Wigmore 14 November 1985 - Heroin, Nicky Kelly, Stephen Collins, TD salaries, Mark Killilea
WE ARE most disturbed at the consequences (or lack of them) of the 'finding of a heroin cache at the offices of a magazine called "Phoenix". This magazine, produced by a number of ex-students and styling itself "For Men Who Dare", was set up some time ago by a Mr John Mulcahy, a former journalist, as a work experience proogramme for his otherwise unemployable son, Nicholas.
After gardai searched the place and found two quantities of heroin taped to the underside of a desk, where it would be readily available should editorial inspiration flag, the students predictably denied any knowledge of the drug and cried, "Frame up!"
And it might well be a frame up.
But our understanding of due process of law is that this is a matter for the courts to decide. Or has a precedent been set? Does this mean that anyone, even non-students, found in possession of heroin can now claim simply that it was "plan ted" on them, and the gardai will say, "Fair enough"?
THERE ARE scurrilous rumours circuulating in Leinster House to the effect that Sean Doherty is drawing up plans to abolish car seat belts as soon as he returns to his rightful place as Minister for Justice. Something to do with Dessie O'Malley's miraculous escape from serious injury at Monasterevin.
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WHEN NICKY KELLY was on hunger strike in Portlaoise prison Michael Noonan suggested that Kelly bring a civil suit on foot of the allegations he made that a confession was beaten out of him in the Sallins case. Kelly brought the civil suit.
This was a welcome move in that it would bring the case, finally, before a jury. The government played all kinds of tricks to delay and divert the civil suit. Their final card was a strong one: they argued on the basis of a case taken in England by two men called McIlkenny and Hunter, who claimed that they had had confessions beaten out of them. The House of Lords, to whom the case eventually went, ruled (it was Lord Denning) that the case had already been decided by a court, therefore the civil suit could not go ahead.
Our own government have been relying on this precedent to stop the Kelly case. A bit embarrassing, though. Because McIlkenny and Hunter are two of the Birmingham Six. On the one hand Peter Barry and various other notables, including clerics, are now demanding that something be done about the scandal of the Birmingham Six. On the other hand, our Boy Attorney General is arguing in our courts that the Kelly case should be stifled, just as Lord Denning stifled the Birmingham case.
Do we hear the law going hee-haw, hee-haw , or is it just the government again?
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AND HAVE you noticed the wonderrful piece of revisionism that has taken place? For a decade now we've been hearing of "the Birmingham Born bers". All of a sudden they've become "the Birmingham Six". It used to be that the only people who used the latter description were the kind of people Sean Donlon doesn't like.
"AN ANGRY local councillor, Dennis O'Reilly, who is a founder member of the Grotto Committee, said: 'If we caught them they wouldn't walk again. We should take the law into our own hands'." - Irish Press, November 1, on the Ballinspittle massacre. Should the councillor make good on his threat of violence this would be the first known example of people coming away from a shrine on crutches. Also, why were the alleged perpetrators of the massacre not charged under the Offences Against The Person Act?
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WE ARE considering inaugurating an award for Man of the Month (as oppposed to our beloved Person of the Month). The sole nominee for this award is Stephen Collins of the Irish Press (motto: "Truth In The News"). This follows Stephen's epic descripption of the recent Sinn Fein AId Fheis, in which he described an IRA man, complete with battle dress and mask, addressing a closed session. The Indeependent also had a piece on the IRA man, in paramilitary uniform, but not as comprehensive as the Press's inside story.
We would be very impressed with this scoop were it not for the fact that nobody in battle dress addressed the Ard Fheis. Nobody wore a mask. The IRA army council statement was read out by a person who was wearing quite ordinary and neat civilian dress. And the person was a woman.
Mind you, Stephen's scoop was about on a par with the rest of the
desultory and inaccurate coverage by the dailies, who are never short of grandiose editorials on the Northern conflict but who are somewhat shy of accurately reporting one of the most volatile elements in the conflict, the republicans.
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WE NOTE that Mulbuy Investments Ltd are avid readers of Wigmore. Mulbuy represents the landlords of 16 Merrion Row, just two doors down from our offices. A while back we drew the nation's attention to the fact that an establishment styling itself a "health club" had opened at 16 Merrion Row, severely lowering the tone of a thoroughfare noted for its industry and commerce and social life. Last month we told of how we were slaving away in an office on the top floor of 14 Merrion Row when a rather distressed individual poked his head in the door and asked if this is where he could get a massage.
Imagine our surprise when we read in the public prints that Mulbuy had hastily sought to remove the "health club" from its premises and succeeded in so doing by order of the Circuit Court, in the first case of its kind.
It was revealed in court that the sole piece of apparatus on view at the "health club" was an exercise bicycle. The club, according to an affidavit, offered other services too Sunday Worldish to mention. On yer bike, indeed.
