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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 29 March, 2020

Alex White thinks Enda Kenny fired the Garda Commissioner... maybe

The junior health minister reportedly told Labour members the Taoiseach acted “without as much as a phone call” to Eamon Gilmore.

Joan Burton and Alex White are battling it out to become the next Labour party leader.
Joan Burton and Alex White are battling it out to become the next Labour party leader.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

JUNIOR HEALTH MINISTER Alex White has landed himself in a spot of bother after allegedly implying that Enda Kenny fired former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

The Irish Times reported that White made the claims in a letter sent to Labour party members in which he said he was committed to completing the party’s term in government, but not “at any cost”.

“I will not stand over a position where the Taoiseach looks to fire the Commissioner of the Gardaí without as much as a phone call to the leader of the Labour Party.”  

Speaking on Newstalk today, the Dublin South TD appeared to backtrack somewhat, saying he was referring to “circumstances where critically important decisions are being made in government” in the letter.

There should never be any question that the leader of the partner party in government, in this case the Labour party, the Tánaiste, would be excluded from such decisions. That would not happen and must not happen.

White is currently up against deputy party leader and social protection minister Joan Burton in a bid to become the new Labour leader, following Eamon’s Gilmore resignation after last month’s local and European elections.

‘Raises very serious questions’

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said White’s letter “raises very serious questions for the government”.

He described the junior minister’s concern as “extremely belated”.

“It is not tenable for the Taoiseach to continue to avoid giving a full public account of the events leading up to the departure of former Commissioner Martin Callinan. There are explicit rules set down in law about the removal of a sitting Garda Commissioner and the public have a right to know the full details surrounding Commissioner Callinan’s departure.

The Taoiseach has repeatedly avoided giving a full account to the Dáil of the night he ordered the secretary-general of the Department of Justice to Mr Callinan’s home, with the commissioner stepping down the next morning, prior to any Cabinet meeting.

Martin also queried what Gilmore thought of White’s letter.

Last week, Brian Purcell, the Department of Justice’s General Secretary, refused to tell the Oireachtas justice committee what happened on the March night in question, saying any comments he made could prejudice the Fennelly Commission into the recording of phone calls at Garda stations.

Related: ‘I don’t have the authority to sack anybody’: Taoiseach asked what Purcell told Callinan

Read: Brian Purcell appears before the Justice Committee, but refuses to answer questions about Callinan

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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