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Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland Shane Ross
Shane Ross insists: 'I'm not looking for or hiding from publicity'
The independent TD now appears determined to force the issue of giving a garda whistleblower a transcript of his evidence to a vote at a PAC meeting next week.

INDEPENDENT TD SHANE Ross has hit back at accusations from colleagues on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that he has, in the words of one TD, an “insatiable appetite for publicity”.

Ross is in dispute with several government members of the committee who believe that testimony given by garda Maurice McCabe, on alleged malpractice in the penalty points system, should not be made available to him or made public as evidence was given in private session and it would be unprecedented to release it.

But Ross has insisted that the transcript of a garda whistleblower’s evidence should be made public.

At a PAC meeting last Thursday, he was accused of being more interested in “getting on the 6 o’clock news” than he was in pursuing the truth by the Fine Gael TD John Deasy.

Deasy said the issue had become “more about individuals, and their insatiable thirst for publicity”.

But Ross told this week: “If I am asked to explain it in public, on the news or anywhere else I will be delighted to do so. I’m not looking for or hiding from publicity.”

Force to a vote

The Dublin South TD is adamant that the committee should seek further advice on whether or not to release the transcript to McCabe and also believes, along with Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, that the transcript should eventually be made public.

“As far as I know we have no legal advice that he shouldn’t get it, it would only be going to him and his lawyers,” he said. “My view is that it should be made public, provided there is nothing libellous in it… I think it should be made public.”

Ross and McDonald wrote to PAC clerk Ted McEnery on Thursday night, seeking for the transcript issue to be placed back on the committee’s agenda for next week and the outspoken TD is determined to force the issue to a rare vote of PAC members, even though he will probably lose.

“I think it’s absolutely imperative that we will put it to a vote,” Ross said, adding he hopes colleagues “will be persuaded in the mean time, as they were on the last occasion, that it would be very foolish not to release transcript”.

Ross refused to criticise Deasy saying he’s “been very constructive in a lot of things that he’s done and I have no quarrel with his contribution to the committee”.

Private meeting disclosure

Other members have privately criticised Ross for his conduct on the committee in recent weeks and for a recent column in the Sunday Independent where he disclosed details of a private meeting.

Ross wrote about how one member of the PAC whispered to him that the committee would not call in the Rehab Group because it is “the Fine Gael charity”.

Although Ross disputes this, saying: “That was an aside, that was nothing to do with the meeting at all, it was not in the context of the meeting at all, nothing was revealed about what any of those people said.

He added: “I think they should have read it. No content of what happened in that meeting was revealed in that column… It was an aside, that wasn’t contents at the meeting, it was actually inside the room, it wasn’t while proceedings were taking place, it wasn’t part of any proceedings at all, and nobody was identified”.

Ross added that he believes government members of the committee are “under pressure” from “on high”.

“I am trying to make people accountable and in as transparent a fashion as possible…. I don’t wish to see anything hidden from public,” he added.

Mary Lou: ‘There’s no reason why whistleblower transcript shouldn’t be in public domain’

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