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Crowe reports ‘cowardly’ signature forgery to Gardaí

GARDAÍ are investigating an allegation that the signature of Deputy Cathal Crowe was forged and fraudulently used to make a complaint to the Council about a local business.
The Fianna Fáil TD branded the incident, in which a letter with his name was forged and sent to Clare County Council’s planning enforcement section, as “cowardly”.
The fake document made a number of allegations that a named business was in breach of planning controls. It also falsely suggested that Deputy Crowe had received a number of complaints and called on the authority to conduct an investigation.
“This is a cowardly act by somebody with a grudge,” Deputy Crowe told The Champion. “I’m 17 years in politics and have never seen anything like it. Whoever is behind this should have had the gumption to use their own name and go through the channels properly.
“This forgery is something that could have had major fall-out for the business named.”
The Meelick man outlined how, once he became aware of the forged letter, he contacted the business owner and asked the Council to withdraw the false complaint.
“I’ve spoken to the person concerned to make it clear this letter did not come from me or my office,” he said.
“I’ve told the Council I don’t want this person to be the subject of any investigation based on this letter. I’ve lodged an official complaint and Gardaí now have possession of the letter for forensic examination.”
The matter was brought to Deputy Crowe’s attention last week by Council staff who are understood to have had concerns over the validity of the letter.
“I think they felt there was something slightly off, because my correspondence with the Council would mainly be by email,” he outlined.
“The name in the letter didn’t ring any bells and I double and treble checked with my office to confirm that we didn’t send that letter,” the Fianna Fail TD said.
Deputy Crowe, who has published a reacted version of the letter on social media, to highlight the issue, described the forgery as relatively crude.
“When you look at it, it’s very obviously a copy of my signature,” he said.
“It looks as if someone pasted the footer of an email, and my signature, on to a sheet of white A4 paper.”
The Fianna Fáil deputy added that he is now cross-referencing his email correspondence “out of curiosity” to see if light might be shed on the sender of the letter.
“In my time in politics, I’ve never come across something like this,” he added.
“I had my phone hacked a few years ago and there was somebody boasting on a bar stool that they could access my voicemails, but I’ve never had someone forge my name.”
Deputy Crowe also confirmed his Facebook account had been compromised in a recent data breach. He was alerted to the issue by a national media organisation which found that a total of 65 TDs had data compromised in a breach affecting 1.5 million Irish account holders.
“There was nothing of substance released,” he said.
“It was just information which is already out there in the public domain. At my office, we are all pretty savvy about online security and wouldn’t fall into some of the pitfalls that are out there.”

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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