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PAC will ask another Dáil committee if it can release the garda whistleblower transcript

“There is nothing in this transcript that’s going to change the world or blow our minds,” the Public Accounts Committee heard this morning.

Members of the PAC are split over the evidence of a garda whistleblower
Members of the PAC are split over the evidence of a garda whistleblower
Image: Screengrab via Oireachtas TV

Updated 3.18pm

MEMBERS OF THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are allowed to listen to the evidence given by serving garda sergeant Maurice McCabe on alleged malpractice in the penalty points system in private session last month, it has emerged.

During a lengthy debate on whether or not McCabe’s evidence on 30 January can be made available to him or indeed released publicly, the PAC heard that members are entitled to listen to the audio of the meeting.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming said that as a member of the committee he was entitled to listen back to what was said, citing previous experience of this on another Oireachtas committee, with the PAC clerk confirming this is the case.

This afternoon, members of the committee agreed to refer the issue of whether or not to release the transcript to McCabe to the Dáil’s Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP) for “immediate” decision. It is not immediately clear how soon a decision can be made.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and the independent TD Shane Ross both disputed a decision taken by the PAC last week to not release the transcript to McCabe and formally requested reconsideration of the matter.

The PAC has now agreed to reverse its decision last week and refer the matter to the CPP.

Earlier, both McDonald and Ross indicated their desire to force the matter to a vote, but committee chairman John McGuinness said he would seek further advice on whether or not the transcript can be released from the CPP and report back.

Earlier, committee clerk Ted McEnery said that releasing the transcript “could be setting a very dangerous precedent for future committees”.

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But McDonald said “we did not take a vow of secrecy” and said the decision not to release was “frankly outrageous and unnecessary”. Ross (above) said that this was “simply going around the houses” and called for clarification on the matter before the end of today.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy sought to play down the importance of the whistleblower’s evidence, saying: “There is nothing in this transcript that’s going to change the world or blow our minds.”

He said that there is risk of damaging McCabe or putting him at risk by releasing the transcript to him – a sentiment that other government members of the committee agreed with.

The committee heard that McCabe had been informed of its position in relation to releasing the transcript to him last week.

Fianna Fáil’s Fleming said that a lot of peole seemed to be worried about the witness but said “he is a big boy” and suggested that the witness was protected by “absolute privilege” in what he said, and as a result “he has nothing to worry about legally”.

He said it would be “damaging to the PAC if we were not to give each person who was at that meeting an opportunity to review what was said”.

First published 11.29am

Shane Ross insists: ‘I’m not looking for or hiding from publicity’

Read: More tensions at the PAC as Shane Ross accused of “insatiable thirst for publicity”

Read: ‘He kept saying he loved the guards’: No specifics but garda whistleblower a ‘credible witness’

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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