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Fennelly critical of Kenny in garda tape inquiry


Martin Callinan

Martin Callinan

Martin Callinan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's handling of aspects of the crisis around the secret taping of phone calls at garda stations is criticised in the inquiry into the affair, the Irish Independent understands.

However, the Fennelly Commission does not appear to say Mr Kenny forced out former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan in March 2014.

Mr Justice Nial Fennelly has circulated his draft interim report to interested parties involved in his investigation.

Up to 20 individuals have received full or partial copies of the report, which deals with events leading up to Mr Callinan's departure.

The tone of the report is described as critical of the way the controversy was dealt with by the Coalition and Mr Kenny.

In particular, there is scrutiny of the critical 24 hours after Attorney General Máire Whelan contacted Mr Kenny about the taping affair.

Mr Kenny, Ms Whelan and Department of the Taoiseach secretary general Martin Fraser were involved in talks on the matter over the following day.

From there, former Justice Minister Alan Shatter and former Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell were brought into the loop.

The report appears to be critical of this delay by Mr Kenny in conferring with the minister and the Department.

Mr Purcell was sent by Mr Kenny to Mr Callinan's family home to speak to him about the gravity of recording of telephone calls in garda stations.

The draft interim report deals with two issues:

the two-week delay in the minister being briefed on a letter sent by Mr Callinan to the Department of Justice about the recordings of phone calls;

the resignation of Mr Callinan.

Following on from the interim report, the Commission will go on to investigate the garda station recordings affair.

If the Commission found the Taoiseach sacked the Commissioner without giving him a right of reply, or before discussing it with Cabinet, he would have broken strict laws laid out in the Garda Act. A Garda Commissioner can only be forced out of office by a Cabinet vote.

The inquiry appears to conclude Mr Callinan resigned.

Mr Kenny has denied Mr Callinan was sacked by the Government in March 2014 and insisted he merely resigned.

The report is not expected to be ready for publication until the autumn.

This week, the Commission circulated the draft report - in full or part - to people interviewed by it, or who may have played a role in the controversial decision of Mr Callinan to step down from his post.

These individuals have 21 days to respond to the judge on the contents and findings contained in the report.

However, Mr Callinan was out of the country this week - so he won't get the report until next week when his 21 days will then start, taking the consultation period up until mid-July.

After that, Mr Justice Fennelly will amend his report where he sees fit.

Anyone who disagrees with the contents or the findings has the option of issuing a response to the report or seeking a High Court application to prevent publication.

"Given the number of people involved and the highly sensitive nature of the issue, it's a fair bet people will have issues with it," a source said.

But recipients of the report have been instructed not to discuss its content as doing so would be a criminal offence.

"There is no ambiguity about the legal position of whether people can talk about this at all - or even confirm they have got it," a source said.

Irish Independent