Thursday 14 December 2017

Joan Burton: serious questions remain unanswered

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton

Daniel McConnell, Political Correspondent

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said Justice Minister Alan Shatter still has the confidence of the Labour Party, but serious questions remain unanswered in relation to the Garda phone tapping controversy.

Speaking to reporters at Croke Park, Ms Burton said "obviously the reason for the Commission of Inquiry is to establish the precise facts and the matters around the tapes".

Ms Burton made clear from the Labour viewpoint, several serious matters remain unanswered.

"One of the critical things for Justice Fennelly is to establish exactly what the chronology and the sequence of events was because there are lots of different accounts in the media being given. So it is important what actually happened is established and the chronology of events is established," she said.

Asked specifically did Mr Shatter still retain the confidence of the Labour Party following the Cabinet meeting, Ms Burton said: "Absolutely".

"We heard from the minister. The discussion centred around the establishment of the commission of inquiry, the establishment of the Garda authority and the arrangements by which citizens would have an involvement in that authority, that was discussed," she added.

She said there "was a very detailed and friendly discussion at the cabinet. These are very serious matters."

"All of the members of cabinet take all of the matters under discussion which relate to public confidence in the Gardai and it is really important that the quality of policing and public confidence in policing is maintained. There was a a good solid very detailed discussion at cabinet," she said.

Ms Burton said she welcomed the appointment of Nial Fennelly who she said is a "very eminent judge."

Asked why the Cabinet failed to sign off on the terms of reference of the Commission, she said they are "at a very advanced stage" and will have to be finalised with the judge.

"What he will be broadly enquiring into is everything to do with taping in respect of the Gardai at Garda stations.The Government has also agreed to establish a Garda authority and look at new arrangements in terms of oversight," she said.

She accused Fianna Fáil of suffering from "total amnesia" and of seemingly forgetting that they were ever in Government.

"What is clear is that these matters have gone on for thirty years. Fianna Fáil seem to have total amnesia on these matters in relation that they were ever in government," she said.

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