THE GOVERNMENT HAS this evening released the terms of reference for criminal lawyer Seán Guerin’s inquiry into allegations of garda misconduct made by whistleblower Maurice McCabe with the aim of concluding the investigation within eight weeks.
McCabe claims a number of cases were mishandled by gardaí and that Justice Minister Alan Shatter was aware of this.
Guerin is to conduct an independent examination of the cases to see if there are grounds for the establishment of an Commission of Investigation.
The terms of reference published this evening are as follows:
To conduct an independent review and undertake a thorough examination of the action taken by An Garda Síochána pertaining to certain allegations of grave deficiencies in the investigation and prosecution of crimes, in the County of Cavan and elsewhere, made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe as specified in:
a) the dossier compiled by Sgt Maurice McCabe and furnished to An Taoiseach on the 19th February 2014 and
b) the letter understood to be from Sgt Maurice McCabe to the Confidential Recipient, Mr Oliver Connolly, dated 23 January 2012 , part of which was furnished to An Taoiseach on the 21st day of February 2014.
To interview Sgt Maurice McCabe and any other such person as may be considered necessary and capable of providing relevant and material assistance to this review in relation to the aforesaid allegations and to receive and consider any relevant documentation that may be provided by Sergeant McCabe or such other person.
To examine all documentation and data held by An Garda Síochána, the Department of Justice and Equality, and any other entity or public body as is deemed relevant to the allegations set out in the documents at 1(a) and (b) above.
To communicate with An Garda Síochána and any other relevant entity or public body in relation to any relevant documentation and information and to examine what steps, if any, have been taken by them, to investigate and resolve the allegations and complaints contained in the documentation referenced at 1(a) and (b) above.
To review the adequacy of any investigation or inquiry instigated by An Garda Síochána or any other relevant entity or public body into the incidents and events arising from the papers furnished at 1(a), 1(b) and 2 above.
To consider if, taking into account relevant criminal, civil and disciplinary aspects, there is a sufficient basis for concern as to whether all appropriate steps were taken by An Garda Síochána or any other relevant entity or public body to investigate and address the specified complaints.
To advise, arising from this review, what further measures, if any, are warranted in order to address public concerns including whether it is considered desirable in the public interest for the Government to establish a Commission of Investigation pursuant to the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 and, if so, the matters to be investigated .
At the conclusion of the aforesaid review, within eight weeks of 27th February, 2014 or so soon as may be thereafter, to deliver a Report to An Taoiseach on the matters set out at 1, 5, 6, and 7 above.
The government said today these terms were agreed on the advice of the Attorney General.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, said it was disappointed by Sir Mark Waller's refusal to attend. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
A security services watchdog, Sir Mark Waller, has been summoned to appear before MPs after he repeatedly refused to appear to answer their questions over the Edward Snowden leaks and other counter-terrorism issues.
Waller, who is the intelligence services commissioner, has refused to appear before the Commons home affairs select committee in a rare clash over the parliamentary accountability of Britain's intelligence agencies.
The summons was issued at midday on Thursday and is a rare move by a parliamentary committee which has the power to send for people and papers. The order to appear on 18 March was approved without a vote on the committee.
Waller is one of two former senior judges charged with the oversight of the security services, including MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, which have been at the centre of disclosures over the US National Security Agency's mass digital surveillance programmes.
The other retired judge, Sir Anthony May, is responsible specifically for oversight of the interception capabilities of the security services. He told the committee earlier that the 570,000 requests a year for communications data by public authorities was "possibly too large".
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the committee, said: "The intelligence services commissioner plays a vital role in keeping under review the way in which the home secretary and the intelligence services use the powers which they have been granted by parliament. This function was conferred on the commissioner by act of parliament, and Sir Mark must be accountable to parliament for the way in which he carries them out.
"Both the information commissioner and the interception of communications commissioner have accepted invitations to give evidence to the committee in the last few weeks. We do not see why the intelligence services commissioner should be any different and the committee was disappointed by his refusal to attend.
"Sir Mark has referred us to his published report. While the information in this report is useful to the committee, effective parliamentary scrutiny requires the opportunity to ask questions and receive full answers.
"We have therefore taken the unusual step of summoning Sir Mark. This happens only very rarely, where an essential witness declines to appear in response to an invitation. Indeed, it is the only time that this committee has summoned a witness in this parliament," he said.
The clash comes a fortnight after the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, called for a major overhaul of the oversight of Britain's intelligence services, including reform of the commissioners' roles as part of his campaign against "unaccountable power".