Whistleblower feels vindicated after 'six years fighting system'

Kenny promises ‘root and branch’ review after Guerin report on misconduct claims

Sergeant Maurice McCabe: said of the Guerin report: ‘It is a good day after six years of fighting the system.’ Photograph: Laura Hutton

Sergeant Maurice McCabe: said of the Guerin report: ‘It is a good day after six years of fighting the system.’ Photograph: Laura Hutton

Sat, May 10, 2014, 11:51

A full review of the operations of the Department of Justice has been promised by Taoiseach Enda Kenny after the Guerin report on allegations of misconduct in the Garda.

Sgt Maurice McCabe, whose allegations about malpractice prompted the establishment of the inquiry by barrister Seán Guerin, welcomed its findings and said it had vindicated him. “It is a good day after six years of fighting the system. Now I hope my family and I can move on,” he said, expressing his thanks to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin for taking on his case and passing on his concerns to the Taoiseach.

Mr Kenny yesterday committed the Government to a “root-and-branch analysis” of the practice of the administration of justice in the country. He added that the terms of reference for the commission of investigation into malpractice in the Garda may take time to finalise.

The Taoiseach insisted the central issue arising from the report concerned “the practice, rather than the policy” when it came to the administration of justice. “I would welcome the contributions of all the members of the Dáil because this is not just about politics,” he told reporters in Galway, adding that a Dáil debate on the Guerin report would begin next week.

“This is about getting it right for the people of our country, for the citizens, for the next generation, for everybody to have integrity, belief and faith in the Garda Siochána, in the accountability and transparency of the way it is run,” he added.

Secretary general
The new Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald declined to express confidence in the secretary general of her department, Brian Purcell, at her first press conference yesterday. “In relation to the secretary general, I have just been appointed to the department. I have just received this report so I will be having further discussions with him in relation to the content of the report,” she said.

A senior Government source said later that it was unreasonable to expect a newly appointed Minister to express confidence, or lack or it, in her senior official before they had properly engaged with that person.

Ms Fitzgerald earlier met the interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan and welcomed the fact she had already signalled the need for a sea change in the force’s culture.

‘Full support’
“She will have my full support in doing whatever is necessary to achieve this. If root-and-branch reform is what’s needed, root-and-branch reform is what will happen,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

In a statement last night, Ms O’Sullivan said she was studying the report in conjunction with her senior management team to identify immediate action that could be taken. She said the Garda would fully co-operate with the commission of investigation.

The Guerin report investigated a dossier compiled by Sgt McCabe that made serious allegations of Garda shortcomings and malpractice in 10 cases. It also inquired into how the Garda, GSOC, the Department of Justice and the minister for justice Alan Shatter responded to the allegations.

The most serious finding in relation to the minister and his department was that it “accepted without question” Garda commissioner Martin Callinan’s response to the allegations made by Sgt McCabe.

“In effect the process of determining Sergeant 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 said.

Mr Guerin, in his report, concludes there is a basis for a commission of investigation inquiry for each of the 10 serious allegations identified by Sgt McCabe.