Tuesday 21 November 2017

Kenny now exposed over garda scandals – ministers' warning

Damning report finds Shatter failed in his duty as minister

Newly appointed Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Frances Fitzgerald and Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured at Aras an Uachtarain. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Newly appointed Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Frances Fitzgerald and Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured at Aras an Uachtarain. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Alan Shatter
Senior Counsel Sean Guerin. Photo: Mark Condren

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is being warned by ministers that he is now personally exposed to any further fallout from the garda scandals.

Mr Kenny's close allies fear the direct involvement he had in the resignations of the Garda Commissioner and Justice Minister place him in the firing line if further revelations emerge.

The development comes as a report into allegations of garda wrongdoing finds former justice minister Alan Shatter failed to carry out his statutory functions, by not adequately following up the claims made by a garda whistleblower.

The report by senior counsel Sean Guerin will be published today, although certain elements of the 300-page document will be redacted for legal reasons. The report will be circulated to cabinet members and published around lunchtime.

The spotlight is also set to fall on the role of officials in the Department of Justice, such as Secretary General Brian Purcell, in dealing with the allegations. Mr Purcell was also at the centre of a controversy over the delay in passing a letter to Mr Shatter about the garda taping scandal.

Act for not pushing the gardai to take more action.

"He was criticised for not exercising his statutory role. Once his name as minister was mentioned that the statutory role he had wasn't followed, he was done.

"The gardai and GSOC will come out badly from it. They will be culpable but the minister takes the fall," a source said. Ministers believe there will be some "short-term heat" from Mr Shatter's resignation, which will have an impact on the local and European elections campaign.

However, there are concerns that, with former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Mr Shatter now departed, Mr Kenny is on the hook for anything that emerges from their resignations.

A Commission of Inquiry into the garda taping scandal includes an examination of the controversial resignation of Mr Callinan where Mr Kenny was a pivotal figure.

The Taoiseach took personal charge of handling the revelations around the taping scandal and the allegations of garda wrongdoing, which saw the two resignations.

"The Taoiseach would want to be watching himself now. He took control of these events. He has taken so much ownership. Nobody knows the full extent of the sequence of events.

"There's no suggestion of him acting inappropriately. He took a hands-on approach and that was right. But he'll have to watch his house," a minister said.

Mr Kenny again denied he forced Mr Shatter to resign.

"Alan Shatter was very clear in that his resignation was his decision and his choice. He made that decision based on the findings of the report, though he wasn't actually interviewed by Mr Guerin," he said.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore described the Guerin Report as "damning" and said Mr Shatter was right to resign.

Mr Gilmore said he had read substantive parts of the report and been briefed on it, adding: "I think that Alan Shatter made the right decision to resign."

Mr Shatter will be the last minister to be entitled to a golden handshake after departing from office. As a former cabinet minister, Mr Shatter can claim €70,000 over the next two years.

However, it is expected the former Justice Minister will waive his right to the severance payment.

Irish Independent

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