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Saturday 20 September 2014

Ex-minister Dermot Ahern alerted to claims by whistleblower

Fionnan Sheahan and Niall O'Connor

Published 26/02/2014 | 02:30

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Tuesday 07 September 2010. Dublin Convention Centre. Dermot Ahern.
Former Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.
Dermot Ahern
Alan Shatter with south Dublin Fine Gael local election candidate Josepha Madigan last night.

FIANNA Fail's then Justice Minister Dermot Ahern was alerted to some allegations of wrongdoing by garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe five years ago, the Irish Independent has learnt.

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Mr Ahern's officials acknowledged receipt by the then minister of Sgt McCabe's complaints and told him the garda commissioner was the appropriate authority to deal with the allegations.

FF leader Micheal Martin says he is satisfied no minister from his party knew anything about the allegations of garda malpractice.

Mr Ahern has also insisted he knew nothing about concerns raised by the garda whistleblower.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter last night accused Mr Martin of "jumping to conclusions" and vowed to "set the record straight" in a Dail debate today.

Mr Shatter is believed to be planning to give details of the correspondence between Sgt McCabe and his predecessor.

He is expected to refer to letters and emails from spring and summer 2009 regarding alleged wrongdoing in the force.

The response from Mr Ahern's private office refers to ongoing investigations.

The correspondence shows there was contact between FF in government and the garda whistleblower.

Speaking just hours after the Cabinet agreed to set up an inquiry into Sgt McCabe's allegations, Mr Shatter rounded on Mr Martin in response to his calls for an independent inquiry.

"I think it would be a very good idea on issues that are genuinely serious if Micheal Martin didn't jump to conclusions and I'll be addressing all of this tomorrow at great length in the Dail and setting the record straight," he told the Irish Independent.

Despite several calls for his resignation, Mr Shatter came out fighting at a Fine Gael meeting in his Dublin South constituency. The minister admitted he has found himself embroiled in "a little bit of controversy in recent months" before staunchly defending his record.

Earlier this week, Mr Ahern, who succeeded the late Brian Lenihan as Justice Minister in May 2008, told the Irish Independent he was never told about any of these allegations.

"To the best of my knowledge, no official, either in the guards or in the department or in the confidential recipient's office, briefed me about any of these allegations," he said.

A number of the claims made by Sergeant McCabe as far back as 2008 were also included in a dossier given by him to Mr Martin in recent weeks.

The Opposition has been calling for a special inquiry into the latest allegations, with Mr Martin saying Mr Shatter knew about them since January 2012.

This call was rejected last Friday by Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who said the allegations related to the years 2007-2009, when a Fianna Fail-led government was in power.

But Mr Ahern said: "The first I heard of these allegations was in the newspaper."

The former justice minister said the then confidential recipient would not have been obliged to inform him about Sergeant McCabe's allegations.

Irish Independent

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