Garda whistleblower calls on Shatter to resign

Wilson describes Minister’s behaviour during penalty points controversy as ‘deplorable’

Garda whistleblower John Wilson said he was happy Minister for Justice Alan Shatter had corrected the record of the Dáil when he withdrew an earlier assertion that the Garda whistleblowers had failed to co-operate with an investigation into the penalty points system. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Garda whistleblower John Wilson said he was happy Minister for Justice Alan Shatter had corrected the record of the Dáil when he withdrew an earlier assertion that the Garda whistleblowers had failed to co-operate with an investigation into the penalty points system. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Sat, Apr 5, 2014, 08:26

Garda whistleblower John Wilson said last night Minister for Justice Alan Shatter should resign.

Mr Wilson said he was happy Mr Shatter had corrected the record of the Dáil when he withdrew an earlier assertion he and fellow Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe had failed to co-operate with an investigation into the penalty points system.

However, he stopped short of accepting Mr Shatter’s apology.

“I believe his behaviour throughout … the penalty points scandal has been deplorable,” he said in an interview on RTE’s Late Late Show.

Asked if Mr Shatter should resign, he replied: “No doubt.”

Mr Wilson also said the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was right to step down.

“I take no pleasure in the demise of another human being and Martin Callinan has done this country some service, but it was the right decision to go,” he said.

“I believe that his credibility was gone. I believe that his position had become totally untenable.”

Mr Wilson also said he expected further revelations in the penalty points controversy over the coming months. Asked if he had any regrets about whistleblowing, he said he did not.

Mr Callinan resigned last month after attracting criticism for his use of the word “disgusting” to describe the Garda whistleblowers when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Wilson made his comments today as interim Garda commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan said Garda management must be more accepting of internal dissent and control the reflex to push back against criticism.

Speaking to reporters at a Garda Reserve graduation ceremony in Templemore this morning, Ms O’Sullivan said mechanisms needed to be put in place which would allow members of the force to bring forward internal complaints.

Ms O’Sullivan also said Mr Callinan’s use of the word “disgusting” had been “unfortunate”.

She said: “I think it was an unfortunate use of the word ‘disgusting’. I think that in any organisation as large and complex as An Garda Síochána, there will be people in the organisation who will identify issues that they would bring to our attention and I certainly believe that those people need to be supported, and we need to have mechanisms in place to ensure that they can bring those forward.”

Asked whether she believed Sgt McCabe should have his full access to the Garda’s Pulse computer system restored, Ms O’Sullivan said: “It’s a matter that’s under review and I would like to be able to tell you more about that at the moment but I can’t.”

In her address to the Garda reservists, Ms O’Sullivan said gardaí needed to be open to help - even if that help came in the form of criticism.

“For those of us who manage this organisation, the imperative is to control the reflex that makes human beings want to push back against criticism. Every one of us has that reflex. We’re born with it. But it has to be controlled, because if it isn’t, we reject information that may give us the opportunity to review and renew how we work.

“We can’t afford to do that. We can’t afford to turn away from information or insight that would allow us to improve how we work, improve our systems, improve our processes. Any organisation as large and complex as An Garda Síochána needs to be open, not closed, to outside help - even if that help comes in the form of a complaint or a criticism.”

She added: “Members with a different view can be the catalyst for change, the corrective to inaction, and can bring added value. If they’re listened to, if they’re taken seriously. As they should be. As they will be.”