Tuesday 24 October 2017

Kenny accused of “sacking” Garda Commissioner

Fionnan Sheahan and Jason O'Brien

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of “sacking” the Garda Commissioner over the recording of conversations in garda stations.

But Mr Kenny says he “deplores” the accusation from Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

“It’s the first time you have accused me of being a liar in here,” he said.

Mr Martin said the Taoiseach sent a civil servant out to Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to talk to him about the garda taping controversy.

“You essentially sacked him,” he said.

“You sent a senior civil servant out to the Commissioner the day before the Cabinet meeting,” he added.

Mr Kenny said he thought it was important to “have the Garda Commissioner appraised of the gravity of this” so the civil servant spoke with Mr Callinan.

He said he did not accept Mr Martin’s accusation of “sacking” the Commissioner.

“I reject your assertions. It’s actually beneath you to come in here and say something like that,” he said.

The Taoiseach has since confirmed that the civil servant involved is the Secretary General of the Department of Justice, and that he met with Mr Callinan on Monday evening.

Mr Callinan "retired" from the post the following morning.

In a further twist, the timeline of events as outlined in the Dail means that the Sec Gen of the Dept of Justice visited Mr Callinan before officials at the Department had passed a letter from Mr Callinan onto the Justice Minister.

The letter was sent to the Dept of Justice on 10 March and detailed the recording of phone calls in garda stations. Mr Shatter said he did not get the letter until 12.40pm yesterday.

By that point Mr Callinan had "retired".

Mr Kenny said the first time he was aware an issue had arisen was in a conversation with Attorney General Maire Whelan on Sunday morning.

“The Attorney General was not prepared to talk to me about the issue on the telephone,” he said,  to some laughter in the chamber.

Mr Kenny says the transcripts of a small number of tapes from garda stations had “the most serious implications” for a number of cases.

Mr Kenny said the “potential scale” of the problem went far beyond a specific case which brought the problem to light.

“It doesn’t just deal with a single case,” he said.

The Taoiseach said it went beyond that to the 2,500 tapes up to 2008 and digital recordings after that.

“My intention here was to do what I thought was right,” he said.

Mr Shatter said he first became aware of the issue on Monday at 6pm, but didn't get the detailed letter until Tuesday lunchtime. Mr Callinan sent that correspondence to the Dept of Justice on 10 March.

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