FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has said that the Taoiseach has rebuked his Cabinet colleagues, including the Tánaiste, with his comments on the garda whistleblower controversy this evening.
Speaking in Killarney, Martin said that Enda Kenny’s comments in Brussels this evening were “by any yardstick” a “severe rebuke” of the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar and Joan Burton who have all expressed the view that Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan should withdraw the ‘disgusting’ remark about two whistleblowers.
Kenny said that these views should be aired at Cabinet, prompting Martin to say: “He clearly wants to shut this debate down as fast as he possibly can.”
“He understands more than most that the longer this debate carries on in the public domain the more it inevitably undermines the position of his close colleague the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.”
Martin answered several questions on the controversy as the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis gets under way at the INEC in Killarney this evening.
He said that comments from Varadkar and Labour ministers over the last 24 hours show that they are “no longer prepared to defend the indefensible”.
He said that Callinan should withdraw his remarks that the actions of two garda whistleblowers, Maurice McCabe and John Wilson, were “disgusting”. But he said it was more important that Shatter should withdraw remarks on the Dáil record about the whistleblowers not cooperating with an internal garda inquiry into the penalty points controversy.
Martin said that Shatter’s position is “untenable” but stopped short of saying that Callinan should resign, saying the commissioner has been “taking comfort” from Shatter who has been “consistently undermining” the whistleblowers.
“The Minister seems to have a huge problem saying: ‘I got it wrong,’” he added.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn has accused the Taoiseach of “appalling” leadership during the controversy and said that Shatter and Callinan “must correct the record by apologising and withdrawing these comments”.
- Follow @oconnellhugh for updates from the INEC this weekend.