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Friday, February 21, 2014

Article: Justice Dept Faces Review Over Dossier

An internal review has been ordered at the Department of Justice amid mounting pressure on Justice Minister Alan Shatter to address opposition claims that he did nothing about Garda malpractice allegations for two years.

By Michael O’Kane, Juno McEnroe, and Cormac O’Keeffe

The review came as Mr Shatter said he had sacked garda confidential recipient Oliver Connolly because his reported comments to Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe “had undermined” the office of the recipient.

A review has been ordered of all correspondence in the Department of Justice in relation to Sgt McCabe’s allegations of Garda misconduct, which include cases as serious as murder, assault, and abduction.

Government sources confirmed the review after Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday described the content of the dossier given to him by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as “extremely serious”.

Mr Kenny said Mr Martin was right to hand over the documentation, which he would carefully examine before deciding how to act. However, speaking in the Dáil, Mr Martin claimed the dossier of serious allegations had been sitting on Mr Shatter’s desk for two years and he had let them “run into the sand”.

He called on Mr Shatter to make a full statement in the House and to apologise for wrongly stating last October the whistleblower had refused to co-operate with a penalty points inquiry.

Mr Martin said: “The pertinent point is that these shocking cases were given to the Minister for Justice and Equality two years ago. There is no doubt about that and there is no doubt that he read and studied them.”

Sinn Féin pushed for a commission of inquiry to investigate the matter.

Also in the Dáil, Labour Party deputy leader Joan Burton refused to answer if she had confidence in Mr Shatter. However, she said that the Government did.

Addressing the row, Mr Shatter last night said Mr Connolly was dismissed as he had failed “to unequivocally repudiate the content” of the conversation between him and the whistleblower.

One of the extracts from the alleged conversation quoted Mr Connolly as telling Sgt McCabe: “If Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished.”

In his statement, Mr Shatter said rumours of the existence of the taped conversation between the two had been circulating for some time. However, he added that, “given the importance of the office’s confidentiality, no justice minister could properly seek out such a transcript or tape”.

Meanwhile, a senior Garda source said complaints in the dossier were investigated fully by Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne over a two-year period. The source said that 10 volumes of documentation, broken down in modules, were sent to the DPP, who directed that no charges be taken.