Wednesday 26 April 2017

Explained: Everything you need to know about the latest developments in the garda whistleblower controversy following an extraordinary day in Irish politics

As pressure mounts on the government, here are the latest details you need to know about the whistleblower crisis

Some of the players in the controversy include, from left, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, her predecessor Martin Callinan, Superintendent David Taylor, Sergeant Maurice McCabe, Tanaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, former justice minister Alan Shatter, Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone
Some of the players in the controversy include, from left, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, her predecessor Martin Callinan, Superintendent David Taylor, Sergeant Maurice McCabe, Tanaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, former justice minister Alan Shatter, Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone

Catherine Devine and Niall O'Connor

As the garda whistleblower controversy continues to dominate the headlines this week, here are the eight latest details you need to know about the crisis:

1. The McCabes issue a statement rejecting Commission of Inquiry

In a statement this evening, the couple say they and their five children have been “systematically attacked in a number of ways” by State agencies and people working for the State.

Significantly, the family say any future inquiry into the alleged smear campaign by garda management should be held in public.

Whistleblower: Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke
Whistleblower: Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke

The statement quotes Health Minister Simon Harris as today saying the family are entitled to truth and justice.

“We wish to make it clear that we are definitely not agreeable to that entitlement being wholly postponed so that another Commission of Inquiry can conduct a secret investigation behind closed doors and make a report, into which we have no input as of right, in nine or 18 months time.”

“We are entitled to the truth - justice can follow in its wake,” the statement says.

Fianna Fáil have now said they back the family's call for a pubic inquiry.

The Taoiseach is due to meet the Fianna Fáil leader on Tuesday morning to discuss the planned Commission of Inquiry.

2. Children's Minister Katherine Zappone breaks silence

Children's Minister Katherine has said she told Taoiseach Enda Kenny about a Tusla link to Garda Whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

She said the McCabe family told her of “extraordinary and vile allegations” and she felt the need to keep them private in order to protect the McCabes.

However, she revealed that she told Taoiseach Enda Kenny that there was a Tusla link to the scandal prior to the Cabinet agreeing the terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation.

Mr Kenny has since responded and said through a spokeperson that the Minister took the correct course of action.

She also announced a HIQA investigation into Tusla operations.

3. Garda whistleblower David Taylor has been cleared of leaking information and has broken two years of silence

 Garda whistleblower David Taylor has been cleared of leaking information after an investigation that has lasted over 18 months.

In a statement to Independent.ie, Supt Taylor said he feels "vindicated".

"After almost two years under formal Garda investigation, I have been informed today that a decision has been made not to prosecute me. I awaiting a copy of the Director of Public Prosecution's letter," Supt Taylor said.

"I have waited a long time for this decision to be made. It has been an incredibly stressful and difficult time for my family and friends. I would like to thank my friends and colleagues who supported me through this time."

4. Garda Commissioner releases statement

Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan said she will not be stepping down while an investigation into the whistleblower controversy takes place.

In a statement released this afternoon, Ms O'Sullivan wrote: "My position remains unchanged. Nothing has emerged in the last three weeks which in any way changes that situation."

The Garda Commissioner said the "campaign of false accusations, repeated and multiplied" do not make her "guilty of anything".

She continued; "I have made it clear that I was not part of any campaign to spread rumours about Sergeant McCabe and didn't know it was happening at the time it was happening.

"I have repeatedly refuted that claim and do so again."

She wrote; "The easiest option for me would be to step aside until the Commission finishes its work.

"I'm not taking that option because I am innocent and because An Garda Síochána, under my leadership, has been making significant progress, with the help of our people, the Government, the Policing Authority and Garda Inspectorate, in becoming a beacon of twenty first century policing."

5. Varadkar's message

Varadkar has urged party colleagues "not to panic" after it was revealed that TDs are "freaking out" at the Taoiseach and Tánaiste's handling of the Garda whistleblower crisis.

6. Crisis in Government

A motion of no confidence in the Government will be held in the Dáil on Thursday. The motion was called for by Sinn Féin as many TDs criticise the Taoiseach and Tánaiste's handling of the garda whistleblower crisis.

The sense of crisis has been heightened by an opinion poll which puts Fine Gael on just 21pc, compared with Fianna Fáil's 32pc.

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell said Sinn Féin's opportunistic move at calling the vote of no confidence is "politically irresponsible".

"Any political opportunism designed to bolster polling numbers should be treated with complete disdain by the Irish people as it will only serve to delay this crucial process," he said in a statement this morning.

7.FF Public Expenditure spokesperson Calleary has '100pc confidence' in Justice Minister

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Public Expenditure Dara Calleary said he has "100pc confidence" that Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is telling the truth. However, he did note there are "serious mis-communication issues" at the heart of the Government.

He said he cannot understand how the minister failed to follow up with Minister Zappone when she was aware she had met with Sergeant McCabe.

8. FF Justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan speaks out

Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan told Newstalk's Breakfast that is '100pc certain' that he mentioned the Tusla file on garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe to the Minister for Justice on Wednesday, one day before the Prime Time programme.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said the first she heard of the details when she watched the RTE programme.

Later, the chairman of Fine Gael suggested Mr O’Callaghan is lying about his Dáil bar conversation with Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

On his local radio station Kildare FM, Mr Heydon said: “I believe the Tánaiste and I spoke directly to her last night on the phone. In all of my dealings with Frances Fitzgerald I have found her to be a woman of the upmost integrity.”

Asked repeatedly by presenter Shane Beatty whether that meant Mr O’Callaghan was “lying”, the TD replied: “If both sides can’t be reconciled that’s what we’re looking at, yes.”

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