Alan Shatter will use O’Higgins report in Guerin appeal

Ex-minister for justice is challenging earlier report on Garda whistleblower claims

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter will exhibit the O’Higgins Commission report in his appeal over the dismissal of his bid to quash parts of the Guerin report. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter will exhibit the O’Higgins Commission report in his appeal over the dismissal of his bid to quash parts of the Guerin report. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter will exhibit the O’Higgins Commission report in his appeal over the dismissal of his bid to quash parts of the Guerin report concerning his handling of the allegations by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

In his appeal, listed for June 21st, Mr Shatter will also exhibit a statement by Taoiseach Enda Kenny correcting the Dáil record in relation to Mr Shatter’s resignation in 2014 following publication of the Guerin report, the Court of Appeal heard on Thursday.

The O’Higgins Commission has recently completed its investigation into Sgt McCabe’s allegations of Garda wrongdoing in the Cavan-Monaghan division and other matters, following the earlier report by barrister Seán Guerin on the claims.

The appeal was mentioned before the President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Seán Ryan.

Paul Anthony McDermott SC, for Mr Guerin, asked that Mr Shatter’s side outline in submissions those parts of the O’Higgins report they intended to refer to in the appeal and for what purpose they were relying on them.

Paul Sreenan SC, for Mr Shatter, said it was clear his side would be relying on the chapter relating to Mr Shatter’s handling of Sgt McCabe’s claims, but his side would address matters in submissions.

The judge earlier told the sides he himself proposed to preside over the appeal and that he was conscious several members of the judiciary would know Mr Shatter personally or have had official transactions with him.

He said he wanted to assure the sides that if they had any objection to his hearing the appeal he would consider those objections seriously and not be offended by them.

Both counsels said they would take instructions in relation to what the judge had said.

Dismissal

In his High Court judgment of May 2015, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan dismissed all grounds of Mr Shatter’s judicial review challenge to sections of the Guerin report, which was published in May 2014.

Mr Shatter claimed Mr Guerin made a number of highly critical “findings” concerning the then minister’s handling of the allegations, leaving Mr Shatter with no alternative but to resign as minister.

Mr Guerin denied any unfairness and said his report contained “observations”, not conclusions, based on documents provided for the review by the department of justice.

The disputed aspects of the report include statements by Mr Guerin that the minister had accepted the response of the then Garda commissioner Martin Callanan to the McCabe complaints “without question” and there was no independent investigation of Sgt McCabe’s complaints.

Mr Justice Noonan said the Guerin report involved an expression of expert opinion, was “legally sterile” and that Mr Shatter’s complaints appeared, in reality, to concern its publication and later political consequences.