Wigmore - Nov 1983: the SFWP, Dail Bills, Garret and Niall Andrews

  • 31 October 1983
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CONGRATULATIONS to Mick Mills on his appointment as our Twenty Seven Thousand Pound Ombudsman. At that salary one assumes that his job is intended to be merely titular and to involve little or no work. (It is our experience that the actual work involved in any job is in inverse proportion to salary - it's the poor buggers on £80-l00pw who really sweat.)

However, Mills has always displayed an attractive mixture of commonsense and compassion and we trust he will put these qualities to work in his new position. Good luck - you'll need it.

Now, let us think ahead. We see a devious plan afoot. Mills will serve a six-year stint as ombudsman. Let us assume he then takes a few months off - perhaps to write the definitive study of the deficiences of the state bureaucracy. What happy event will then be pending? Right - a Presidential selection. And who better ...

He has already proved acceptable to both Charlie and Garret. He is also a dab hand at golf. These, as we all know, are the only qualifications required for selection.

Don't do it, Michael - stay out here in the real world .

STRANGE murmurs from Moscow.

Seems some people from Repsol, the Workers' Party publishing company, recently went to Russia for some species of book fair. Instead of submitting to the censor all the material they were putting on display the comrades innocently laid out some copies of Workers' Life, the WP magazine. One of these contained a satirical piece on the type of "KGBBplan-to-assassinate-the-Pope" stories trotted out by the likes of Gordon Thomas. WP humour being somewhat heavy-handed, the Russkies took it for the real thing and the comrades narrowly escaped a visit to the local mental hospital for some "rehabbilitative" treatment. Comrade Andropov is these days said to be wandering the corridors of the Kremlin muttering imprecations about the "bourgeois capitalist scandal mongering" of the Workers' Party. This is most unfair.

FOR TOO long our politicians have been mollycoddling criminals. Robbbery, deceit, fraud - you name it and you'll find some shower gettingaway with it. Take, for instance, the Dail restaurant scandal.

A bunch of thieves have run up bills of £150,000 and scarpered. This is public money. Stolen. By politicians.

What is the response of the authoriities? Do they haul these thieves into court? Like hell. In order to make the books look somewhat more respecttable they cut seven jobs from the restaurant staff. Seven more jobs gone at a time of massive unemployment.

Having enjoyed their subsidised meals, the politicians then head back down to the Chamber to vote a five year sentence for kids who knock off cars.

The morality, or lack of it, underrlying all this is simply staggering.

GARRET FitzGerald was addressing the Fine Gael Ard Fheis and the nation when several members of the Release Nicky Kelly Committee raised a banner in the centre of the hall. They were rapidly bundled out by stewards.

Outside the RDS several Fine Gael supporters were spoiling for a fight. One was drunk or maybe he was born that way. "Ya hoor, ya hoor", he screamed at a young woman in a blue suit. "Ya prostitute!"

The stewards tried to calm things.

The whore-monger gathered up his courage. The woman with the blue suit had her back to him. He ran forrward, drew back his leg and gave her a savage kick.

There were three gardai present, one of them talking to the young woman. The Fine Gael supporter was not arrested, nor questioned.

Outside the gate the protesters were stopped by plainclothes gardai. Sergeant Patrick O'Connor announced that he was arresting one of the women under Section 30 of the Offences Against The State Act, 1939. On what grounds, she asked. "I decide what grounds", he told her. She said that under the law he had to have a reasonable suspicion ...

Sergeant O'Connor said he had a suspicion she was a member of an unnlawful organisation. What organisation? "The INLA."

Sergeant O'Connor agreed he didn't know the woman. He refused to give any basis for his suspicion. He said he didn't have to.

A reporter refused to give his name and address on the grounds that the gardai had no right to know. He was asked, "do you want to be arrested too?" A garda attempted to put his hand over the lens of a photographer's camera.

A second woman began complainning about the arrest of her friend. A minute or maybe two minutes after the first arrest Sergeant O'Connor decided he had a suspicion that she too was a member of the INLA. An unmarked car arrived. The two women were taken to the Bridewell. An hour later, Sergeant O'Connor's suspicions having presumably been dispelled, the two were released.

Back inside the RDS Garret FitzzGerald was telling the delegates how he was fighting crime, giving the gardai extra powers. Under the new Criminal Justice Bill the powers of the gardai to arrest people on "reasonable susspicion" are increased.


IT IS somewhat depressing to see such stalwart public figures as Conor Cruise O'Brien and Shane "Independent Senator" Ross supporting the tactic of kidnapping for political purposes. Some of us oppose such kidnap pings whether they are carried out by masked gunmen in Wicklow or uniformed gunmen in Belfast. O'Brien and Ross have explicitly supported and encouraged the so-called "superrgrass" system which led to the Robert Lean scandal.

In any true democracy such a scandal would bring about the immediate dismissal and arrest of those involved - from the ordinary coppers up to the Minister in charge. It would also bring blushes and apologies from such as O'Brien and Ross.

Kidnapping rich people in Wicklow will not help bring about a just society in the North. Neither will the perrversion of an already corrupt legal system.

NIALL Andrews has now called for a review of the Nicky Kelly case. He joins Tony Gregory and Michael D. Higgins in questioning the basis on which this man was jailed. A wide range of people outside the Oireachtas have called for Kelly's release. The sun comes up, the sun goes down, weeks pass, months, Kelly remains in his cell. The stench of corruption is disgusting, the silence from the government damning.

GARRET threw out some Russians because they were messing about. So he says. We don't know anything different for sure, so we take his word. The Hayde business, when British Intelligence attempted to bribe two Irish citizens to give false information against other Irish citizens, is surely a clear-cut example of messing about. Why didn't Garret give a few British spies the red card? Commplain to the embassy? Send Maggie a postcard? Why didn't Charlie demand his teapot back?

Of course, it may be that British Intelligence really intended bribing people in the six counties and got things mixed up. Map-reading error.

AND wasn't RTE lucky that the Haydes are members of the IRSP? They were able to interview them and report properly on the story. If they'd been members of Sinn Fein RTE, under Section 31, wouldn't have been able to interview them.

WORDS to the wise: Hot Press, John Waters, interviews with eminent perrsonages such as Eamonn McCann, John Feeney, Noelle Notso Sharpe. Even if you're not into pop, the snap and crackle from Waters is worth the price of admission. Essential reading.