Friday 28 October 2016

Taoiseach says he acted 'right and fair' during garda 'sacking' scandal

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

A government motion of confidence in Taoiseach Enda Kenny over the controversial findings of the investigation into the shock resignation of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was passed last night.

The motion was put down as a response to a motion of no confidence tabled by the Opposition.

Both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein claim Mr Kenny unconstitutionaly sacked Mr Callinan at the height of the garda scandals last year.


During yesterday's Dail debate, the Taoiseach claimed it was "right and fair" to send the Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell to the family home of Mr Callinan the night before his retirement.

Mr Kenny said he sent Mr Purcell to Mr Callinan's home just before midnight on March 24 last year because he wanted to gather as "much information as possible" on the secret recording of telephone conversations in Garda stations before a Cabinet meeting the following morning.

He said it was "regrettable" that he and the then Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, were not made aware of an official letter Mr Callinan sent to the Department of Justice weeks earlier, which outlined the legal issue surrounding the recording of telephone conversation in certain Garda stations.

He said the controversial meeting in his office, which resulted in Mr Purcell being sent to Mr Callinan's home, would not have been necessary if he received that letter.


Mr Callinan said he felt he was left with no option but to retire following the call from Mr Purcell.

An investigation by Justice Nial Fennelly found Mr Purcell's visit was the 'immediate catalyst' that led to Mr Callinan's retirement. However, the report found Mr Kenny did not intend to sack Mr Callinan.

The Taoiseach called on Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, who has continually accused Mr Kenny of sacking Mr Callinan, to correct the Dail record.

Mr Martin said he still believed Mr Kenny intended to effectively sack the commissioner and this would be a "major scandal in any democratic society".

"Your only objective is to bury this as quickly as you can," Mr Martin told Mr Kenny.

Mr Shatter did not speak during the debate but was present in the Dail chamber during the Taoiseach's speech.

It is understood he chose not to speak because he was celebrating the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams conceded that his party may not be able to table a motion of no confidence against Attorney General Marie Whelan over her role in scandal.

"The AG is constitutionally protected from a motion of no confidence," he said.

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