Justice Minister Alan Shatter rejected allegations that he had misled the Dáil when he claimed whistleblower Garda Maurice McCabe had refused to co-operate with the Garda investigation into the wiping of penalty points.
Contradicting remarks attributed to Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan that Sgt McCabe was directed to co-operate with the Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony’s inquiry, Mr Shatter said “he [McCabe] clearly wasn’t directed to engage but he was invited to engage with Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony”.
Mr Shatter said people had different perceptions of the issue but he has still refused to apologise to Sgt McCabe.
Mr Shatter delivered a robust defence of his handling of complaints of garda wrongdoing, insisting all of the allegations contained in the dossier compiled by Sgt McCabe had been dealt with.
The minister said the concerns were first raised in 2008 and have been investigated both internally and through the Garda Ombudsman’s office.
Mr Shatter claimed the controversies over how Mr McCabe’s complaints have been handled have been politicised by the opposition, before telling the Dáil his predecessor, former Fianna Fáil TD Dermot Ahern, knew about the allegations of malpractice and corruption in 2009.
He accused the Fianna Fáil minister of a cavalier attitude to the Garda and said he made the most serious allegations against the force without waiting to establish the truth or otherwise of them.
“I regret, in particular, the lack of regard he has shown to the office of the Garda Commissioner, which is at present occupied by a person appointed by the Government of which he was a member — which no doubt made the appointment on the basis of their full confidence in him,” Mr Shatter said.
The most serious was an allegation by serving Sgt Maurice McCabe that a court was not told a killer was on bail for a serious assault when he was charged over child abduction.
They also included falsification of records, sexual harassment of a female garda, victimisation, inadequate investigations of several alleged crimes and poor policing standards at Bailieborough station in Co Cavan, where Mr McCabe was stationed.
Mr Shatter said the DPP examined files on the allegations and ordered no criminal action. A number of gardaí were disciplined over some of the cases, he said.
“I want to deal first of all with the entirely incorrect assertion that nothing had been done in relation to a series of serious allegations involving garda misbehaviour,” he said.
Mr Shatter said he has no animosity towards the whistleblower, Sgt McCabe.
“I have absolutely no wish to have a continuing public, or indeed private, dispute with a serving member of An Garda Síochána.
“I believe it is of crucial importance that whistleblowers are treated with respect and their allegations taken seriously,” he said.
Sgt McCabe’s dossier, which was sent to Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week, is understood to contain a sample of 10 cases, including murder, assault and abduction, which were not properly handled by the Garda.
Mr Shatter said all allegations — first sent to him on January 23, 2012 — occurred in the 2007/2008 period.
He said a series of allegations and responses were addressed by the soon-to-be defunct Garda Confidential Recipient, internal investigators and external investigators in the ombudsman’s office. He also revealed that the internal inquiry into the allegations resulted in 10 volumes of evidence being sent to the DPP who directed no prosecution.
The minister said there was nothing new in the allegations, publicised by Independent TD Mick Wallace and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
Mr Shatter said: “My concern is as always that the full truth is known. He [Mr Martin] raised these very important issues as if they were entirely new, had never arisen during his term in government and had never been addressed previously either by the Confidential Recipient, An Garda Síochána or by GSOC.
“He falsely accused me of undermining the administration of justice, a charge which I entirely reject.”
Opposition TDs accused Mr Shatter of failing to explain why he sacked the Confidential Garda Recipient Oliver Connolly last week.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny delivered a strong defence of Mr Shatter’s decision to sack the Garda Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly and described his alleged remarks in a taped conversation with Sgt McCabe as “outrageous”.
Referring to Oliver Connolly’s alleged remark to Sgt McCabe: “If Shatter thinks you’re screwing him , you’re finished”, Mr Kenny said Mr Connolly did not answer the question as to whether he said those words. Mr Kenny said his position was “untenable” and he was dismissed.
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