Ahern says he was never briefed on whistleblower allegations while minister
‘To the best of my knowledge no official from the guards, department or the confidential recipient briefed me about these issues,’ says former minister
Former minister for justice Dermot Ahern: Says he was not briefed on McCabe claims. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Former minister for justice Dermot Ahern has said he was never briefed during his time in office on any of the allegations made by Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan last week said the issues raised by Sgt McCabe in a confidential dossier dated back to the time of the Fianna Fáil-Green Party coalition.
“All these documents relate to a period from 2007 to 2009. If charges are being made by Micheál Martin about the maladministration of justice it wasn’t the man who was there now . . . it was the people who were there between 2007 and 2009,” Mr Noonan claimed.
However, Mr Ahern, who served as minister for justice between May 2008 and March 2011, succeeding Brian Lenihan, told The Irish Times that none of the incidents now in the public domain had been brought to his attention.
“To the best of my knowledge no official from the guards, department or the confidential recipient briefed me about these issues,” Mr Ahern said.
“At this remove, I have no recollection. I have checked with relevant people who have confirmed I wasn’t briefed.
“I have checked as best I can with a number of people who would have been involved at the time and I am satisfied nothing was brought to my attention by an official with the department or the guards. I was assured no official briefed me in relation to any issue in relation to these cases.”
He said he would not have had contact with the confidential recipient, since regulations would not allow it.
“The confidential recipient was a confidential recipient. The only time issues were to be brought to the minister was if there was a complaint made against the Garda Commissioner.”
The position of confidential recipient for the Garda Síochána came into operation in 2008, and the part-time holder of the post must be available to receive reports of alleged corruption or malpractice made by gardaí against others in the force. The confidential recipient must then make the Garda Commissioner aware of the reports, and the commissioner must give an annual update to the minister.
The legislation outlining the reporting of alleged incidents of corruption says “where a confidential report contains an allegation of corruption or malpractice on the part of the Commissioner, the confidential recipient shall transmit the report to the Minister”.
It also says that “where a confidential report contains an allegation of corruption or malpractice on the part of a deputy commissioner or an assistant commissioner, the confidential recipient shall notify the Minister that the report has been transmitted to the Commissioner”.
During his time in office, Mr Ahern set up a judicial investigation into the death of Noel Keegan, who died after being assaulted by Martin McDonagh in 2009, who should have been in prison at the time of the attack.