| 15.2°C Dublin

Callinan left with no option after Leo remarks

GARDA COMMISSIONER Martin Callinan's position became untenable after Leo Varadkar's dramatic intervention in the penalty points controversy last week.

Varadkar's description of the two men's actions as "distinguished" stood in stark contrast to Callinan's comments at a Dail committee last January when he described the actions of the two whistleblowers as "disgusting".

The difference between the comments was stark – and highlighted how removed Callinan's attitude was from public opinion.


Add in to this the support for the whistleblowers from the likes of road safety campaigner Gay Byrne and Labour cabinet heavyweights Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton and the writing was on the wall for the commissioner.

The fact is that Callinan's position was unsustainable.

I have known Martin Callinan personally and, in my experience, he is an honourable and professional police officer of the highest integrity.

Nonetheless, I could not condone his insulting and disparaging remarks in front of the Public Accounts Committee – and wrote this at the time. I believe them to be at best intemperate and unprofessional – at worst grossly offensive and highly inappropriate.

Callinan's subsequent statement of clarification on the matter didn't hold water.

He explained that he used the term "disgusting" to describe whistleblowers' actions and not the characters of the two individuals in question, Sgt McCabe and former garda Wilson.

His explanation didn't convince me or, indeed, many others.

At a personal level I feel sorry for Martin Callinan today.

However, he should have listened to wiser council and issued an apology to the two men. This would have raised, not lessened, his stature as garda commissioner.

His resignation in such circumstances has obviously sent shockwaves though the force.

It's now time that this whole sorry debacle was brought to an end.

Unfortunately, the administration of justice and the reputation of An Garda Siochana have been severely dented by this whole sorry affair.