independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Shatter's claims on Garda whistleblower's lack of cooperation in inquiry came from Garda commissioner

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter

Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s claim that Garda Whistleblower Maurice McCabe did not cooperate with an internal inquiry into his allegations was based on a briefing from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, it emerged today.

Mr Shatter has been accused of misleading the Dail in relation to this claim and has been called on by opposition TDs to apologise to Sgt McCabe.

Sgt McCabe has repeatedly claimed he knew nothing of the O’Mahony inquiry and hence he could not have cooperated with it.

Fresh emails between Sgt McCabe and the Department of Justice reveal that Commissioner Callinan informed the department about Garda whistleblower McCabe’s interaction with the inquiry team.

Sgt McCabe wrote to Mr Shatter in late October 2013 asking him to explain on what basis did he tell the Dail that the whistleblower had been "offered the opportunity... to submit any evidence or other relevant information.... but did not do so".

Sgt McCabe told the minister that he was "never afforded a right of reply or a right of response" after he complained about alleged widespread abuse of penalty points cancellation by members of the force.

A senior official replied to Sgt McCabe saying: "Our understanding on this comes from the Garda Commissioner".

Reacting to the revelations, Fianna Fail’s justice spokesman Niall Collins reiterated his calls for a “fully independent inquiry” bound by the 2004 Commission of Inquiries legislation.

“Such controversies are corrosive to the public’s confidence in the Garda Siochana,” he said.

Speaking earlier, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore suggested Mr Shatter will address the ongoing controversy in the Dail, later this week.

“I think the Minister for Justice is prepared to answer whatever questions are put to him in the Dail, oireachtas committee, by the press and I think he is perfectly capable of answering for himself,” he told reporters in Mullingar,” Mr Gilmore said.

Asked should Mr Shatter correct the record of the Dail, Mr Gilmore said: “I think that is a matter for the Minister for Justice. The Minister for Justice has always been willing to reply to questions and I expect he will continue that practice”.

Mr Gilmore said he had a discussion with the Taoiseach about this issue, saying the Taoiseach he has read the material that deputy Martin has supplied to him and he is “taking it very seriously”.

He said the material is incomplete and Mr Kenny has asked deputy Martin to supply that additional material.

“He will of course be taking advice on it and it is something that is being addressed as a matter of urgency,” Mr Gilmore said.

The Labour leader said it is “too early” to say whether a full statutory inquiry is required.

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