Monday 5 December 2016

O'Higgins probe findings shed new light on Shatter downfall

Published 27/04/2016 | 02:30

Mr Shatter was left with little option but to step aside after the Guerin Report
Mr Shatter was left with little option but to step aside after the Guerin Report

By the time the O'Higgins Commission of Investigation was established in February 2015 to investigate allegations of garda misconduct in Cavan/Monaghan, Martin Callinan and Alan Shatter had already resigned from their positions.

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However, its findings appear set to reignite a debate around the manner in which both men walked away from office.

Mr Shatter was left with little option but to step aside after the Guerin Report, which recommended the setting up of the Commission, criticised his handling of complaints from garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

And Mr Callinan had previously left Garda HQ after being engulfed in a series of controversies, including when he used the phrase "quite disgusting" in relation to whistleblowers while appearing before a Dáil committee.

Enda Kenny has always denied that he forced Mr Callinan to retire, but it is still an uncomfortable topic for the acting Taoiseach.

The early snippets emerging from the O'Higgins report suggest new light has been shed on the circumstances that led to their downfalls. And this will require some mature reflection on the crisis that paralysed the justice system during the latter months of Mr Shatter's tenure.

The commission was the result of a recommendation from Sean Guerin, who carried out an initial probe into Mr McCabe's claims. Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said it "would be desirable in the public interest to ensure continuing confidence in the criminal justice system".

Irish Independent

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