Guerin and O’Higgins explained: Why they were set up and what they found

Confused by the Guerin and O’Higgins reports? Here we explain what they are, why they were set up, and what they found

Guerin report

Why was it set up?:

Barrister Sean Guerin was asked in February 2013 by the Government to review allegations of incompetence and misconduct highlighted by Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Guerin and O’Higgins explained: Why they were set up and what they found 

This decision came after Fianna Fáil leader, Micháel Martin, controversially raised Sgt McCabe’s claims in the Dáil. Sgt McCabe’s allegations included malpractice in relation to the Pulse computer system, in the handling of an assault and child abduction case , a clerical sex abuse and pornography case, and several public order incidents.

What it found:

The Guerin report found that gardaí and the former justice minister, Alan Shatter, failed to properly investigate allegations of corruption and malpractice in the force. It also found that the gardaí, Garda Ombudsman, and Department of Justice officials failed to act properly on complaints made by the sergeant and that Sgt McCabe suffered as a result.

It found the department accepted the gardaí’s response to the claims without question. It also found that a statutory commission of investigation was necessary to probe the rest of the alleg-ations made by Sgt McCabe.

O’Higgins report:

Why was it set up?:

The O’Higgins commission was established as a result of the Guerin report so allegations in the Cavan-Monaghan area could be investigated. Eight particular cases were examined by the commission of investigation:

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD addresses the media at Government Buildings following the publication of the O’Higgins report. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD addresses the media at Government Buildings following the publication of the O’Higgins report. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

What it found:

The commission upheld a number of of Sgt McCabe’s complaints concerning serious flaws and failings in eight specific criminal investigations.

It found no evidence to substantiate claims of any corruption by gardaí serving there.

Sgt McCabe was commended as a man of integrity, a “dedicated and committed member” of An Garda Siochána.

It found that former justice minister Alan Shatter had taken Sgt McCabe’s complaints “very seriously” and his resulting actions were “entirely reasonable and appropriate” as he had reservations about some of them.

The report states that the whistleblower was never less than truthful, although he was prone to exaggeration on occasion.

The investigation identified serious deficiencies in the Cavan district, where inexperienced and probationer officers were left to investigate crimes without adequate supervision.

The report found the former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan and the Department of Justice handled complaints made by whistleblower Maurice McCabe in a professional and appropriate manner “at all times”.

The victims of crime had not been “well served” by the force or the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and much of the failings was down at “a human level and caused by poorly supervised individuals”.

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