Sunday 18 March 2018

Pressure on Fitzgerald to publish garda report

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald (INM)
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald (INM)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Political pressure is mounting on Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to publish the O'Higgins report into alleged garda corruption after sections of it were widely leaked.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said it was a "scandal" that the report has been subject to "highly selective leaking" and called on Ms Fitzgerald to release the full document immediately.

Roisín Shortall of the Social Democrats said the situation made a mockery of "new politics".

The Commission of Investigation under Mr Justice Kevin O'Higgins was established to probe allegations of garda malpractice and corruption in the Cavan/Monaghan district.

It has found "not a scintilla of evidence" to support claims that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan acted corruptly, and also cleared former justice minister Alan Shatter of any wrongdoing.

Both men resigned from their positions in 2014 amid a storm of controversy.

The Commission's final report was delivered to the Department of Justice on April 26 but the Attorney General is still trying to decide whether it can be made public without impacting on any criminal cases.

Ms Shortall said there was "a commitment" that the report would be published as quickly as possible but that doesn't seem to have happened.

"I think it's completely unacceptable that the O'Higgin's report would be leaked in the way that it has been leaked, in this drip, drip, drip.

"When government gets the report and Cabinet considers it, it should be published immediately," she said.

The Dublin TD added: "We would all share concern about the manner in which the O'Higgins Report has been handled and the manner in which it has been leaked so that we don't have an open and objective assessment of it.

"The report should be put in the public domain immediately as was promised."

Ms Shortall accused the Government of "news management" saying there was a similar problem with the recent release of the interim report of the Cregan Commission which dropped late on the Friday evening of the May bank holiday weekend.

The Green Party's Catherine Martin said: "I think there has been an opportunity lost with the O'Higgins Report and the way it has been managed with leaks.

"There was an opportunity to make a clear signal that we are embracing this new style of politics, this transparency and openness that is needed. We'd like to see that published as soon as possible."

And Richard Boyd Barrett said the Government needed to be more transparent.

"We have to get away from politics where the issues are debated first in the media and the last place they are discussed is in the Dáil and Houses of the Oireachtas.

"We have just had spin and PR on all of the substantial issues, whether it's housing, health, O'Higgins Report or so many others," he said.

Irish Independent

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