Shatter to come under intense pressure to apologise to whistleblowers

Sgt McCabe strongly disputed suggestions he did not co-operate with investigation


Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is set to come under intense political pressure this week to apologise to two Garda whistleblowers for suggesting in the Dáil that they had failed to co-operate with an investigation into the termination by Garda members of motorists' penalty points.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said the remarks had "completely destroyed" Sgt Maurice McCabe's character and credibility. Independent TD Clare Daly said Mr Shatter needed to act immediately to issue an apology.

Mr Shatter told the Dáil last October that neither Sgt McCabe nor former garda John Wilson had co-operated with the investigation into their allegations that gardaí had corruptly terminated penalty points.


“Having engaged with members of this House and published material they didn’t co-operate with the Garda investigations that took place. I do not know why that was the case,” Mr Shatter told the Dáil.

In email correspondence with the Department of Justice and with the Department of the Taoiseach, last year Sgt McCabe vigorously disputed the assertion he had not co-operated with the Garda investigations.

On April 21st, after publication of a report by Garda Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney on the penalty points matter, Sgt McCabe emailed Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

“I have serious concerns regarding not being contacted or interviewed regarding my allegations. . . One would imagine that I would be one of the first to be interviewed,” he wrote.

In September 2013 Michael Flahive, a Department of Justice assistant secretary, wrote to Sgt McCabe in response to a further email he had sent to the Taoiseach. Referring to Sgt McCabe's claim of evidence contradicting the O'Mahoney report, he wrote: "The Minister is advised you were offered the opportunity by the Garda authorities to submit any evidence . . . to Asst Commissioner O'Mahoney but did not do so."

In a succession of emails, Sgt McCabe queried Mr Flahive's assertion that he was afforded an opportunity to submit evidence to Mr O'Mahoney but had not done so. He was informed Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had advised the Minister this was the case.

Apology unlikely
Political sources indicate Mr Shatter is unlikely to say he was mistaken or issue an apology to Sgt McCabe.

Mr Callinan told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last month that in October 2012 he was given a large volume of material by the Department of Justice containing allegations of the corrupt termination of penalty points. He forwarded the material to Mr O'Mahoney for investigation.

The O’Mahoney investigation was conducted from October 2012 until March 2013. At the PAC last month, Mr O’Mahoney confirmed he had not interviewed either whistleblower during the investigation.

Asked by Mary Lou McDonald why he had not contacted the men, he said: “First and foremost the documentation provided to the commissioner and subsequently to me was unsigned and unattributed. I proceeded with my examination on the basis I was dealing with anonymous allegations.”

He was also aware of Mr Callinan’s correspondence to them in mid-December 2012 inviting them to formally submit allegations they felt necessary.

“I waited for their contact but it did not come,” he said.

He added that in April 2013 one of the whistleblowers – now known to be Sgt Maurice McCabe – learned the O’Mahoney investigation had been concluded and contacted Mr O’Mahoney to ask why he had not been contacted for interview. He said he spoke to Sgt McCabe and told him even at that late stage, after his investigation was completed, that he would still interview him about his allegations but that nothing came of that.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times