Monday 21 October 2019

The Floating Voter: Fitzgerald says 'fake news' was factor in resignation

Former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has suggested she was a victim of “fake news” and was not given due process before she was forced to resign last year. 

Speaking about Garda whistleblower controversy which led to he downfall for the first-time, Ms Fitzgerald said her resignation was “inevitable” because of a “media and political frenzy”.

“We talk a lot about fake news and other countries and fake news but the whole thing developed into such a frenzy,” she told Independent.ie’s Floating Voter podcast.

Ms Fitzgerald handed in her resignation to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last November following a week of controversy surrounding her knowledge of an alleged Garda legal strategy to discredit whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Fianna Fáil threatened to support a motion of no confidence in the then Tánaiste if she did not resign. After days of political uncertainty, Ms Fitzgerald dramatically decided to resign hours before the Dáil motion was to be debated.

She said she took decision because she believed a general election was not in “the interest of Fine Gael or in the interest of the country”. 

She accused Opposition politicians of looking for a “head on a plate” and said both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin did not afford her “due process” during the scandal which was subsequently investigated by Justice Peter Charleston’s Disclosures Tribunal.

“Obviously it was the most difficult period I’ve ever had in politics. And I think it was a very difficult situation and decision for Leo as well – politically and personally. It was a very big call by him and by me and for the party at that time,” she added.

The former Justice Minister said the Taoiseach was “very loyal” to her throughout the scandal which saw Fianna Fáil publicly state they had no confidence in Ms Fitzgerald.

“He (Mr Varadkar) was always into due process and Fine Gael was always into due process. Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail didn’t on that occasion but there we go that’s politics,” she said.

“I will absolutely wait for the Charleton Report some time in October before I make any comment about that but the one thing I will say there was certainly due process down there and I think due process is always what I have wanted to see and it is the way I have treated other people and it is the way the Fine Gael party has always believe people should be treated,” she added.

Ms Fitzgerald was taking part in a special live recording of the Floating Voter podcast where she discussed the recently published biography on the Fine Gael leader: ‘Leo Varadkar – A Very Modern Taoiseach’.

Former Independent Newspaper political correspondent and current government adviser Niall O’Connor returned to the podcast to discuss the biography he co-authored with Independent Newspaper deputy political editor Philip Ryan.

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