Tuesday 20 August 2019

From the Regency Hotel attack to the existence of the IRA - the controversies Frances Fitzgerald weathered

Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Arthur Carron
Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Arthur Carron
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Frances Fitzgerald has weathered many controversies during her time in Government, here we take a look at the storms she has weathered to date:

The existence of the IRA

In August 2015,  the minister weighed in behind then-Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, after she insisted in a letter to Sinn Féin that gardaí had no intelligence to suggest the Provisional IRA still maintains its structures. This was in stark contrast to the pronouncement of the chief constable of the PSNI.

After major political pressure, Ms Fitzgerald released a 900-word statement, confirming fully the threat posed by the IRA. She also ordered a fresh assessment of Provisional IRA activity, and challenged Gerry Adams to apologise for the IRA's legacy.

The Regency Hotel attack

Ms Fitzgerald found herself facing criticism after rowing in behind Nóirín O'Sullivan in relation to the Regency Hotel attack.

The minister backed the force's stance that there was no "specific intelligence" to suggest criminal elements could strike the north Dublin hotel.

This is despite the fact four INM journalists were present at the hotel because they had information to suggest criminals would be present.

Ms Fitzgerald later announced a suite of measures in response to the gangland situation.

Templemore

 Ms Fitzgerald again backed Ms O'Sullivan despite it emerging the commissioner did not inform her about mismanagement at the training college until October 2016 - a full 16 months after a working group had been set up to address claims of financial irregularities.

Rural crime

Ms Fitzgerald was accused of being "in denial" in relation to the scale of crime across rural Ireland. Despite previously claiming the focus should be on "smart policing", the government later agreed to launch a pilot programme to reopen a number of stations.

Children's referendum debacle

While she was children's minister in 2012, the Supreme Court severely criticised the government's €1.1m children's referendum information campaign.

In a detailed ruling, judges said Government "failed to hold the scales equally between both sides". The referendum passed by a small margin.

Irish Independent

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