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VARADKAR unaware of Callinan's plan to withdraw remark

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said it was news to him that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had planned to withdraw controversial remarks about garda whistleblowers – before his resignation.

Mr Callinan had intended to withdraw his statement that the whistleblowers' actions over quashed penalty points were "disgusting", but was advised against doing so by a Department of Justice official.

Mr Varadkar had publicly called on Mr Callinan to withdraw his comments.

Asked if he regretted making the call, Mr Varadkar said: "No. It is news to me that he had planned to withdraw his remarks.

"You have to bear in mind that he had made the remarks in the first place and he was always in the position where he could have withdrawn the remarks or not."

Mr Varadkar said he came at the issue from a road safety point of view.

"And that's the thing that matters most to me and road users. The Garda Inspectorate report which was published on March 12 showed clearly that by and large the whistleblowers were telling the truth," he said.

"They weren't treated very well for over a year-and-a-half, quite frankly, and I think the opportunity was there on March 12 for the comments to be withdrawn.

"The important thing is that when it comes to the law, and that means any law, that people know that the law is enforced equally on everyone regardless of who you know or what place you have in society.

"The whistleblowers exposed the fact that this wasn't the case, and the important thing for me now is that that changes, and I want to work with the Justice Minister and the new commissioner on doing that."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is insisting that Mr Callinan decided to resign and was not pushed.

He has again denied sacking Mr Callinan despite sending a senior civil servant to talk to the Commissioner about his concerns around the phone-taping scandal.

"The only people I can dismiss from office are ministers with the consent of Government, or ministers of state," the Taoiseach said.

"The Garda Commissioner made his own decision."