Friday 23 March 2018

Burton welcomes news Callinan prepared to withdraw 'disgusting' remarks

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

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

SOCIAL Protection Minister Joan Burton has welcomed the news that Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was prepared to withdraw his controversial remarks about the whistleblowers.

However, the Labour minister refused to be drawn on RTE reports that Mr Callinan was advised by Department of Justice officials not to withdraw his "disgusting' comments in relation to the actions of Sgt Maurice McCabe and John Wilson.

Ms Burton insisted that she is "satisfied" with the decision by the Justice Minister to apologise to the two whistleblowers, adding that she is has "confidence" in Alan Shatter.

I was very satisfied yesterday that the Justice Minister both withdrew previous comments and he corrected the record of the Dail, and that he also made an apology to the whistleblowers and set out at length his own position in relation to that," she said.

However, when asked about the retirement of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, Ms Burton said her only knowledge relates to what she was told at Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

"I have absolutely no knowledge of the arrangements of what the garda commissioner was going to do or not going to do. I'm very happy that he was prepared to withdraw it," she said.

"The information that was given to the cabinet came from the Taoiseach and currently the terms of reference are being prepared in relation to the Commission of Investigation," she added.

Ms Burton was speaking as concerns heightened within government circles about the potential impact of the garda tapes scandal.

She said that she does not believe she was the "only one" to hear about the issue for the first time at Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

Speaking at an event in Ballymun today, Ms Burton said she does not yet know the full implications of the garda tapes revelations.

"I think it has given pause for thought for everybody because apparently these matters go back to the middle of the 1980s. And I've been hearing all kinds of people, including people in Justice and the gardai, saying that they're not aware of this," she added.

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