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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

The Irish Government and Garda Special Branch have consciously ignored the hacking scandal for years – one has to ask why.

(All the indications are that the Ireland section of News International used the same hacking and phone blagging system in this country as it did in the UK – why would anyone think otherwise?)

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In November 2011, a BBC Panorama programme revealed that the Dublin offices of News International had been used as a repository for hacked material via fax communications – faxes were used because News International was aware of the dangers of using emails. Panorama correctly named senior News International executive Alex Marunchak as the head of the Dublin office (he was in fact the all-Ireland executive). The programme also showed evidence of his central role in the commissioning of computer hacking.

In October 2012, Marunchak was arrested by the Metropolitan police’s anti hacking/phone blagging inquiry along with his alleged accomplice – corrupt Private Investigator Jonathan Rees, former owner of the infamous Southern Investigations detective agency.

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Dublin media figure and "king maker" - Alex Marunchak

Some observers in Ireland were already aware of this story because of the evidence that was coming out of the UK’s Leveson Inquiry into News International hacking and phone blagging, which did not just point the finger at News of the World executives but also at the Sunday Times – how ironic given that it is the Irish Sunday Times that has broken this latest hacking story with regard to a breach of security at the Garda Ombudsman’s office.

As far as Ireland is concerned, the key evidence coming from Leveson and the related Metropolitan Police inquiries is that whereas hacking in the UK mainly targeted celebrities, in Ireland the targets were often political and one of those targets (human rights lawyer Jane Winter) has implicated the Sunday Times. Other targets were the then secretary of state for Northern Ireland Peter Hain, Sinn Féin leader Martin Mc Guinness and the author Seán McPhilemy. From knowledge I have gleaned, I also believe that both Mary McAleese and her husband Martin were also targeted.

Many Cic Saor readers will be aware that I have raised the question of News International’s Dark Arts activities in Ireland several times over the last two years and that I have raised this fundamental civil rights issue with the Irish government via the Dublin TD Clare Daly.

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I’m aware that this is an unusual step for a journalist to take, but after the likes of Vincent Brown and the current affairs department in RTÉ showed no interest in this story that, to my mind, raises key questions about civic rights and political discourse in Ireland I decided it was too important to let slide. The Irish version of the hacking story has potentially huge political implications and we cannot have a situation where mainstream journalists do a furtive government’s job for it by ignoring the scandal to death. We also need to know why they would do this.

In October of last year, Clare Daly put questions to both Communications minister Pat Rabbitte and Justice (crime) minister Alan Shatter regarding the above activities and I found their respective replies startling.

The “socialist” communications minister Pat Rabbitte made the surprising claim to Clare Daly that his department had no role in the question of media hacking:

Rabbitte's Reply - WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 2nd October, 2013.


"Any criminal investigation such as the one referred to in this case by the Deputy is a matter for An Garda Síochána and not one in which my Department or I, as Minister, have a role."

Justice minister Shatter meanwhile basically said that nobody has complained about this, so it’s not a problem.

Shatter's Reply. WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 2nd October, 2013.

"I am informed by the Garda authorities that An Garda Síochána has no record, or knowledge of any complaint or investigation arising from the BBC programme referred to."

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Phone tapper Peter Keeley - once a key News Int source

The dismissive tone of the two ministers leads me to ask why they are not disturbed by the questions being raised and wish to find out more?
Since these questions were asked of the ministers there has been a further significant development in that a major News International “source” in Ireland, FRU spook Peter Keeley (aka as Kevin Fulton), has been outed by the Smithwick Tribunal as a phone tapper and fabricator of stories, which he then sold to the media. Keeley has always maintained that he had a security contract with News International. Or at least he did until News International seems to have severed links with him in 2005/2006 . Nor is there any doubt that Keeley worked closely with another FRU spook Ian Hurst (aka Martin Ingram) whom the Smithwick Tribunal bluntly described as “lying” in its final report.

Here is the crucial extract from Smithwick regarding Keeley:

Kevin Fulton outed as a phone tapper and fabricator of stories for the media –
Page 129 Smithwick report – secret RUC file:

“"From 1996 to 2000 Fulton provided information to the CID with regards to criminal as opposed to terrorist related matters. Because of his particular access to certain types of criminal activity in that role he provided information which led to a number of successful police operations, which is why his CID handler regarded him as reliable. His handler would not have been in a position accurately to grade his reliability on subversive matters. Nevertheless, the need to exercise caution in dealing with Fulton was borne constantly in mind by the CID, as advised by Special Branch, both in 1997 and 1998. As a result of his behaviour becoming increasingly more erratic and counterproductive, for example, manufacturing information, passing the information to the media and tapping phone calls of police officers, the RUC decided in April 2000 to have no further contact because the risk he posed to the police outweighed any potential gain.”

The point of all the above is this:

We know that senior News International executive in Ireland Alex Marunchak (who was a well known figure in the Dublin media circuit in the early 2000s) was arrested on serious hacking charges not much more than a year ago. We also know that strong evidence has been publicised that links News International in Ireland to politically motivated hacking targeting, at the very least, senior officers of state and human rights lawyers. Furthermore, a government sponsored legal inquiry has revealed a key News International source to be a phone tapper and dissimulator.

All this follows the exact same modus operandi as was used in the UK.

What was Garda Special Branch doing whilst all this was taking place? And why is the government so quick to dismiss this story, just as it is about the possible hacking of the Garda Ombudsman’s office?

If Garda Special Branch has advised that it knew nothing about politically motivated hacking activities commissioned by News International from the heart of Dublin, that is either a startling admission of having failed in its job, or an attempt to cover up what it did know.

Another possibility, of course, is that elements at least of Garda Special Branch were working hand in glove with News International, as has been alleged, and it is for this reason that all talk of this story is being suppressed.

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Sinn Féin TD for Donegal North East Pádraig Mac Lochlainn -
more and more TDs are beginning to ask for answers on hacking

Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has also made requests for answers on hacking in Ireland and my prediction is that the government will eventually have no choice but to face up to the issue – then a truly major hacking scandal will emerge on these shores.

Given what we now know about links between MI5 and Special Branch with News International, was there an attempt to use that nexus of influence to destroy or hinder the peace process and, if this not unreasonable proposition is true, what did Garda Special Branch know about this? To whom does Garda Special Branch answer?





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Title: The Irish Government and Garda Special Branch have consciously ignored the hacking scandal for years – one has to ask why.
Date posted: 12 Feb '14 - 16:40
Filed under: General
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