Alan Shatter to exhibit O’Higgins report in appeal

Former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter will exhibit the O’Higgins Commission report into allegations by garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe in his appeal over the dismissal of his bid to quash parts of the Guerin report concerning his handling of those allegations.

In his appeal, listed for June 21, Mr Shatter will also exhibit a statement by Taoiseach Enda Kenny correcting the Dáil record relating to Mr Shatter’s resignation in 2014 following publicaiton of the Guerin report, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday.

The appeal, listed for hearing on June 21, was mentioned before the president of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Sean Ryan yesterday. Paul Anthony McDermott SC, for Mr Guerin, asked that Mr Shatter’s side outline in submissions those parts of the O’Higgins report they intended to refer to in the appeal and for what purpose they were relying on those.

Paul Sreenan SC, for Mr Shatter, said it was clear his side would be relying on the chapter relating to Mr Shatter’s handling of Sgt McCabe’s claims but his side would address matters in submissions. Mr Justice Ryan said the issues raised by Mr McDermott could be addressed in the appeal.

The judge earlier told the sides he himself proposed to preside over the appeal but was conscious several members of the judiciary would know Mr Shatter personally or have had official transactions with him.

He said he wanted to assure the sides, if they had any objection to his hearing the appeal, he would consider those objections seriously and not be offended by them. Both counsel said they would take instructions in relation to what the judge had said.

In his High Court judgement of May 2015, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan dismissed all grounds of Mr Shatter’s judicial review challenge to sections of the Guerin report, published in May 2014, after Mr Guerin’s review of the handling of the McCabe allegations. Mr Shatter claimed Mr Guerin made a number of highly critical “findings” over the then minister’s handling of the allegations, leaving Mr Shatter with no alternative but to resign as minister.

Mr Guerin denied any unfairness and said his report contained “observations”, not conclusions, based on documents provided for the review by the Department of Justice. The disputed aspects of the report included statements by Mr Guerin that the minister had accepted the response of then garda commissioner Martin Callanan to the McCabe complaints “without question” and there was no independent investigation of Sgt McCabe’s complaints.

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