Ongoing garda controversy had already claimed three scalps
Published 29/07/2014 | 02:30
BRIAN Purcell is the fourth high-profile person to lose their job over the series of controversies which have enveloped the gardai and the Department of Justice in the past year.
The other three were Justice Minister Alan Shatter, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly.
The Confidential Recipient was the first official to lose his job after he was sacked by then Justice Minister Alan Shatter on February 19.
The solicitor had the role of accepting complaints from gardai about issues in the force and passing them on to the relev-ant body for investigation.
The arrange-ment allowed the garda making the complaint to remain anonymous if they so wished.
Mr Connolly's position became untenable after details of a conversation he allegedly had with garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe were read out in the Dail by TD Mick Wallace.
He was alleged to have said: "I'll tell you something, Maurice, and this is just personal advice to you, if Shatter thinks you're screwing him, you're finished."
Mr Shatter sacked Mr Connolly after he refused to confirm or deny whether he had had such a conversation with Sgt McCabe. Mr Connolly went on to accuse Sgt McCabe of a "serious breach of confidence" for allegedly taping their conversation.
The Garda Commissioner announced his resignation on March 25. At the time he had been under considerable pressure to withdraw remarks about the actions of the garda penalty point whistleblowers, which he had described as "disgusting" during a Dail Public Accounts Committee hearing. Criticism of his leadership of the force had been building for several months. However, within hours of him stepping down, an even more serious controversy, the routine taping of phone calls at garda stations, emerged.
Mr Callinan's decision to retire came the morning after a visit to his home by Mr Purcell, who was sent there by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The details of that conversation have not been disclosed and are now subject to a commission of investigation.
Sources close to Mr Callinan have said he delayed withdrawing the "disgusting" remark on the advice of Department of Justice officials.
The then Justice Minister resigned on May 7 after the Government received an explosive report by barrister Sean Guerin. It was critical of his handling of allegations made by Sgt McCabe.
The report highlighted a number of commendations Sgt McCabe received from supervisory officers. Despite these endorse-ments, Sgt McCabe's career had suffered as a result of his complaints against colleagues. It found that Mr Shatter, the garda hierarchy and the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission should have done more to heed his complaints.
The report contained a letter from Sgt McCabe's wife Lorraine to Mr Shatter in April 2011 in which she implored him to intervene. However, Mr Shatter did not respond and instead an official wrote back.
Following his resignation, Mr Shatter used Dail privilege to attack the report. He claimed Mr Guerin had made an "unprecedented rush to judgment" and complained he was not interviewed. Mr Shatter also claimed a finding that he had failed to heed Sgt McCabe was "mistaken", and there was no question of his "simply accepting the views of the Garda Commissioner".