Connolly feels ‘personal sense of betrayal’ over McCabe tape
Kenny assumes former Garda confidential recipient will make himself available to inquiry
Garda Sgt Maurice McCabe who has been criticised by the former Garda confidential recipient for taping conversations with him. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Oliver Connolly remains ‘an enthusiastic supporter’ of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
The former Garda confidential recipient has said he feels a “personal sense of betrayal” that Sgt Maurice McCabe taped conversations with him and then released the transcripts.
Oliver Connolly also says he is satisfied he properly discharged his duties in respect of Sgt McCabe and another Garda whistleblower who approached him, and revealed the contents of their alleged conversation.
He believes both approached him “in good faith”.
Full statement: Oliver Connolly
“Crucially, it was also my belief that they had reported to me in confidence and that our discussions were subject to the strictest confidentiality.”
Mr Connolly said he has been “subject to a concentrated attack by certain members of Dáil Éireann” in recent weeks and accused the Opposition of “posturing”.
“My honour, my good name, my professional competence and integrity, my privacy as an ordinary citizen have been impugned.”
He also said he remains an “an enthusiastic supporter” of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in his programme of reform.
“I have been asked to comment on the Minister for Justice’s decision to relieve me of my duties in office. The Minister and An Taoiseach have acted as they have in relieving me of my position. So be it.”
Responding to the statement, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he assumed Mr Connolly would make himself available to the inquiry being led by barrister Seán Guerin into allegations made by Sgt Maurice McCabe.
“I note the statement of the former confidential recipient. I note his comment in regard to the work rate and the authority of the Minister for Justice. I also note his particular comment in respect of retaining the confidentiality of his office,” Mr Kenny told reporters at Government Buildings.
“I would assume that that should mean that if Senior Counsel Guerin, who is now commissioned by Government to carry out a wholly independent analysis of all of this, that if he’s looking for information that he doesn’t have at his disposal that the former confidential recipient Oliver Connolly would be able to cooperate with him.”
The Taoiseach went on to say he expected Mr Connolly would be able to cooperate with Mr Guerin while “respecting” the confidentiality of his office.
Mr Connolly said he should not be required to validate the alleged conversation taped by Sgt McCabe “and I shall not validate, either by way of confirmation or repudiation the contents of an alleged transcript unlawfully procured”.
“I am precluded from commenting on the contents of the alleged transcript because to so comment would require me to violate the confidentiality of the reporting process and of the office itself.”
Sgt McCabe’s tape, the transcript of which was read into the Dáil record by Fianna Fáil leader Míchéal Martin and Independent TD Mick Wallace, quoted Mr Connolly saying “if Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished”.
Mr Shatter sacked Mr Connolly in the wake of the disclosure of the conversation, and the minister was unhappy with his response to the controversy.
In a statement released this afternoon, Mr Connolly said: “There is also a personal sense of betrayal in that the principal whistleblower felt it necessary to vindicate his rights by infringing my rights and, by extension, the privacy of my family.
“The ends do not always justify any means. One must not become so focused on a goal that it is pursued at all costs.”
And he sharply criticised Fianna Fáil, and said it was the party which tapped the phones of journalists in the past.
The Opposition recently shifted their attack “from selectively extracting lines of an alleged transcript to carelessly flouting hearsay regarding another confidential conversation between a female member of An Garda Síochána and myself as former Confidential Recipient”.
This was a reference to another conversation with a separate Garda referenced by PAC chairman John McGuinness in the Dáil.
“Again, all in an effort to discredit the Minister and to imply a conspiracy to frustrate efforts to report alleged acts of wrongdoing and/or misconduct in An Garda Síochána,” Mr Connolly said.
“I find the posturing by some senior opposition political figures to be particularly disturbing.
“They, of all people, would be aware of the implications of Kennedy -v- Ireland, where under a previous Fianna Fáil administration, a journalist was found to have been illegally taped and her constitutional rights infringed.
“That case, for the first time in Irish law, enshrined the individual’s right of privacy within the un-enumerated rights of our constitution.
“Even if they have no regard for Irish statutory protections afforded to the confidentiality of discussions by confidential reporters or informants with the Confidential Recipient, they might at least respect my personal expectation of a constitutional right of privacy attaching to any such discussions.”
He said the recent attacks in him were “in a naked political attempt to embarrass a Minister for Justice whom they oppose” and “selectively extracted lines from an unverified transcript of a confidential conversation between a serving member of An Garda Síochána and myself, acting in my former role of Confidential Recipient”.
“How can our politicians expect to retain the respect of the people if, using the cloak of parliamentary privilege, they openly and intentionally violate or infringe the constitutional rights of individuals for political advantage?”
He also said any conversations he had as confidential recipient must remain confidential, adding that he will “remain steadfast” in his respect for his former office.
“The trust placed in me demands that I respect that confidentiality- though others have not and currently do not. What was said or not said during a confidential meeting must, from my perspective, remain confidential. I remain steadfast in respecting the obligations of the office I held. These obligations, I should note, survive my tenure in office.”