Thursday 19 April 2018

Kenny denies firing Garda chief

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny has flatly rejected claims by one of his own Government ministers that he fired the former Garda Commissioner.

Under fire again about the events that led to Martin Callinan's shock standing down as Garda chief, the Taoiseach said he will give his account to a state inquiry on the controversy if called up.

And pressed about junior health minister Alex White's suggestion that he sacked Mr Callinan without the backing of coalition partners Labour, Mr Kenny dismissed the allegation.

"I do not accept Minister White's assertion in his letter," he said.

Mr White, who is involved in a battle for the Labour leadership, wrote to the party's rank and file that he would not accept being kept in the dark about major Fine Gael manoeuvres while in government together.

In it he wrote: "I will not stand over a position where the Taoiseach looks to fire the Commissioner of the Gardai without as much as a phone call to the leader of the Labour Party."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin demanded Mr Kenny give a "candid and truthful" account of why the Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell called to Mr Callinan's home on the night before he unexpectedly retired.

Mr Martin said it was an unprecedented move.

"The Garda Commissioner can only be removed by the Cabinet," he told the Taoiseach in the Dail.

"Essentially you have set in train a series of events to remove the former Garda Commissioner without telling the Tanaiste or indeed your Cabinet colleagues."

But Mr Kenny hit back that Mr Martin would "in time" have to stand up his claim.

"You made a charge in this House ... that I fired the former Garda Commissioner," he said.

"That's your charge. In time, deputy Martin, you will have to stand over that."

The Taoiseach said he had asked for his concerns about revelations of a secret system taping phone calls at Garda stations for decades to be brought to the Garda Commissioner before he brought the matter to Cabinet.

Judge Nial Fennelly will head a Commission of Inquiry - or state investigation - into the controversy.

Mr Kenny said, if called upon, he will give evidence to the hearings.

Press Association

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