The Connolly Affair

The results of an investigation by Magill into the background to the Connolly affair reveal that:

* The Gardai failed to inform the Taoiseach and acting Minister for Justice, Charles Haughey, that the Attorney General's flat was under surveillance for several days and that an associate of the Attorney General was under susspicion for having committed two murders.

* The Gardai and the Department of Justice failed to inform the Taoiseach on the evening of the arrest of Mallcolm MacArthur that the arrest had taken place in the flat of the Attorney General and that a gun had been found in the flat.

* That, contrary to rumour, the Attorney General had no prior knowledge of Garda suspicion of his associate Malcolm MacArthur and that he gave every assistance to the Gardai during the course of the arrest of MacArthur.

The implications of the failure of the Gardai to inform the Taoiseach and acting Minister for Justice both prior to and immediately after the arrest of MacArthur are very serious but there is no indication as yet that the Taoiseach has instituted enquiries within the Gardai and the Departtment of Justice.

There are conflicting reports as to when the Gardai started to stake out the Pilot View flats complex at Bulllock Harbour in Dalkey - some reports say that it began two days before the arrest on Friday, August 13, others state that it started six days previously. Either way it was. possible for the Gardai to have kept the Taoiseach fully informed of what was happening and yet they failed to do so. This was so in spite of the fact that Mr. Haughey was in Dublin and at his office at Leinster House all day on Thursday, August 12.

The failure of the Gardai to keep the acting Minister for Justice fully informed is inexplicable, in view of the established practice whereby the Minister for Justice is often contacted several times daily with matters that, by comparison, seem routine. The former Minister for Jusstice, Jim Mitchell, has informed us that senior Garda offiicers used to ring him at home. often on several occasions throughout the night, with news of break-throughs in major cases, arms finds, arrests etc., as well, of course, as on mattters of crucial security and political significance.

The contact from the Gardai is usually through one of the Assistant Commissioners and on matters of security through Assistant Commissioner Joe Ainsworth. Given the obvious security dimension involved in the arrest of Malcolm MacArthur in the flat of the Attorney General, Joe Ainsworth might have been expected to have been the person to contact Haughey. The failure to do so is all the more curious, given the fact that Ainsworth and Haughey have been close associates for many years. Haughey was accompanied to the United States last March by Ainsworth as well as other security personnel.

We gather that there was contact with Haughey on the Thursday from the Gardai but on matters entirely unrelated to the surveillance of the Attorney General's flat. There was no contact of any kind between Haughey and the Gardai on the Friday, either before or after the arrest.

We have established from a number of sources - some close to Mr. Haughey, others within the civil service, and one within the Gardai - the fact that there was no contact between Haughey and the Gardai on the matter until Saturrday August 14.

Haughey himself was not disposed initially to attach much significance to the Garda failure to keep him directly informed of what was happening, partly because of his personal political style which seeks to distance himself from day to day issues, and partly because he assumed that the same procedures operated between the Gardai and the Minister for Justice as prevailed when he was Justice Miniister in the early 'sixties. However, since the Northern connflict erupted in the late 'sixties, Ministers for Justice have been kept in daily and sometimes hourly touch with all significant developments within the Gardai. To facilitate this the state cars of Ministers for Justice are equipped with special radio equipment to ensure that while the Minister is in the country he is in fairly constant touch with the nerve centre of the security nexus.

The sole contact Haughey had with the affair on Friday, August 13, was through the Attorney General himself. Patrick Connolly placed a call through to the Taoiseach at his island, Inishvickillane. It appears that Mr. Haughey had to return the call because of a faulty initial connection. There were two detectives in the Attorney General's flat when the conversation took place.

It appears that Mr. Connolly was somewhat distraught at the time of speaking to Mr. Haughey on the Friday evening and that he conveyed to the Taoiseach only the information that a close friend of his was being -charged with two murders. He did not apparently tell the Taoiseach that MacArthur had been arrested in his flat and that a gun had been found there.

