Sunday 18 February 2018

'Ill-judged, a dangerous precedent' - Martin takes aim at Varadkar over garda criticism

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Picture: Arthur Carron
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Picture: Arthur Carron

Niall O'Connor and Ralph Riegel

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of setting "a dangerous precedent" by his outspoken criticisms of the Garda handling of the Jobstown protest.

Mr Varadkar said that both the Gardaí and Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan should now "look into" the evidence given by officers at the marathon trial.

The Taoiseach also said consideration should be given as to why the prosecution of former Anglo Irish Bank boss Sean Fitzpatrick was unsuccessful.

However, Mr Martin said the Taoiseach's public comments were "very serious" and clearly had potential implications for the Gardaí involved in the trial.

"I think it (the comments) were ill-judged," he said.

"The courts process is first of all independent. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is independent."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Picture: Gerry Mooney
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Picture: Gerry Mooney

"I think politicians need to be extremely careful when wandering into that domain."

"In particular, just taking particular aspects of evidence from what was a very lengthy trial."

"I was concerned about the Taoiseach's comments - I think they were not fair to the Gardaí who gave evidence during that trial."

"He has left an impression - although he heavily caveats what he says, to be fair - but he nonetheless leaves the impression that maybe those Gardaí didn't give the full truth in accordance with the facts."

"That is unfair and, in my view, the jury made a decision. We shouldn't second-guess the jury."

"Those who were accused were acquitted and I accept the court decision. The judge is in charge of that particular domain and the Taoiseach should not have interfered in my view."

"There could be other cases coming down (the tracks) in relation to that incident."

"He may have prejudiced such cases."

"I think it is a very dangerous precedent to set - he has authority as Taoiseach and he was unfair to the Gardaí."

"Those Gardaí have their civil liberties too - they have their rights. There are all kinds of things being said on social media about them and I don't think it is on for somebody with the authority of the Taoiseach to add fuel to that and pander to those who suggested that this was some State conspiracy."

"If it was a State conspiracy the logical conclusion is that they would have been found guilty - obviously they weren't, they were found not guilty."

"In many ways this was a vindication of our courts process."

Mr Martin also said the DPP was independent and no senior politician should jeopardise that status by publicly querying why one charge was opted for over another.

Online Editors

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