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Shatter warns Micheál Martin not to ‘jump to conclusions’ ahead of Dáil statement

We’ll learn more about what the Justice Minister knew and when he knew when he gives a speech to the Dáil today.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter (File photo)
Justice Minister Alan Shatter (File photo)
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 9.05am

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has warned Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin not to “jump to conclusions” ahead of his statement to the Dáil this morning.

Shatter is expected to outline his side of the controversy surrounding allegations that gardaí mishandled a number of cases involving abduction, assault and murder in a statement at 10am this morning.

The Minister has remained silent on the controversy which arose last week after Martin passed documents to the Taoiseach which detailed what Enda Kenny later said were “extremely serious allegations of garda misconduct”.

The documents were given to Martin by the garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe. The Cabinet has already agreed to ask a barrister to examine the claims.

In his first public comments since the controversy arose, Shatter told TV3 News last night that it would be “a very good idea” if Martin “didn’t jump to conclusions” on the matter.

There are indications that the Minister is likely to focus on what the previous Fianna Fáil-led administration knew about the allegations in question in his statement this morning.

Shatter is expected to give his interpretation of the transcripts of conversations that McCabe had with the now sacked confidential recipient Oliver Connolly.

Shatter’s statement is likely to reflect what he told his Cabinet colleagues yesterday, including a timeline of the events surrounding the Department of Justice’s interaction with McCabe.

A government spokesperson said yesterday that Micheál Martin was “clearly wrong” in his assertion that nothing happened when McCabe’s grievances were raised with the Department of Justice in late 2012, citing the correspondence published by Broadsheet.ie last Friday.

Barrister probe

The Dáil will debate the controversy this morning before breaking for Leaders’ Questions and other business at midday. Debate will resume just before 3pm until 5.30pm this evening. Shatter is expected to conduct a question and answer session with TDs during the debate.

The government yesterday announced that senior counsel Seán Guerin is to conduct an independent examination of the cases in question to see if there are grounds for the establishment of an Commission of Inquiry.

The terms of reference for Guerin’s probe, which are being worked on by officials from the offices of the Taoiseach, Justice Minister and Attorney General, are expected to be published today and the barrister is expected to report back to Kenny before the Easter recess.

In a statement last evening, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said that his force “looks forward to fully co-operating with the senior counsel” amid growing controversy about what and when Shatter knew about allegations that gardaí mishandled the cases concerned.

Separately, having fired Garda confidential recipient Oliver Connolly last week, Shatter is expected to appoint an interim confidential recipient within the next week following consultation with the gardaí, the Garda Ombudsman and garda representative bodies.

But an amendment to the Protected Disclosures Bill, dubbed the ‘Whistleblowers’ Bill’, will allow serving gardaí to make complaints about garda conduct to the Garda Ombudsman, meaning the office of the Confidential Recipient will become redundant.

With the Whistleblowers’ Bill expected to pass the Dáil and Seanad by the Easter recess, it is likely that whomever Shatter appoints as confidential recipient is will be discharged of their duties by the summer.

First published 6.49pm, 25 February 2014

Read: Family of murdered Sylvia Roche Kelly ‘fear another cover up’

Read: ‘Experienced criminal lawyer’ to examine garda whistleblower’s dossier of allegations

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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