Wednesday 13 December 2017

Explained: Everything you need to know about the latest developments in the Garda whistleblower controversy

From left to right: Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe
From left to right: Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe
Enda Kenny with members of his Cabinet including ministers (from right) Frances Fitzgerald, Heather Humphreys, Katherine Zappone and Mary Mitchell O'Connor, at the start of the 32nd Dáil. The current crisis has thrown the stability of the minority Government into serious doubt
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

It has been the most remarkable few days in Irish politics. Political Editor Kevin Doyle runs us through what we have learned today.

1. A public tribunal will be set up

We thought legislation allowing for commissions of investigations had brought an end to the era of lengthy and costly tribunals.

The Taoiseach told the Dáil today the Government agreed in principle to set up a tribunal of inquiry under the 1921 Act, with the terms of reference to be worked out. Enda Kenny said this would lead to “truth and justice for everybody in respect of the central question as to whether there was an organised smear campaign against Sergeant McCabe by the senior Garda officers”.

2.  Taoiseach’s ‘mea culpa’ for not giving accurate information

Enda Kenny has admitted that he was wrong to tell RTÉ Radio on Sunday that he had a conversation with Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone before her meeting Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

“I am guilty here of not giving accurate information.  I understood from thinking myself that she had asked me about meeting Sergeant McCabe in the first place.

“It actually was her office that consulted with my officials, who told me,” he said.

AAA-PBP’s Paul Murphy suggested the Taoiesach “got caught out by the contradiction between what he said and what was said by the Minister, Deputy Zappone”.

In the Dáil on Tuesday evening it also emerged that Mr Kenny was aware that the Tusla file on Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe referenced allegations of sexual abuse.

3. There will be no election

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin criticised a motion of no confidence placed by Sinn Féin, saying if passed it would delay justice for the McCabe family.

The Taoiseach said: “Sinn Féin has tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government simply because it wants to cause chaos down here as well.”

With Fianna Fáil set to abstain on the vote, the Government will survive this crisis.

4. Still no resignations

Pressure for heads to roll is still focused on Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

The Dáil has again heard calls for her to step aside while an investigation into the alleged smear campaign against Maurice McCabe is carried out.

“Get rid of the Commissioner. Ger rid of all that hierarchy. Let’s start afresh. Let’s find some of them outside the country or a civilian,” Mick Wallace said.

Fine Gael TDs are openly speculating about how long Enda Kenny can survive as their leader but there won’t be any heave this week.

5.  Stay calm… Leo’s back

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has arrived back in Leinster House and is offering moral support to Katherine Zappone.

Unusually he sat beside her this afternoon through a regular round of Dáil questions relating to the Department of Children.

Mr Varadkar had to ask permission from President Michael D Higgins to cut short his official trip to Colombia, in order to get back in time for the motion of no confidence.

Prior to leaving South America he sent a WhatsApp message to colleagues telling them “not to panic or be seen to panic”.

6.  Another whistleblower has gone public

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison has today demanded his allegations of a intimidation be included in the public inquiry.

In a lengthy statement, he claimed that he and his partner have been subjected to harassment and surveillance, and alleges the surveillance is part of an ongoing campaign of harassment and unwarranted disciplinary procedures by members of the force after he arrested a colleague for suspected drink driving in 2009.

7.  Enda Kenny launches outburst at Gerry Adams

In an unexpected Dáil intervention, the Taoiseach turned on Gerry Adams for trying to present Sinn Féin as the champion of victims.

“You are an absolute hypocrite after what you did and what you said to former Senator Máiría Cahill.

“And what you did and did not do in respect of safe houses, including on this side of the Border, where sexual abuse was conducted on young men by members of your organisation,” he said.

8.  Valentine’s Day in the Dáil is not a fun place

Fair play to the staff in the Dáil canteen they really tried to create a bit of love today with heart shape fried eggs and candles on the table.

Unfortunately the political mood is forlorn.

At the start of proceedings, the Ceann Comhairle offered a acidic “Happy St. Valentine's Day”.

An optimistic Arts Minister Heather Humphreys replied “We are having a love-in”.

But all Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin could offer was: “We will try to avoid a massacre.”

Online Editors

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