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Thursday 14 December 2017

Shatter sacks garda whistleblower

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. Photo: Tony Gavin
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. Photo: Tony Gavin

Niall O’Connor

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter yesterday sacked the liaison for garda whistleblowers as the controversy around garda transparency continues to grow.

Confidential recipient Oliver Connolly was under the spotlight over comments he made to Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

In a conversation, quoted in the Dail last week, Mr Connolly told the whistleblower the minister will “go after you”.

“If stuff was to get out into the public, the print media, I tell you something Maurice – and this is just personal advice to you – if Shatter thinks you're screwing him, you're finished,” the transcript of the conversation said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday Mr Shatter has relieved Mr Connolly of his duties.

The Garda Ombudsman bugging affair also escalated with Mr Shatter being accused of further undermining the independence of the watchdog.

Mr Shatter came under fire after he repeatedly called in to question the basis of which the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) launched an investigation into suspected surveillance at its offices during a lengthy Oireachtas committee hearing.

The minister said he and senior officials in his department were concerned with the “proportionality” when GSOC decided to investigate and said he questioned if there was sufficient evidence.

Fianna Fail’s Thomas Byrne strongly questioned Mr Shatter’s stance asking: “GSOC is a fully independent body. Is it appropriate for the minister to questions decisions that are taken?”

Mr Shatter said that an Irish company, RITS, provided him with information which contradicted and disputed all three main anomalies highlighted by the original investigation report, conducted by UK firm Verrimus, on behalf GSOC.

Mr Shatter told TDs the experts contracted by the Ombudsman's office did wrongly believe there had already been ‘a breach of security systems' before they started work.

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