Republic of Ireland Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly  

From :  William Finnerty <>
Sent :  Wednesday, October 6, 2004 1:06 PM
To :  "Republic of Ireland Ombudsman (Ms Emily O'Reilly)" <>
CC :  "Minister for Justice (Mr. Michael McDowell)" <>, "Prime Minister Bertie Ahern" <>, "President Mary McAleese" <>, "New Inn Anti-Dump Chairman (Vincent Costello)" <>, "Kilconnell Anti-Dump Group Secretary (Annette Gilchrist)" <>, <>, "An Taisce (Yahoo Discussion Group)" <>, "Gearoid Geraghty (Lawyer, Fair Murtagh, Ballinasloe)" <>, "Martin Egan (Principal Lawyer, Fair Murtagh Law Firm)" <>, "Law Society (Republic of Ireland)" <>, "Ann Marie Kelly Discussion Group" <>, "CelticParty(Yahoo)" <>, "Green Party Ireland (Yahoo Group)" <>, "Kilconnell Anti-Dump Internet Group" <>, "Nature Ireland" <>, "New Inn AntiDump Internet Group" <>, "Siobhan Nevin's Yahoo Group" <>, "Tara / Skreen Group" <>, "Woodlawn House Preservation Society" <>, "Press Complaints Commission" <>, "Sir Anthony O'Reilly" <>, "Jose Manuel Barroso (President of EU Commission)" <>, "Margot Wallstrom (Vice President of EU Commission)" <>, "Stavros Dimas (EU Commissioner for Environment & Social Affairs)" <>
Subject :  Press Complaints Commission

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Dear Ms O'Reilly,
As you can see below, I have tried to contact the Press Complaints Commission regarding a recent newspaper article which I found very disturbing. 
The article in question, reproduced below, is in fact just one of several such articles in recent weeks which I believe have played an insidious (and eventually lethal) role in the string of fiascos connected with the failed attempts of the many citizens of this State who would have liked to have had a presidential election. 
Unfortunately, I have not received any reply from the Press Complaints Commission.  (Though I realise the Press Commission I wrote to yesterday is based in London, I believed nonetheless that they might have been able to help in some way. This does not now seem to me to be the case.) 
Please note that I found the following statement yesterday on their web site (at ): "At present, not only is Ireland operating under the most out-dated libel/defamation laws in Europe, it is also one of the few countries in Europe without a press council." 
Under the circumstances, I am wondering if you could deal with my complaint regarding the newspaper articles in question?  If not, perhaps you would be good enough to forward this e-mail to whoever is responsible for dealing with such complaints in the Republic of Ireland?  Alternatively, perhaps you could advise me as to who I should approach myself?
I wish to stress that I personally am not only concerned about the fact there is not going to be a presidential election.  I am now much more concerned that, if nothing is done about it, the way is entirely clear for yet more legislation (signed by President Mary McAleese) which violates Bunreacht na hEireann (i.e. the Primary Law of the Republic of Ireland).  Further information regarding this extremely serious set of problems can be found by following the last Internet link I have provided below - which will take you to the text of my September 15th 2004 e-mail to the Oireachtas Members.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding the above at your earliest convenience please.
Yours sincerely,
William Finnerty.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 8:24 AM
Subject: Fw: Problem with e-mail to Justice Minister Michael McDowell TD <<< re "Mary's humility won't be tested">>>

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am not sure if you deal with complaints relating to Republic of Ireland newspapers, or not.
If you do, I would be grateful if you could please consider the complaint I made in the e-mail below to Sir Anthony O'Reilly (Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2004 10:08 AM.).
If you do not deal with complaints relating to Republic of Ireland newspapers, it would be much appreciated if you could advise me as to where I should lodge my complaint.
Yours sincerely,
William Finnerty.
PS: An MSN copy of the e-mail below, together with MSN message identification and tracking information, can also be seen at the following Internet address:
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2004 12:19 PM
Subject: Problem with e-mail to Justice Minister Michael McDowell TD <<< re "Mary's humility won't be tested">>>

Different e-mail address being tried for Justice Minister Michael McDowell TD.
Original e-mail (Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2004 11:42 AM) to Minister McDowell reproduced below.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mail Delivery Subsystem" <>
Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2004 11:43 AM
Subject: Returned mail: see transcript for details
> The original message was received at Sun, 3 Oct 2004 11:43:32 +0100
> from cwext []
>    ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
> <>
>     (reason: 501 )
----- Original Message -----
Cc: Minister for Justice (Mr. Michael McDowell) ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; Paul Connaughton TD ; Joe Callanan TD ; Paddy McHugh TD ; Padraic.McCormack T.D. ; Noel Grealish T.D. ; Minister Noel Treacy TD ; Minister Frank Fahey T.D. ; Michael D Higgins T.D. ; Minister …amon ” CuŪv T.D. ; 05 Yah ; 04 Hot ; 03 Hot ; 02 Yah ; 01 Eir ; ; ; ; ; ; ; Sean O'Neachtain (MEP) ; Marian Harkin (MEP) ; Jim.Higgins (MEP) ; Rosemary Scallon (Eircom) ; Vincent Salafia (Lawyer, Tara/Skreen Group)
Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2004 11:42 AM
Subject: Fw: "Mary's humility won't be tested"

