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'Like a hen un-laying an egg': Dáil row erupts over the deletion of the Guerin report

Disagreement emerged between members over the deletion of the Guerin report from the Oireachtas Library.

Alan Shatter is seeking that the Guerin report be removed from the Oireachtas Library.
Alan Shatter is seeking that the Guerin report be removed from the Oireachtas Library.
Image: Sam Boal

WHILE THERE’S NO new government formed yet, that doesn’t stop the Dáil from having a row every now and again. 

Today, disagreement emerged between members over the deletion of the Guerin report from the Oireachtas Library. 

A motion to withdraw the report by barrister Sean Guerin into garda misconduct allegations by the whistleblower Maurice McCabe was due to be tabled in the Dáil this Thursday on foot of a Supreme Court judgment last year.

The Guerin report had found that former Justice Minister Alan Shatter had failed in his duties to properly investigate allegations of corruption and malpractice in the force.

Shatter, who is no longer a TD, resigned from Cabinet in dramatic circumstances in May 2014 after the Taoiseach at the time, Enda Kenny, said he could no longer express confidence in him. 

Kenny later corrected the Dáil record in relation to comments he made about Shatter.

90396850 Alan Shatter with Enda Kenny in 2015. Source: Sasko Lazarov

Shatter maintained that he had not acted wrongly in dealing with McCabe and was later cleared of wrongdoing by the O’Higgins Commission in 2016.

He won an appeal to challenge the Guerin report in November 2016 and the Court of Appeal found in his favour, before the Supreme Court upheld that decision last year following an appeal by Guerin.

While the report has been removed from the Department of the Taoiseach’s website, it remains in the Houses of the Oireachtas library.

The government accepted representation by Shatter’s solicitors who wrote to the Ceann Comhairle Sean O’ Fearghail last July asking that the report be removed from the library – which brought the matter to be raised in the Dáil today. 

Members were asked to approve the Dáil business agenda for Thursday, which includes a motion to delete the report from the library. 

3760 Maurice McCabe The report from barrister Sean Guerin criticised Shatter's handling of Garda misconduct allegations by whistleblower Maurice McCabe. Source: Leah Farrell

Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin’s Aengus O’Snodaigh said it would set a “dangerous precedent” to proceed with the motion without debate. 

“Obviously a promise was made that the Taoiseach is trying to keep. But at this point in time, this should not proceed until a new Government is formed,” he said. 

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy also raised concerns stating that such a motion could set a precedent in terms of the what other reports could be removed or deleted from the Oireachtas Library. 

Fianna Fáil also sided with opposition TDs, with Thomas Byrne stating that his party did not believe the matter should be dealt with “as expeditiously as proposed, it is unnecessary to do so. It can be done when members have had sufficient time to consider what is before them”.

Labour’s Brendan Howlin wondered if it is even possible, stating:

One can no more unlay a report than a hen can unlay an egg.

The Ceann Comhairle confirmed that even if the Dáil approved the deletion of the Guerin report from the library, the Seanad would independently still have to do so. He said they couldn’t find an example of a report being deleted in this manner before.

The order of business for tomorrow was eventually voted down, including the proposal on the Guerin report and removing it from the Oireachtas Library.

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Fianna Fáil voted with Sinn Féin, Greens, Social Democrats, and other opposition members against the deletion of the report.

Clearly displeased with the vote, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “The Business Committee needs to take a look at itself.”

With a sigh, the Ceann Comhairle replied to the minister: “Your advice is appreciated.” 

In a statement from Shatter to, he said it was “disappointing” that the majority of TDs attending the Dail opposed the taking of the motion on Thursday that would see the deletion of the report, which he calls “fundamentally flawed”.


He said false allegations made against him were found to be false by independent commissions. In his statement, he hit out against Sinn Féin stating he has been trolled online by party supporters.

Shatter stated the the refusal to allow the motion to be tabled shows “contempt for the truth”.

The Business Committee, which sets the agenda of each sitting of the Dáil, are due to meet again today to discuss Thursday’s agenda.

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