Tuesday 26 September 2017

Taoiseach admits he was wrong to tell Dáil Shatter accepted Guerin findings

Alan Shatter leaves Leinster House after resigning as Justice Minister in May 2014. Photo: Arthur Carron
Alan Shatter leaves Leinster House after resigning as Justice Minister in May 2014. Photo: Arthur Carron
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has conceded that he was wrong to tell the Dáil former justice minister Alan Shatter had accepted criticisms made about him in the Guerin Report.

Mr Kenny corrected the Dáil record yesterday and admitted statements made around Mr Shatter's resignation in May 2014 were inaccurate.

The Guerin Report was the result of a scoping exercise which eventually led to the setting-up of the O'Higgins Commission of Investigation into alleged garda misconduct in the Cavan/Monaghan district.

The Taoiseach said he was "very pleased" the O'Higgins report found Mr Shatter "acted properly at all times in relation to the handling of allegations" made by garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

"I am happy to state on the record that the former minister, in resigning, did not in fact accept responsibility for criticism made in the Guerin report of the adequacy of the Department and Minister for Justice and Equality in responding to allegations made by Sergeant McCabe," Mr Kenny said.

He added that in a recent letter Mr Shatter had also raised a number of other serious issues regarding the Guerin report.

However, Mr Kenny said these related to ongoing litigation in the courts and he could therefore not respond publicly. "The Government will respond when that litigation is resolved, taking account of the relevant court judgments," he said.

Mr Shatter, who was unavailable for comment last night, has claimed the Guerin report had "flawed conclusion and opinions" and wants its findings quashed.

Mr Kenny said he wanted to emphasise that Mr Shatter was "an exceptionally hardworking, radical and reforming minister who has left a positive legacy across the wide range of areas for which he had ministerial responsibility".

Praised

"As Taoiseach, I again thank him for his service, both as a minister and as a Dáil deputy over many years," he said.

Mr Shatter's successor as Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, also praised his work.

"We should recognise the contribution Alan Shatter has made to public life and in particular the many achievements, particularly in the legislative sphere, of his time as Minister for Justice. Far from finding the slightest fault with the approach of Alan to any of these serious matters, the report uses descriptions such as 'appropriate' and 'entirely reasonable' to characterise his behaviour in all the matters involved," she said.

However, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the former minister "focused too much on saying that the Guerin report caused his resignation".

"That is not what happened. Even before we discussed the Guerin report in this House the minister had resigned, saying he was doing so for political reasons because of the forthcoming local elections," he said.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said he wanted to "make it clear that neither I nor any of my Labour Party colleagues ever had any reason to question Alan Shatter's ability or integrity".

Irish Independent

Also in this section