herald

Sunday 10 December 2017

No cloud over ex-garda chief - Fitzgerald

A government minister has rejected accusations by the leader of the opposition that Taoiseach Enda Kenny is dodging questions on the departure of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin claimed this week that Mr Kenny is trying to push the contentious issue beyond the general election and that his apparent silence on the matter will leave a "cloud" over the next commissioner.

agenda

With the new Dail term set to begin in less than a fortnight, the issue of Mr Callinan's departure from the force is back on the political agenda.

Mr Martin said in an interview this week that Mr Kenny still has questions to answer in relation to the events that led to Mr Callinan's resignation.

He said members of the Oireachtas want greater clarity as to the exact instructions given to former Department of Justice Secretary General, Brian Purcell, in the hours leading up to Mr Callinan quitting.

Mr Purcell, who has since stepped aside from his post, visited Mr Callinan at his home the night before he stepped down, at the Taoiseach's request.

Mr Martin said Mr Callinan was effectively forced from his position and that a fuller explanation is required from Mr Kenny.

But his claim that the affair will impact on the next commissioner was rejected outright yesterday by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

"I don't accept what Micheal Martin has said in relation to the appointment of the new commissioner, that's an independent process that's under way," Ms Fitzgerald said during a press conference in Government Buildings.

Separately, Ms Fitzgerald said she may table new laws aimed at criminalising paying for sex.

The Fine Gael minister yesterday expressed her shock at the contents of a report on RTE radio that claimed asylum-seekers as young as 18 are working as prostitutes.

The report, by Brian O'Connell on Today with Sean O'Rourke, contained first person accounts from women in direct provision centres who engage in prostitution to feed their families.

shocking

Some women claimed that they have been visited in direct provision centres by Irish men who are willing to pay for sexual services.

The minister described the women's plight as "shocking" and demanded a report on the issue from the country's Reception and Integration Centre, which has responsibility for accommodating asylum-seekers.

"I did find and do find those reports shocking," Ms Fitzgerald said.

"Certainly, I don't want to see anybody in Ireland where the only option for them is prostitution in order to look after their family."

noconnor@herald.ie

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