Monday 19 March 2018

'Whistleblower motivated by malice' - garda commissioner under pressure to explain claim

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Pressure is building on Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to explain claims her legal team planned to tell the O'Higgins inquiry that whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe was motivated by "malice".

The commissioner declined to comment on the claims yesterday, with a garda spokesman saying she was prohibited from doing so by law.

UNHAPPY: Alan Shatter. Photo: Frank McGrath
UNHAPPY: Alan Shatter. Photo: Frank McGrath

However, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin insisted it would be "useful" for Ms O'Sullivan to clarify the issue.

The fresh controversy revolves around claims a senior counsel for Ms O'Sullivan told a private session of the O'Higgins commission that evidence would be produced to show Sgt McCabe had told two other officers he was making complaints because of malice he harboured towards a senior colleague.

However, no such evidence was ultimately given to the commission after Sgt McCabe produced a recording of the meeting, which showed he had not made those comments.

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald refused to intervene in the issue yesterday, saying it would be inappropriate for her "to second-guess" the commission's work.

Read more: Commissioner's claim on McCabe may start new maelstrom in force

She also declined to say whether she would be discussing the claims with the commissioner.

However, it is unlikely the Government will be able to draw a line under the O'Higgins inquiry any time soon, with former Justice Minister Alan Shatter reiterating calls for his name to be cleared in the Dáil.

In an interview yesterday, Mr Shatter said some of Sgt McCabe's allegations, which were found to be untrue, had "wrought havoc".

The O'Higgins report commended Sgt McCabe's integrity and upheld complaints he had about procedures and practices used in several investigations in the Cavan-Monaghan garda district.

However, it said he was prone to exaggeration on occasion and completely rejected corruption allegations he made against former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and three other senior officers.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Mr Shatter said: "Whereas I absolutely accept it was perfectly right for him to raise issues of major public concern, but, insofar as he made allegations [for] which there was no evidence and were unfounded, he wrought havoc in the lives of a number of people."

The former minister has sought for the findings of the barrister Sean Guerin, who conducted an earlier scoping exercise of allegations made by Sgt McCabe, to be withdrawn in the wake of the O'Higgins report.

While Mr Guerin found Mr Shatter had not heeded the concerns raised by Sgt McCabe, the O'Higgins report found the opposite, saying Mr Shatter had acted appropriately.

Read more: 'I felt like a murderer... I was spat on and shouted at' - Alan Shatter

Calls by Mr Shatter for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to amend the Dáil record in the wake of the O'Higgins report have yet to be responded to.

Mr Shatter resigned due to Mr Guerin's findings and said yesterday he "felt like a murderer" after the Guerin report was published in May 2014.

The former TD said he believed the Guerin report cost him his Dáil seat and described how he was spat on, shouted at and harassed in public in the wake of its findings.

Ms Fitzgerald expressed sympathy for Mr Shatter earlier this week but her spokesman said she had nothing further to add to those comments.

Irish Independent

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