Taoiseach defends Shatter’s version of events in Garda controversy

Renewed Opposition calls for immediate commission of inquiry

The Taoiseach defended Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in the face of criticism at Opposition leaders’ questions

The Taoiseach defended Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in the face of criticism at Opposition leaders’ questions

Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 01:00

The Taoiseach defended Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in the face of criticism at Opposition leaders’ questions.

Enda Kenny said the Minister, who had earlier addressed the House, had set out his point of view, including the communications and chronology of events as followed by him.

“People often have differences of opinion about what statements can actually mean,’’ said Mr Kenny.

The Taoiseach was responding to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who said Mr Kenny should bring “some meaningful solution’’ regarding the Minister’s assertion that whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and John Wilson did not co-operate with the investigation into penalty points conducted by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony.

Mr Martin said that when a serious allegation of non co-operation against a serving garda was made on the floor of the House, it either needed to be stood up or withdrawn, with an apology made to the person.

The Minister’s earlier speech, he said, had not dealt with that aspect of the issue in a comprehensive or adequate way. “The Road Safety Authority made it clear to the Minister that it regarded it as a major failing that he was not interviewed and, in fact, communicated that to the Minister,” Mr Martin added.

Independent inquiry

He said no one, except Mr Shatter, had suggested that Sgt McCabe had not co-operated with the inquiry.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the Minister had not used his address in the debate to rectify his claim that Sgt McCabe had not co-operated with the inquiry. He repeated his demand for an independent inquiry under the terms of the Commission of Investigations Act 2004.

Mr Kenny said a number of the bodies involved were completely independent of the Dáil. The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) had been set up for a particular purpose: receiving complaints from citizens or in the case of gardaí who wished to make a complaint about elements in the force and that this could be done through the confidential recipient process.

Similarly, said Mr Kenny, he had no authority over the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Taoiseach said it was only right and proper that there should be a scoping exercise, to which the Government had agreed, as happened in the case of the Morris tribunal. A similar instance arose when the Minister for Health initiated an inquiry in respect of very serious matters that arose regarding maternity facilities at Portlaoise hospital.