But the serving garda said he would not be making any further public comment on the apology made to him by Alan Shatter during a Dáil statement.
Mr Shatter acknowledged that the statement made by him last October was incorrect and said he hoped his apology would “put this matter to rest”. He said he appreciated that this statement “has been the source of some upset and distress to the whistleblowers” and that he had “looked again at the information provided to me and considered the matter in detail”.
Mr Shatter said it was never his intention to mislead the House in relation to his comments about Mr McCabe and the now retired garda, John Wilson. “I believe it is appropriate that I apologise to both and withdraw the statements made,” Mr Shatter said.
“It was never my intention to cause any upset and if any upset was caused, I hope that my correcting the record of the Dáil today will put this matter to rest,” he said, acknowledging that issues only came to light because of the actions of the whistleblowers.
He said that they and others had issues with some of the remarks he made outside the House. “It was not my intention to misrepresent any matter connected with this issue. I apologise for any offence that may have been caused by any other remarks made by me,” he said.
Mr Shatter said that having “re-examined the facts and further considered the matter”, he believes “more should have been done” during the course of the internal Garda inquiry by John O’Mahoney, the assistant commissioner, “to obtain information from and ascertain the views and experiences of the whistleblowers”.
“Further and better efforts could and should have been made to secure productive engagement with them in the investigation of their claims.”
John Wilson, who has retired from the force, said Mr Shatter’s statement was “a long time coming” but that he was “glad the record had been finally corrected”.
In a statement issued through Transparency International Ireland, he thanked the public and a number of TDs for their support.
“I still encourage any prospective garda whistleblowers reporting malpractice, wrongdoing, and corruption within the force to report their concerns to a member of the Oireachtas and seek advice from Transparency International Ireland,” he said.
Brendan Howlin, a Labour TD and public expenditure minister, said Mr Shatter’s apology was “a measure of the man”.
No Labour minister had called for such an apology or withdrawal of the remarks until Monday, when leader Eamon Gilmore said some correction of the record would be helpful.
Mr Howlin told RTÉ last night: “What he has done now is the right thing. Anyone who deals with Alan knows he makes his own mind up on many matters.”
“It has been a long time coming, but I’m glad that the record has been finally corrected by Minister Shatter about how we reported our concerns about the unlawful termination of tens of thousands of lawfully issued fixed charge penalty notices.
“Approximately 10,000 of these lawfully issued notices were unlawfully terminated on a yearly basis by senior Garda officers.
“These practices have now ceased directly as a result of our complaints.
“I would like to thank the general public for their support which kept us going over the past year. My family and I also greatly appreciate the support of Clare Daly TD, Mick Wallace TD, Pádraig McLochlainn TD, Luke Ming Flanagan TD, Joan Collins TD, Joe Higgins TD, Mary Lou McDonald TD, and John Devitt from Transparency International Ireland for all their help since the beginning.
“I still encourage any prospective Garda whistleblowers reporting malpractice, wrongdoing and corruption within the force to report their concerns to a member of the Oireachtas and seek advice from Transparency International Ireland.”