Minister Targets Watchdog Body
By Frank Shouldice, Contributor
Febuary / March 2006
Minister for Justice Michael McDowell alleged that journalist Frank Connolly traveled on a bogus passport to visit Colombian FARC rebels four years ago. Referring to garda (Irish police) intelligence, the minister spoke under Dáil (parliamentary) privilege, thereby making his assertion without fear of being sued by Connolly.
The journalist, whose brother Niall was one of the so-called “Colombia Three,” denies using a false passport or having traveled to Colombia. Frank Connolly is director of the Center for Public Inquiry (CPI), a privately funded watchdog group which monitors Irish government policy.
Although the minister has yet to prove his allegations, CPI was badly hit by this adverse publicity. CPI’s main benefactor, Atlantic Philanthropies, bankrolled by Chuck Feeney, announced it was suspending funds to the Dublin-based organization. ♦