‘Fault on both sides’ by Garda whistleblower and investigation team - Shatter
McCabe was ‘not directed but invited’ to engage with inquiry, says Minister
Sgt Maurice McCabe: Alan Shatter did not apologise over remarks he made that Sgt McCabe had failed to co-operate with the investigation
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said there was “fault on both sides” between Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe and the Garda team investigating allegations about the quashing of penalty points.
Mr Shatter did not apologise over remarks he made that Sgt McCabe had failed to co-operate with the investigation. He said instead: “He clearly was not directed to engage, but he was invited to engage with Assistant Commissioner [John] O’Mahony.”
Mr Shatter said “common sense” would suggest there was fault on both sides. The issue could be looked at in different ways and there was a serious misunderstanding between the Garda investigation team and Sgt McCabe.
“How that arose, I have no idea,’’ he added.
Mr Shatter reiterated his view that there were different perceptions of the issue.
He said he would question a member of An Garda Síochána secretly taping other individuals.
“I think if that was happening in other circumstances, there would be uproar in this House,’’ he added.
Mr Shatter was speaking during a question-and-answer session at the end of the day-long Dáil debate about alleged Garda malpractice and incompetence.
The Opposition repeatedly demanded that he apologise to Sgt McCabe for claiming he had refused to co-operate with the inquiry.
Mr Shatter had earlier told the Dáil there was no basis for an allegation he misled the House by claiming Sgt McCabe did not co-operate with an investigation into his complaints.
The Minister also described as “quite extraordinary” a quote from dismissed confidential recipient Oliver Connolly in a taped conversation with Sgt McCabe that “if Shatter thinks you are screwing him, you are finished’’.
Mr Shatter said it was “highly inappropriate’’ that a confidential recipient would make any such comment. “In no circumstances would I encourage any such comment.”
The Minister refused to be drawn when Independent TD Róisín Shortall asked if he agreed with Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s remark that the actions of the whistleblowers was “disgusting’’.
Mr Shatter said he was not present at the Public Accounts Committee meeting and he had not read the transcript of the proceedings.
Earlier, opening the debate, Mr Shatter said he “entirely” rejected allegations by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin of “undermining the administration of justice”.
He said all allegations by the whistleblower were fully investigated.
He rounded on Mr Martin and rejected all of the Fianna Fáil leader’s claims about his handling of alleged Garda misconduct. Mr Shatter insisted that none of the allegations the Fianna Fáil leader made were true.
He said: “I think many of the former statesmen in his party would be appalled by the cavalier attitude he has taken to An Garda Síochána against whom he has made the most serious allegations without waiting to establish the truth or otherwise of them”.
He said Mr Martin had come into the House last Thursday and in his “dramatic appearance on the plinth last Wednesday, he raised these very important issues as if they were entirely new, had never arisen during his term in government and had never been addressed previously either by the confidential recipient, An Garda Síochána by GSOC”.
In a 30-minute statement to the Dáil, Mr Shatter listed details of the allegations made and the investigations that followed. He said it was entirely incorrect to say that nothing had been done to deal with alleged Garda misbehaviour. He said procedures were scrupulously observed.
Mr Shatter said “the allegations were dealt with under the procedures in place at the time and the confidential recipient, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission fulfilled their statutory roles in relation to them”.
The Minister said the Opposition maintained a commission of inquiry was needed. He said Mr Martin and others clearly did so without knowing all the facts.
He added that Lorcan Roche Kelly, husband of murdered Sylvia Roche Kelly and Sgt McCabe had each written to then Fianna Fáil minister for justice Dermot Ahern, “whom I do not hold at fault in any way”.
Mr Shatter said Mr Martin talked of the need for an independent inquiry into matters raised by Mr Kelly, who in 2009 lodged a complaint with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission that there was neglect of duty by gardaí in Tipperary and Cavan/Monaghan.
Mr Kelly, he said, believed gardaí failed to liaise properly to ensure the relevant District Court was suitably advised that a person was on bail for other very serious offences when he appeared before the court.
He said the GSOC inquiry subsequently told An Garda Síochána that the matter “should be considered as a less serious breach of discipline in relation to two gardaí”.
A designated superintendent decided after investigation “that there was insufficient evidence to find either member in breach of discipline”.
Mr Shatter said he did not wish to underestimate the seriousness of what happened but added that the GSOC, as an independent body, “did not make any finding under its statutory provisions of Garda misconduct”.