to act and do as they want, while the rest of us Gombeens get shafted.

Something is rotten in the state of Eire.

Anna said...

There’s a foot note to all this, I got the leaflet from Corrib Gas protestors it’s on their website
‘’Vast quantities of gas and oil have been discovered
under Irish waters in the Atlantic Ocean over the
past 15 years. The Government’s figures put the
value of these reserves at €420 billion
(€420,000,000,000), but this is a very conservative
estimate. The real figure is likely to be much
higher, especially as the global price of oil and gas
rises (see explanation below).
So what will the Government be spending these
new-found riches on? The answer is: Nothing. This
wealth will be leaving Ireland, thanks to a deal
made between the corrupt Haughey government
and multinational oil companies. Minister Ray
Burke (later jailed for corruption) changed the law
in 1987, reducing the State’s share in our offshore
oil and gas from 50% to zero and abolishing royalties.
In 1992, Minister Bertie Ahern reduced the tax
rate for the profits made from the sale of these
resources from 50% to 25%.’’
And from the same leaflet‘;
“No country in the world gives
as favourable terms to the oil
companies as Ireland”
Mike Cunningham, former director,
Statoil E&P Ireland
(!!!!- I mean you’d be Proud if it was ‘’no other country has been so favourable to the Red Cross/Order of Malta..other good guys ‘’…but Shell!!!)

Ministers Ray Burke and Bertie Ahern
changed Irish law in 1987 & 1992 so that
multinational oil companies:
•own 100% of the oil and gas they
find under Irish waters;
•pay no royalties on it;
•can write off 100% of their costs
against tax, even costs incurred
in other countries;
•have profits taxed at 25%,
compared to an international
average of 68% for oil-producing countries;
•can export the oil or gas outside Ireland;
•can sell to Bord Gais at full market rates.
“The giveaway deals for
exploration licences were
comparable, in historic terms, with
the Act of Union of 1800, in the way a
dodgy deal can be made to look legitimate"
Trevor Sargent, then Green Party leader, 21/11/06’’

I must say the Garda do not seem to have been hugely non partisan- it is Amazing how many protestors have ended up in Jail, anyway see further post re European election

Anna said...

From Village Magazine, April 2010:
Ombudsman Reviews Europeans Vote Investigation:

Remember outsider arch Euro sceptic Declan Ganley? - A candidate in the EU election in Castlebar, against Independent Fiachra Luain.? Well this article was actually about O’Luian.
At one stage , during the count, Ganley ordered a recount- and this backfired when hefty bundles of O’Luian’s votes totalling 30,000 were found - among Ganleys.
No one was suggesting Ganley was guilty of wrong doing- but how this happened is a mystery.
O’Luian complained to Garda that this was not just an innocent mistake , but may have been electoral fraud. Moving a large bundle could hardly have been an unthinking manoeuvre.
O Luain is quoted as saying, ‘If it was just a case of human error , then I want to identify the human, and ask him about his error’.
At the count , O Luain got a text from a count helper who said there were a lot more O’Luian votes there. But when he passed this on to a Garda , he failed to act on it- the 30,000 extra votes were found only when Ganley unwittingly asked for a re-count. O Luain said the returning officer later refused to make a statement- or furnish a list of those working at the centre. O Luain also complained that the Garda superintendent present was also not interviewed as part of the investigation.
O’Luian’s complaint ended up with the Garda ombudsman - who had it investigated by Garda X.
The Village said ‘Ó ‘Luain’s EU candidacy campaign had championed the rights of Rossport residents in their battle against Shell- and O Luain was on record as having complained about Garda X’s treatment of protestors.”
O Luain protested about this choice of investigator, I gather from the rest of the article the investigation was flimsy as O Luain is still in communication with the Ombudsman.
More from the Village,
‘The 28 yr old said the US State department offered him the opportunity to discuss these issues. O Luain has decided it is better to allow An Garda Siochana the opportunity to do their job properly before bringing this issue to the attention of foreign governments … is the most blatant electoral mistake in the history of our state. The issue deserves a transparent investigation.”

What kind of country do we live in ? What kind of police force do we have?
And WHY are we giving 420,000,000,000 of desperately needed potential revenue to Shell?
See website

Anonymous said...

The bundle of O'Luian's missalocated votes was 3000 not 30,000 (check the reports including Irish Times etc). They were discovered because Ganley called for a re-check, not a re-count (a re-count is much more time consuming). It was reported that Ganley's people had told the count officials that from their observations they believed some bundles had been missalocated into the wrong storage bins, they said they observed one or more bundles being placed in what they thought was the wrong storage bin, and they couldn't easily identify one candidates storage bin from another as they didnt have names on them. When asked what the error might add up to, they said that it would probably be between one thousand and ten thousand votes in any direction because the votes were in tied bundles of one thousand and there were about ten of these bundles in each storage bin. The storage bins for Ganley's and O'Luian's vote bundles were in the same area of the count room, which might explain the error. On the re-check, it was found that the error observed and reported was made, it seems three bundles (3000 votes total) had been placed in the wrong pile. At least 5 observers from the Ganley crew thought they observed more messing and were convinced that Ganley had votes dissapeared. They were particularly disturbed that on arrival to tha Castlebar count centre, the votes were mixed up in a way that made tracability to the original polling station impossible. Tracability was lost and the tallies that supposedly had shown Ganley ahead from the previous day, could not be compared with the ballots in the count centre (or perhaps not in the count centre). The experienced tallymen on Ganley's crew were telling him to make a much bigger protest about what they thought was going on but Ganley only agreed to the re-check and wouldn't take it further. Someone close to one of his senior campaign team said that he felt that if there had been messing, that it would not be provable and he was not willing to start that fight. The person in charge of the count in Castlebar was a well know individual from Sligo with traditional party leanings and suffice to say, would not have been likely to put a tick beside O'Luian or Ganley on his ballot paper/s. By FISHERMAN.