Wednesday 21 March 2018

No mention of Macarthur, but Dunlop piped up on phone tapping

Fergus Black and Ralph Riegel

IT was the year that gave the Irish vocabulary the phrase 'GUBU' and when a notorious killer stayed as a guest in an apartment owned by the Attorney General.

But there was remarkably no mention of murderer Malcolm Macarthur, the resignation of Attorney General Patrick Connolly or even the phrase 'GUBU' in the 1982 state archives.

Papers concerning Macarthur's sensational arrest at a home owned by the then Attorney General are still considered live.

The Taoiseach's office revealed that it does not have any files in relation to Bridie Gargan, the nurse killed by Macarthur (67) as she sunbathed in Phoenix Park; or Donal Dunne, a farmer from Edenderry, Co Offaly, who was selling a shotgun, which Macarthur used to kill him.

However, the files do reveal how Frank Dunlop, the former government press secretary and disgraced lobbyist, asked for and was given a phone "scrambler" for security reasons.

He then applied for recoupment of the cost of "official" phone calls – saying he did not think the bill would "overtax" the Department of Finance.

The 'GUBU' acronym was coined by Conor Cruise O'Brien in August 1982 after Taoiseach Charles Haughey referred to the astonishing events as "a bizarre happening, an unprecedented situation, a grotesque situation, an almost unbelievable mischance".

Mr Connolly resigned as Attorney General on August 16, 1982, after it had emerged that Macarthur had been staying at a Pilot View, Dalkey, apartment owned by Mr Connolly. In January 1983, Macarthur was convicted of Ms Gargan's murder and spent 30 years in prison before being released from Shelton Abbey on September 17 last.

The Department of Justice confirmed that files in relation to the Macarthur case were under its control.

"Under the National Archives Act, Regulations, 1988, the age of a record for the purpose of considering release under the 30-year limit is determined by the latest substantive entry on it," the department said.

"Accordingly, in the case of many files created in 1982, the 30-year limit will not commence until some time later."


But the files do refer to allegations of phone tapping in Leinster House.

A Dail committee met in the summer of 1982 to investigate allegations that Mr Haughey had had a telephone system installed in Leinster House, which would enable its operator to listen in to calls made on phones there and in government buildings.

Those claims had been made by former Justice Minister Jim Mitchell but were dismissed by the Taoiseach as ludicrous.

Mr Dunlop, meanwhile, was anxious to get a scrambler fitted to his home phone.

As far back as 1977, a special "security scrambler" was installed in Mr Dunlop's home "in view of the security aspects of his job", one file reveals.

Mr Dunlop also sought full recoupment of all the cost of official calls on the phone.

Mr Dunlop wrote to the Department of the Taoiseach complaining that being provided with the cost of 80 official calls per quarter was "unreal".

"In one evening alone I can make 10 official calls. 80 calls per quarter is therefore ludicrous. Could we negotiate for 200 per quarter?" he suggested. "I don't think this would overtax the Department of Finance".

Irish Independent

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