Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

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

Enda Kenny has said the documents from whistleblower Maurice McCabe contain “extremely serious allegations of garda misconduct”.

Updated 10.45pm

THE CABINET HAS agreed that a senior counsel is to examine claims being made by garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe that the force mishandled a series of cases involving abduction, assault and murder.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed that senior counsel Seán Guerin is to conduct an independent examination of the cases to see if there are grounds for the establishment of an Commission of Investigation.

Kenny described it as a “scoping exercise” that will be carried out by an “an experienced criminal lawyer” who will “assess the investigative methods that were carried out” on the cases in question and will report back to him before the Easter recess. Kenny said he intends to lay Guerin’s report before the Dáil for debate.

Ministers were this morning briefed at their weekly meeting by the Justice Minister Alan Shatter on the details of correspondence between the Department of Justice and McCabe in recent years.

It comes amid growing controversy about what and when Shatter knew about allegations that gardaí mishandled a number of serious cases involving murder, abduction and assault.

The Cabinet agreed that a barrister will be appointed to examine the dossier of files and determine whether a further inquiry is needed.

Fianna Fáil has this afternoon slammed the government’s response, labelling it as “quite simply, unbelievable” and “an unbelievably weak response” reiterating calls for an independent inquiry.

The dossier was given to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin by McCabe, a serving sergeant, and subsequently passed to the Taoiseach last week.

Kenny said last week that the documents contain “extremely serious allegations of garda misconduct”.

It is claimed Shatter was first notified about the claims two years ago, but this has not been confirmed.

Kenny confirmed this afternoon that Shatter will give a statement on recent events to the Dáil tomorrow and, with exception of Leaders’ Questions, the house will spend all day debating the recent controversy.

He also confirmed that the Cabinet has approved an amendment to the Protected Disclosures Bill which will allow serving gardaí to bring complaints to Garda Ombudsman.

Pending the enactment of this bill, the government will appoint an interim confidential recipient in the gardaí in the wake of Oliver Connolly’s sacking last week.

In a statement issued this lunchtime, Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins said the coalition’s response falls short of what is needed and said that a senior counsel is not needed “to advise on what is the right thing to do”.

“In the first instance, the Taoiseach acknowledged the gravity of what he had been given,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there seems to have been a process of minimisation and misdirection ever since.  This has culminated this afternoon in an unbelievably weak response.  What is the Government trying to hide?”

Human rights group the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has also criticised the decision. The organisation says that after two weeks of “drip fed allegations” nothing short of “an independent statutory inquiry” will do.

Read: My office is dealing with more claims of garda malpractice — Gerry Adams

Explainer: Why is Alan Shatter under pressure – and will he survive?

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