Connolly says good name and integrity 'impugned' by leaking of conversation

Tuesday 04 March 2014 22.47
Oliver Connolly was the point of contact for garda whistleblowers
Oliver Connolly was the point of contact for garda whistleblowers

Former garda confidential recipient Oliver Connolly has said his good name, integrity and privacy have been impugned by the leaking of "an unverified transcript of a confidential conversation" with Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Mr Connolly, who was the point of contact for garda whistleblowers, was sacked by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter last month after details of the alleged transcript were read into the Dáil record.

He said that his conversation with the serving garda sergeant had been recorded without his consent at an official confidential meeting, which was covered by statute.

Mr Connolly said he refused to answer questions about the transcript last month because what was said during his confidential meeting must remain confidential.

He said he had a duty under garda regulations and the Official Secrets Act not to disclose, acknowledge or otherwise comment about any confidential report or any meeting with a confidential informant.

In his four-page statement, he does not name Sgt McCabe, but calls him the "principal whistleblower".

He also refers to Dáil comments last week by Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness about another whistleblower, a female garda.

On his sacking by Minister Shatter, he said he should not have been required to validate and he shall not validate, either by way of confirmation or repudiation, the contents of an alleged transcript unlawfully procured.

Mr Connolly criticised the TDs who have published selected extracted lines from the unverified transcript of his conversation with Sgt McCabe.

He said that the TDs who published the alleged transcripts had trampled over his right to privacy and those of his family.

Mr Connolly said: "During the past number of weeks, I have been subject to a concentrated attack by certain members of Dáil Éireann.

"These individuals, in a naked political attempt to embarrass a Minister for Justice whom they oppose, have selectively extracted lines from an unverified transcript of a confidential conversation between a serving member of An Garda Síochána and myself, acting in my former role of Confidential Recipient."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he expects Mr Connolly to co-operate with barrister Seán Guerin, who is carrying out an investigation into garda malpractice.

Speaking at a news conference this afternoon, Mr Kenny said if Mr Guerin requires information from the former confidential recipient, he expects Mr Connolly could do this while respecting the confidentiality of his office.

Mr Kenny said: "We have [Mr] Guerin commissioned to carry out a wholly independent analysis.

"If he's looking for information that he doesn't have at his disposal that the former confidential recipient Oliver Connolly would be able to cooperate with him ... I expect that he can do that respecting the confidentiality of his office."

Fianna Fáil's justice spokesperson said the statement issued by the former confidential recipient does not address the core issue of details of the alleged transcript between Mr Connolly and Mr McCabe.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime programme, Niall Collins said he understood Mr Connolly's unhappiness that his comments were recorded but said they merit public discussion.

He repeated his invitation to Mr Connolly to come before the justice committee to answer questions about his role.

"What is at issue here is the fact that a person appointed to a statutory office refers to the Minister for Justice of the day in the manner in which he did.

"I think it would be proper that he could appear before us when we could probe and examine the whole working of the office."

Independent TD Mick Wallace said the latest events highlight that the Minister for Justice is unfit for office.

He said: "Oliver Connolly seems an honourable man.

"He is entitled to defend his friend but as far as we're concerned, the last 18 months has shown Minister Shatter to be unfit for his office - at one stage after another he has sought to minimise and dismiss the information available to him."

Sinn Féin's justice spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said Mr Connolly's statement does not shed any light on what led to the alleged advice given to the garda whistleblower.