Shatter accepted Garda Commissioner’s reponse to allegations ‘without question’
Guerin questions adequacy of response of former minister for justice and his officials
Seán Guerin: his report concludes there is a basis for a commission of investigation inquiry into each of the 10 serious allegations about Garda shortcomings and malpractice identified by Sgt McCabe. Photograph: Collins
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and his senior department officials “accepted without question” the Garda commissioner’s response to serious allegations made by a whistleblower about malpractice and shortcomings in the force, the Guerin report has found.
In the chapter on the response of the department to the allegations by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, senior counsel Seán Guerin questioned the adequacy of the response of the minister and his officials to the allegations.
Under section 8 of the 2007 regulations pertaining to the office of the confidential recipient, when a complaint is communicated to the minister, he is required to have the complaint investigated or take such action as is required, unless the complaints are frivolous or vexatious.
The report states there is no documentary evidence to show a determination of a frivolous complaint. On the statutory obligation to have the complaint investigated or take an alternative course of action, it finds the response of the minister and the department to have been inadequate in accepting without question the commissioner’s argument without subjecting it to any scrutiny.
“In effect the process of determining McCabe’s complaints went no further than the minister receiving and acting upon the advice of a person who was the subject of a complaint [the commissioner],” the report says.
It is understood Shatter’s decision to resign on Wednesday was partly in response to this particular finding.
Guerin concludes there is a basis for a commission of investigation inquiry into each of the 10 serious allegations about Garda shortcomings and malpractice identified by McCabe.
He said that had the allegations “been probed and tested in a reasonable way [by the minister and the department] further important questions would have come to light”.
The report recommended that each of the serious allegations contained in the dossier compiled by Sgt McCabe should form the basis of a commission of investigation inquiry.
It concludes that the documentary evidence suggests the minister was willing to base his decision on a one-paragraph summary of the Garda investigations into 10 allegations rather than seeking a copy of the full file of all the investigations. Mr Guerin said that the only response of the department was to seek the commissioner’s response to the information supplied by the confidential recipient relating to Sgt McCabe’s allegations.
The report said there was no separate memorandum prepared by the department, nor any minute nor memorandum of the decision taken by the minister. It also found there was no evidence within the department’s documentation of any analysis or assessment conducted into the allegations made by Sgt McCabe, or any analysis carried out on the response of the commissioner to the allegations.
According to the report, the minister for justice had an important and investigative function in relation to An Garda Síochána. Sgt McCabe – through his solicitors and the confidential recipient – had invited the minister to carry out an investigation.
The report found the only action was to seek a response from the commissioner and accept his view that “no evidence was found of wrongdoing [corruption or malpractice]” on the part of the senior gardaí who were the subject of the complaints.