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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Whistleblowers: Varadkar calls on Garda Commissioner to withdraw 'disgusting' remark

Transport Minister says that no official is 'above criticism'

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar has called on Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to withdraw controversial remarks he made about the two garda whistleblowers.

Mr Callinan was strongly criticised after he used the word "disgusting" in relation to the leaking of details of the scrapping of penalty points by Sgt Maurice McCabe and former garda John Wilson.

Mr Varadkar today said he has full confidence in Mr Callinan but added that no official is "above criticism".

The Fine Gael minister told a Road Safety conference in Dublin that last week's report by the Garda Inspectorate report contrasted significantly with the report carried out internally by An Garda Siochana.

He personally thanked the two whistleblowers for their courage in highlighting the flaws in the penalty points system.

"They released the information to expose bad practice," Mr Varadkar said.

"I want to thank Sgt McCabe and Mr Wilson for their service.

"There have been many words to describe their actions in recent months but if I was to use one word it would be 'distinguished'," he added.

Mr Varadkar was asked whether he supported a call by RSA chief Gay Byrne for Mr Callinan to withdraw the "disgusting" remark.

Speaking to the media, he went a step forward and said he believed Mr Callinan should make all necessary corrections to testimony he gave at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing.

"I think that would be appropriate," he said.

"I think the commissioner should withdraw that remark which was made on the record of the Dail and make any other corrections that he needs to make to his testimony at the Public Accounts Committee."

However, asked whether he believed Justice Minister Alan Shatter should apologise to the whistleblowers, Mr Varadkar said that is a matter for his cabinet colleague.

"It's a matter for others to decide whether or not they have something to apologise about. What I'll be doing today at this Road safety conference is thanking the whistleblowers on my behalf, on behalf of the department and on behalf of the thousands of families who have lost loved ones on the road, I think they have done us service and I think they deserve thanks for that."

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