Garda whistleblower wants to give evidence in private to PAC
Shatter refers penalty points affair to Garda Ombudsman
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, pictured last year. The commissioner yesterday welcomed the Minister’s intervention.
The Public Accounts Committee will discuss the continuation of its contentious inquiry into the penalty points affair at a meeting today after Minister for Justice Alan Shatter called for an investigation into the debacle by the Garda Ombudsman Commission.
The Minister has also said he will ask the Government to give new powers to the ombudsman to investigate complaints made to it by individual gardaí.
The lack of such powers “adversely affected” the ability to address cases such as the penalty points question, he said .
Mr Shatter’s intervention came amid intense debate within the PAC over plans to call a serving Garda whistleblower to give evidence. This raised the prospect of a court challenge from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe told the committee last night he wanted to give evidence in private on Thursday.
“The Public Accounts Committee has a vital role to perform in our democracy. So too does An Garda Síochána. It is in no one’s interests that a situation be allowed to develop where either hampers the ability of the other to discharge their proper roles,” Mr Shatter said. “Unfortunately, a situation has arisen where, unlike the many serious and dedicated members of Dáil Éireann who discharge their role on the committee with impartiality and fairness, some members of the committee have a tendency to prejudge issues that the committee is considering and have done so in the media in recent days.”
PAC chairman John McGuinness last night said the committee will take account of the Minister’s intervention at a scheduled meeting this afternoon. “Part of that consideration will entail taking legal advice on the continuation of the committee’s examination of the Comptroller & Auditor General’s report on the management of the fixed charge notice system.”
Mr Callinan welcomed the intervention.
“I have been in dialogue with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence on this matter over the last number of days and, to that end, I look forward to co-operating fully with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in its examination of these matters.”