Former justice minister Alan Shatter has launched a blistering attack on his former party and government colleague Taoiseach Enda Kenny, for “ignoring concerns” over the report which forced his resignation from Cabinet.
Mr Shatter yesterday won his appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of his challenge to parts of the Guerin report concerning his handling of complaints by Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
The three-judge Court of Appeal unanimously ruled Mr Shatter’s rights to natural justice and fair procedures were breached as a result of the procedure adopted by senior counsel Seán Guerin when compiling his May 2014 report examining Garda investigations of Sgt McCabe’s complaints alleging Garda misconduct.
The president of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Sean Ryan, said Mr Shatter’s constitutional rights were “in jeopardy” by reason of Mr Guerin’s proposed adverse conclusions concerning Mr Shatter’s handling of the McCabe complaints.
In a hard-hitting statement, Mr Shatter spoke of the toll the “past two very difficult and stressful years” has taken on him and his family.
Mr Shatter welcomed the decision of the judges, however, the stinging rebuke of Mr Kenny will once again raise questions over the Taoiseach’s treatment of one his staunchest supporters.
“The findings and conclusions of the Guerin Report were the cause of my being required, on 7th May 2014, two days before the report was published, to resign my position as minister for justice, equality and defence on being informed by the Taoiseach that he could no longer express confidence in me,” he said pointedly in a statement.
He said Mr Guerin made his findings and conclusions which “criticised my competence as minister”, and the manner in which he dealt with the complaints of Sgt Maurice McCabe, without ever speaking with him or giving him the opportunity to address his concerns.
Mr Shatter said that he raised such concerns with Mr Kenny and his successor as Justice Minister Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, but they were ignored.
“At the time of my resignation, I was critical of this to the Taoiseach and detailed my criticisms in the Dáil on 19th June 2014.
“Unfortunately, the Taoiseach ignored my concerns as also did my successor as minister for justice when responding in the June 2014 Dáil debate as did all opposition members of the Dáil at that time,” he said.
He also said it “cost me my position of minister for justice, equality and defence, a job I loved and a position I felt privileged to hold”.
He added: “I also have no doubt that the conclusions of Mr Guerin contributed to the loss of my Dáil seat in February of this year.”
Mr Shatter pointed to the report of the O’Higgins Commission of Inquiry, published in May, which totally contradicted the adverse conclusions about me contained in the Guerin Report.
“Despite the conclusions of the O’Higgins Report, the Guerin Report containing its mistaken conclusions still remains in the public domain,” he said.
In response, the Government press secretary told the Irish Examiner: “The minister resigned and his own resignation letter refers to the reasons why.
“The judgement has been made but the case is being heard again in terms of rights and orders shortly so it remains an ongoing court case,” he added.
After the O’Higgins report, on May 25, the Taoiseach corrected the Dáil record on comments he made about Mr Shatter, at the former minister’s request.
Independents4Change TD Clare Daly challenged Ms Fitzgerald during Leaders’ Questions as to why ex-High Court judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill has not yet spoken to either whistleblower, when his report is due for delivery next week.
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