TD reveals 'frightening' transcipt of Garda whistleblower conversation
A Garda whistleblower was told that Justice Minister Alan Shatter “will go after you” if he pursued his concerns about how penalty points were being written off by members of the force, the Dáil has heard.
A transcript of a conversation from two years ago between Garda Maurice McCabe and the Garda Síochána confidential recipient with whom he raised concerns, was read out in the Dáil chamber this morning by Independent TD Mick Wallace, who described it as “frightening”.
He read out two lines in which the confidential recipient said to Mr McCabe: “I’ll tell you something, and this is just personal advice to you: If Shatter thinks you are screwing him, you are finished. If Shatter thinks: ‘Here’s this guy again, trying to put pressure, trying to go another route’, he’ll go after you.”
Mr McCabe appeared before the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week to give evidence in private on his allegations that the State has lost millions of euro through failure to properly implement the fixed charge notices system.
The committee is expected to consider a request by Mr McCabe to access the transcript of that meeting, which he will then be free to make public.
The Government’s response to his actions was raised by a number of TDs during a Dáil debate this morning and last night on new legislation aimed at protecting whistle-blowers.
The Protected Disclosures Bill (2013) was “not satisfactory” the Independent TD and PAC member, Shane Ross, told the Dáil.
“What happened last week could happen again,” Deputy Ross said.
“The Commissioner threatened to bring the PAC to court and then started mouthing about subordinates usurping his authority.
“That is not a friendly climate or a warm climate into which a whistle-blower is likely to enter. The same system is going to exist after that Bill.”
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin said that, under the Bill “protection will be afforded for a disclosure which is made on the basis of a reasonable belief, even if the information disclosed ultimately proves to be incorrect”.
He said that if disclosing information is to be encouraged “workers must have the right to be wrong and not to be penalised simply for being wrong”.
But he said: “Equally, of course, we should not be in the business of encouraging false reports and no protection is provided for such reports."
But Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said it was “ironic” that Minister Howlin was introducing this legislation just a week after he tried to “frustrate” the work of the PAC in its attempts to listen to a garda whistleblower.
Speaking during the debate last night, she said: “This evening, you bring forward this very welcome legislation.
“But last week you were quite happy to join in the chorus to suggest the PAC might have acted improperly, in a bid to prevent this particular whistleblower from presenting his case to us.”
By Mary Regan, Deputy Political Editor, Irish Examiner
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