Monday 20 November 2017

Whistleblower 'betrayed' me by taping our chat – Connolly

Whistleblower Garda Sgt.Maurice McCabe.Picture: Tom Burke
Whistleblower Garda Sgt.Maurice McCabe.Picture: Tom Burke

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

THE former confidential recipient has accused garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe of betraying him by secretly taping a conversation and releasing the transcript.

Barrister Oliver Connolly, pictured below, refused to confirm or deny the content of the conversation, which triggered his sacking last month by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

But he dramatically broke his silence yesterday about the controversy, one of several to engulf Mr Shatter in recent weeks.

In a four-page statement he:

* Accused Sgt McCabe of a "betrayal" and a "serious breach of confidence" after the garda taped a conversation in February 2012;

* Maintained that he (Mr Connolly) should not confirm or deny the accuracy of the transcript as this would "violate the confidentiality" of the confidential recipient's office;

* Said he was satisfied that he had discharged his duties properly;

* Stood by Mr Shatter, despite the minister's decision to sack him;

* Accused TDs of using the transcript as "a naked political attempt to embarrass" Mr Shatter;

* Claimed some of the media did not provide "fair and balanced" reporting of the matter.

However, far from ending the controversy, the statement only fuelled calls for further answers.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties contradicted Mr Connolly's claim that he could not by law comment on the accuracy of the transcript.

According to extracts from the tape read into the Dail record by Independent TD Mick Wallace, Mr Connolly told the sergeant: "I'll tell you something, Maurice, and this is just personal advice to you, if Shatter thinks you're screwing him, you're finished."

The ICCL said there was nothing in the 2007 confidential recipient regulations or the Official Secrets Act 1963 which would prevent him from clarifying the issue.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he expected Mr Connolly to co-operate fully with barrister Sean Guerin, who is conducting an independent inquiry into claims by Sgt McCabe that serious cases involving murder, abduction and assault were not investigated properly.

A spokesperson for Mr Shatter said the minister had no comment on Mr Connolly's statement.

In yesterday's statement, Mr Connolly offered Mr Shatter his support, saying: "The minister is often misunderstood and strange as it may seem to some, despite recent events, I remain an enthusiastic supporter of the minister in his programme of reform."

However, Mr Connolly insisted that he would "continue to preserve the confidentiality" of the office of confidential recipient.

Irish Independent

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