Paul Williams in the Irish Independent has been playing defence for the Gardai and in particular Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, since the GSOC bugging scandal broke. The Irish Independent has published article after article designed to deflect attention from the bugging of GSOC and to put pressure on the GSOC Chairman, Simon O’Brien. This transparent attempt to shield the Gardai from scrutiny reached laughable proportions this morning with the story on the front page of the Irish Independent by Paul Williams.
In this story, he tried to suggest that there was no basis for two of the three suspicions of bugging. No sooner had he made these claims than they were rubbished by counter-surveillance firm Verrimus, which was responsible for carrying out the tests. Verrimus correctly described it as ‘wholly inaccurate reporting’. There was simply no basis for his story, as there has been no basis for his stories over the past week trying to claim that there is nothing to see here at all.
It is well known that Paul Williams has been the unofficial mouthpiece of Commissioner Callinan and the Gardai for years. He played a particularly disgusting role in smearing peaceful protesters against Shell’s refinery in Rossport, for which he was allegedly rewarded by Shell with tickets for an Ireland v. England rugby match in 2007. Real questions must be asked about the role he and Independent newspapers have played in distorting debate over the Garda Siochana. Are his propaganda pieces for the Gardai the price he pays for information from the very top?
The political and media establishment in this country have tried to shut down this story from the moment it broke. We had the Taoiseach Enda Kenny misquoting legislation. We had Minister for Justice Alan Shatter mislead the Dail, despite the briefing note he had from GSOC. We had Independent Newspapers in particular trying to turn the story against GSOC.
These attempts to shut down the story should only make people more suspicious of who was bugging the Garda Ombudsman and who knew about it. Thanks to Sunday Times journalist John Mooney in particular, the dogs on the street know that the top brass of the Gardai had ample reason to engage in such bugging. They also should be aware of the extremely close relationship between Callinan, Shatter and Paul Williams. A public inquiry is now essential.