Irish News

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Shatter sacked whistleblower confidante because he didn’t deny conversation which undermined the office

Published 20/02/2014|20:34

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Alan Shatter
Alan Shatter

Justice Minister Alan Shatter sacked the special confidante whose role was to receive allegations of wrongdoing from gardai because he didn’t deny an alleged conversation with a garda whistleblower.

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Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly was sacked yesterday after a transcript of a conversation emerged and read into the Dail record in which he told the garda whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe, that Mr Shatter will “go after you”.

In his first statement on the matter, Mr Shatter said his department contacted Mr Connolloy two weeks ago after extracts from the conversation were placed on the Dail record.

Mr Shatter said if the conversation had taken place, then Mr Connolly’s actions had “undermined the office of the Confidential Recipient”.

“Contacts with Mr Connolly over the following two weeks did not satisfy me as to his response to the controversy.  I informed him that in the context of his failure to unequivocally repudiate the content of the alleged conversation or take the necessary action to restore public confidence in the office of Confidential Recipient, I believed his position was untenable and I had no alternative but to relieve him of the position,” he said.

Mr Shatter had already intended to abolish the position.

New legislation, currently going through the Dail, will allow garda whistleblowers to go directly to the Garda Ombudsman.

In the meantime, interim arrangements will be made to fill the post of Confidential Recipient by the appointment of a retired judge.

Shatter Statement on Confidential Recipient

Speaking today, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD said, “Yesterday, I found it necessary to relieve the Garda Confidential Recipient Mr Oliver Connolly of his position. The Confidential Recipient must adopt an approach that creates confidence for any member of An Garda Síochána communicating an issue of concern. 

Communications must also be and remain confidential between the member of An Garda Síochána and the Confidential Recipient.

“While rumours were circulating for some time regarding the existence of an alleged tape and transcript of a confidential conversation between Mr Connolly and Sergeant Maurice McCabe, given the importance of the office’s confidentiality, no justice minister could properly seek out such a transcript or tape.

However, following an alleged extract from the alleged tape being placed on the Dáil record, I asked my Department two weeks ago to contact Mr Connolly outlining my concerns that, if the conversation as reported had taken place, then his actions had undermined the office of the Confidential Recipient.

“Contacts with Mr Connolly over the following two weeks did not satisfy me as to his response to the controversy.  I informed him that in the context of his failure to unequivocally repudiate the content of the alleged conversation or take the necessary action to restore public confidence in the office of Confidential Recipient, I believed his position was untenable and I had no alternative but to relieve him of the position.

“Prior to this controversy, I announced that I did not believe the office of Confidential Recipient and the legislation applicable to it was fulfilling the objective for which it was established.

I stated my intention to abolish the office and to enable members of An Garda Síochána who allege misconduct within the Force to have their complaints considered and addressed by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

 I am working with my colleague Minister Howlin to make an amendment to the Protected Disclosures Bill which would enable GSOC to operate within the architecture of the Bill and receive and investigate whistleblower allegations.

This will replace the existing Confidential Recipient system. The Bill is currently before the Dáil and will be enacted in the coming weeks. In the meantime interim arrangements will be made to fill the Post of Confidential Recipient by the appointment of a retired judge.”

Fionnan Sheahan

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