Libel blitzkrieg hearing expected from Martin's P.R. lady- after the next election.!-and after Martin has handed 800 million Euros to the fat cat shareholders in NTR.
Shares in National Toll Roads (which were availible on the unofficial "secondary" stock market) have doubled in one year . Just since the government entered discussions over buying the toll bridge.The state has refused to pay a piddling sum towards the cost of automated machines (we are told ) and consequently Martin is buying out the toll bridge.
The owners only asked for 400 million at first, but in tough negotiations Martin's civil servants managed to get this down to 800 million.! The net effect of removing the toll bridge will simply treble the waiting times at all other exits, such as the famous "Mad Cow Roundabout". There is already a prepaid card payment system in use at the bridges. Electronic laser scanning machines, in conjunction with compulsory pre paid cards, would go a long way to solve much of the delay.
But 800 million euros will solve it too. And maybe some of the T.Ds or their cuzzins have bought some shares in NTR- before they doubled in value.
As for the proposals to put 3 lanes on the M 50 ,the original plans for the toll bridge actually included provision for 3 lanes there,-but were modified because of the extra expense on the original private consortium.
This was the famous Ansbacher headquarter bank people (landlords and employees of the late Des Traynor)
"Cement Roadstone Holdings" was the name of their company. They monopolized the cement industry in Ireland for decades. The main mover here was one Tom Roche a "golden circle" member of Charlie's clique.
Tom Roche is now with his mentor in the clay..but the game goes on.
Building the two extra lanes across each side of the bridge has cost a small fortune-and the toll fees went up to pay for it.
Another reason not to sell the bridge back to the state, is the fact that widening work on the M.50 due to begin shortly will reduce traffic to a crawl- so why hand 800 million to NTR now that the state gets almost all of the increased revenue.?
Why can't we re-organize an efficient toll bridge, a few extra toll booths, and mandatory pre-paid electronic credit cards.
If it can be done in France Austria and Germany,why not here.?
It won't happen though because there's no profit for Bertie's fat cat "public/private partners".
AND GETTING BACK TO MONICA:
Report:thursday, July 20, 2006 (courtesy of the village magazine) by Frank Connolly.
Ronan Pettit, the man who made lewd remarks about Martin Cullen and Monica Leech on RTE radio two years ago, tells Frank Connolly why he did it, and how he has no money to assist RTE in its defence of a libel action
The man who made lewd and obscene remarks on RTE Radio about PR consultant Monica Leech two years ago has apologised unreservedly for his comments. Speaking to Village from his home in Cork, Ronan Pettit, 38, said he accepts that his remarks were "nasty and horrible" and he also apologised for any hurt he caused to her family and to the Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen.
His call to the station and his disparaging comments in December 2004, he said, were not premeditated in any way. He said they arose spontaneously when he listened to a discussion on Joe Duffy's show about Monica Leech's 800 EUROS A DAY salary, which he believed was unjustified given the nature of her work. Monica Leech was hired by Martin Cullen while he was a junior minister with the Office of Public Works from December 2001 and subsequently when he was environment minister from 2002 to 2004.
Ronan Pettit also said he believed that people should be entitled to free comment and that the libel laws in Ireland are overly restrictive.
"What I said about Monica Leech was unacceptable. It was a nasty and horrible thing to say and I was an idiot to use such vulgarity. Unequivocally I am sorry. I am sorry for the distress I caused her, her family and Martin Cullen."
He said that at the time of the call to RTE he had taken a couple of glasses of wine and was not in good form as he had just lost his job.
"I was in my flat in Cork and I'd had a couple of glasses of wine. I had just been laid off from my job with Apple Computers when I heard about her 800 euros a day salary. I thought, 'Well, she is not a brain surgeon'. I wanted to make a point about that. There was this polite discussion on the radio and nobody was really saying what they thought. I didn't think of the implications. The next thing I was all over the newspapers. My family and friends were shocked but I can't complain about it. I brought it on myself."
"I do believe in freedom of speech and that people should be able to say what we like. Compared to America we live in a very libellous society."
