Shatter under pressure to reveal all facts

The justice minister is under pressure to explain to an Oireachtas committee why he didn’t inform the Dáil of key details given to him by the Garda Ombudsman about its investigation into surveillance at its offices.

Shatter under pressure to reveal all facts

Fianna Fáil has claimed Alan Shatter “completely misled the Dáil” on Tuesday night, while Sinn Féin said there were “significant differences” between what Mr Shatter had been briefed on by GSOC last Monday and what he told TDs the following day.

The Labour Party has also made it clear that it wants Mr Shatter to provide full clarity on the issue when he appears in front of the Oireachtas Oversight Committee on Wednesday. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said Mr Shatter “will answer whatever questions they have to put to him”.

Asked if there should be an independent inquiry, Mr Gilmore said the work of the committee should be allowed to “take its course” first to try to “get [to] the bottom of what happened”.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he wants to see “a conclusion” to the controversy.

In a clear shift of focus from last week, when he called on the Ombudsman to “level with” the minister, Mr Kenny said yesterday that it was important people have “trust in the integrity” of both GSOC and the Garda.

He said Mr Shatter is “very willing” to go before the committee. “I hope they have a really good engagement there and the issues that are outstanding or issues that need to be cleared up can be cleared up.”

Committee chair Padraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin said “a lot of explanations are required of the minister”, including why his account to the Dáil was “significantly different” to that given by GSOC.

A briefing document given to Mr Shatter by GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien on Monday contained information that was omitted from the minister’s Dáil speech, including that a public interest investigation was launched by GSOC last October into whether surveillance “may have originated” from within the force.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he was “entirely satisfied” that the force “was not involved in any surveillance of the headquarters, or the members, of GSOC”.

He issued the statement after The Sunday Times reported that the sweep was arranged in the first place because a senior garda inadvertently revealed he had secret information about a report GSOC was working on last summer.

The Sunday Independent said the garda in question was Mr Callinan, but that his comments had been misinterpreted by GSOC.

GSOC yesterday said the controversy “dominated” its business for the past week. “Now our priority is on important work we undertake as an independent statutory agency,” it said.

Meanwhile, the North’s first police ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, said GSOC must be given more powers as “a matter of urgency”.

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