Sunday 25 September 2016

The Yates anthology: Song remains the same at Justice Department

Published 21/05/2016 | 02:30

'Jurgen Klopp’s flops were exposed – trophyless, and now eighth in the Premier League. Hype’s no substitute for quality.' Photo: REUTERS
'Jurgen Klopp’s flops were exposed – trophyless, and now eighth in the Premier League. Hype’s no substitute for quality.' Photo: REUTERS

It was a disastrous week if you were one of those expecting that radical change would occur in the wake of the events of 2014, when we saw a Justice Minister, a Garda Commissioner, and secretary general all depart prematurely.

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Tinkering about within existing structures just doesn't work. Opting for a replacement from within the force for Martin Callinan, in the person of Nóirín O'Sullivan, and the failure to recruit a successor for Brian Purcell as department chief has meant that the prevailing culture remains the same.

It may sound like heresy, but nonetheless it needs to be said that retired judges who head up commissions of inquiry are not completley infallible.

In the white heat of battle, Croke Park umpires need Hawkeye and rugby referees rely on the oversight of a TMO. I don't accept that Judge Fennelly's conclusion that Taoiseach Enda Kenny didn't "intend" to seek the 'retirement' of Mr Callinan accords with the evidence.

The omission in the O'Higgins report of what looks like a blatant U-turn of the legal team representing senior Garda management, and the events surrounding Maurice McCabe's critical interview in Mullingar, was, in my view, simply wrong. Exonerating everyone is difficult to understand.

Ms O'Sullivan's refusal to explain her contradictory private and public stances concerning the credibility or motivation of whistleblower Sgt McCabe is clearly untenable.

Using the 2004 Act as a shield is not good enough. The old charge of dissent equalling disloyalty made against the ethos that exists within An Garda Síochána still seems to stand.

The fact that no disciplinary action was recommended by O'Higgins seems difficult to square with Sgt McCabe's vindication. This, after all, was only facilitated by his secret recording of conversations.

Meanwhile at the Justice Department, business goes on as usual; it is run by 'acting' head Noel Waters.

In the selection of the Garda Commissioner, applicants from UK's Merseyside and the Metropolitan police, as well as a Finnish candidate, were all rejected.

The focus now turns to the Policing Authority, under the chairperson Josephine Feehily.

An interesting task for RTÉ's news/current affairs chief might be to compare and contrast Thursday night's television coverage of the issue. Particularly, crime correspondent Paul Reynolds's coverage of the transcript leaks and the treatment of the matter by Katie Hannon on 'Prime Time'.

Depoliticising senior policing and guaranteeing transparent accountability where errors occur requires radical reform.

This begins with external appointees, unafraid of transformational change.

Were it up to me, I would put Robert Watt, who has experience as the secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, in as boss at Justice.

I would also head hunt a top US or British policing expert for the position at Garda HQ.

From grand old man of finance to jobsworth

Finance minister Michael Noonan's power appears to have evaporated. Over the past five years, we have had pronouncements on fiscal parameters, banking policy and facets of economy which were indisputable.

The Economic Management Council ruled supreme. But this week's Dáil debate on Fianna Fáil's Central Bank Bill reduced the grand old man of finance to a jobsworth.

Mr Noonan couldn't have been more trenchant last March. Proposals to curb profiteering with exorbitant standard variable rates were dismissed as unconstitutional. They were unworkable and inimical to the new entrants needed to stimulate competition. This week saw him having to bow to legislation he found repugnant.

Markets and analysts realise this emperor has been rendered impotent. Views that were once indispensable can now be disregarded at the whim of the Dáil. Even slow learners of the new realities will get a chance to see this autumn that there will be no secret tax changes. The new budget committee will publicly write the entire terms of Budget 2017. Lines in the sand from Cabinet will be washed away as opposition parties combine to reject and amend at will.

Environment Minister Simon Coveney was forced into a similar somersault on the green bin charges as People Before Profit ratcheted up its latest protest campaign.

And Paschal Donohoe's prospects of holding the line on public sector pay also look bleak.

Ministers are losing authority. Having acquiesced on previous stances surrounding domestic household water charges, Fine Gael is starting to look like a party devoid of durable principles.

'Confidence and supply' increasingly resembles 'Do as we say'. The party is caught in a trap. And Fine Gael's preferred option of bowing out down the road and seeking a fresh mandate through an election is not viable.

Klopp's flops found out

Liverpool FC are the best-supported club in Ireland. Unfortunately, there seems to be no limit to the delusional tendencies of some fans. At no point were they prepared to countenance the prospect of defeat over 90 minutes in a Europa League final. Despite Sevilla being only mid-table in La Liga, the Reds were well and truly run over in the second half. Jurgen Klopp's flops were exposed - trophyless, and now eighth in the Premier League. Hype's no substitute for quality. Apart from Nathaniel Clyne, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, transfers are overdue. At 30, James Milner doesn't represent the future.

Man United face a tricky FA Cup final against Crystal Palace. Alan Pardew can mastermind an unlikely upset this evening at Wembley. Ignore the Eagles' poor league form; they had nothing to play for. The likeable Louis van Gaal's fate doesn't seem to hang in the balance; bookies price Jose Mourinho at 1/5 to be Man United's next manager.

Kildare is the place to be this weekend - with the Irish Open at the K Club and the Guineas race meeting at the Curragh. My pre-tee off wager was Joost Luiten at 40/1 each way. Punters on a retrieval mission with Air Force Blue in the 2,000 Guineas won't include me, as I'm still black and blue from an inexplicably abysmal display at Newmarket. Galileo Gold won on merit there, has improved and can win at 7/4. An each-way tickle on Jim Bolger's Turret Rocks at 10/1 might repay dividends in the 1,000 Guineas.

Irish Independent

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