McDowell versus Connolly…

It’s beginning to grip the Irish blogosphere, and throws up some serious new talent: Three Monkeys believes its all overblown; Balrog says McDowell must go; Dossing Times notes hypocritical contradictions in McDowell’s detractors; Mamam Poulet sees the Minister’s behaviour as treading on the rights of citizens to ask questions of government; Sarah is hopping mad with the Minister; Fiona believes it cuts both ways; and Gavin has transcribed a radio interview that might prove worthy of return in future. This Columbia Three story is not one that’s been told straight at any point in the past. The Minister has serious questions to answer. But he is not the only one.

  • Briso

    Raftery and Myers go mano a mano in the Irish Times (subs needed). I think Raftery wins on points. McDowell does seem to have handled the situation extremely badly.

  • seabhac siulach

    Connolly has no questions to answer. He does not have to answer anything, except in a court, being innocent until proven guilty. He is a private citizen. It might clear things up but he is under no obligation whatsoever. This was made clear by no less than Judge Flood yesterday, who should know a thing or two about the law…

    McDrivel on the other hand, being a government minister, MUST answer what was the threat to the state caused by Connolly being the head of the CPI. (Or was the threat solely to himself and his job…)
    He has used the terms of the Official Secrets Act. Let him now prove what was the threat to the security of the state. Is it a few people travelling to Colombia? This is old news (years old)…why is the threat from Colombia (of all places) more real now?
    The Colombia 3 were found innocent of the charges brought against them in the only open and reasonably fair trial in that country. Even if Connolly had travelled with those three, he also would only be guilty of, at most, travelling under a false passport. Hardly a matter of national security.
    McDrivel is not shy of talking or of revealing ‘intelligence’ in the Dail. So, let him reveal this intelligence which he considers of such importance. If he does not reveal this information, then we are in an era of a police state when anyone may in future be framed and set up on the ‘evidence’ provided by a minister of ‘justice’.

    Of course, the real story is what McDrivel is hiding and what the threat to him personally was that would make him take the stupid political risk of leaking names like that…but a supine media will never tackle that story…

    By the way, if the matter was of such national importance, why were the documents leaked in such an underhand way and to only one newspaper, The Independent, and not to the others, e.g., The Irish Times (‘supposedly the paper of record’)?
    If the leaking of Connolly’s name was of national importance, why was it not revealed either through a press conference with all the media invited or else through a letter to be left in the Dail library (or something like that). The manner in which the leak took place speaks volumes.

    McDrivel is a disgrace and should be sacked.

  • Eerzaam

    Make your mind up, is Connolly a private citizen or the head of the CPI?

    You can’t have it both ways.

  • J Kelly

    Well said SS. Its over to you Bertie. No one could convince me that Bertie and the FF election strategist are happy with McDowell. Can anyone remember the so called give away budget.

  • seabhac siulach

    Connolly is a private citizen even as the head of a non-governmental body…he was not elected, holds no state position (as a servant of the people), unlike our good friend McDrivel…

    All the weight is on McDrivel to prove HIS innocence…as his failings are of a potentially greater magnitude than those of any private citizen.

    Has McDrivel become all camera shy all of a sudden?

  • Lorenzo

    The Shinner’s four stages of handling any allegations against them:

    1) [On initial allegation]
    Choose from:
    a) This never happened
    b) We had nothing to do with it.
    Finish by questioning the motives of those making the allegation.

    2) [On it becoming obvious that allegation did happen]
    Choose from:
    a) There is no proof there was any republican involvment.
    b) Show us the proof.
    c) If anyone has any information we urge you to bring it to [anyone but the PSNI].
    Finish by questioning the motives of those making the allegation. Link them to various nefarious activities.

    3) [On proof being presented of the allegation]
    Choose from:
    a) This proves nothing.
    b) Prove it in court! Prove it in court!
    c) Due process! Due process!
    d) Securocrats! Securocrats!
    Finish by questioning the motives of those presenting the proof.

    4) [On losing court case]
    Choose from
    a) We do not recognise the court!
    b) Bring up the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four etc.
    c) We did it for Ireland.
    Finish by questioning motives of anyone not already previous questioned.

