WHEN Oliver Connolly was appointed as Confidential Recipient in June 2011, Alan Shatter released a statement wishing him success in this "important position".
He said it was "in everyone's interests" that An Garda Siochana operates to the highest possible standards and claimed the Government had placed "a high importance on addressing the issue of whistleblowing".
Recently it emerged that Mr Connolly spends much of his time abroad, with a home in London and trips to the Middle East and South Africa. The Irish Independent reported last October how his Dalkey house was rented to former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton.
He said none of this affected his work as part-time Confidential Recipient, for which he is entitled to an annual allowance of €12,500.
His appointment less than three years ago sparked immediate controversy – it emerged that the barrister had donated €1,000 in an individual cheque to Mr Shatter's political campaign in 2007.
He even trained Justice Minister Alan Shatter in the fine arts of mediation and was well-regarded both in legal and political circles, known to be a Fine Gael "party man".
The legal eagle lives in the discretely plush enclave of Sorrento Road in Dalkey and is described by party members as a "larger than life character" who made a fortune by putting young law graduates and lawyers through intensive study courses to enable them to pass the New York and California bars.
Mr Connolly's Friary Law mediation service was nominated in March 2011 as "the number one service" to be used by Minister Brendan Smith under the multi-unit development bill on behalf of the Fianna Fail government.
It was also nominated by Michael McDowell as Minister for Justice in 2004 as the number one mediation group to be utilised under the civil law and courts act.
A law lecturer in Trinity College, Mr Connolly has over 20 years' experience as a lawyer and has practised as an attorney in New York and at both the English and Irish bars.
He has also been admitted to the Bar in Northern Ireland.
He holds numerous professional qualifications and has served on several legal committees, as well as serving as the Hoellering World Fellow in Residence with the American Arbitration Association in New York in 2002-2003.
In the past, he represented student gardai in an inquiry relating to the Garda Code of Conduct Student Probation Regulations.