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Varadkar urges Garda Commissioner to withdraw his whistleblower remark

TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar today urged Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to withdraw controversial remarks he made about two garda whistleblowers.

Commissioner Callinan was strongly criticised after he used the word "disgusting" in relation to the leaking of details of the scrapping of penalty points by Sergeant 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 contrasted significantly with the report carried out internally by An Garda Siochana.

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

"They released the information to expose bad practice," Mr Varadkar said. "I want to thank Sergeant 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.

Commissioner Callinan made the controversial "disgusting" comment at the Dail Public Accounts Committee in January and has faced calls to withdraw it and apologise to the two men.

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

He said he believed Mr Callinan should make all necessary corrections to testimony he gave at the Public Accounts Committee.

"I think that would be appropriate. 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, Commissioner Callinan says he was not referring to the "character" of Sergeant Maurice McCabe and former garda John Wilson.

"I stated at the PAC and reiterate now my absolute support and commitment to any member of An Garda Siochana who reports wrongdoing of any kind," he said last week.