Monday 23 January 2017

Midnight knock on the door is no way to run a justice system

Niall Collins

Published 03/09/2015 | 02:30

'The profound mismanagement and sheer political cynicism of Enda Kenny led to him abusing his office to force the commissioner out'
'The profound mismanagement and sheer political cynicism of Enda Kenny led to him abusing his office to force the commissioner out'

When Martin Callinan heard the door rattle late on a cold Monday night in March and the secretary general of the Departure of Justice Brian Purcell emerged from the dark, he had no idea what was about to be discussed.

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The secretary general had never called to the commissioner's home for such a nocturnal meeting before, nor indeed had it happened throughout the history of the State.

He sat uneasily on a chair in the kitchen haltingly explaining to the commissioner that the Taoiseach might not be able to express confidence in him at the next morning's Cabinet meeting. Government confidence is absolutely vital to the proper functioning of the office. Once it was called into question, it was evident that the commissioner was being marched on to the plank. The message from the Taoiseach was clear: jump or be pushed.

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