All allegations of Garda wrongdoing 'have been dealt with'
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has said all allegations of Garda wrongdoing in a dossier compiled by a whistleblower have been dealt with.
In a robust defence of the handling of complaints about rogue policing, the minister said the concerns were first raised in 2008 and have been investigated both internally and through the Garda Ombudsman’s office.
The most serious was an allegation by serving Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe that a court was not told a killer was on bail for a serious assault when he was charged over child abduction.
They also included falsification of records, sexual harassment of a female garda, victimisation, inadequate investigations of several alleged crimes and poor policing standards at Bailieboro station in Co Cavan, where Mr McCabe was stationed.
Mr Shatter said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) examined files on the allegations and ordered no criminal action.
A number of gardaí were disciplined over some of the cases, Mr Shatter said.
“I want to deal first of all with the entirely incorrect assertion that nothing had been done in relation to a series of serious allegations involving Garda misbehaviour,” he said in the Dáil.
Mr Shatter said he has no animosity towards the whistleblower, Sergeant McCabe.
“I have absolutely no wish to have a continuing public, or indeed private, dispute with a serving member of An Garda Síochána. I believe it is of crucial importance that whistleblowers are treated with respect and their allegations taken seriously,” he said.
Sgt McCabe’s dossier, which was sent to Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week, is understood to contain a sample of 12 cases including murder, assault and abduction which were not properly handled by the Garda.
Mr Shatter said all allegations – first sent to him on January 23 2012 - occurred in the 2007/2008 period.
He said a series of allegations and responses were addressed by the soon-to-be defunct Garda Confidential Recipient, internal investigators and external investigators in the ombudsman’s office.
“Far from nothing being done, it seems to me from my review of the papers relating to this matter, that those procedures were observed,” Mr Shatter said.
Mr Shatter said the controversies over how Mr McCabe's complaints have been handled have been politicised by the opposition.
He said his predecessor, former Fianna Fáil TD Dermot Ahern, knew about the allegations of malpractice and corruption in 2009.
Mr McCabe claimed in a letter to the then minister that a preliminary report into his complaint had revealed bad practice and procedure but a chief superintendent publicly rubbished the concerns.
Mr Shatter also revealed that the internal inquiry into the allegations by an assistant commissioner resulted in 10 volumes of evidence being sent to the DPP who directed no prosecution.
The minister said there was nothing new in the allegations, publicised by Independent TD Mick Wallace and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
Mr Shatter said: “My concern is as always that the full truth is known. He (Mr Martin) raised these very important issues as if they were entirely new, had never arisen during his term in government and had never been addressed previously either by the Confidential Recipient, An Garda Síochána or by GSOC.
“He falsely accused me of undermining the administration of justice, a charge which I entirely reject.”
"Mr Shatter accused the Fianna Fáil leader of a cavalier attitude to the Garda and made the most serious allegations against the force without waiting to establish the truth or otherwise of them.
“I regret, in particular, the lack of regard he has shown to the office of the Garda commissioner (Martin Callinan), which is at present occupied by a person appointed by the Government of which he was a member – which no doubt made the appointment on the basis of their full confidence in him,” Mr Shatter said.
But Mr Martin hit back that raising concerns about suspected wrongdoing is not an attack on the force - but it is a duty in a healthy democracy.
There is no widespread faith that serious allegations have been handled properly and past scandals have proven an independent inquiry can help public confidence, he said.
Mr Martin said only the “most gullible” would believe Mr Shatter had given a fair and balanced picture of circumstances leading up to the controversy.
“I think if you continue to maintain the same approach that you have shown today there is every reason to doubt this affair will come to an end,” he said.
“This lingering resistance to an independent inquiry, with the powers to get to the bottom of all elements of the different cases, appears as strong as ever and it will not go away.”
The Fianna Fáil leader said attacking people was Mr Shatter’s standard operating procedure and he again called on him to apologise for claiming Sgt McCabe did not co-operate with an internal Garda inquiry into the penalty points debacle.
“You just don’t have it, do you minister?” he said.
“The humility to say sorry you got it wrong.”
Mr Martin added: “I think your behaviour on this is appalling. It brings to mind the comments of your confidential recipient that if Shatter thinks you are screwing him he’ll come after you.”
Sgt McCabe had a basic entitlement to his good name, which had been undermined in the public domain, he said.
“He wants his name cleared, he doesn’t want that slur hanging over him,” Mr Martin added.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the ongoing controversies have exposed an unhealthy relationship between Mr Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
“On each occasion your first instinct has been to circle the wagons around the Commissioner and other senior gardaí rather than get to the bottom of the matter without fear or favour,” he said.
Mr Adams said it was a hallmark of Mr Shatter’s tenure to undermine Sgt McCabe, while using a private Garda briefing to attack Independent TD Mick Wallace, after he first raised concerns about wiping penalty points.
Both Garda whistleblowers, Sgt McCabe and John Wilson, were mandated and trained to uphold the law, yet active efforts were made – by Mr Shatter and the Garda Commissioner – to prevent them reporting alleged wrongdoing, he said.
“It is clear, at least for the moment, that the government is putting your interest as minister for justice above that of public confidence,” he said.
In an emotional outburst, Independent TD Mick Wallace, who has been central to bringing allegations of wrongdoing into the public domain, said political ``games'' in the Dail could lead to people losing their lives.
“Fine Gael used to pride itself on being the party of law and order. How in God’s name can they still stand over that?” he said.
Rather than uncovering the truth, Mr Shatter’s prime motive is political survival, the Wexford TD said.
“If you are going to stay in power and the commissioner is going to stay in place, then I think this parliament is a sham,” he said.
“The people are right to be cynical about politics. They’re right to be cynical about politicians – this place is a joke. We play games in here.”
Mr Wallace added: “Sometimes these games lead to people losing their lives, lead to murders, lead to families not getting any justice.”