Sunday 24 September 2017

FF calls on Kenny to reveal if he was 'recalled' as part of Callinan probe

Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan
Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

FIANNA Fáil has called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to reveal whether he was one of three witnesses recalled to give evidence at the Fennelly Commission.

It has emerged that retired Supreme Court judge Nial Fennelly heard "conflicting" accounts from witnesses interviewed as part of his investigation into the Garda tapes controversy and the events leading up to the resignation of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

According to an interim report published in November, Mr Fennelly called 15 witnesses to give oral evidence at hearings which took place last summer.

But three individuals were recalled to appear again in September to respond to evidence that had been given by other witnesses.

"The commission has identified outstanding areas of conflict and is seeking resolution of any contradictory or disputed evidence," states the report, which was published on the Government's website.

Fianna Fáil Justice spokesperson Niall Collins said he believes the Taoiseach "needs to clarify" whether or not he was recalled.

"This is potentially important information and it is in the public interest," Mr Collins added.

A Government spokesman said he could not say whether the Taoiseach was one of the three witnesses recalled because the commission's work is ongoing.

The Irish Independent understands that Mr Callinan was not one of the witnesses brought back before the commission in September.

The Commission of Inquiry was initially set up to investigate the Garda tapes controversy.

However, Mr Fennelly's remit was extended to examine the events leading up to Mr Callinan's resignation following a request from the Oireachtas Justice Committee.

Mr Callinan stepped down from his post in March - just hours after being visited at his home by the then-Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Brian Purcell.

Mr Purcell visited Mr Callinan to express the Taoiseach's concern at the revelations about the taping of phone calls in and out of garda stations.

Members of the Opposition have claimed that by sending Mr Purcell to Mr Callinan's house, the former Commissioner was effectively "sacked".

This has been fervently denied by the Taoiseach.

Mr Kenny granted a request from Mr Fennelly in November for further time to carry out his work. A second interim report dealing with Mr Callinan's departure is due by the end of March.

In the first report, Mr Fennelly states that he began his investigation in May when he wrote to 20 witnesses he identified as having information in relation to Mr Callinan's departure.

It is understood that among these individuals was Martin Fraser, the most senior civil servant in the Taoiseach's department.

"All requests for such statements were delivered, albeit not always within the time frame suggested by the commission," Mr Fennelly wrote.

Some 15 witnesses presented oral evidence on dates between June 24 and July 22 during sessions conducted by a barrister.

Mr Fennelly wrote that the meetings were recorded by a team of stenographers.

Transcripts of evidence were supplied to witnesses in advance of the meetings, he adds.

It is understood that mobile phones of some witnesses were examined by the commission.

Irish Independent

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