Alan Shatter ‘cleared’ by inquiry into whistleblower claims

Commission also finds ‘no evidence’ of corruption on part of ex-garda chief Martin Callinan

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter is believed to have been cleared of the allegations that led to his resignation from office in 2014.

Mr Shatter resigned after a report by senior counsel Seán Guerin SC concluded he had failed to heed the voice of whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

The O’Higgins commission of inquiry, which was established to examine the allegations made by Sgt McCabe, is understood to have found that Mr Shatter took the allegations of Garda whistleblowers very seriously.

The 360-page report, which has been handed to the Government but not yet published, is also understood to say Mr Shatter had very substantial concerns and had displayed active and personal concern in relation to them.


It says that given that most of the allegations made by Sgt McCabe had been examined or previously reviewed, the actions of the then minister were amply justified.

In relation to former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan the report states clearly and unambiguously there was no evidence to support any allegation of any type of corruption. The commission found that any aspersions on Mr Callinan's integrity were unfounded and deeply hurtful.

Professional exchanges

It also said that exchanges between the former Garda commissioner, the minister for justice and the Department of Justice were at all times professional and appropriate.

While the commission has not upheld all of the complaints made by Sgt McCabe it says he acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns. It concluded he showed courage and performed a public service at considerable personal cost and added that he was a man of integrity the public could trust in his duty as a garda.

The commission states Sgt McCabe acted out of “genuine and legitimate concerns” and “unreservedly accepts his bona fides”. It also notes that the events leading up to the commission of inquiry “have been extremely stressful for him and his family over a long period of time”, adding: “Some people wrongly and unfairly cast aspersions on Sgt McCabe’s motives or were ambivalent about them.”

But the report also states that there was not “a scintilla of evidence” to substantiate the allegation of corruption against Mr Callinan. When the department received information on the allegations from the confidential recipient, that information was “taken seriously and addressed promptly”.

The report deals with the issue of a clandestine recording of a conversation in which the confidential recipient, Oliver Connolly, told Sgt McCabe: "If Shatter thinks you are screwing with him, he will go after you."

On this, the report states that the denials of Mr Shatter and Mr Callinan of the views either attributed or imputed to them were unchallenged and unreservedly accepted by the commission.

The commission was established in February 2015 following the Guerin report, which looked into the claims made by Sgt McCabe about corruption and malpractice in the Cavan-Monaghan Garda division.

Dossier of claims

It followed a storm of controversy in the Dáil when Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Sgt McCabe's dossier of claims had not been properly investigated.

The Government accepted Mr Guerin’s recommendation that a commission of investigation on the allegations was in the public interest.

Mr Justice Kevin O'Higgins was appointed the sole member and it began work in February 2015. In December 2015 the Government agreed to a request from him to grant the commission an extension to April 29th for the report.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times