JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has made a long-awaited apology to former garda John Wilson and Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
“It was never my intention to cause any upset,” he said of remarks made in the Dáil that the whistleblowers did not cooperate with garda investigations that took place in respect of their allegations.
“I acknowledge that this statement was incorrect. It was never my intention to mislead the House and I believe it is appropriate that I apologise to both and withdraw the statements made.”
He also corrected the Dáil record and apologised for any other remarks made by him – outside the Dáil – that had caused upset.
Shatter went on to discuss Garda Inspectorate Report on the Fixed Charge Processing System.
He said he wanted to stress that “in dealing with what has become known as the penalty points controversy”, his “only interest, at all times, has been the public interest”.
That required that allegations made by whistleblowers be properly addressed and that any problems with the penalty points system be tackled so that public confidence in it could be maintained.
During his opening address to the Dáil, Shatter also acknowledged the “important role of the whistleblowers in highlighting problems and helping to bring about real change”.
“I hope that they can take some satisfaction from the considerable changes which have been and are being brought about. Following receipt of the allegations made, what was important is that I made sure that their claims were properly addressed and this I have done.”
In concluding his speech, the Minister moved to shut down the controversy as quickly as possible. He said:
I hope the House can agree that it would be in the public interest to do what we can to move on from the present controversy in relation to penalty points and get on with the work which is under way which will achieve a fair, transparent and effective system.
Here is Shatter’s the apology, in full:
I want to begin by addressing a matter of substantial importance. On 1 October 2013 in a topical issue debate on the penalty points issue I made a statement that the whistleblowers did not cooperate with the garda investigations that took place in respect of their allegations.I appreciate that this statement has been the source of some upset and distress to the whistleblowers. I have looked again at the information provided to me and considered the matter in detail.
I previously stated on the Dáil record that I expected that Sgt McCabe would be interviewed during the course of the O’Mahoney investigation and I note that he fully engaged with the Garda Inspectorate in the work undertaken by them to prepare the report which is the subject matter of today’s debate.
I want to say very clearly that, having re-examined the facts and further considered the matter, I believe more should have been done during the course of the O’Mahoney investigation to obtain information from and ascertain the views and experiences of the whistleblowers.
Further and better efforts could and should have been made to secure productive engagement with them in the investigation of their claims.
I therefore wish to correct the record of this House that the whistleblowers “did not cooperate with the garda investigations that took place”.
I acknowledge that this statement was incorrect. It was never my intention to mislead the House and I believe it is appropriate that I apologise to both and withdraw the statements made.
It was never my intention to cause any upset and if any upset was caused I hope that my correcting the record of the Dail today will put this matter to rest.
In doing so, I again acknowledge, as I have done many times previously that the reports published and the findings and recommendations that have been made with regard to the fixed notice charge system and penalty points are in response to the allegations made by Sgt McCabe and supported by former Garda Wilson.
I am aware that the whistleblowers and others have issues with some remarks I made outside this House.
It was not my intention to misrepresent any matter connected with this issue. I apologise for any offence that may have been caused by any other remarks made by me.
There are issues of importance that I have to properly address as Minister for Justice and there are important matters outstanding which I hope will be finally resolved upon GSOC completing its investigation and publishing its report.
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