Labour backs Shatter amid calls for inquiry into dossier

Labour has backed embattled Justice Minister Alan Shatter amid claims that he ignored serious allegations of Garda malpractice for over two years.

There were calls yesterday for Mr Shatter to apologise to a Garda whistleblower over comments he made as well as explain why he sacked Garda confidential recipient Oliver Connolly.

The latest row comes after the Taoiseach agreed to examine a dossier of claims of Garda malpractice including cases relating to murder, sexual assault, and imprisonment.

Fianna Fáil has given the dossier to Enda Kenny and pointed out that Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe gave the material to Mr Connolly two years ago. Party leader Micheál Martin claimed in the Dáil yesterday that Mr McCabe’s concerns had been given to Mr Shatter and “all of this ran into the sand”. He reiterated calls from the Opposition for a commission of inquiry into the claims.

The dossier includes the case of the abduction and assault of taxi driver Mary Lynch, the subsequent abduction of a child in Tipperary by the same culprit, and the subsequent murder by the same offender of Sylvia Roche Kelly in 2007. Separate cases relate to false imprisonment and the falsification of Garda records.

Mr Martin quoted extracts of a transcript of a conversation between Mr Connolly and Mr McCabe: “Shatter would have read your report in detail, I know he did, he communicated with me and he will have read all of your exhibits... Alan studied everything, in fact I know he did.”

Mr Martin also told the Dáil that Mr Shatter needed to apologise for inaccurately claiming last October that Mr McCabe had refused to cooperate with the Garda penalty points inquiry.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty also quoted extracts of a transcript of a conversation between Mr Connolly and Mr McCabe. He said the confidential recipient had told Mr McCabe he thought Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan should stand aside while the claims of malpractice were examined.

Deputy Labour leader Joan Burton refused to say if she personally had confidence in Mr Shatter yesterday. However, she said the Government did. She also pointed out several times that the Coalition this week had agreed to set up a judge-led review into separate issues regarding concerns about alleged bugging at the offices of the Garda ombudsman.

While she told Mr Doherty this review “covered what he has laid out”, her spokesman later clarified the remark saying she was referring to the Garda ombudsman and that the dossier on alleged Garda malpractice was “a separate issue”.

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