    5) [On allegation becoming generally recognised fact]
    Establish a daily newspaper to publish your version of events and ignore everything else to the contrary.

  • seabhac siulach


    What has the matter between McDrivel and Connolly got to do with Sinn Fein?
    It is possible that McDrivel was indirectly trying to heat up the Colombia 3 story again in a further attempt to damage Sinn Fein…but at the moment, Sinn Fein are not part of the equation…

    Any mention of Sinn Fein in this context is an unsubtle attempt to divert attention from McDrivel. He is on a pin, let us see him wriggle off it…

  • SS, refering to the Minister as McDrivel constitutes is playing the ball? Drop it, please.

  • Henry94


    You forgot stage five

    5) When the case falls apart before it gets to court

    a) Come on to Slugger and enjoy the banter with the people who believed the allegations in the first place

    b) Discover that they still believe them and now suspect a plot

  • Lorenzo

    I just think the pattern of responses to the Connolly allegations look familiar.

  • Shay Begorrah

    “SS, refering to the Minister as McDrivel constitutes as playing the ball? Drop it, please.”

    In this case McDowell is the ball and the epithet seems rather mild compared to the invective filled postings of many here.

    Now if someone had called McDowell an abusive racist hypocritical opportunist scumbag with dangerous authoritarian tendencies, then fair enough, criticism might be in order.

  • seannaboy

    Lorenzo, ‘The Shinner’s four stages of handling any allegations against them’

    oops,the securocrats have managed to slip in a fifth stage.

  • Lorenzo


    Damn! This means I will probably never get membership to that right-wing-conspiracy cabal I was hoping to get for Christmas.

  • seannaboy

    Lorenzo, i take it that that is the sixth stage of handling any allegations?

  • Shay, it’s not criticism it’s a request from the owner of the site to desist. It’s not the first time someone (not SS) has sought to trivialise the argument by resorting to name calling. The issues being debated here are far from trivial.

    To clarify:

    McDowell is most decidedly not the ball. The legality of his actions most certainly are.

    Neither is Connolly the ball. But in examining McDowell’s case, Connolly’s alleged past actions and the pathology of the Colombia Three story are also part of the ball.

  • seabhac siulach

    I used the name in the same jokey context as would the Phoenix magazine when referring to Mary Harney as Mata Harney, etc.
    I was not trying to trivialise the argument as my points would make clear.

    No problem with stopping, though…
    I will cease and desist, as it were.

  • Appreciated SS. Online, these things have a way dropping the discussion through the floorboards.

  • Shay Begorrah

    “Shay, it’s not criticism it’s a request from the owner of the site to desist. It’s not the first time someone (not SS) has sought to trivialise the argument by resorting to name calling.”

    Frankly I thought I was pushing my luck there anyway Mick.

    Sorry for the crude language, Slugger does deserve respect.

  • Libero

    There are so many errors of fact in SS’s post that it is difficult to know where to start. Ah well, here goes…

    1. Frank Connolly does not even have to answer questions in a court of law. There are very few offences on the books that encroach on the privilege against self incrimination and the right to silence. Whether he should stay quiet and “take the fifth”, especially since he is an investigative journalist, is another question.

    2. There is a misconception about that all of us are entitled to due process, right to know the case against oneself, right to counsel, rules of evidence etc. That’s only true for a court of law. Otherwise, Article 38 of the Constitution and its protections do not apply, though the libel laws exist to protect one’s right to a good name – a route that Connolly has chosen not to pursue. Whether we should apply those Article 38 safeguards outside of courtrooms is again another question – though if we did, all investigative journalism would cease overnight.

    3. There is also no obligation for “McDrivel” to answer more questions, other than where Dáil questions are tabled, etc. The Official Secrets Act does not require the Minister to prove (to who?) that the security of the state is threatened, no matter how some of us may feel that he SHOULD do so.

    4. I don’t believe that Colombian criminal courts find people “innocent”. Failure to secure a conviction may lead to a “not guilty” verdict but that reflect’s the inability to get a conviction, not the court declaring that the accused were innocent all along.

