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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 18 December, 2014

Dáil hears that Martin Callinan was Shatter’s ‘scapegoat’

The timeline of the events of the past two weeks was scrutinised in the Dáil again today.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has told the Dáil he “should have been told about the letter” from Commissioner Martin Callinan to the Secretary General of the Department of Justice.

During Leaders’ Questions, the Fine Gael leader said he “would have assumed” he should have been made aware of the correspondence, which was sent on 10 March but not seen by him until 23 March.

The timeline of events was the subject of debate once more in the Dáil chamber today, with Opposition leaders eager to point out discrepancies in the coalition’s version of events and those noted by the Secretary General in his report, published last night.

Kenny said that Minister Shatter had, “on numerous occasions…indicated clearly that the letter was not furnished to him and that “it was not seen by him”.

The Taoiseach claimed the letter was not the subject of a briefing but that the Monday (24 March) briefing from Department officials to Shatter was about the Ian Bailey case.

“The briefing that began in the Department of Justice was interrupted by myself to call him over to the Department of the Taoiseach,” he added.

“We’re in a different spot here,” he said, adding that he assumes the timelines of the past two weeks’ events may be subject to hearings at the Justice Committee.

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin said it was “not credible” that the Justice Minister could be briefed on the wider issues without the letter being mentioned. 

“I’d love to have been a fly on the wall,” he added, referring to meetings between the Secretary General and the Commissioner.

He said the only conclusion he could gather from the controversy is that Callinan was the “scapegoat” for his Minister.

Kenny returned that the Fianna Fáil party has no interest in drawing other conclusions.

“You have no interest in anything else other than political damage,” he replied.

Serious implications

The Taoiseach again reiterated his “serious and grave concerns” about the transcriptions of garda station phone recordings revealed during the discovery process of an ongoing court case.

“Those tapes are part of the discovery process. This case is before the courts. I don’t want to say anything here that would prejudice the outcome. Clearly, the material which will more than likely enter the public domain is very stark, I have to say.”

The Terms of Reference for the Commission of Inquiry to be launched into the matter will be brought to the Dáil for approval, Kenny confirmed.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams asked if questions surrounding garda handling of Sophie duPlantier’s murder will be included in Supreme Court judge Nial Fennelly’s inquiry.

Kenny said the Terms of Reference have yet to be confirmed by government.

Adams also pointed to the fact that the phone tapping in garda stations happened under the watch of various political parties, including Fianna Fáil, Labour, the PDs, Labour and Fine Gael.

The Taoiseach finger-pointed too (literally), waving at the Opposition benches and saying “this crowd over here did nothing”.

Read: Official report: Justice Dept didn’t think Callinan’s taping revelations were that important

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