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Fresh doubt over publication of report into Callinan's departure

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Martin Callinan

Martin Callinan

Martin Callinan

The role played by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the alleged sacking of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan may not be revealed until after the general election, it has emerged.

Retired Supreme Court Judge Nial Fennelly has for the first time raised doubts over whether he will be a position to publish a separate report on the events leading up to Mr Callinan's resignation.

In a letter to Mr Kenny, Mr Justice Fennelly said the work of his Commission of Inquiry has been delayed indefinitely due to the ongoing legal battle between former journalist Ian Bailey and the State.

Mr Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas are suing the State for wrongful arrest over the 1996 murder of French film maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The events surrounding this case, including the automated recordings of phone calls in and out of Bandon Garda Station in Cork, form the crux of the Fennelly Inquiry.

However, Mr Justice Fennelly is also tasked with examining the events leading up to the resignation of Martin Callinan last March and was due to publish an interim report on this issue by the end of this month.

In a significant development, Mr Justice Fennelly has told the Taoiseach that the ongoing legal battle between Mr Bailey and the State has delayed his work.

And for the first time, he raises doubt over whether he will be in a position at all to publish his findings on Mr Callinan's resignation.

In a letter to Mr Kenny last month, the retired judge says his investigations in the Callinan matter are at an "advanced stage" but that the Bailey case has significantly impacted his plans for publication.

In all correspondence with Mr Kenny, Mr Justice Fennelly has referred to the Callinan issue as sections 1(n) and 1(o) of his inquiry.

"Although the Bailey and Thomas cases are not expressly mentioned (in the Callinan investigation), they are undoubtedly related to some extent with the events that led to the retirement of the Commissioner," Mr Fennelly wrote.

"The broader question of whether it will ultimately prove feasible to report on 1(n) and 1(o) in isolation from the Terms of Reference remains under consideration as work on the draft Interim progresses."

Government sources have admitted that they are uneasy about the Fennelly Commission's findings which could potentially implicate the Taoiseach in the events that prompted Mr Callinan to step down.

Sources close to Mr Callinan are adamant that he resigned because it was made clear to him that he had lost the support of senior Government figures.

Mr Callinan left his post just hours after the then Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Brian Purcell, called to his home in Glasnevin to relay the concerns of the Taoiseach about the garda tapes.

Members of the Opposition claimed that he was effectively "sacked".

But Mr Fennelly's doubts over whether he will be in a position to publish a separate report means the issue could be kicked back until after the general election.

Irish Independent