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Minister: 'I will not have my good name and reputation traduced by deputy Alan Kelly'

There was a heated exchange in the Dáil today where Charlie Flanagan told TD Alan Kelly to desist from engaging in a smear campaign.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

JUSTICE MINISTER CHARLIE Flanagan asked for Dáil protection during a heated exchange in which he accused Labour’s Alan Kelly of launching a “smear campaign” against him.

During Leaders’ Questions, the minister stood to his feet and raised a point of order with the Ceann Comhairle.

Pointing to Kelly, who had not spoken in the House at this point, he said:

“I will not have my good name and reputation traduced by deputy Kelly both inside this House and outside this House,” he said, urging the Labour TD to “desist in his engagement in a smear campaign against me”.

Who knew what

The uproar followed questions from Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin, who was questioning Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on whether the minister and the Department of Justice was aware of the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s legal strategy “to go after” whistleblower Maurice McCabe and challenge his “credibility and motivation” at the O’Higgins Commission.

Varadkar said Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, who was justice minister at the time, “had no hand, act or part” in the legal strategy adding that she had “no prior knowledge of the legal strategy”.

The Taoiseach said the Department of Justice was only told about it after the cross-examination had taken in place and therefore weren’t in a position to express any reservations about it.

‘No hand, act or part’

“I have not spoken directly to the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality. The information I have, which I believe, is that the Tánaiste had no hand, act or part in determining the legal strategy of the former Commissioner and had no prior knowledge of the legal strategy pursued by the former Commissioner,” said the Taoiseach, adding:

I am also informed by the Department of Justice and Equality that it was told about the approach taken by the Commissioner’s senior counsel after the cross-examination had already taken place. As the Department was informed after the fact, it was certainly not in a position to express any reservations about the legal strategy.
This issue has been going back and forth for a couple of days. I have seen newspaper articles on it. Letters have been exchanged. Parliamentary questions have been asked and answered.
A lot of briefings have been going around to the effect that there is some explosive allegation here. I heard one briefing suggesting an allegation so explosive that it might bring down the Government. At this stage, if the Labour Party has an allegation to make, it should make it clearly here so we can respond to it.

Howlin said he was not making any allegations.

“No allegation is being made against anyone. The answer I have given Deputy Howlin is the one that has been given to me. I spoke to the Tánaiste who told me that she had no hand, act or part in this decision and that she was not aware of it until after the fact around the time it entered the public domain,” said Varadkar.

He said the department told him that it was not made aware of it until after the fact, but the Taoiseach said the department is a big space.

“It is not a person. It is a body with hundreds of staff. Can I put my hand on my heart here and say that there is not one person somewhere who might have been told something by someone,” he said.

“There is a tribunal here,” concluded Flanagan.

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