Thursday 27 November 2014

Shatter's staff criticised lack of evidence from whistleblower

Daniel McConnell Political Correspondent

Published 24/02/2014 | 02:30

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Picture: David Conachy
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Picture: David Conachy

SENIOR officials in Minister Alan Shatter's Justice Department repeatedly criticised garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe's failure to produce evidence to prove his allegations, new correspondence reveals.

Emails between Mr Shatter's top officials and Sgt McCabe, seen by the Irish Independent, reveal the whistleblower wrote to the Justice Department stating he knew nothing of an internal garda inquiry and simply could not have cooperated.

Yet, in a series of emails officials continue to question his actions and criticise his continued failure to disclose verifying information to substantiate his claims.

"You will understand that a failure to make such evidence available will inevitably invite the conclusion that there is in fact no evidence," one senior official wrote.

The email correspondence also confirms that Mr Shatter's claim's in relation to Sgt McCabe not cooperating with an internal inquiry into his allegations were based on a briefing from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

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 and establish a "fully independent inquiry".

Last night it was confirmed that the department's approach to Sgt McCabe was based on briefings from Mr Callinan.

In the emails, Sgt McCabe claims he knew nothing of an internal garda inquiry headed up by Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony into his allegations and hence he could not have cooperated with it.

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 claimed that he was "never afforded a right of reply or a right of response".

On December 3 he said he was "very concerned that someone has told Minister Shatter information about me of a very serious nature and I am being refused the right to know the identity of the person or persons who advised him".

Having initially refused to clarify the matter, on December 4, the department confirmed to Sgt McCabe that Mr Callinan provided the basis of Mr Shatter's statement.

"Our understanding on this comes from the Garda Commissioner," the official wrote.

Sgt McCabe also called on the department to release any documents to support Mr Shatter's claim that he had not cooperated.

It has also emerged Taoiseach Enda Kenny failed to answer requests from Sgt McCabe to meet face to face and discuss his allegations. It is understood Sgt McCabe made several attempts to inform Mr Kenny of the "widespread" abuse within An Garda Siochana, but to date no such meeting has happened.

REQUEST

Sgt McCabe made one such request in writing by email on May 27 last.

In response, a spokesman for Mr Kenny said he was not aware of such requests.

A spokesman for the Garda Commissioner said he would not be making any comment.

However, garda sources last night insisted both Sgt McCabe and his fellow whistleblower John Wilson were "directed by Commissioner Callinan on December 14, 2012, to cooperate with the O'Mahony inquiry" but they failed to do so.

Reacting to the new email revelations, Fianna Fail's justice spokesman Niall Collins re-iterated his calls for a "fully independent inquiry" bound by the 2004 Commission of Inquiries legislation.

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

Meanwhile, Health Minister James Reilly has strongly defended under-fire Alan Shatter following the controversy surrounding his handling of the garda whistleblower affair.

Dr Reilly refused to call for an independent inquiry into the treatment of complaints made by Seargeant Maurice McCabe, adding that all the facts will be known following the outcome of a Department of Justice Review.

We have to await the outcome of the review in the Department of Justice and then we'll have the facts and we'll be in a much better position to make comments," he said.

"I think it would be premature to preempt that,"he added.

The Health Minister was speaking at an environmental health conference in Dublin City this morning.

Asked whether the Justice Minister has been damaged by the controversy, Dr Reilly pledge his full support.

"Alan Shatter is one of the hardest working ministers we have in government. He has been absolutely prodigious in the amount of legislation he has produced. He has been an individual who is absolutely bent on reform in his profession as indeed I am bent on reform in health and he has my full support."

Irish Independent

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