Taoiseach’s office accused of ‘secret engagement’ with Guerin investigation

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter

The Taoiseach’s office has been accused of “secretly engaging” with barrister Seán Guerin while he was conducting an independent inquiry into Gardaí whistleblower allegations.

The legal team of former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who resigned from the government after the Guerin Report was published, said the Department of Taoiseach has to publish all of its correspondence with Mr Guerin in order to maintain public confidence in future inquiries.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show Mr Guerin copied the Taoiseach’s office into correspondence related to the inquiry.

That decision was queried by legal firm Arthur Cox, which represented the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) during the investigation.

One released email from Arthur Cox reads: “We understand from your terms of reference that your inquiry is independent.

“For this reason, we have not copied the Department of the Taoiseach on our response, as we are unclear as to their role.”

The correspondence was released by Gsoc, but the Taoiseach’s office has so far refused to comply with similar Freedom of Information requests.

The Taoiseach’s office has also failed to identify the “unnamed official” who spoke to Mr Guerin when he phoned the Taoiseach’s office on 1 April.

Brian Gallagher of Gallagher Shatter Solicitors, representing Mr Shatter, said: “It would be wrong for any individual, appointed by government to conduct an independent inquiry, to regard it as appropriate or to have the expectation that he could provide records in secret to the Taoiseach’s department.”

However, a spokesperson for the Department of the Taoiseach said: “When was received, the department contacted to confirm that he was not requesting any action of the department.

“He confirmed that and no action was taken by the department.”

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