    5. Please don’t be so obtuse as to say that the case against Connolly amounts to nothing more than travelling on a false passport.

    6. According to both parties, the Irish Independent were the first to ask for the document(s). That’s hardly selective leaking, unless you can prove that McDowell told them to ask. That’s a possibility but would also be an unproven accusation, and I thought that’s what you’re complaining about.

  • Richard Dowling

    The trouble with the Provisional IRA’s take on events, including
    their own euphemistic troubles, is that it never made sense.
    That narrative was always lobsided and the more Gerry Adams
    and the IRA Army Council tried to justify their murderous
    campaign of violence and subversion, the more people were
    nauseated and turned away in their droves. It simply wasn’t OK
    in their eyes that violent Republicans could get away with
    murder because it fitted in with the Constitution of the IRA.

    And, you don’t have to be follower of Ruth Dudley Edwards
    (whose article in the Sunday Independent precipitated Chuck
    Feeney’s withdrawal of funding from the Centre for Public
    Inquiry (God help us), or a fervent admirer of Eoghan Harris
    (whose article, also in the Sindo, asked us last week to join
    up the green dots to reveal the face of Gerry Adams and the
    sleeper cells operating in the Republic), or even an closet
    admirer of Kevin Myers who (in the Irish Times) begins to draw
    back the veil which reveals Sinn Fein-IRA’s incremental
    subversion of our society. Crucially, it seems as if Frank
    Connolly (brother of SInn Fein’s Niall Connolly — and notice I
    use the name Connolly TWICE, because it was not the name
    used on ANY of the passports which were used by the
    Colombia Amigos (5 or six at last count), crucially it seems as if
    Frank Connolly was involved in very shady Repulican dealings
    in the FARC controlled area of Colombia.

    If their is even a hint of truth in that allegation, then Michael
    McDowell has a bounden duty to try and expose it. And so
    would any JOURNALIST worth his or her salt.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘crucially it seems as if
    Frank Connolly was involved in very shady Repulican dealings
    in the FARC controlled area of Colombia.’

    How does it seem Connolly was involved in shady dealings in Colombia?
    It is crucial to your argument in order for you and others to rubbish Connolly of course. But other that the unsubstantiated pronouncements of Mc Dowell is there any other evidence?

  • seabhac siulach


    “4. I don’t believe that Colombian criminal courts find people “innocent”. Failure to secure a conviction may lead to a “not guilty” verdict but that reflect’s the inability to get a conviction, not the court declaring that the accused were innocent all along.”

    But you would believe them if they passed a guilty verdict…am I right? For some reason, I bet I am…
    You are suggesting that people are not innocent until proven guilty…what do you want soviet style show courts in which we all ‘know’ the accused is guilty in advance and just go through the motions? Borderline fascist talk there.
    A person is innocent unless and until it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are guilty…one of the cornerstones of western society. But, apparently when it comes to the Columbia 3 all logic goes out the window.

    In light of that, is it worth commenting on the rest of your points? I think not…

  • Shay Begorrah

    I too think that there are Greens under the bed Richard.

    I think perhaps we need to start asking public figures do they now or have they ever had republican sympathies.

    I mean our very way of life is threatened by these people, somehow or other.

    We just have no idea how many people believe in the wrong narrative about the troubles and are secretly trying to undermine the state by spreading it.

    Yes, we need to take steps and minister McDowell’s bravery in fighting leftism, inquiries into the behaviour of the government and the babies of immigrants shows us the way.

    We need to be one people with one voice.

    My justice minister, I can walk!

  • seannaboy

    For Richard: ” Granda Ian, tell us one of your bedtime stories, one of them scary ones and tell it in the fashion in which you do best” ” Right, children, here we go. Once upon a time there was these two Republicans – NOW THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF THEM”

  • Lorenzo

    And reasoned debate works best when you a) use reason or at least try and b) debate the points raised not the typos. Maybe the film script style flights of fancy of your previous post subconsciously influenced me. Maybe I just learned not to waste my time trying humour on the obviously humourless.