Deal­ing with McCabe case had left Shat­ter feel­ing like he ‘was sink­ing in quick­sand’

Irish Independent - - News / Disclosures Tribunal - John Down­ing

‘A num­ber of al­le­ga­tions re­gard­ing Garda cor­rup­tion turned out to be un­sub­stan­ti­ated and in­cor­rect’

SOwemet­the sec­ond of a trio who were forced to un­hap­pily and swiftly exit their good jobs in the spring and sum­mer of 2014. And all the exits re­lated to con­tro­ver­sies con­cern­ing Sergeant Mau­rice McCabe.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Dav Tay­lor, obliged to leave the Garda press of­fice, was re­placed in the wit­ness box by for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter, Alan Shat­ter.

This un­happy trio is ex­pected to be com­pleted to­day when for­mer Garda com­mis­sioner Martin Cal­li­nan takes the stand. Alan Shat­ter, who had been jus­tice min­is­ter from March 2011 until May 2014, sounded rather choked at times dur­ing his two hours of ev­i­dence. But he ex­plained it “was a com­bi­na­tion of hay fever and asthma”.

Re­spond­ing to ques­tions about Sgt McCabe, he said his deal­ings with the case gave him the feel­ing of “sink­ing in quick­sand”. He made it clear that the cir­cum­stances of his forced res­ig­na­tion from cab­i­net still burned, and he twice men­tioned the out­come of the 2014 re­port by bar­ris­ter Seán Guerin which led to his cab­i­net exit. But that is­sue is still be­fore the Supreme Court.

Shat­ter ac­knowl­edged Sgt McCabe had made a num­ber of cor­rect and ac­cu­rate claims about penalty points. But, against that, “a num­ber of very se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions re­gard­ing Garda cor­rup­tion turned out to be un­sub­stan­ti­ated and in­cor­rect”.

“There was this feel­ing that when you were deal­ing with any issues raised, you were sink­ing in quick­sand,” the for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter said.

Re­mark­ably, Mr Shat­ter said he had asked then­com­mis­sioner Cal­li­nan, prob­a­bly on phone in June 2013, if there was a “back­ground is­sue” about Sgt McCabe’s at­ti­tude to An Garda Síochána. He said Mr Cal­li­nan had told him about “Ms D’s” sex assault al­le­ga­tion in 2006 and that the com­mis­sioner spec­u­lated the sergeant was up­set. But he said noth­ing about the sergeant be­ing “driven by re­venge”.

“Mr Cal­li­nan put it in a man­ner I would say was sym­pa­thet­i­cally dis­posed to Sgt McCabe. He put it in a man­ner to sug­gest ba­si­cally, look, this man is up­set. There was noth­ing to sug­gest he had an agenda, noth­ing about him be­ing ma­li­cious,” Mr Shat­ter re­called of his talk with com­mis­sioner Cal­li­nan.

Equally, Mr Shat­ter in­sisted there were no ru­mours about al­leged sexual mis­con­duct con­cern­ing Sgt McCabe cir­cu­lat­ing at Le­in­ster House.

He also said he re­spected McCabe’s wishes to re­main anony­mous while mak­ing claims about prob­lems with the driver penalty point sys­tem and ma­jor dif­fi­cul­ties in the Ca­van-Mon­aghan Garda dis­trict. “If I hadn’t, my po­lit­i­cal life would have been a lot sim­pler,” he said. He tried to deal with McCabe with “care and cau­tion”.

The for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter also re­called be­ing con­tacted by then-Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ist Paul Wil­liams, ask­ing him to meet “Ms D” af­ter he had been obliged to quit the gov­ern­ment. At the time he “was not in a good place” and “trau­ma­tised” by the cir­cum­stances which led him to lose his job but he went to the meet­ing out of re­spect for Mr Wil­liams.

They had met at the Mer­rion Ho­tel for an hour and a half and he re­alised Ms D, who be­lieved her al­le­ga­tions of sexual mis­con­duct by Sgt McCabe had been mis­man­aged by gar­daí, was un­der ex­treme stress and very vul­ner­a­ble. Soon he re­alised her case would be taken up by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, and he felt given his past sit­u­a­tion any in­ter­ven­tions would nei­ther be well re­ceived nor suc­cess­ful.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.