Friday 31 October 2014

Kenny can't have it both ways on Callinan

Published 30/07/2014 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Frank McGrath

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny should offer an immediate explanation as to what happened on the night that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan retired, resigned or was apparently relieved of his duties. An explanation was required last March when Commissioner Callinan left the force after controversies that also saw the resignation of Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly.

The turmoil over the alleged bugging of the offices of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission, allegations of garda malpractice and taping of phone calls in garda stations and other places of detention, threatened to collapse the Government.

Mr Kenny intervened after he dispatched Brian Purcell, the outgoing secretary general of the Department of Justice, to Mr Callinan's home without the prior knowledge of then Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

The details of that conversation and the circumstances giving rise to it have never been disclosed and are now the subject of a Commission of Investigation led by retired Supreme Court judge Nial Fennelly.

The Government battled on in the hope that Mr Callinan's departure would cauterise a very homegrown emergency.

But by May, the crisis reignited when Mr Shatter resigned on foot of publication of a report into the handling of allegations by garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

When Mr Callinan stepped down, Mr Kenny claimed widespread credit for taking personal control over the crisis engulfing the Coalition.

But he cannot have it both ways by claiming credit for decisive leadership in the affair and then hiding behind an inquiry when asked to give a simple explanation of his role and that of his department.

The electorate deserves no less.

The fact that there is a Commission of Investigation is no bar to the elected head of government – one who has placed accountability at the heart of his leadership – from giving even a cursory explanation.

An answer now will not compromise that investigation.

But a failure to answer will compromise Mr Kenny's credibility and integrity and lead to rebuttable claims that he is afraid to face the political fallout of his decisions.

Now, more than ever – with a hard-hitting report into the Department of Justice already published – Mr Kenny needs to come clean and explain himself.

Let's just hope spiralling school costs are worth it

IT'S the middle of the summer and probably the last thing parents want to think about is the cost of sending their children back to school. But most of them already know that it is something that simply cannot be ignored. The rising cost of college registration fees, school fees for private schools and contributions to schools in the free education system have not even been taken into account in a new study which has found that the cost of going back to school is "crippling" for many families.

While the cost of basic back-to-school essentials like uniforms and books is falling, it is estimated that families with two to three children can be facing bills of more than €1,000 at this time of the year – a huge burden on many cash-strapped households.

However, it is the extras such as transport, laptops, sports equipment and money for after-school activities that really can drain the family finances.

Yet we must not forget that we have a good education system and while all these things are a real burden, these are costs that most of us do not begrudge in the hope that we will turn out well-rounded, well-educated adults at the end of the education system. That is the aspiration at least.

Irish Independent

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