Shatter sacks respected and experienced lawyer he appointed
Taped conversation with whistleblower led to departure
Oliver Connolly: has been relieved of his duties by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.
Oliver J Connolly, the Garda whistleblower liaison official who has been removed from his post by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, is a respected lawyer who specialises in mediation.
At the time of his appointment in June 2011, Mr Shatter was criticised for giving the position to a personal friend who had contributed €1,000 to his election campaign in 2007.
Mr Connolly is the founder of Friary Law which specialises in mediation services and developed a family mediation model together with Mr Shatter who, before he became a Minister, was a solicitor specialising in family law. As well as practising law in Dublin, Mr Connolly also practises in the United Kingdom and the United States.
When he was criticised for appointing a friend to the position, Mr Shatter said the decision had been made by the Cabinet as a whole and Mr Connolly’s election donation to him had “no connection” with it.
“Nobody has ever suggested that an individual who contributes to democratic politics in this country should be discriminated against, pilloried and excluded from ever being appointed to any body whatsoever,” the Minister said at the time.
‘Corruption and malpractice’
Mr Shatter also said “any member or civilian employee of An Garda Síochána who wishes to report in confidence about corruption and malpractice can be assured that any such report will be taken seriously and extensive protections will be given to him or her”.
Mr Connolly has lectured in law at Trinity College Dublin, where he teaches civil and commercial arbitration and mediation on Trinity’s masters in law (LL.M) programme.
He has 20 years’ experience as a lawyer, having practised as an attorney in New York and as a barrister at both the English and Irish Bars. He has also been admitted to the Bar of Northern Ireland.
He founded Friary Law, which specialises in alternative dispute resolution. According to the website, training and education are features of its mediation service, with the practical application of best international mediation techniques.
Mr Connolly became embroiled in controversy as a result of his contact with Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe. The two men met in a Dublin hotel on February 9th, 2012. The conversation was taped by Sgt McCab e and, in recent weeks, has been circulated by a number of politicians.
Independent Wexford TD Mick Wallace read extracts from the tape into the Dáil record earlier this month and, last week, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also read some extracts into the record.
The extracts read by Mr Martin quoted Mr Connolly as saying to the whistleblower: “If the stuff was to get out into the public, the print media, it must come with what happens in the courtroom . . . I’ll tell you something Maurice, and this is just personal advice to you, if Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished.” It went on: “If Shatter thinks it’s you, or if he thinks it is told by the commissioner or the gardaí, here’s this guy again trying another route to put you under pressure, he’ll go after you.”
These comments proved to be a severe embarrassment to the Minister, who is under political pressure over the GSOC bugging controversy and ultimately prompted Mr Shatter to ask him to step down.
Government TDs pointed out the transcript, which runs to almost 6,000 words, makes it clear Mr Connolly was taking Sgt McCabe’s concerns very seriously and was advising him about the best way to pursue them.