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Tuesday 28 March 2017

Sargent clears Fianna Fail of blame for leaked letters

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

The finger of blame for the leaking of the letters which resulted in former Green Party minister Trevor Sargent resigning was being pointed away from Fianna Fail last night.

Mr Sargent dismissed suggestions the information could have come from his own office or from within his own organisation.

"Certainly not from my office -- my office would have sent the correspondence to the garda and the constituent, they had no business sending it to anybody else," he said.

And he also cleared Fianna Fail of involvement in the affair as he rejected theories of a revenge plot for the Greens' role in forcing Defence Minister Willie O'Dea's resignation.

Mr Sargent also said the leak might not have been deliberate. "All I can say is that it could be absolutely mundane and accidental as much as anything else."

Opposition claims of Fianna Fail involvement were a conspiracy theory, he added.

"I don't think there's any basis for the kind of rumours and speculation about Fianna Fail revenge," he said. "I've been in opposition long enough; I know it seems to be a case of if you can take a scalp why not take a Government scalp and see how far you can go. I don't buy it though as based on evidence, it's simply conjecture."

The constituent on whose behalf Mr Sargent made the representations to the gardai said the only copies of the correspondence were held by him, the former minister's office and the gardai. Balbriggan resident Dominic McGowan told RTE News the letters didn't come from him.

Mr Sargent admitted he wrote to a senior garda just a week ago about the case which has forced his resignation. He brushed away the apparent contradiction in his version of events a day earlier.

Mr Sargent admits he wrote to the local garda superintendent as he feared for the safety of Mr McGowan, who was due to face his attacker in court.



Safety

Mr Sargent again said he acted out of concern for Mr McGowan's safety.

The most recent letter shows that the Dublin North TD asked Superintendent Joe Kelly to "keep an eye on the case" after Mr McGowan asked for his help.

In a letter sent from his constituency office on February 15, Mr Sargent wrote: "I refer to our previous correspondence regarding Mr McGowan. I would be grateful if you could keep an eye on this case as I fear for the safety of Mr McGowan, who faces his attacker in court again in the Central Criminal court this Friday (February 19) as a witness to his own attack in September 2007."

But on the day of his resignation Mr Sargent indicated he only remembered the case when he was contacted about the 'Evening Herald' obtaining his correspondence. "It all came back to me really, the case that was behind that letter," he said on Tuesday night.

Irish Independent

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