Micheál Martin is today expected to broaden Fianna Fáil’s attack on Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s handling of the Garda Ombudsman Office affair, after receiving a briefing from Sergeant Maurice McCabe, the Garda whistleblower who highlighted the penalty points scandal.
The Fianna Fáil leader has described as “quite shocking” the issues Sergeant McCabe raised with him, particularly the manner in which his complaints were handled by both the Taoiseach and the minister for justice.
“We are looking at a fundamental problem with the administration of justice,” Mr Martin told the Irish Examiner. “This is a lot broader than people think. He (Mr McCabe) raised wider issues like how crimes were investigated, which need to be answered.”
Among the issues that Mr Martin intends to raise is why Mr Shatter told the Dáil that Sgt McCabe and his former colleague, John Wilson, did not co-operate with the internal Garda investigation into malpractice of the penalty points system.
“This man went through all the official channels, he went to the confidential recipient, he wrote nearly 40 emails to the Taoiseach’s department, he went to the Department of Justice, the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport.
“And then it was an incredible response for Alan Shatter to say in the House that he (McCabe) didn’t co-operate with the Garda inquiry. The record of the House needs to be corrected. The whole approach was to undermine what the whistleblower was doing.”
At the Public Accounts Committee hearing last month, Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney, who conducted the Garda inquiry, admitted he had not interviewed Mr McCabe or Mr Wilson. Mr McCabe later gave evidence to the committee behind closed doors.
Mr Martin says he intends to seek answers about Mr McCabe’s dealings with the confidential recipient whose office was set up to accept allegations of malpractice and corruption in the force. The Fianna Fáil leader said he has heard a tape recording of an alleged conversation between McCabe and the CR, Oliver Connolly, who was appointed to the office in 2011 by Mr Shatter, and who had contributed to Shatter’s election campaign fund.
“I heard the tape, and the tone and some sectors of it are worrying.” Over the last two weeks, Mr Martin, his colleague Niall Collins and independent TD Mick Wallace have read sections of a transcript of the alleged conversation into the record of the Dáil.
One line read by Mr Martin, alleged to have been spoken by Mr Connolly went: “I’ll tell you something, Maurice — and this is just personal advice to you — if Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished.”
The Fianna Fáil leader said he never impugned the minister, but Mr Connolly gives the impression of being close to him and he, Mr Martin found the tone of the conversation to be worrying.
“The attitude towards him (Mr McCabe) is extraordinary,” Mr Martin said. “It’s a lonely place for a whistleblower to be. I am worried about the administration of justice in this regard, and when you add in the GSOC issue you’re looking at a fundamental problem with the administration of justice.”
The Fianna Fáil leader said a commission of inquiry is now required to be set up. “What I really can’t comprehend is the silence since some of these issues were first raised in the Dáil last Wednesday week. There is a huge reluctance to deal with it and I find that quite extraordinary.”
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