Former confidential recipient Oliver Connolly to be invited to attend Oireachtas justice committee

Minister says he had no knowledge of female Garda claims of sexual harassment

Former confidential recipient Oliver Connolly is to be invited to attend the Oireachtas justice committee to answer questions about his role in Garda controversies.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins told the Dáil he would be asking the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality to invite Mr Connolly to attend.

He was speaking during justice questions when Minister for Justice Alan Shatter was asked why he had relieved the confidential recipient of his duties. The Minister reiterated his comments that Mr Connolly's position was "untenable" and he said his conduct was as much a surprise and mystery to him as it was to anyone else.

No knowledge
Mr Shatter also said he had no knowledge of claims by another Garda whistleblower that the confidential recipient advised her against pursuing a sexual harassment claim.

That had been raised in the Dáil on Wednesday by Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, who said a female member of the Garda had contacted him about the issue. The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said the confidential recipient told her "the last man who used the service was now washing cars in Navan".

Mr Shatter said the only knowledge he had of the issue was what Mr McGuinness said yesterday and on RTÉ radio this morning.


"I don't have knowledge of the conversations the confidential recipient has with members of An Garda Síochána. "

The confidential recipient’s role is to receive and process Garda complaints about irregularities within the force.

Mr Shatter said the only knowledge he had of the alleged conversation between Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe and the confidential recipient initially came from reports of the transcript.

“Given the importance of the office’s confidentiality no Minister for Justice and Equality could properly seek out such a transcript or tape.”

Once an extract was read into the Dáil record, however, he said Mr Connolly was contacted. Two weeks later the confidential recipient was relieved of his duty because of his failure to “unequivocally repudiate the content” and take necessary action to “restore confidence in” the office.

Mr Connolly is alleged to have said in the taped conversation that “if Shatter thinks you are screwing him, you are finished’’.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said the Minister had testified that the confidential recipient was an “honourable man”. Since he had been relieved of his duties he was reported as a “respected” solicitor. “There is no question of this man’s character.”

Mr Mac Lochlainn asked: "Why did he find himself having that type of conversation with Maurice McCabe."

Complete mystery
Mr Shatter said he could not explain it and he found "the whole thing a complete mystery. I've absolutely no idea what Mr Connolly was thinking. I've had very limited contact with Mr Connolly in his role as confidential recipient."

He said: “I recalled from memory yesterday evening and I’ve no notes of this that when, following on from my receiving his letter of January 23th, 2012, I do recall there was a brief conversation in which he emphasised to me that these were important issues to be followed up.

"But I didn't have regular meetings with him. His job was to engage with members of An Garda Síochána. To be quite frank with you I am utterly astonished at some of the commentary that has now come into the public arena.

Very good reputation
"I don't understand why he conducted himself in that way. He has a very, very good reputation as a very sound lawyer, as a very sound mediator. It remains, Deputy, as much a surprise and a mystery to me as I would expect it should to others."

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times