Sean Guerin payed almost €160k for examining Garda allegations

Barrister Seán Guerin was paid almlost €160,000 for his role and for related services in examining allegations of Garda malpractice.

Mr Guerin was asked to examine claims by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe that crimes were not properly investigated.

His report resulted in a full inquiry being carried out by Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins.

Information obtained by the Irish Examiner reveals the barrister’s bill for his examination was contested by the Department of the Taoiseach and eventually whittled down.

The”‘scoping” inquiry around Sgt McCabe’s claims officially began in March 2014 and was completed and submitted to the department two months later.

Mr Guerin’s criticism of how claims about the force were handled led to justice minister Alan Shatter quitting and later resulted in a full-blown commission of investigation being set up under Justice O’Higgins.

Justice O’Higgins’s report was given to Cabinet this week and is understood to suggest Mr Shatter, when minister, took the allegations against gardaí very seriously and that his actions were justified.

Freedom of Information responses show Mr Guerin invoiced the Department of the Taoiseach €155,349 for his fees, including Vat at 23%. A junior counsel fee of €7,271 was also included in the bill as was a €6,827 bill for a stenographer and expenses submitted for room hire.

A statement by the Department of the Taoiseach to the Irish Examiner regarding the fees and work done by the senior counsel added: “The department paid Mr Guerin’s fee, less 8% reduction for state legal fees [ie, €116,196, plus 23% Vat, equals €142, 921.08], and the other three amounts.”

Mr Shatter resigned as minister in 2014 after a report by a senior barrister concluded that he had failed to take not of warnings by Sgt McCabe.

It also led to the establishment of the O’Higgins Commission, which commenced in February 2015 and was initially scheduled to complete its work within one year. The Government later agreed to a request from Justice O’Higgins to grant an extension to the commission to April 29.

The commission’s report was submitted to the justice minister this week and, after consultation with the attorney general, it is expected to be published soon.

Mr Guerin’s report looked into the actions taken by gardaí, Department of Justice, and Mr Shatter on the allegations by Sgt McCabe of Garda misconduct. It also concluded the effectiveness of the Garda Pulse system should be reviewed.

Mr Shatter told Taoiseach Enda Kenny in a private letter when he resigned that the Guerin report claims had reached conclusions that were “catastrophically damaging” to him.


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