‘Shatter should correct Dáil record’

Junior health minister Alex White has rowed in behind suggestions the Justice Minister Alan Shatter should “correct” the Dáil record over controversial comments he made about a Garda whistleblower.

The comments come ahead of debate this week on whether Mr Shatter should apologise for claiming last October that whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe did not co-operate with a Garda penalty points inquiry. Mr Shatter also faces questions he let serious claims of Garda malpractice by Sgt McCabe “run into the sand” for two years, including cases relating to murder, assault and abduction.

Mr White said yesterday: “I’d like to hear Minister Shatter address that, certainly. I mean the extent to which Sergeant McCabe looks dilatory or that he in some way acted improperly, I think that’s quite wrong and should actually be corrected and I would hope the opportunity would be taken to do that.”

Opposition parties have called on Mr Shatter to apologise for his comments last year in the Dáil. Sgt McCabe also informed Taoiseach Enda Kenny by letter on April 21 last, ahead of Mr Shatter’s claim, that gardaí had not sought to interview him about the points inquiry.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, former Garda Ombudsman member Conor Brady and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin have already praised the character of Sgt McCabe.

Fine Gael party chairman Charlie Flanagan joined them yesterday when he told RTÉ the whistleblower was a “decent and honourable” man.

Mr Shatter is expected to explain to Cabinet colleagues tomorrow how his officials handled concerns raised by Sgt McCabe about alleged Garda malpractice.

A Government source last night said a review carried out in his department in recent days on how the complaints were handled would show “nothing was done wrong”.

But Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said Mr Shatter had “trashed” Sgt McCabe’s character and the Dáil record needed to be corrected.

When asked yesterday whether an apology was appropriate, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said it was up to the justice minister to answer that question.

While two opinion polls over the weekend showed no significant change in support for Fine Gael and Labour, Coalition sources said they were keen to have this latest controversy engulfing Mr Shatter addressed “promptly”.

However, Independent TD Clare Daly claimed there was a “culture of cover-up” in the force, similar to that which had existed in the Catholic Church, that could only be addressed by an inquiry.

Meanwhile, Mr Shatter is expected to receive a report from the Garda Inspectorate on penalty points next month which is also expected to raise further questions about the quashing of fines by members of the force.

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