August 18, 2022

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A statutory inquiry established to investigate allegations made by the former head of business lobby...

A statutory inquiry established to investigate allegations made by the former head of business lobby group Isme about garda misconduct in investigations of financial irregularities at the organisation has found most of his complaints were not well-founded.
he inquiry, headed by retired district court Judge Patrick McMahon, concluded that complaints made by former Isme chief executive Frank Mulcahy — that he had been threatened by gardaí at meetings in November 2005 and December 2007 and that there would be an investigation into his private life — were not supported by the available information.

One garda witness described such claims to the inquiry as “nonsensical, outlandish, illogical and insulting”.
Judge McMahon found the evidence provided by gardaí who had interviewed Mr Mulcahy to be reliable and credible.
The judge noted the former Isme executive had “declined to participate in hearings scheduled by the inquiry”.
Mr Mulcahy, who had engaged with the inquiry when it was first established in 2017, did not give evidence when hearings began in 2019 after the then justice minister Charlie Flanagan rejected his request for the inquiry’s terms of reference to be expanded to allow for the investigation of more allegations.
Lawyers for Mr Mulcahy claimed “significantly more complaints” remained to be investigated than the four issues determined by Judge McMahon, but they maintained “no substantive reasons” had been provided why they were being excluded from the inquiry.
Mr Mulcahy claimed he would no longer participate in the inquiry due to the “lack of progress and ever increasing restrictions” — a claim rejected by Judge McMahon.
However, the inquiry upheld a complaint that Mr Mulcahy’s emails had been blocked by gardaí between April 2007 and November 2014. It heard evidence that email addresses used by Mr Mulcahy had been blacklisted by gardaí on the instruction of a high-ranking officer.
Lawyers for An Garda Síochána had argued that the blacklisting of Mr Mulcahy’s emails appeared to have evolved as a means to deal with “the unique, exceptional and voluminous pattern of communications” from the former Isme chief to gardaí.
Judge McMahon noted Mr Mulcahy had used 12 other email accounts to contact gardaí over the period. He concluded that the email addresses were blocked due to a lack of policy within An Garda Síochána on how to address the issue at the time. The judge said he was satisfied they would not be blocked today as there was now an appropriate policy in place.
Mr Mulcahy, who was removed from his role as Isme chief executive in 1998, has waged a long-running campaign to clear his name with the support of well-known politicians, including former government minister and Labour leader Ruairí Quinn, as well as former MEPs and current TDs Marian Harkin and Paul Murphy.
He claimed gardaí were negligent over their alleged failure to carry out a full and proper investigation into allegations of fraud made against him. He also claimed there was alleged criminality on the part of former Isme colleagues and that knowingly false allegations had been made about him to gardaí.
The allegations suggested there had been an attempt by Isme to defraud the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in relation to grants and other financial supports. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed in 1999 that there was no evidence avail-able that would justify a prosecution of Mr Mulcahy.
In turn, the DPP directed in 2012 that no prosecution should arise from Mr Mulcahy’s claims that some Isme personnel had made a false report to gardaí about him, due to the lack of evidence.
Three years earlier, Mr Mulcahy also lodged a complaint with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) over the conduct of the investigation by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI)
Gsoc subsequently ruled that none of Mr Mulcahy’s allegations about the conduct of gardaí could be stood up.
The latest inquiry headed by Judge McMahon was established under Section 42 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 by the then minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald in 2017. It sought to investigate the background to any allegations made by Mr Mulcahy that had not already been investigated by either gardaí or Gsoc.
It established there were four separate allegations to investigate, including two that gardaí had threatened Mr Mulcahy at meetings that his private life would be investigated as part of any full review of the case.
Another complaint, that a garda had promoted an “excuse” that Isme directors were entitled to change accounts relating to a bonus paid to Mr Mulcahy, was also deemed unfounded.
Judge McMahon said the garda had acted appropriately in relying on the expertise of a forensic accountant attached to the GBFI.
The garda told the inquiry that his finding was offered to Mr Mulcahy as “an explanation and not as an excuse”.
Reacting to the judge’s report, Mr Mulcahy welcomed the finding that gardaí had blocked his email.
He said he had withdrawn from the inquiry on the instructions of his solicitor because its terms of reference prevented Judge McMahon from investigating his claims of collusion by gardaí.
“I was not going to endorse a process that was never going to get at the truth,” he said. “I was promised that my complaint would be investigated, but it was never going to happen with the terms of reference imposed on the judge.”

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