Ronan Pettit said he did not believe he could contribute to RTE's costs arising from any defamation action by Monica Leech as he does not have any money. He said he was conned by some clever professionals who lured him to his mother's house in west Cork three weeks ago where they served legal papers on him.
"My mother was told that I had won €200 in the lottery and when I travelled down to collect it I was met by two sharp-looking professionals who served third-party papers on me, I think on behalf of Monica Leech."
Ronan Pettit said he lives openly at his address in Cork city and has not been evading anyone despite the impression in recent newspaper reporting of him. Last weekend it was suggested that RTE was having difficulty finding Ronan Pettit. It was also reported that RTE has applied to the High Court to have Pettit pay half of the cost of any libel actions taken against it by Monica Leech and Martin Cullen. It was reported that RTE had delayed a hearing of the libel action by Ms Leech due to its failure to track down Pettit.
"I am not in hiding but I am not sure what I can do for RTE as they know I have no money."
He said that he has no political affiliations but keeps abreast with current affairs. Born in England, he is second-generation Irish and has lived in Cork since 1986. He is single.
"I know it was embarassing for Monica Leech but if I say sorry to RTE and to her can that not sort it out? Can't we all say sorry to each other?" he asked.
Monica Leech has issued legal proceedings against RTE because of the contents of Pettit's remarks during Joe Duffy's Liveline programme on Radio 1 in December 2004 at the height of what was called the "Monicagate" scandal.
Monica Leech, who lives in Waterford, was first hired by Mr Cullen, who is also Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford, while he served as junior Minister in the Department of Finance with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW). She was an information co-ordinator for two major OPW projects in Martin Cullen's constituency and had previously been an active political supporter of the junior minister.
When he was promoted to cabinet as Minister for the Environment following the June 2002 general election he appointed Monica Leech on a consultancy basis for which she was paid a daily rate. She worked on the Race Against Waste campaign for the department until the cabinet reshuffle in September 2004 when her services were terminated by the incoming minister, Dick Roche. Her earnings from the consultancy work over two years ,were in excess of €300,000.
It later emerged that Monica Leech had travelled abroad on several trips with Martin Cullen including on projects which did not appear to relate to the terms of reference of her appointment. A report by the retired chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, Dermot Quigley, published in the Spring of 2005, found that while the circumstances of the appointment of Monica Leech were unusual he found no impropriety on her part or on the part of Martin Cullen.
The Standards in Public Office Commission subsequently investigated the appointment and also found no impropriety but said that it did not have sufficient legislative powers to instigate a deeper inquiry. Its request for wider powers to investigate allegations against the holders of public office was rejected by the Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, just last month.
Monica Leech is also pursuing five national newspapers who subsequently repeated the lewd remarks of Ronan Pettit.
RTE is expected to argue that it immediately apologised for the comments when they were broadcast on the live Joe Duffy show. In England, broadcasters are protected from any defamation action arising from comments made on live shows by hoax callers. It is expected that RTE will also argue in its defence of any court action that it should have the same protection from such unforeseen defamation.
It is unlikely that Martin Cullen will commence any libel action until after next year's general election. Since the termination of her consultancy Monica Leech has taken a position as chief executive of the Waterford Chamber of Commerce.
Ms Leech, who lives in Waterford with her architect husband and two grown-up children, declined to be interviewed about the details of contracts she held while Mr Cullen was in charge of the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the DoE.
Sources in business in Waterford say that as far as they know she has no other clients apart from the OPW and the DoE. The latest filed accounts for Monica Leech Communications Ltd for 2003, reveal a loss of €12,950.
The Sunday Independent can reveal that Monica Leech earned €42,902 from the Office of Public Works (OPW) between December 2001 and July 2003. She was brought in to advise the OPW on two projects in Waterford while Martin Cullen was Minister of State in the Department of the Taoiseach with responsibility for the OPW.
Monica Leech Communications was appointed as a consultant to the OPW for six months as "information co-ordinator" on two projects - the Waterford North Quays and the Glen Buildings. But the contract lasted for 19 months "because the projects were on-going".
