Tuesday 17 October 2017

'Only people I can sack are ministers' - Taoiseach insists he did not 'effectively sack' Garda Commissioner

Taoiseach Enda kenny
Taoiseach Enda kenny
John Downing

John Downing

Taoiseach Enda Kenny today insisted he did not effectively sack Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan last year.

In a lengthy interview, Mr Kenny also definitively ruled out involvement by the British royal family in the 1916 centenary celebrations next year.

He said the countries involved in Easter 2016 commemorations will be represented by their ambassadors. 

Mr Kenny again faced questions about his reluctance to discuss whether he was recalled for more questions by the Fennelly Commission which is examining alleged garda misconduct.

This inquiry has included in its remit the Commissioner’s sudden departure from office 12 months ago.  It is also investigating the secret tape-recording of phone calls to key garda stations over 30 years.

Opposition TDs have challenged the Taoiseach to explain how government members learned via media about Commissioner Callinan’s surprise decision to retire on March 25 last year. Mr Callinan’s announcement followed a meeting between the Commissioner and the then-head of the Justice Department who acting for the Taoiseach.

The opposition argue that only the Cabinet can remove a garda commissioner – and they want urgent explanations from Mr Kenny.

The Taoiseach told RTE presenter Sean O’Rourke that he could not discuss his evidence to the Commission headed by the former Supreme Court Judge, Nial Fennelly. He said he had complied fully with his duties to the independent Commission which  would publish its report.

“But be clear on this: the only people I can sack in the country are ministers,” Mr Kenny added, clearly signalling that he did not cause Commissioner Callinan to be sacked.

Mr Kenny also said he did not apply a double standard in his previous criticisms of Bertie Ahern who as Taoiseach was investigated by the Mahon Tribunal. In September 2007, Mr Kenny had said the office of Taoiseach was too important to await the outcome of Mahon investigations and Mr Ahern should make a full statement.

The Taoiseach said the Mahon Tribunal had gone on for years but the Fennelly Commission would do its work quickly.

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