Connolly mentioned that he had arranged a holiday, commencing on the following day and he enquired of the Taoiseach if he should proceed with it. The Taoiseach unnreservedly advised him to continue with his arrangements and ended the conversation by wishing the Attorney Generral a good trip.

It WaS only on the following morning that Haughey beegan to realise that the issue was much larger than he had been led to believe. He was telephoned early on Saturday morning by his private secretary, Sean Aylward, who had been prompted to enquire about reports in the Evening Herald that MacArthur had been arrested in the Attorney General's flat.

When Haughey spoke to Connolly on the telephone to London on Saturday, Haughey was given the impression that Connolly was about to board a plane within a matter of minutes for New York - in fact Connolly was not to do so until the following morning. It appears that Connolly Was perturbed by the request that he return home forthhwith, for he had been given specific clearance to travel abroad by the Taoiseach himself the previous evening and, as far as he was concerned, nothing had changed in the meantime.

While we were not given any specific reason to believe this, it seems that Mr. Connolly more than "demurred" at the 'suggestion that he return, as Mr. Haughey stated at his press conference on Tuesday, August 17. Haughey may have been faced with the prospect of defiance by his Attorney General and his natural instinct would have been to see if the matter could be resolved other than through open confrontation which would have involved the dissmissal of the Attorney General in circumstances which could have given rise to speculation only that he was someehow involved in the matters with which his house guest had been charged. For this reason it seems that Mr. Haugghey allowed the Attorney General to proceed to New York, hoping that by the time he got there he would be more amenable to returning home without an open breach with the Taoiseach.

Connolly's own involvement in the affair was by the purest mischance, as Haughey stated at his press connference. 'Connolly had got to know Brenda Little, MacArthur's girlfriend some 12 years ago and it seems that there was an attachment there for a while, which surrvived even after she went to live with MacArthur, whom she met about eight years ago.

Brenda and MacArthur were frequent guests at Connnolly's home and after he moved out of a' flat in Donnybrook to take up residence in Pilot View they remained on in the flat for some time. Malcolm MacArthur and .Brenda Little, along with their child, now aged 7, stayed in Pilot View for some weeks last summer while Connolly was on his summer vacation. Brenda Little was instrumental in furrnishing Connolly's flat in Pilot View when he moved in there.

On the day that MacArthur arrived at Pilot View, around August 4, Connnolly was particularly delighted to see him for Brenda had been in tou~h exxpressing concern about MacArthur's well being. It was quite natural for Connolly to offer the use of his flat to MacArthur. Indeed they shared the use of the state car as well and Connolly brought MacArthur to the All-Ireland hurling semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday, August 8 between Kilkenny and Galway. They sat in the VIP box there and one source states that they both shook hands with the Garda Commissioner who was also at the match.

Connolly was not in the flat on Friiday August 13 when the arrest took place. He was being driven home in the state car at around 7.00pm and as it drew up outside Pilot View the Garda driver noticed Garda activity in the vicinity and warned the Attorney General to be careful. A senior Garda officer on the scene quickly informed Connolly that they were looking for MacArthur and Connolly facilitated their entrance to the flat.

The Attorney General was interrviewed by detectives at length in his flat on Friday night and they told him he was free to go on his holidays. He was further interviewed by detecctives, again at his flat, on Wednesday, August 18.

One of the surprising aspects to the case was the giving of 6 Pilot View, Mr. Connolly's address, ·as that of Malcolm MacArthur, when the latter was charged with the two murders in Dun Laoghaire district court on Saturday August 14. It was also curious that Mr. MacArthur was held initially under the Offences Against The State Act, when there was no suggestion of any politiicalor subversive dimension to the affair.

Another curious aspect to the affair is the omission of any mention of his conversation with the Taoiseach in the statement issued by Mr. Connnolly on his resignation at midnight on Monday, August 16.