Wednesday 24 August 2016

This culture of secrecy did not begin on Purcell's watch


Published 29/07/2014 | 02:30

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter. CourtPix
Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter. CourtPix

Alan Shatter only got a couple of hours to read through the Guerin Report before he had to resign.

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The former justice minister didn't even get to go through the entire report or draft a comprehensive response.

Frances Fitzgerald gets 17 days to consider a more general report that requires little enough assessment as it goes into little enough specifics.

On taking over at the Department of Justice, Ms Fitzgerald commissioned a review of the department's operations in the wake of the garda scandals.

She failed to express confidence in Brian Purcell, the secretary general of her department, pending the outcome of the review.

Mr Purcell did the "right thing" and stood aside from the Department yesterday.

His record in the public service meant he deserved better than having a sword of Damocles hanging over him for the past two months.

After all, this is a brave man who was shot by a gangster for carrying out his duties.

He is also the civil servant who was despatched to the home of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan the night before his controversial resignation.

The closed, secretive and silo driven culture in the Department of Justice didn't begin on Mr Purcell's watch.

In moving aside, he made the Government's task easier.

The Coalition now gets to claim it is taking action and bringing about reform.

But there were precious few ministers speaking up when garda whistleblowers were calling for investigations into allegations of wrongdoing.

Ultimately, events overtook Mr Shatter, Mr Callinan, Mr Purcell and the Department of Justice.

Ms Fitzgerald failed to offer any real reason why it took two-and-a-half-weeks to publish the report and why it wasn't brought to Cabinet last week.

There is still a lack of satisfactory answers around this entire sorry saga.

Irish Independent

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