Confidential recipient Connolly may appear before committee

The Oireachtas Justice Committee is to consider inviting former Garda confidential recipient Oliver Connolly to appear and answer questions about how he handled whistleblower complaints.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said yesterday said he would not mistreat any Garda whistleblower and it’s a “complete mystery” why Mr Connolly allegedly implied so.

He said he had no idea what Mr Connolly was thinking when he allegedly told whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe that “if Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished”.

His comments came following new claims that a second whistleblower was warned by Mr Connolly of the consequences of pursuing a claim against the force in relation to sexual harassment.

A TD this week said the female garda was told by the recipient that “the last man who used this service is now washing cars in Navan”.

Mr Shatter sacked Mr Connolly last week over reported comments he made to Sgt McCabe.

The minister has said yesterday he knew nothing about the separate claim by the female garda and the alleged conversation.

However, he commented in the Dáil yesterday on the alleged remarks by Mr Connolly to Sgt McCabe, whose claims about malpractice in the force have now become the focus of a barrister-led review.

“What was said was absolutely unacceptable. There is no question of my treating anybody in that fashion.”

He said that in a brief conversation in January 2012 Mr Connolly emphasised to him that these were “important issues” to be followed up in relation to Sgt McCabe’s concerns.

But the minister said he did not have regular meetings with the recipient.

“I do not understand why he [Mr Connolly] conducted himself in that way.

“He has a very good reputation as a sound lawyer and mediator. It remains as much of a surprise and mystery to me as I expect it should be to others.”

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins has asked the committee to invite Mr Connolly to come before it. TDs could ask Mr Conolly about his work as well as his private discussions with gardaí about their complaints, he said.

Committee chairman and Fine Gael TD David Stanton confirmed members would discuss the request next Wednesday.

Elsewhere, during questions in the Dáil, Mr Shatter also said he was awaiting a report on the outcome of changes following the publication of the Smithwick Tribunal report on claims of Garda collusion in the murder of two RUC officers.

“There is continuing contact between the chief constable in Northern Ireland and the Garda commissioner. I expect in the not too distant future to receive a report of the outcome of the work that is being undertaken arising from the Smithwick report.”

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