herald

Friday 9 December 2016

'The only people I can sack are ministers' Enda Kenny insists he was not behind sacking of Garda Commissioner

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny today insisted he did not effectively sack Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan last year.

“Be clear about this, the only people I can sack in the country are ministers,” Mr Kenny said when pressed on the issue.

In a lengthy interview today, Mr Kenny also definitively ruled out involvement by the British royal family in the 1916 centenary celebrations next year. He said the countries involved in Easter 2016 commemorations will be represented by their ambassadors. 

Reluctance

Mr Kenny again faced questions about his reluctance to discuss whether he was recalled for more questions by the Fennelly Commission, which is examining alleged garda misconduct. This inquiry has included in its remit the Commissioner’s sudden departure from office 12 months ago. It is also investigating the secret tape-recording of phone calls to key garda stations over 30 years.

Opposition TDs have challenged the Taoiseach to explain how Government members learned via media about Commissioner Callinan’s surprise decision to retire on March 25 last year. Mr Callinan’s announcement followed a meeting between the then-Commissioner and the then-head of the Justice Department who acting for the Taoiseach.

The Opposition argues that only the Cabinet can remove a garda commissioner – and they want urgent explanations from Mr Kenny.

The Taoiseach told RTE presenter Sean O’Rourke that he could not discuss his evidence to the commission headed by the former Supreme Court Judge, Nial Fennelly. He said he had complied fully with his duties to the independent commission which would publish its report.

Mr Kenny also said he did not apply a double standard in his previous criticisms of Bertie Ahern who, as Taoiseach, was investigated by the Mahon Tribunal. In September 2007, Mr Kenny had said the office of Taoiseach was too important to await the outcome of Mahon investigations and Mr Ahern should make a full statement.

Departure

The Taoiseach said the Mahon Tribunal had gone on for years but the Fennelly Commission would do its work quickly.

 He said he had agreed to an Oireachtas Justice Committee request to include the Commissioner’s departure from office in the Fennelly inquiry.

Mr Kenny again ruled out an election before spring 2016, saying that the Government had work to do. He also urged a “Yes” vote in the May 22 same-sex marriage referendum.

hnews@herald.ie

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