The Dáil’s powerful Public Accounts Committee is split on whether to release evidence given to it by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe behind closed doors.
Heated exchanges ripped across the committee as Independent TD Shane Ross warned that members should not try to “bury” the evidence that Sgt McCabe provided regarding penalty point waivers at a private sitting last week.
Fine Gael TD John Deasy accused Mr Ross of having an “insatiable thirst for publicity”.
The row erupted after Mr McCabe’s solicitors asked for a transcript of the evidence to be given to their client. Most PAC members opposed the release after the committee clerk stated the documents could not be released in redacted form but only in their entirety.
Mr Ross insisted it was an “absurd” situation if Mr McCabe’s own evidence could not be given to him.
“By giving it to Sgt McCabe we are not releasing it publicly, we’re releasing it to him,” said Mr Ross.
“The idea that we could bury it now and absolutely refuse to release this transcript is unthinkable. There’s a great deal of interest in what’s in this transcript.
“The reason why we held it in private was in case irresponsible allegations were made against individuals — no such allegations were made.”
Mr Deasy disagreed, saying such a move would be akin to moving into “the political paranormal”.
“This is less about transparency and the fullness of truth and more about getting on the 6 o’clock news,” Mr Deasy said in comments aimed at Mr Ross.
The Fine Gael TD said the case regarding penalty point waivers had been overstated.
“Whereas the theory from Sgt McCabe was that tens of thousands of penalty points were being written off, the Comptroller and Auditor General definitively made the case that we’re talking about hundreds,” said Mr Deasy.
Joining in the attack on Mr Ross, Labour’s Gerald Nash, said the claim about “burying” the evidence was a “slur” on other members of the committee.
Fine Gael’s Kieran O’Donnell, who chaired the meeting, said that as the document could not be released in a redacted form, the document would not be sent to Mr McCabe.
HSE to be held to account
The HSE has been told to urgently update TDs on the status of State-funded charities in the wake of recent controversies.
The Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee has written to the executive demanding to know whether 44 such organisations have complied with public sector pay structures as they were asked to do by the end of January.
Uproar was sparked by revelations that funds donated by the public to the CRC had been used for senior wage and pension payments.
The PAC has asked the HSE to respond to it within a week.
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