Shatter and Callinan ‘acted professionally’, report finds

Sgt Maurice McCabe a ‘dedicated and committed’ member of the force

Sgt Maurice McCabe. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter, former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan and the Department of Justice handled complaints made by whistleblower Maurice McCabe in a professional and appropriate manner "at all times", an inquiry has found.

The report of the commission of investigation into the Cavan-Monaghan region of An Garda Síochána, chaired by Mr Justice Kevin O'Higgins, also says Sgt McCabe is a "dedicated and committed" member of the force.

“He has brought to public attention certain investigations where the public was not well served. He has also highlighted certain legitimate concerns about procedures and practices in place at Bailieboro Garda station,” the report says.

It also says he events “leading up to and including this commission of investigation have been extremely stressful for him and for his family over a long period of time”.


The report says that some of the complaints made by Sgt McCabe have been upheld, particularly “in respect of the investigations” carried out in the Cavan-Monaghan region and examined by Mr Justice O’Higgins. The report adds, however, that “other complaints made have been found to be overstated or exaggerated. Some were unfounded and some have been withdrawn.”

Sgt McCabe made an allegation of corruption against Mr Callinan, who retired as commissioner in 2014 following a series of justice and policing controversies. This was based on a claim by Sgt McCabe that Mr Callinan had shortlisted for promotion a superintendent against whom Sgt McCabe had made complaints. The report says that Mr Callinan understood the allegation to be “one of criminal conduct”.


The claim of corruption is strongly rejected by Mr Justice O’Higgins, who says: “It must be stated clearly and unambiguously that there is not a scintilla of evidence to support an allegation of any type of corruption against the former commissioner.

“In the context of any such grave allegations the former commissioner is entitled to have his reputation vindicated. In the matters under consideration, any aspersions cast on the former commissioner were unfounded and deeply hurtful.

“The former commissioner, Mr Callinan, was not responsible in any way for placing Supt Clancy on a promotion list. He had no power to do so.”

Sgt McCabe had made a complaint against Mr Callinan after a meeting with the confidential recipient in An Garda Síochána. The confidential recipient, Oliver Connolly, informed Mr Shatter, the then minister for justice, about the allegations made by Sgt McCabe against Mr Callinan.

Mr Shatter asked his secretary general, Brian Purcell, to get Mr Callinan's observations as a "matter of urgency".

The report says Mr Shatter was “manifestly entitled to seek the views of the then commissioner”. “Any suggestion to the contrary is rejected. It was an obvious, prudent and sensible thing to do. Indeed, he would be open to criticism had he acted otherwise.”


Sgt McCabe had questioned this approach in his dealings with Mr Connolly and suggested that Mr Callinan was, in effect, being asked to “investigate himself”.

Mr Justice O’Higgins said that Mr Shatter “simply requested a report from the commissioner on the matters raised” and was not “asking him to investigate himself, or to adjudicate on a complaint made against him”.

The report adds that Sgt McCabe later said this was a “reasonable” course of action. It concludes: “The exchanges between the department, the minister and the commissioner were at all times professional and appropriate.”

A transcript of a conversation between Mr Connolly and Sgt McCabe made its way into the public domain, and Mr Connolly is alleged to have told Sgt McCabe that Mr Shatter would “go after him”.

The report said Mr Shatter “adamantly repudiated” that he held such views, adding: “His denials were unchallenged and uncontradicted, and are unreservedly accepted by this commission.

“In circumstances where the former minister did not hold the views, opinions and attitudes wrongly attributed to him the commission appreciates the hurt and damage done to him.”