Tuesday 22 October 2019

Tom Brady: Now the spotlight turns on Martin Callinan

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

As Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan strongly believes that actions speak louder than words and, by and large, prefers to shun the spotlight, apart from occasional "doorstep" interviews by journalists.

But over the past 18 months, he has been pushed into the public arena by a variety of events that have come under the democratic microscope.

Following the publication of the extensive review of the penalty points allegations, which showed that the most serious accusations of corruption and malpractice were totally without foundation, and the results of the four-year investigation by the Garda Ombudsman Commission into the Kieran Boylan agent handling controversy, which proved that no member of the force was guilty of criminal or disciplinary wrongdoing, Mr Callinan must have thought he could look forward to a few quiet weeks.

However, now he has been thrust before the public eye again by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, as the latter tried to pull himself out of the hole that he dug for himself on RTE's 'Prime Time' last week.

Mr Callinan is obliged under the Garda Siochana Act to ensure that the minister is fully briefed on any relevant issue and the legislation also lays down the guidelines for imparting that information.

There is no doubt that Mr Callinan acted within those guidelines. The problems arose over the manner in which Mr Shatter made the information public.

Last week, he appeared before the Dail public accounts committee to answer questions that arose from an agenda mainly dealing with road traffic issues.

However, due to an extraordinary degree of latitude allowed by chairman John McGuinness to his committee members, he ended up enduring a four-hour grilling on any issue that came into their heads.

But he dealt firmly with every question, defending his force where necessary while also making it clear that he would not tolerate behaviour that deviated from the regulations that govern his organisation.

His performance showed why the Government decided to offer him a two-year extension in the top job.

Irish Independent

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