Rabbitte Brings The Pigeons Home

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90217023[Alan Shatter and Pat Rabbitte]

“In so far as individuals who raised issues are alleging that the Garda reports published are untrue, let them bring forward chapter and verse and proof of this. I am open to being convinced, but they have not done so. Having engaged with Members of this House and published material, they did not co-operate with the Garda investigations that took place. I do not know why that was the case. There is no question of anyone being victimised”.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter in the dail, October 1, 2013

Meanwhile this morning [on Today with Sean O’Rourke]…

Sean O’Rourke: “The Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte is on the line. Good morning to you Minister.”

Pat Rabbitte: “Hello Sean.”

Sean O’Rourke: “Now you are primarily on the programme to talk about these fears that post offices will be subject to wholesale closures round the country but before we come to that can I just get your sense as to what should happen now on the whole whistleblower controversy. Just on a point of clarification, and I heard you speak well of Sergeant Maurice McCabe the whistleblower at the centre of all this, is it your view that he did not co-operate with inquiries say particularly the inquiry into the penalty points controversy by the assistant Garda Commissioner?”

Pat Rabbitte: “Well, I mean I repeat Sean what I said about Maurice McCabe, I know him a little, I haven’t met him in recent years, he came to me a number of years ago about certain matters that Maurice McCabe wanted to put them into the public domain, he’s perfectly free to do so as regards you know what was the content of his exchanges in the present controversy I’m not party to that but it would appear from what has emerged now that the Minister for Justice may have been mistaken when he said he didn’t co-operate and I presume when the opportunity arises he will say whether that’s right or not but judging from media coverage it would appear that Maurice McCabe was available and so on and wasn’t exactly examined on the issue.

Sean O’Rourke:
“But surely if the Minister for Justice was mistaken he’d know that well and know it for a long time now and surely should have clarified it by this stage?”

Pat Rabbitte: “Well I don’t know, I don’t know whether he did know it. Quite clearly, if he said that in the Dail, he was under that impression. This is not a minister who would mislead the Dail, he’s a long-time parliamentarian, he’s a very scrupulous politician and if that wasn’t his genuine understanding of the situation at the time it’s simply unthinkable that he would have said otherwise there may, there may have been a simple mistake here and if there is it should be corrected.”

Sean O’Rourke:
“And isn’t it equally unthinkable that he wouldn’t have known long before now if there was such a mistake?”

Pat Rabbitte: “I don’t, you see, you’re inviting me into an area, Sean, that I haven’t personally been involved in, so, you know, there have been a lot of interactions here with the Official Receiver with the Confidential Recipient and so on and you know for example my memory of the legislation is that the Confidential Recipient is not required and does not report to the Minister for Justice the confidential recipient is an anonymised procedure put in place to take complaints from members of the, serving members of the Garda Siochana and pass them onto the Garda Commissioner*. so you know, you are inviting me into expressing personal knowledge of detail that I couldn’t have and I don’t have…”

Sean O’Rourke: “Well it was more an opinion as to whether the facts should have been known by this stage or not, but to come to the core point, the fact that the Taoiseach has now accepted that the matters brought to his attention by the Fianna Fail leader Mr Martin and subject to files that he’s given him are very serious and very grave matters and that they’re now being studied by both Taoiseach and his officials as well as internally the Department of Justice, is that the kind of scrutiny that in your view is going to satisfy the public?”

Pat Rabbitte: “Well I absolutely agree with you that they are very grave matters and couldn’t in fact be more serious in the manner that they have been presented in the public press in any event. I mean these are hugely serious issues and I presume what is underway is that the Minister is going back over all of the paper trail of this and all of the information in the Department of Justice before he meets with Taoiseach in respect of the file now in the possession of the Taoiseach. I mean like everyone else he didn’t know anything about this file until the day before yesterday, I still don’t know what’s in it but what I’ve seen in the public press can scarcely be more seriously and it’s being taken as such by the Taoiseach and I am sure by the Minister but the Minister has to be given an opportunity, he was out of the country yesterday on business, I don’t know if he’s, if he’s back yet, I haven’t spoken to him but the Minister has to be given an opportunity to explain what exactly happened in respect of the matters in this file that he had knowledge of. I know from personal experience that if a file was passed to the Minister this particular Minister for Justice would take time to find out what’s in it because he’s a diligent and scrupulous minister who works a very long day every day…”

Sean O’Rourke: “That suggests you have total confidence in Alan Shatter as a cabinet colleague?”

Pat Rabbitte: “I do have confidence in Alan Shatter, I do have confidence in him. He’s a reforming, hardworking, insightful minister and, you know, these are serious issues that have now arisen, the actual issues themselves of course far preceding Alan Shatter becoming Justice Minister, but we have to give him the opportunity to say what is in the possession of the Department of Justice and in his own possession and what happened and what we do now.”

Fairly awks, in fairness.

Listen here

* In this instance the complaint was against the Garda Commissioner

Previously: Garda Confidential

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)