Thursday 27 October 2016

Shatter's resignation was an 'in-house Fine Gael affair' - Burton

Published 16/05/2016 | 02:30

Alan Shatter with former garda chief Martin Callinan. Photo: Laura Hutton/
Alan Shatter with former garda chief Martin Callinan. Photo: Laura Hutton/

Alan Shatter's resignation as Justice Minister was an "in-house Fine Gael affair", former Tánaiste Joan Burton has said.

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The outgoing Labour Party leader said that while she was at the Cabinet table when Mr Shatter resigned, it is up to the Taoiseach to decide whether the ex-minster deserves an apology on foot of the O'Higgins Report.

But she added that all of the issues relating to An Garda Síochána should be studied by the new independent Policing Authority at "an early opportunity".

Asked if Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan should explain suggestions from her legal team that whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe acted out of "malice", Ms Burton said the Policing Authority needs to look at many issues raised by the O'Higgins Commission and the Guerin Report which led to its establishment.

"I assume that quite a lot of issues in the Guerin Report which have given rise to questions will be an issue for the independent Policing Authority.

"They will bring the parties involved together and to discuss with them any implications for the future of the gardaí in Ireland," she said.

When Mr Shatter stepped down in 2014, Eamon Gilmore was Tánaiste but Ms Burton pointed out that reports from that time, showed that he was "not particularly involved".

"It was very much an in-house Fine Gael affair and really it will be for the Taoiseach to comment on some of the comments made in the context of the report," she said.

Mr Shatter has sought an apology from Taoiseach Enda Kenny and wants comments made in the Dáil based on the findings of the Guerin Report to be amended.

He believes that his good name was tarnished by the Guerin Report but he has now been vindicated by the O'Higgins Commission, which concluded that he took the whistleblower allegations "very seriously".

To date, the Taoiseach has given no indication that he is willing to issue an apology.

And yesterday, Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy said there was a "wider context" to Mr Shatter's resignation.

"It's very unfortunate what happened to Alan personally in this particular context. But looking at the wider picture of what had been going on in Justice, just at the point at which Alan resigned, I think he had been found to be in breach of data protection.

"A very serious breach in my view in relation to comments that he made about Mick Wallace live on air one evening. So there was something else happening as well," he told RTÉ's 'The Week in Politics'.

Fianna Fáil's Jim O'Callaghan noted that Mr Shatter resigned.

"He wasn't sacked. He made the decision himself to resign. And it wasn't simply on foot of what was in the O'Higgins Report. There was a culmination of issues which led to the Dáil losing confidence, and obviously the Taoiseach, losing confidence in Alan Shatter as Minister for Justice," he said.

Meanwhile it also emerged yesterday that up to 20 secret recordings were submitted to the O'Higgins Commission by Sgt McCabe, several of which contradicted allegations made against him by senior officers.

The recordings are understood to have led to a "climb down" on the Garda position on a number of occasions during the commission's hearings.

The revelation will add to the pressure on Commissioner O'Sullivan to clarify why she praised Sgt McCabe in public while her legal team was claiming he was motivated by malice.

Irish Independent

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