Fitzgerald, advisers and private secretary all received key email

Email in relation to Garda legal strategy leads to Government crisis

Harry McGee explains how an email to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is threatening to collapse the Government.

 

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, her two special advisors, her private secretary and the Secretary General of the Department of Justice all received the email advising them of the legal strategy being enforced against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

It has emerged through the website Broadsheet.ie that Ms Fitzgerald received the email from Assistant Secretary General Michael Flahive on May 15th 2015. The website published an unredacted version of the mail.

The correspondence advised the then minister for justice of an attempt by the former Garda commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to introduce a “serious criminal” charge against Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins commission, an inquiry examining allegations of Garda malpractice. This was done to question Mr McCabe’s motivation, the email advised.

Ms Fitzgerald has not clarified whether she read the email at the time but was reminded of its contents last week.

It has now emerged Ms Fitzgerald, her two special advisors at the time William Lavelle and Marian Mannion, the Secretary General of the Department Noel Waters, assistant general secretary of the Department of Justice Ken O’Leary and the Tánaiste’s private secretary Christopher Quattrociocchi also received the email.

Ms Fitzgerald has said she did not recall getting that email but was briefed of its contents by the department last week.

The correspondence has raised questions as to when Ms Fitzgerald, who is now Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, first knew of the strategy to attack the credibility of Sgt McCabe, who exposed widespread Garda malpractice and the quashing of penalty points by some members of the force.

It emerged last year that the legal team appointed by then Garda commissioner was instructed to question Sgt McCabe’s motivation and credibility at the O’Higgins Commission, which was set up in February 2015 to examine allegations of Garda malpractice.

The strategy pursued against Sgt McCabe is being examined by the disclosures tribunal, chaired by Mr Justice Peter Charleton.