Friday 23 August 2019

Tánaiste received email alerting her to concerns about row at the O’Higgins' Commission – but doesn’t remember it

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald received an email alerting her to concerns about a row between legal teams for the gardaí and whistleblower Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins’ Commission – but doesn’t remember it.

The Jobs Minister has today confirmed that officials did send her an email about “an event at the Tribunal” in May 2015.

However, she denied it signalled any “overall strategy” on the part of ex-Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s legal team to discredit Sgt McCabe.

Last week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that Ms Fitzgerald only learned of the strategy a year later around the time it entered the public domain through leaks to the media.

On RTÉ’s ‘News At One’ Ms Fitzgerald insisted she has “no function” in the Commission’s work and could not interfere.

“I did not have hand, act or part in anything to do with the legal strategy to undermine the whistleblower Maurice McCabe,” she said.

However, she revealed that the Attorney General’s office told an official in the Department of Justice “that an issue had arisen at the Tribunal”.

A serious criminal complaint about Sgt McCabe had been raised and his legal team “objected very strongly”.

The content of the phonecall was then put in an email to Ms Fitzgerald.

Officials in the Department of Justice discovered the message last week while viewing correspondence in order to answer questions submitted by Labour TD Alan Kelly.

Ms Fitzgerald said the email “specifically said there was no function for me to get involved in the Commission”.

“I don’t remember the email,” she said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will face further questions on the issue in the Dáil this afternoon.

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