Former justice minister Alan Shatter says critical findings against him in the Guerin report cost him his seat as a TD and that he was abused and spat at after the inquiry.
While Mr Shatter said it was “perfectly right” that garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe raised concerns about the force — which prompted the Guerin probe — the former TD also said some of these were “unfounded” and had “wrought havoc in the lives of a number of people”.
Mr Shatter was speaking following the publication this week of the O’Higgins report, which investigated allegations of malpractice and corruption in the force following the preliminary Guerin inquiry.
While the Guerin report claimed Mr Shatter did “not pay heed” to Sgt McCabe’s concerns, a finding which resulted in the minister resigning, the O’Higgins report, while it found flaws in the force, did not find adversely against Mr Shatter and in fact concluded he dealt with complaints “professionally”.
Mr Shatter is taking a court case to overturn the Guerin findings. He wrote to Taoiseach Enda Kenny this week pressing him to correct the Dáil record about previously supporting Guerin’s findings.
In a series of interviews yesterday, the former minister effectively blamed the loss of his seat in Dublin-Rathdown during the election on the Guerin findings.
“I have no doubt that the Guerin report did extraordinary damage to my representation and had an impact on the general election,” he said. “I may have still been a member of Dáil Éireann.”
“The issues arising from the Guerin report came across to the electorate when knocking on doors.
“It is very difficult when you’re in a situation where you know you are telling the truth about matters of genuine public importance, where you understand you dealt with matters in a careful, reasoned way, to find yourself of being constantly accused of lying, accused of incompetence.”
Mr Shatter described how, following the publication of the Guerin report in 2014 and his resignation, that he was shouted at on the street and was the object of abuse. He said that at one point, a cyclist spat at him on the street.
“When my wife and I tried to get away from this and took a week’s break in France some six or seven weeks after my resignation I found myself subject to a tirade by an Irish guy on the same flight,” he told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme.
“One felt as if I had murdered someone or robbed a bank. For a period I lost faith that telling the truth mattered.”
While Mr Shatter said it was “absolutely, perfectly right” for Sgt McCabe to raise concerns, the former minister said there was no evidence for some of these allegations, stating that some were “unfounded” and “wrought havoc in the lives of a number of people”.
He reiterated that Mr Kenny needed to correct the Dáil record.
“I believe the Guerin report should be withdrawn, conclusions corrected, and the Dáil record should be corrected,” he said.
“It resulted in the condemnation of both myself and the Garda Commissioner. It resulted in my being required to resign as minister.”
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