Thursday 27 October 2016

It's a bit late telling us now, Mr McGuinness

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:30

John McGuinness, former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Photo: Tom Burke
John McGuinness, former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Photo: Tom Burke

Why now? More pertinently, why not before? Why is John McGuinness, former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), coming out now and telling the nation that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan tried to undermine the credibility of garda whistleblower St Maurice McCabe?

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It was wrong of the Commissioner and it was symptomatic of garda management's attitude to whistleblowers. No question about that.

However, why did Mr McGuinness not reveal it when the Dáil committee was probing the issues raised by Sgt McCabe? Why not inform the other elected members of the PAC?

Mr McGuinness was approached by the then Commissioner in his capacity as chairman of the Dáil's most powerful committee, which is supposed to hold public servants to account on behalf of the electorate. He had a duty to inform his fellow members of the meeting.

Why not disclose it to the O'Higgins Inquiry into whistleblower allegations? Surely this would have been a relevant offering to contextualise its deliberations.

Mr McGuinness says he has gone public now because questions are being asked about Sgt McCabe's credibility.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty says Mr McGuinness's decision not to come forward previously was an "error in judgment on his part".

Mr McGuinness now wants the former Commissioner to clarify what his intentions were during the secret meeting they had two years ago. A bit late now, when Callinan is no longer in the role and no longer accountable.

Mr McGuinness let down the whistleblowers, the Dáil and the public by keeping his secret to himself for so long.

The West is wide awake to Connacht's success

Connacht spoke with "a voice like thunder" on Saturday, turning on a sparkling display of running, passing rugby to surprise Leinster in an All-Ireland Pro 12 win in Edinburgh. So long the poor relation of rugby, the West is now wide awake.

It is hard to reflect that even as recently as 2003, the rugby decision-makers wanted to 'scrap' the province in a plan that was nothing short of an insult to all Irish sporting people. Connacht, with its smaller population and fanatical commitment to Gaelic games, had long been the weakest of the four rugby provinces.

But even at its weakest, it always contributed much to the game. Some of the grittier and most accomplished players ever to wear the green of Ireland came from the western province. They proved the maxim that those deemed to be on the periphery of a movement cling all the more ardently to their beliefs.

What happened in Edinburgh on Saturday was special. This Connacht XV would not have been too heavily criticised if they had not won. A valiant loss after a good display would have been heralded as a moral victory.

Even if they had choked on the big occasion and shipped a heavy defeat, a good deal of forbearance would have been extended to them. Happily, as a fairytale worthy of Hollywood movie-makers unfolded, no such patronising responses were required by the proud people of Connacht rugby.

Connacht emerged worthy winners in an exciting epic. All of Ireland's four provinces now join in the applause.

Irish Independent

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