----- Original Message -----
Cc: Stavros Dimas (EU Commissioner for Environment & Social Affairs) ; Jose Manuel Barroso (President of EU Commission) ; Woodlawn House Preservation Society ; Tara / Skreen Group ; Siobhan Nevin's Yahoo Group ; New Inn AntiDump Internet Group ; Nature Ireland ; Kilconnell Anti-Dump Internet Group ; Green Party Ireland (Yahoo Group) ; CelticParty(Yahoo) ; Ann Marie Kelly Discussion Group ; An Taisce (Yahoo Discussion Group) ; ; Kilconnell Anti-Dump Group Secretary (Annette Gilchrist) ; New Inn Anti-Dump Chairman (Vincent Costello) ; Sunday World Newspaper ; Margot Wallstrom (Vice President of EU Commission) ; Minister Dick Roche TD (Environment & Local Government) ; Prime Minister Bertie Ahern ; President Mary McAleese ; Assistant Police Commissioner (Galway area) ; Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy (Chief Commissioner of Police, Republic of Ireland) ; Environment Protection Agency ; An Taisce ; An Bord Pleanala ; The Democracy Commission (Ireland) ; Associated Press ; BBC NEWS ; CNN ; Reuters ; TV3 (Republic of Ireland) ; Tuam Herald ; The Irish Times ; TG4 (Irish Language Station, Republic of Ireland) ; Sunday Business Post ; RTE (Irish National TV Station) ; Keith Finnegan at Galway Bay FM (local radio) ; Irish Independent Newspapers (Unison Group) ; Irish Examiner Newspaper ; Irish Emigrant Newspaper ; Ireland On Sunday ; Galway Independent Newspaper ; Galway Advertiser Editor (Mr. Declan Varley) ; Connacht Tribune Editor (Mr. John Cunningham)
Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2004 10:08 AM
Subject: "Mary's humility won't be tested"

Dear Sir Anthony,

Although I have a strong feeling that the time I am spending on this e-mail is likely to be a complete waste of my time, you may nevertheless wish to take account of the information in the "Guardian of the Constitution" e-mail at, and then re-consider the contents of your "Mary's humility won't be tested" article in today's Sunday Independent Newspaper - which I have reproduced below.
As I see it, your newspaper article below is just one of several HIGHLY misleading "Presidential Election" articles which have appeared in your Republic of Ireland newspapers in recent weeks.
I don't know about you, but I happen to believe that democracy can only work well if the people who vote are well informed.  It is largely for this reason that I personally find your newspaper articles of the kind reproduced below so VERY disturbing.
Finally, I would like to point out to you the fact that it is very clearly stated in Article 12, Section 10, of "Bunreacht na hEireann" (the Primary Law of the Republic of Ireland) that: "The President may be impeached for stated misbehaviour".  With this in mind, and with thoughts of legal matters connected with public-servant type offences such as "neglect of duty", and "dereliction of duty", I find myself wondering how long President Mary McAleese will be able to hold on to her present position?
Yours sincerely,
William Finnerty.

Mary's humility won't be tested

JUST a few weeks back we argued in this very spot that not only did we not
need a presidential election but that, in general, we don't actually need a
President at all. We should have stuck in a sub-clause saying that if we do
have to have a President we really should have an election.
Not that there's anything wrong with Mary McAleese. After all, it's hard to
be a bad President of Ireland when it comes down to it. It's just that we
might have enjoyed having the illusion of choice.
We also might have enjoyed seeing Mary McAleese argue why she thought she
should be the President again. It would have been most unbecoming to see the
President going around the place saying: "I think I should get to be the
President for another seven years because I'm great altogether, so I am. I'm
a great President, if I say so myself."
This would have been incongruous because the Mary McAleese/Mary Robinson
school of presidency is all about being humbled by everything, being humbled
by the great people you meet who do great work in their communities; and
being humbled by the sick and the destitute and, indeed, being humbled by
the very honour of the office.
It's a bit like entering a beauty contest. None of the contestants can admit
that they want to win simply because they'd like to win. They all have to
pretend they were forced into it by other people and that they aren't really
The presidency in this country is a bit like forcing an aunt to sing at a
wedding. She feigns reluctance and is 'mortified', but once you get her up
on the stage there's no getting rid of her. Humbled. Although watching Mary
McAleese on the Late Late the other night, 'humbled' wasn't really the word
that sprung to mind. 'In her element' was the phrase that actually sprang to
It might have been nice, too, if someone challenged the notion that we have
to have a law library middle-aged wan as President. For years we used the
Aras as a resting home for old, retired and bewildered politicians. Then
Robbo came along and there was a breath of fresh air and winds of change and
a new big idea, a thrusting post-feminist woman in the Aras. So we swept
away the old cliche in order to set in stone a new one.
Like whales we only need a breath of fresh air very occasionally in this
country. Ivana Bacik is already being talked about as the next President.
Female? TCD? Reid professor? Come this way please.
Anyway, there's no point in getting worked up about it. Mary McAleese will
impinge very little in most of our daily lives over the next seven years.
We'll notice her now and then when she wears the same coat as the mother of
the bride or something. And apart from that we can just forget about her,
like, well, like some retired politician rattling around in the Aras. As
they nearly say across the water - the cliche is dead, long live the cliche.

  The MSN e-mail text ends at the last line above.  

  The text in the above e-mail comes from a "blind" copy sent by using the "Bcc:" facility.


Emily O'Reilly (Republic of Ireland Ombudsman)


Checking and correcting unconstitutional legislation (Republic of Ireland):

Legislation and the role of the President of the Republic of Ireland:

Irish Legislation (BAILII):

 Irish Legal Information Initiative (IRLII):


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