Alan Shatter asked Ceann Comhairle for exclusion from Dáil inquiry

Former minister requested his handling of Garda whistleblower claims be ruled out

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter requested Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett  rule out his handling of claims made by whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe from an inquiry into allegations of Garda malpractice, The Irish Times has learned. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter requested Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett rule out his handling of claims made by whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe from an inquiry into allegations of Garda malpractice, The Irish Times has learned. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter asked Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett to rule out his handling of claims made by whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe from an inquiry into allegations of Garda malpractice.

In correspondence seen by The Irish Times, Mr Shatter argued that the inclusion of references to his handling of Sgt McCabe’s claims would interfere with or prejudice a High Court action he is taking.

A Commission of Investigation into allegations of malpractice in the Cavan-Monaghan division of An Garda Síochána follows the findings of a report by Seán Guerin SC.

Mr Guerin was hired by the Government to report into its handling of allegations by Mr McCabe and his conclusions were highly critical of the Department of Justice. Mr Guerin’s report also led to Mr Shatter’s resignation and the Dublin South deputy has taken a High Court action seeking to overturn some of the findings.

Objective bias

Mr Shatter’s legal representative, Brian Gallagher of the pair’s legal firm Gallagher Shatter, asked the Ceann Comhairle to rule out of order a Dáil motion which stated that the inquiry would examine “the investigation by An Garda Síochána and the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Department of Justice and Equality of complaints made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe”. Mr Shatter alternatively requested that he be excluded from the motion. Mr Shatter’s lawyer argued that establishing the Commission of Investigation with a remit as proposed “would be to force our client to submit to a legally tainted inquiry process”.

Personal letter

Mr Barrett argued that only a minister or the Government could change such a motion. Sources said he made the decision to allow the motion be voted on without debate based on his assessment that it was the “safest option” in the public interest. He believed, however, that a Dáil debate could encroach on court proceedings.

Opposition deputies staged a Dáil walkout earlier this week in a row over Mr Barrett’s ruling. Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly strongly criticised the Ceann Comhairle and spoke of a “constitutional crisis”.