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Friday 22 August 2014

Shatter failed to query Callinan's advice – Guerin

Daniel McConnell Political Correspondent

Published 10/05/2014 | 02:30

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Alan Shatter and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan
Alan Shatter and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan

ALAN Shatter readily accepted advice from former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan "without question", the Guerin Report says.

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It has outlined a series of chronic failures by the former Justice Minister and his officials in their treatment of garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

In one case, Sean Guerin described how Mr Shatter was accused of failing to respond to a letter from Mr McCabe's wife Lorraine, in which she wrote about her fears on foot of death threats that the couple had received.

"It appears the minister acted as he did on foot of advice received from the commissioner, without that advice being questioned or analysed," Mr Guerin concluded.

He was deeply critical of Mr Shatter's failure to take "all appropriate steps" to investigate the complaints made by Sgt McCabe.

"There is cause for concern as to the adequacy of the investigation of the complaints made by Sgt McCabe to the minister and a sufficient basis for concern as to whether all appropriate steps were taken by the minister to investigate and address the specific complaints."

Mr Guerin was damning in his criticism of the reliance by Mr Shatter on advice given by Mr Callinan.

"In effect, the process of determining Sgt McCabe's complaints went no further than the minister receiving and acting upon the advice of the person who was the subject of the complaint," the report found.

Allegations

The report examined the role of the minister and the Department of Justice and reveals that there was an appeal for help from Sgt McCabe's wife in May 2011. She said her husband had received a death threat.

On April 6, 2011, she complained directly to Mr Shatter, expressing her disgust at the conduct of certain gardai. She referred to the "hurt, stress, annoyance, severe damage and sheer hell on our family and family life", saying wrongdoing had been covered up.

She also said that they had received a death threat from a member of the force, but that she would not let her husband report it because she was afraid of the repercussions. She asked for the minister's help.

A letter of reply stated that the allegation of the death threat had been brought to the attention of the Garda Commissioner.

On May 5, Mrs McCabe sent another email pleading for help. "I have received none at all. I did expect someone to make contact and this has not happened."

Mr Guerin was also deeply critical of the department's failure to make any effort to independently investigate Sgt McCabe's allegations.

Mr Guerin said the advice of Mr Callinan was that no evidence of wrongdoing had been found on the part of the unnamed superintendent against whom Sgt McCabe had complained.

However, Mr Guerin strongly disagreed, saying: "There are important issues concerning the conduct of criminal investigations under the direction and management of that named superintendent which remain unresolved."

He concluded: "In my opinion, these matters warrant further inquiry in an appropriate forum in the public interest."

Irish Independent

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