Tánaiste says information incomplete in garda whistleblower controversy

Monday 24 February 2014 09.22
Eamon Gilmore said it was too early to tell whether an inquiry was needed
Eamon Gilmore said it was too early to tell whether an inquiry was needed

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said the information supplied to the Taoiseach regarding allegations made by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe is incomplete.

Mr Gilmore said he had discussed the issue with Enda Kenny and the material is being taken very seriously.

Mr Gilmore said the documents refer to a number of appendices and reports which were not handed over by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

He said Mr Kenny had asked Mr Martin to supply that material and any other he might have.

Fianna Fáil has rejected suggestions that it provided incomplete information to Mr Kenny.

A Fianna Fáil spokeswoman said Mr Gilmore's comments were a "red herring".

Mr Martin said that he has handed all documents over to the Taoseach and has given Mr Kenny an assurance that any additional information that he receives will also be handed over.

The allegations were being treated as a matter of urgency, Mr Gilmore said.

He said it was too early to tell whether an inquiry was needed but the Government intended to address that question quickly.

Mr Gilmore would not comment on a report by RTÉ's This Week about contact between the Garda Commissioner and the Department of Justice over Sergeant McCabe's involvement in an internal garda inquiry.

He said it would be inappropriate to get into the minutiae as he had not seen the e-mail referred to in the report.

Mr Gilmore said that It would be something that would be addressed once the "totality" of information was received by Government.

Meanwhile, documents seen by RTÉ's This Week suggest that Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan informed the Department of Justice about Sgt McCabe's engagement with an internal Garda penalty points inquiry team.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has been asked to explain who told him that Sgt McCabe had not co-operated with that inquiry.

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte last week said Mr Shatter may have been "mistaken" when he told the Dáil on 1 October last that Sgt McCabe did not co-operate with the inquiry.

According to one of the emails seen by RTÉ, Sgt McCabe wrote to Mr Shatter in late October 2013.

He asked him to explain who had told him that the whistleblower had been "offered the opportunity... to submit any evidence or other relevant information.... but did not do so".

Sgt McCabe told the minister that he was "never afforded a right of reply or a right of response" after he complained about alleged widespread abuse of penalty points cancellation by members of the force.

Sgt McCabe asked the Department to supply any documents in Mr Shatter's possession to support the claim that he had not co-operated.

Sgt McCabe wrote again on 3 December last year saying he was "very concerned that someone has told Minister Shatter information about me of a very serious nature and I am being refused the right to know the identity of the person or persons who advised him".

"I want to know now who advised Minister Shatter of this and when. If you refuse to give me this information I would like to know the reason why you are refusing me? I have the right to know who passed this information to Minister Shatter and when.

“If you refuse to give me this information I would like to know the reason why you are refusing me. I have a right to know who passed this information to Minister Shatter," Sgt McCabe wrote in the email.

A senior official from the Department wrote back to the garda whistleblower by email the following day, 4 December, insisting that Sgt McCabe had been offered the chance to provide further evidence to the head of that inquiry, Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony.

The official said "our understanding on this comes from the Garda Commissioner".

The correspondence also shows that Sgt McCabe wrote to the Taoiseach as early as 21 April last, expressing his concern at not being interviewed by the internal Garda inquiry.

He told the Taoiseach he had "serious concerns regarding not being contacted or interviewed regarding my allegations. It would appear that the (O'Mahony) investigation is complete and if this is the case it's a shocking development. One would imagine that I would be one of the first to be interviewed".

Under questioning at the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee last month, Asst Comm O'Mahony said his team had not interviewed Sgt McCabe prior to compiling his report.

The correspondence also shows that a senior official at the Department of Justice wrote to Sgt McCabe on 20 September 2013, telling him that the correct course of action was for him to bring any material he had in his possession to the attention of a member of the Oireachtas, or an Oireachtas Committee or to another legally allowed recipient.

Mr Callinan later described the whistleblower's actions - in bringing this information to public attention - as "disgusting".

He also wanted the committee to return boxes of evidence relating to allegations of penalty points fixing which had been given to it by the whistleblower.

Under section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act, a member of the force is legally entitled to bring information of this nature to the attention of any member of the Oireachtas or Committee.

A spokesman for the Garda Commissioner said he would not be making any comment.