Sunday 26 October 2014

Shatter rejects allegations of misleading Dail on whistleblower claims

Published 26/02/2014 | 11:19

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has vehemently rejected allegations he mislead the Dail on the cooperation of a whistleblower with the penalty points inquiry.

Mr Shatter also went through the investigations undertaken to investigate the complaints made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

In particular, the minister said the circumstances around the release on bail of Gerry McGrath, who subsequently murdered Sylvia Roche-Kelly in Limerick in 2007, were thoroughly investigated by the Garda Ombudsman.

“While I do not wish to underestimate in any way the seriousness of what happened, the judgement of an independent body, GSOC, was that what was at issue was a less serious breach of discipline and I am advised GSOC did not make any finding under its statutory provisions of Garda misconduct,” he said.

Mr Shatter issued no apology to Sergeant McCabe for claiming he had failed to cooperate with the investigation into the wiping of penalty points, which his complaints had sparked.

The Justice Minister hit back at Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin’s claims allegations of mismanagement of cases made by the whistleblower were ignored for two years.

“He falsely accused me of undermining the administration of Justice, a charge which I entirely reject. It has been a central personal commitment of my entire adult life that we have the best system possible to administer Justice in the State and, for many years during my period in this House, it was Deputy Martin’s party that obstinately opposed and delayed the implementation of crucial reform and the modernisation of our criminal justice system,” he said.

Mr Shatter said there was clearly a difference of views between the gardai and Sergeant McCabe around the whistleblower being asked to contribute to the penalty points investigation.

“I have explained the basis on which I made my statement and I can take it no further. However, I want to make it clear, because of some public comment that has been made, that there is no basis for the suggestion that the Garda Commissioner in any way misled me in relation to this matter. Nor is there any basis for an allegation that I in any way misled the House. I appreciate that different Members of the House may perceive these matters differently. It is unfortunate that perceptions are coloured on occasion by political differences,” he said.

Mr Shatter also said the allegations from Sergeant McCabe were first sent to former Fianna Fail Justice Minister Dermot Ahern in 2009.

The minister said he believed Mr Ahern had dealt with the complaints appropriately at the time.

But he said it would have been “helpful” if Mr Martin had highlighted these contacts earlier. 

“I doubt, that Deputy Martin would have come into the Dail Chamber in 2009 or 2010 and made such charge against former Minister Dermot Ahern and accused him of undermining the administration of justice in the State,” he said.

By Fionnan Sheahan

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