Whistleblower rules to be reformed

The Cabinet will today discuss legislative changes to improve arrangements for garda whistleblowers who make complaints about alleged misconduct among colleagues.

As ministers meet to decide a process to deal with the ongoing revelations, Eamon Gilmore said gardaí would come under the protection of the whistleblowers’ legislation being brought forward by Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin.

The Tánaiste also said it was probably best if gardaí, who had such concerns, went straight to the police watchdog itself rather than through the confidential recipient process.

“First of all we have decided to include gardaí under the protection of the whistleblowers legislation that Brendan Howlin is going to bring forward.

“Secondly, we have taken another look at this idea of the confidential receiver of information from the gardaí. We’ve formed the view that perhaps it would be best if gardaí were able to go directly to GSOC themselves and we’re going to make provision for that in legislation.

“So as far as whistle-blowing in the gardaí is concerned, we’re very clear on ensuring that there are protections for people who bring wrongdoing to attention.”

Mr Gilmore denied there was any threat to Mr Shatter’s position following the fall out over the alleged bugging of GSOC and the whistleblowers’ controversy.

The Labour leader said ministers were taking “very seriously” the latest dossier of alleged wrongdoing within the force, and said the Cabinet would deal with the claims when it meets this morning.

Asked if the justice minister’s position was under question, he replied: “No”.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte yesterday described Mr Shatter as a reforming minister and one of the best justice ministers Ireland had seen over the past three decades.

Mr Rabbitte pledged his full support for “a particularly diligent and attentive minister”. He said the current controversy encompassed some very serious issues and time was needed to establish the truth.

Health Minister James Reilly also pledged his full support for Mr Shatter.

He said because of the ongoing review of correspondence at the Department of Justice, it would be premature to say if Sergeant Maurice McCabe was owed an apology, after Mr Shatter told the Dáil that Sgt McCabe had not co-operated with the garda penalty points investigation.

Sinn Féin’s Padraig Mac Lochlainn said he had spoken to a new, female whistleblower, and he was awaiting documentation which he would forward to Enda Kenny to review.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called on Mr Shatter to publish the Garda Inspectorate report prepared in the aftermath of the recent penalty points controversy.

Mr Martin claimed the Government was trying to introduce confusion where it could, and reiterated his belief Mr Shatter misled the Dáil when he claimed Sgt McCabe had not co-operated with the internal Garda inquiry into penalty points irregularities.


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