THERE WAS ROBUST discussions during Leaders’ Questions this morning, when the opposition pushed for a response from the Government in relation to material sent to the Taoiseach yesterday from Micheál Martin which concerns “abduction, assault and ultimately murder”.
Martin claimed the material comes from whistleblower Maurice McCabe and concerns some cases which have been in the public domain, such as the murder of Sylvia Roche Kelly who was found dead in the Clarion Hotel in Limerick in December 2007.
The Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed that the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter knew about the case reports for over two years, and asked the Government if they had confidence in him.
He said there has been silence on the issues for almost two weeks and then Minister Shatter sacked the garda confidential recipient Oliver Connolly yesterday.
Martin claimed that it is known that the minister knew about this for two years as it is in the Connolly transcripts, which he read out in the Dáil:
Shatter would have read your report in detail. I know he did. He communicated with me. He would have read all your exhibits, which I actually labelled numbered one to nine in the order they were highlighted, so he did know.You know the only thing I redacted was your name. Alan studied everything. In fact I know he did.
He added, “Minister Shatter knew about these shocking cases for two years and in the knowing of these cases he comes into this house and accuses the whistleblower of not co-operating in the penalty points saga – undermining the man’s credibility in the public domain, something I believe was very wrong”.
Martin called on Minister Shatter to make a “comprehensive statement” as to why he relieved Connolly and he also called on Shatter to issue an apology to Maurice McCabe.
Minister Joan Burton said the Government had full confidence in Minister Shatter, adding that the Taoiseach needed time to reflect on the material.
“The Taoiseach needs time to examine it, he just got it from your good self last night,” she said.
She said that a retired High Court judge that is being tasked with the inquiry into the issues surrounding claims that the offices of the Garda Ombudsman (GSOC) were placed under surveillance, has accepted the terms of reference of the review which she said were drafted by the Attorney General.
She said that more consideration was needed rather than a “go-to response” on the matter, which she said Martin was looking for.
Martin then asked Burton to “stop trying to undermine people” stating that these were important matters.
The pertinent point is they were given to Shatter two years ago. There is no doubt he read them. He knew the gravity of them, and what happened – nothing.
Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty said that the inquiry, which was announced yesterday, did not cover all the issues, stating that it only looked at the controversy over the alleged surveillance of GSOC and not the issues that have come to light since, such as the sacking of the confident recipient who he said was relieved of his duties for what were deemed to be “inappropriate” remarks made about Minister Shatter.
He added that it was all about protecting Minister Shatter.
Related: Martin says material sent to Taoiseach concerns ‘abduction, assault and ultimately murder’>