Four months on from the publication of the Guerin Report, there is (at the time of going to print) no indication of the terms of reference, or who will comprise the inquiry – to have been established in order to fully investigate the allegations of ‘garda malpractice’ made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe detailed in the report. The impact of the allegations made by the garda whistleblower prompted the resignation of the former justice minister Alan Shatter, perhaps too the ‘retirement’ of former garda commissioner Martin Callinan – and the dismissal of the former confidential recipient. This highlights the serious nature of this inquiry.
Overlooked by the media has been the impact on those perceived as lower down the ‘pecking order’ – the adverse effect it has had on those gardaí continuing to serve with their reputations tarnished by a one-sided report detailing allegations like punches thrown. Allegations are not established facts. These gardaí have yet to be allowed to present their side of the story. The same is true of other whistleblower allegations made in Athlone, where the member has been identified on social media and yet is still denied the opportunity to respond through an undue delay of the official investigation. Above all, this shows a fear by those in authority of these untested processes – and this needs to be examined.
We are increasingly concerned that our members have been maligned by allegations that have yet to be tested, and we believe that the inordinate delay may be because those in the political elite have been caught in the headlights – perhaps bamboozled into thinking they were on a winning team before the full nature of soured relationships became apparent. All cannot be what it seems.
The Guerin Report is all about the allegations one man has made, and everyone has taken it as doctrine. We don’t understand this. It appears that everyone has taken the allegations at face value, and they have been reproduced throughout the media. In the Bailieboro cases, why has no one asked why one man made secret recordings of his conversations? Is everyone running scared because the minister, the commissioner and the confidential recipient have tumbled – or is our society sleepwalking itself into a situation akin to the emperor’s new clothes? Who will be the first to say stop?
Perhaps unwittingly, both sets of whistleblower allegations have been unchallenged and amplified as a consequence of government paralysis. Their blind acceptance and repetition may cause further casualties in the political elite – or may cost someone a significant sum of compensation. That aside, the damage done to junior members of the Force is incalculable. Some will have to fight harder for career development to overcome the prejudice they will have attached to their name after such a spell has been cast; an indelible stain has unjustly marked their professional reputation. For some, the damage done is far more personal. Some members have had their confidence checked; others are now seemingly irreparably disillusioned. This is unjust. They must be allowed their voice.
“Now is the time to blow the whistle on this ill-managed episode and restore public confidence. Not everyone will emerge unscathed by the truth; but the truth seldom harms the honest.”
For full and in-depth coverage, see the current printed edition of Garda Review.