Saturday 7 December 2019

Alan Shatter and the Sean Guerin Report: why the Minister resigned

Alan Shatter has resigned as Justice Minister
Alan Shatter has resigned as Justice Minister

Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter submitted his shock resignation after a report was critical of his approach in the investigation of complaints by garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

The report was carried out by Senior Counsel Sean Guerin and a full statutory inquiry will now take place into the complaints made by sergeant McCabe.

This afternoon Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that Mr Guerin, whose 300 page report will be published on Friday, detailed failings in the investigation of the complaints by the Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana.

Pressure had been mounting on the minister in recent weeks after a series of controversies dogged his office.

These included the GSOC bugging scandal, the penalty points and garda whistleblower controversies, and breach of data protection regarding Wexford Independent TD Mick Wallace.

Mr Guerin, a well known criminal law barrister, was appointed last February to carry out a scoping exercise into the allegations made by Sgt McCabe.

In his resignation letter, Mr Shatter said that he had read three chapters of the report as well as an accompanying letter from Mr Guerin dated May 6th last.

Mr Shatter said he was not interviewed by Mr Guerin although he expected to have been.

“I am anxious that any controversy that may arise on publication of the report does not distract from the important work of Government or create any difficulties for the Fine Gael or Labour parties in the period leading into the European and Local Government elections,” said Mr Shatter in a two page letter,

“It is my judgment that the only way in such controversy can be avoided is by my offering you my resignation from Cabinet”.

Mr Guerin had the power to recommend a full inquiry under the Commission of Investigation Act, 2005 and Mr Kenny confirmed this afternoon that a full statutory inquiry - as recommended by Mr Guerin - will now tale place.

Mr Kenny previously said 11 of the 12 allegations of Garda mismanagement of cases made by the whistleblower were found to be “groundless”.

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