Shatter: I had no alternative but to sack Confidential Recipient

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said that he had no choice but to sack the man responsible for hearing internal Garda complaints.

In a statement last night, Minister Shatter says he had no option but to fire Oliver Connolly, the Garda Confidential Recipient, after the leak of a transcript of a conversation he had allegedly held with a Garda whistleblower.

It emerged from the transcript that Mr Connolly allegedly told the penalty points whistleblower Maurice McCabe that Minister Shatter would, quote, "go after him" if he felt his personal reputation was being threatened.

In the statement, Mr Shatter said he "found it necessary to relieve" Mr Connolly of his position because he did not deny reported extracts of a conversation he had with Sgt McCabe.

"While rumours were circulating for some time regarding the existence of an alleged tape and transcript of a confidential conversation between Mr Connolly and Sergeant Maurice McCabe, given the importance of the office's confidentiality, no Justice Minister could properly seek out such a transcript or tape," said Mr Shatter.

"However, following an alleged extract from the alleged tape being placed on the Dail record, I asked my department two weeks ago to contact Mr Connolly outlining my concerns that, if the conversation as reported had taken place, then his actions had undermined the office of the confidential recipient.

"Contacts with Mr Connolly over the following two weeks did not satisfy me as to his response to the controversy.

"I informed him that in the context of his failure to unequivocally repudiate the content of the alleged conversation or take the necessary action to restore public confidence in the office of confidential recipient, I believed his position was untenable and I had no alternative but to relieve him of the position."

A transcript of a conversation read into the record in the Dail last week quoted Mr Connolly as telling Sgt McCabe: "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 added: "If Shatter thinks: 'Here's this guy again, trying another route, trying to put on pressure', he'll go after you."

Minister Shatter said he is making interim arrangements for a retired judge to act as confidential recipient until he changes legislation to allow Gsoc to handle whistleblower allegations.

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