Thursday 14 December 2017

FF leader Martin suggests Taoiseach misled him during phonecall this week

Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin
Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has suggested that the Taoiseach misled him during a phonecall earlier this week.

Mr Martin today questioned how Enda Kenny knew the false allegations of a sexual nature against garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe would be covered by the terms of reference of a Commission of Investigation announced by the Government earlier this week.

That plan for a commission has now been abandoned in favour of a public tribunal of inquiry.

The Fianna Fáil leader said there was a "lack of candid presentation" of the conversations between Mr Kenny and Children’s Minister in the lead up to last week’s Cabinet meeting where the commission was discussed.

Referring to a phonecall on Monday night, Mr Martin said: “You indicated you didn’t know about the Tusla file or the details of what was in the Tusla file.

"It seems clear you did know about the existence of the Tusla file."

Mr Martin said there seemed to be an “extraordinary display of Cabinet telepathy” at play because Mr Kenny and other ministers believed Tusla would be covered by the commission – but nobody raised it at Cabinet.

The Taoiseach said that officials in his department alerted him of a meeting that was to take place between Minister Katherine Zappone and Sgt McCabe a day before it happened.

He then had a “very brief” conversation with the minister before the Cabinet meeting where she told him of the existence of a Tusla file containing false allegations of sexual nature against Sgt McCabe.

Mr Kenny said the commission was to focus on false allegations of “criminal misconduct” and therefore he felt the Tusla file would be included.

The Fianna Fáil leader also demanded to know whether “senior officials in the Department of Justice” knew about the file before last Thursday’s Prime Time programme.

“I don’t know the answer to your question,” Mr Kenny replied.

Meanwhile Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams referred to his party's motion of no confidence in the government which is to be debated later today.

He argued that it's "nonsense" to say that if the motion was successful it would prevent Sgt McCabe getting answers.

Mr Adams said that the government's counter motion of confidence has only one signature, Mr Kenny's.

He asked: "How could that be?" questioning if there was a lack of support among other Fine Gael TDs or what he termed the "so-called independents" in government.

He accused Mr Kenny of presiding over a "shambolic" government and questioned why it should survive, given issues in the health service, the housing and homelessness emergency and the challenges presented by Brexit.

Mr Adams took issue with Mr Kenny's remarks to Children's Minister Katherine Zappone ahead of a Cabinet meeting that false allegations of sexual abuse made against Sgt McCabe to Tusla would be included in the planned Commission of Investigation.

The Sinn Féin TD claimed that unless Mr Kenny had seen the protected disclosures previously examined by judge Iarfhlaith O'Neill, he had no way of knowing it was the same allegations.

He asked Mr Kenny if he had been aware of the content of the disclosures.

"No I was not," Mr Kenny replied, pointing out that he wouldn't have been entitled to see them.

He said that what he did know is that if there were "questions of allegations of criminal misconduct", they would be "central" to the inquiry.

Mr Adams said: "Criminal misconduct could mean anything at all."

He said that the now abandoned Commission of Investigation couldn't have covered the false sex abuse allegations unless they were the same ones in the protected disclosure.

He asked the Taosieach when he first became aware of the false allegations against Sgt McCabe.

Mr Kenny again confirmed that he had not seen the protected disclosures adding that by law he's prevented for even asking questions about them.

He said what he had read was the terms of reference of the proposed Commission of Investigation set out by Judge O'Neill.

He said that in his brief conversation with Ms Zappone she said she had met with Sgt McCabe and the subject of the meeting was the false allegations made to Tusla against him.

Mr Kenny said "I was very clear in my mind" that the inquiry would "cover false allegations of sexual misconduct".

Online Editors

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