Monday 20 November 2017

Gerry O'Carroll: Time has come for Callinan to speak out and provide his side of the story

Former commissioner Martin Callinan
Former commissioner Martin Callinan
Migrants on the Greek border this week
Daniel O'Donnell
Kevin Humpreys TD

The publication of the Fennelly report into the 'retirement' of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan sparked much controversy.

A day before the report was published Government spin doctors went into overdrive, with leaks that the report would completely vindicate Enda Kenny's assertion that he did not sack the commissioner.

In fact, Judge Fennelly's interim report did no such thing. I believe that the judge's findings on this matter are confusing and vague.

On the one hand he states that when the Taoiseach despatched the secretary general of the Department of Justice, Brian Purcell, to Commissioner Callinan's house, it wasn't to demand his resignation.

Yet further on in his report Judge Fennelly states that sending Purcell to the commissioner's home late in the evening had "the obvious implication that the Commissioner's own postion was in question".

The Taoiseach said in his evidence that he was surprised that after the visit Commissioner Callinan resigned.

But the report found that Purcell did not receive clear instructions on the detail of the message he was to convey to Callinan from Kenny.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter wasn't even aware of Kenny's move. Meanwhile, the secretary general at the Department of the Taoiseach, Martin Fraser, told the inquiry he thought that one possible outcome of the Purcell call was that the commissioner could retire.

The confusing series of events involving the principal agents at the centre of this controversy may never be unravelled - as no notes were taken at this dramatic meeting.

Judge Fennelly said it was astonishing that no written record was kept of the meeting. This means that nothing exists to verify what took place and to resolve any contradictions.

Separate to this farce the report also revealed that valuable information was lost after Callinan's personal papers were shredded and his mobile phone sim card disappeared. How unfortunate.

Frankly, Enda Kenny's assertion that he did not sack Callinan on that night in March of last year is, to me, unbelievable.


The sending of the secretary general of the Department of Justice to the Commissioner's house was unprecedented and could only have conveyed the message to Callinan that his position was now untenable, that he had lost the confidence of the Government and he had to fall on his sword.

What other message could Callinan take from it?

A subsequent vox pop on Primetime on the issue yielded the impression that most of those polled believed that Callinan was sacked. The garda associations are also of this view.

Martin Callinan is a decent man and was an outstanding garda officer.

It is now time for him to break his silence to vindicate his name and provide people with a full account of the events that happened on the night he was pushed out of his job.


Ordinary people are way ahead of squabbling politicians on migrant crisis

Migrants on the Greek border this week

The heart-breaking photograph of a Turkish policeman cradling the lifeless body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed up on Turkish beach, has been a game-changer in the European migrant crisis.

His brother Galip (5) and mother Rehan were also drowned in their desperate attempt to find sanctuary in Europe.

The horrific image of this little boy has been a wake-up call and has at last galvanised public opinion here and across Europe to the plight of desperate refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

More honestly, the truly terrible photograph shamed us all into action.

Apart from Germany, Greece and Italy, the response of other EU states - including ourselves - to date has been at best half-hearted and at worst pathetic.


Reports yesterday suggest that the Government is split on the numbers Ireland can take, from the 5,000 cited by Tanaiste Joan Burton to the 1,800 mentioned by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Whatever the final figure is it will be less than the number of refugees who have lost their lives this year attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

As expected, the response from the Irish people has been more decisive than that of our politicians. Some 8,000 voluntary offers of accommodation were received up to last Monday.

Ordinary people are leading the way. If a few of them sat at Cabinet we'd have clearer message from our Government on this crisis.

Instead, a memorandum is only being brought to Cabinet today, a full week after Aylan Kurdi drowned. This is an emergency - but clearly not to the Irish Government.


Don't sneer - 8 million viewers can't be wrong

Daniel O'Donnell

LET'S be honest - Daniel O'Donnell attracts his fair share of sneers. He's never beem the most fashionable Irish singer.

But, like it or not, the Donegal man is one of our most popular. That is why he's on Strictly Come Dancing, a show that attracts one of the highest viewing audiences on TV.

Spray tanned from head to toe, I have no doubt that Daniel will win hearts and votes in the coming weeks.

His adoring middle-aged fans will also be hoping that their darling will not fall victim to the clutches of his glamorous dance partner Kristina Rihanoff - aka 'The Siberian Tiger'.

It's all dramatic, heady A-list stuff, as befits a bona fide celeb like Daniel.

So the next time you hear someone make a smart remark about the singer remind them - more than eight million viewers can't be wrong.



Kevin Humpreys TD

It's not often that I come across a politician who's a hero, but Minister of State Kevin Humphreys deserves a mention this week. The Ringsend TD won a new Skoda car, worth €18,000, in a St Vincent de Paul lottery and handed it back to the charity. It was a sensible and generous gesture - fair play to him.



At the risk of beating a tired old drum...the HSE has once more outdone itself. The disgraceful, life-threatening mess that constitutes the country's emergency departments shows no sign of being cleaned up. An elderly cancer patient spending almost four days on a trolley? It's beyond despicable.

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