Inquiry into controversy surrounding garda chief’s retirement misses deadline
THE commission investigating the events leading up to the shock retirement of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has missed its deadline for sending draft reports to witnesses it questioned.
The long-awaited Justice Nial Fennelly investigation pledged to give draft copies of the report to those it interviewed before the end of May.
However, a spokesperson for the Fennelly Commission has admitted it will not meet the deadline it set.
“We are still in the process of preparing to circulate the draft report,” the spokesperson said.
The draft report will be given to witnesses, who will then have a right of reply before the final report is presented to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
The outcome is crucial for Mr Kenny, as opposition politicians claim he effectively broke the law by sacking Mr Callinan without giving him a right of reply or consulting with the Cabinet. Mr Kenny has rejected this accusation and pledged to publish Justice Fennelly’s report as soon as it is received by his office.
There is concern among some sections of Fine Gael that the controversy could damage Mr Kenny in the run up to the next general election if the report is not published.
Labour is also anxious to have the report published so it is not hanging over its party members when they are seeking re-election.
It was previously reported that Mr Kenny was recalled by the commission to clarify evidence he gave.
Attorney General Marie Whelan and Department of the Taoiseach secretary general Martin Fraser were also recalled.
Two weeks ago, the commission said the report was delayed because it needed to recall more witnesses.
However, it stressed this was not due to conflicts in their evidence.
The commission is also investigating the recording of telephone conversation in Garda stations, but it is not due to report on this aspect of the investigation for some time.
The interim report will deal with Mr Callinan’s retirement and confusion surrounding correspondence he sent to former Justice Minister Alan Shatter about the recordings.
On March 24, 2014 former Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell called to Mr Callinan’s home at the direction of the Taoiseach.
The following morning Mr Callinan retired and the Government announced a commission of investigation to review the taped phone calls.
Mr Kenny said Mr Purcell was told to express his concerns to Mr Callinan about the recordings and the ongoing controversies that engulfed An Garda Siochana last year.
Sources close to Mr Callinan said he felt he had no option but to retire after Mr Purcell’s visit.
Sources close to both Mr Callinan and Mr Purcell have said they are anxious to see the report published.
The Fennelly Commission previously said it could not publish its report until Ian Bailey’s legal action against the State had concluded, as it was a discovery order in the case that first unearthed the widespread recording of phone calls in Garda stations.
That case concluded two months ago, with Mr Bailey losing his case against the State.