Within days of Mr Cullen moving to the Department of the Environment in July 2003, Monica Leech moved to his department on a salary of €1,200 a day. She was appointed by the Department on the recommendation of the Minister on a six-month contract until a full tender process could be initiated.
In reply to a parliamentary question tabled by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny last March, Mr Cullen said: "In November 2002, three firms were invited to tender for a longer term communications consultancy contract. The selection process was overseen by a committee made up of a small group of senior officials from my department. Following assessment of the tenders the selection made a recommendation to me that the tender from the company concerned (Monica Leech) was the most economically advantageous and on that basis I accepted the recommendation made."
A spokesman for the Minister said last week that he had asked that Monica Leech be one of those invited to tender for the contract, (?) although her firm wasn't incorporated as a business until December, 2002. Ms Leech was awarded the contract in February 2003, beating the two well established Dublin firms, Drury PR and Carr Communications.
The Waterford Minister also appointed Mrs Leech to a panel which awarded a €4.7m e-voting contract to Q4, a public relations company run by former adviser to Bertie Ahern, Jackie Gallagher and former FF general secretary Pat Macken.
Monica Leech Communications is 90 per cent owned by Monica while her husband John holds the remaining 10 shares. It is based at the family home at Otteran Place, South Parade, Waterford.
Now Fine Gael's Fergus O'Dowd TD wants to establish whether Ms Leech was a special adviser or an external consultant to the Minister. Special advisers are obliged to make declarations of interests under current guidelines - but external consultants to ministers are not.
Ms Leech, who worked with the local Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Ireland in an unpaid capacity, was head of Waterford Tourism before she went into business on her own with Mr Cullen's contract. She is described as a "powerhouse" by one local businessman.
Frank Connolly has been appointed Senior Reporter with Village magazine. He has been one of the foremost investigative reporters in Ireland in the last decade. He was the first to publish stories concerning a payment made to Ray Burke in 1989 by JMSE. These reports ultimately led to the establishment of the Planning Tribunal. He was the first to write about Garda scandals in Donegal and his reports on that led to the establishment of the Morris Tribunal. It was he who also broke the story of the extraordinary consultancy arrangement entered into by Martin Cullen with the Waterford public relations executive, Monica Leech. From February 2005 he was executive director of the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI), which was established and funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, the organisation of Irish-American, Chuck Feeney. It published two reports: one on the controversial Corrib Gas pipeline and the other on the construction of a hotel beside Trim Castle.
Funding for the CPI was withdrawn after the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Michael McDowell, made confidential Garda files available to Mr Feeney concerning an alleged trip to Colombia by Frank Connolly. Frank Connolly will be working mainly on investigative stories for Village related to politics, corruption and particularly the interface between politics and business.
there we have it.Legal writs and High Court hearings (possibly financed by the taxpayer) to protect the incompetent (Martin Cullen)and other corrupt politicians.
Carte Blanche, for the Minister for Justice,Michael McDowell to ATTACK AND DISCREDIT THE FINEST OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS, who was about to carry out an in-depth enquiry into McDowell's handling of the unprecedented massive payment, of taxpayers money, for a site for the proposed new prison to replace the hellhole called Mountjoy jail.
Game set and match to McDowell,and a sigh of relief for Bertie and his fellow ministers of waste and incompetence.!
See our special poem which we wrote for Monica:
Gardai are treating his sudden death on Tuesday as a tragic incident and do not suspect any foul play was involved.
Father-of-two John Leech was well-known to people in the advertising and marketing industry and throughout the Waterford business community, where his wife served as president of the city's chamber of commerce.
Mr Leech (58), from Otteran Place, South Parade, Waterford, was a director and shareholder in his wife's PR business, Monica Leech Communications Ltd.
Nick Donnelly, chief executive of the Waterford Chamber, said Mr Leech was "held in high regard" throughout the south-east business community.
"John was a well-known personality, very well liked by many business people throughout the city and will be sadly missed," Mr Donnelly said."
(Monica is in receipt of a few million in libel payments,from Irish newspapers ,which will no doubt help her get over her bereavement.)