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WE MUST apologise to our TDs. and Ministers for an unfortunate error in our last issue but one, in the story on TDs' pay and pensions. Several readers, mindful of the need to preserve the fabric of truth and justice, have drawn our attention to our error.
We calculated the value of the tax free element in a TD's salary as bringging the real value of the TD's stipend up to £21,886. This was a gross error and one we can only account for by pleading a leaky battery in our calcuulator.
Our readers, none of whose calcuulators are at all leaky, point out that the value in real terms of a TD's £17,252 salary is £28,077, given the sneaky deal our tribunes of democracy have worked out with the revenue commissioners.
We apologise most profusely for misleading our readers and for grossly underestimating the collective cunning of our political leaders when it comes to ripping off the taxpayer.
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THE NOVEMBER Person of the Month remains Mark Killilea, for his thoughttful stance on the theology of female sterilisation. However, time doesn't stand still and the nominations for the December award are piling in.
We must here issue a stern warning to those who have been organising block postings in support of their favourites. Our P of the M Dept are eagle-eyed when it comes to spotting such tricks and they have a particularly large waste basket. A special word of warning to fans of Eoin Hand, who have been working overtime to keep those cards and letters coming in. We have already decided to rule Mr Hand out of the running. The reason for his ineligibility is that it would be unfair that one person should get too much adulation and Mr Hand is already the recipient of a benefit match, that between Ireland and Denmark.
Front runner so far is Michael Noonan, our bald but cherubic Minisster for Justice. Mick is nominated for his frankness in confessing that allthough he has read the Kerry Babies report and noted that it accuses a citizen of this republic of assault with intent to kill, premeditated murder (two citizens) and manslaughter, he sees no need to analyse the report to ascertain how it arrived at those connclusions.
Many another politician would blandly ignore criticisms of the report and by implication convey the impresssion that he had read and analysed the thing and found its charges substanntiated. Mick, however, is upfrontabout his attitude to his job. The Kerry Babies Report can now take its place in that library of unread classics, along with the Stardust Report, the Barra o BriainReport, the five Commission on Taxation Reports and every other bloody report bar the one that recommmendeda pay rise for politicians.
Mick is front runner. However, Alice Glenn is moving up on the outtside. Alice is nominated chiefly for her frankness about using Dail postage to kick off her election campaign, sending around a "newsletter" with her views. And why not? Free postage for TDs is something that the men and women of 1 916 held - uppermost in their minds when they lit the torch that etc etc. The TDs have ruled that they should have the free run of the postage system in order to give themmselves an edge over every non-TD who has the temerity to challenge them in an election. This tactic is in the great tradition of Irish politics.
Six or- seven TDs are, as usual, in the running, but we urge nominators . to ease up on the obscenities scrawled - down the sides of the nomination papers as some of our P of the M staff are quite young.
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THE DENIZENS of Leinster House, always with an eye on the main chance, have been discussing the relative beneefits of the various RTE TV and radio programmes which might have them as guests. Today Tonight is allegedly "huge", with a guaranteed audience. It is a programme for which politiicians would leave their sick beds for a two-minute interview.
Morning Ireland is reckoned to be next in line. But the pols are quite sceptical about This Week, claiming that the audience has fallen drastiically.
The availability of a big audience for Morning Ireland has made the pols reluctant to lower themselves to be in terviewed on Day By Day.
It's not that the lads and lassies have anything they particularly need to say, it's just that an audience is an audience and when your name gets known you pick up votes.
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IT WILL be a pity if Morning Ireland undercuts Day By Day to the point where the latter is dropped. Despite John Bowman's obsession with school uniforms and tidy towns (something
Jungian there, if you ask me) the proogramme has a solidity when dealing with political matters which Morning Ireland lacks. When there's an imporrtant issue to be tackled Bowman asks the right questions and is not afraid to demand an answer. Morning Ireland, on the other hand, tends to be happy merely with being the first to get a bite at a story and is often quite un ctio us when dealing with politiicians. Last month's interview with John Bruton, by David Hanly, was a case in point. Hanly's final question was answered by Bruton in one smarmy sentence: "I couldn't have put it better myself." There was a time when a journalist who found himself to be so helpful to a politician would know it was time to take a tope into the woods.
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HERE'S A QUOTE. It's from Sean Duignan, RTE's lovable political corresspondent. Duignan, with the familiar TV problem of trying to compress the essence of great events into a few seconds airtime, was trying to convey something of the controversy surrounnding Garret FitzGerald's speech about postponing (or not quite postponing) nationalist aspirations.
"So, what precisely did the Taoiseacn say? And why did he say it at this time? And, if he said it, what did he mean?"
We think that this is a masterly summing up of the current state of poli tical leadership .