Friday 20 July 2018

Department criticised over Stepaside report

Shane Ross TD
Shane Ross TD
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has criticised the Department of Justice for blocking the issuing of a controversial report on Stepaside Garda station to TDs.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming said he was "disappointed" that the department had initially refused to release the report and accused it of interfering with a promise made by Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin in July that it would be provided to the PAC. Last week Mr Ó Cualáin apologised to TDs for making the commitment after the department said it would be "inappropriate" for the report to be released.

The department published the document on its website less than two days later.

The decision to reopen Stepaside is controversial as Independent Alliance Minister Shane Ross had been campaigning for it to happen. The Government rejects allegations of 'stroke politics'.

But the opposition has questioned why Stepaside was selected as the only station among four listed that will definitely be reopened ahead of the completion of the final Garda report. The PAC will decide how to proceed with its examination of the matter next week.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, department secretary general Noel Waters, Garda HR boss John Barrett, and Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy - who has responsibility for Dublin - are among potential witnesses TDs want to bring in.

Mr Fleming said if more witnesses are to be called, the report's author Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll should be included.

Mr O'Driscoll this week appeared at the Justice committee and insisted no one came to him to ask that a specific station be opened.

Irish Independent

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