Callinan: No legal action over PAC's summoning of whistleblower

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan

Garda Commissioner Martin Calllinan has said he won't take legal action over plans by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to hear from a Garda whistleblower.

In a statement this lunchtime Commissioner Callinan said that despite his reservations about the matter, it was "not in the public interest" for the Gardaí to pursue legal proceedings against an Oireachtas committee.

It comes after the committee decided to call in a garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe to discuss allegations senior officers were involved in routinely and corruptly wiping fixed penalty notices for motoring offenders, prompting Commissioner Callinan to threaten to seek a High Court injunction to prevent this.

However that threat receded threat following Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s decision to refer allegations of abuses in the penalty points system to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

The PAC has also agreed to meet Mr McCabe, a serving Garda sergeant, in private tomorrow.

"While I continue to have reservations about this matter, I note that the meeting will be held in private," Commissioner Callinan said.

"I note too that it appears to be the intention to confine the questioning of the person concerned and, in particular, that person will not be able to make allegations against his colleagues or members of the public."

The garda chief also pledged to co-operate fully with the GSOC investigation.

"Ultimately, I believe that the investigation that the Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence has asked the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to undertake is the proper manner in which to investigate the allegations that have been made and the circumstances surrounding them," he said.

"An Garda Síochána will, of course, co-operate fully with that investigation and will learn any lessons there are to be learned when that investigation has concluded."

Commissioner Callinan also said he had "every respect for the role of the PAC", thanking its chairman John McGuinness "for the courtesy he has shown me in dealing with this difficult matter".

A public hearing last week was told of fresh claims that more than 200 senior Garda officers inappropriately – and in most cases corruptly – wiped penalty points from driving licences.

The whistleblower – with around 30 years’ experience – told TDs that his life, career and family have been destroyed by the scandal.

The row escalated as Mr Callinan branded the claims disgusting and concerns were raised that the parliamentary body was overstepping its remit.

Earlier this week, Mr Shatter stepped in to refer the controversy to the Garda Ombudsman as a matter of public interest.

The Justice Minister claimed he did not have the power to take the unusual step until it had become political.

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