Friday, December 09, 2005

Investigating the State and the State investigating you

Mary Harney today took the opportunity to comment (last 3 minutes of the interview) on her concerns about a group of citizens being established to conduct investigations into public affairs and being funded from outside the state. This was interesting on the day following the withdrawal of said funds from the investigative body where her colleague the Minister for Justice was instrumental in the potential demise of the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI).
Atlantic Philanthropies has provided significant funding to the non governmental sector in the Republic and Northern Ireland in the last number of years. Without the funding much of the so called fourth level sector in higher education would also have collapsed. Is Harney also now questioning this funding also the support given to human rights groups, restorative justice movements and Traveller organisations to name but a few of the beneficiaries?
There is something very fishy about the way in which the Minister of Justice, Equality and Law Reform revealed information from a Garda investigation to the Irish-American philanthropist and funder of AP, Chuck Feeney. Frank Connolly, executive director of the Centre for Public Inquiry was questioned about using a false passport and accompanying his brother Niall to Columbia to meet FARC guerrillas. No proceedings have been taken yet against Frank Connolly, yet the Minister uses Dáil privilege to make allegations about his conduct. All they are are allegations until proven. Connolly has a long track record in investigation of government and other institutional corruption and would have not been a friend of Fianna Fail or now it seems the Progressive Democrats.
The Irish Independent have been on CPI's back and also Chuck Feeney's (founder of Atlantic philanthropy) since they began funding this body.
Harry Browne writing in Village Magazine recently revealed that
'Providence Resources, controlled by Tony O'Reilly, the owner of Independent News and Media, is the largest Irish company involved in offshore oil and gas activity and controls significant acreages off the west coast and in the Celtic Sea.'
The Centre for Public Inquiry published a report on safety concerns in the Corrib onshore gas system.
Many western nations have private centres and foundations who investigate issues and publish reports and inform the public, politics and the media. Ireland gets one and in the 10 months since its inception the PD's, the Independent group and others have led the campaign to stop its work and get the funders to withdraw their funding. Senator John Minihan began theattack in February by questioning the need for 'a privately funded investigative centre that would parallel the work carried out by state funded institutions and agencies.'
Minihan said that he thought we had enough agencies of investigation that the public could contact if theybelieved matters needed investigating.
Funny that since February we have heard much about Garda corruption, through the Morris Tribunals, and seen where many who usually do the investigating have been setting up members of the public in order to feather their own beds. The ombudsman has on numerous occasions queried the impact of the new legislation controlling access to the Freedom of Information Act, the Planning acts and most recently the problems with access to rights granted under the Disability Act 2005.
Another anti-corruption busting organsiation recently established in Ireland is Transparency International. From it's website we learn:

The Irish chapter of TI was launched last December. Its board includes people from the world of business, civil society and politics, including Garret FitzGerald , Tom Arnold of Concern and economist Colm McCarthy . The NGO will not investigate (My emphasis) corruption but plans to undertake anti-corruption research and lobby government on legal and institutional reform.

Ah so that's alright then!!!!


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