Minister backs Taoiseach in new claim over exit of ex-Garda chief Callinan
A government minister has rejected fresh 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 that Mr Kenny is attempting to push the contentious issue beyond the general election and that his apparent silence on the matter will leave a "cloud" hanging over the next Garda Commissioner.
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's resignation.
Mr Purcell, who has since stood aside from his position, visited Mr Callinan in his home the night before he stepped down, at the Taoiseach's request.
Mr Martin said that Mr Callinan was effectively forced from his position and that a fuller explanation is required from Mr Kenny.
"It's a very fundamental issue. He should have told the Oireachtas. He should have explained to the Oireachtas why he sent Brian Purcell out to the commissioner's house," Mr Martin has said.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has rejected outright Mr Martin's comments that the issue will leave a "cloud" hanging over the next permanent Garda Commissioner.
"I don't accept what Micheal Martin has said in relation to the appointment of the new garda commissioner, that's an independent process that's under way," Ms Fitzgerald said during a press conference in Government Buildings.
The Fine Gael TD said the issue of the resignation will be looked at by former Supreme Court Judge Nial Fennelly, whose work is continuing on the Fennelly Commission.
The commission is also examining the taping of phone calls in several garda stations. According to Ms Fitzgerald, Mr Fennelly's work is continuing and he is due to report back to her office in due course.
It's understood that Mr Kenny has already made a submission on his role in Mr Callinan's resignation to the Fennelly Commission.
Mr Fennelly has already met with Mr Callinan as part of his work and has compiled what sources described as a "detailed account" of the events leading up to the former Garda Commissioner's resignation.
Mr Callinan stepped down as Garda Commissioner on Monday, March 24, following a late-night visit from Department of Justice Secretary General Brian Purcell.
Mr Purcell was instructed to call to Mr Callinan's home by the Taoiseach after Mr Kenny had been made aware of the potential implications of the widespread recording of telephone conversations in garda stations.Controversy rumbles on as hunt for new garda chief begins
The revelation followed a raft of garda controversies which eventually culminated in the resignation of Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
At the time, Mr Callinan was under pressure to withdraw his controversial "disgusting" remark about the garda whistleblowers Maurice McCabe and John Wilson.
He resigned just hours after the visit from Mr Purcell.