The allegations, made in the Dail yesterday by Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, that Frank Connolly travelled to the FARC controlled area of Colombia in April 2001, using a false passport and accompanied by his brother and a senior IRA man, have today been categorically denied on RTE by Connolly. However, he refused to account for his whereabouts at the time he is alleged to have been in Colombia.
His general tone on RTE was one of outrage at being hounded by the media on this matter - which must have amused some of the targets of his own journalistic output.
Connolly is Executive Director of the Centre for Public Inquiry, funded by Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies. It is reported today that, in light of these allegations, Atlantic Philanthropies has decided to withdraw its funding from the Centre for Public Inquiry.
The whole situation is unfortunate as recent revelations about the Gardai, Government incompetence etc., illustrate the real need for an independent body with the skills and resources to investigate matters that an administration might like to keep covered up.
However, the integrity of such a body must be beyond reproach and, if the McDowell allegations are subsequently proven to be true, it would surely be a FARCical situation to have a fellow-traveller of the Provisional IRA investigating the application of justice in the Republic.
Watch with interest to see if Frank turns up as an applicant for a Presidential Pardon under the proposed OTR arrangements!
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