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Enda Kenny at a jobs announcement in Dublin today. Sam Boal/

Most Irish people don't believe Enda but no one in government wants to talk about it

Just 12 per cent of people believe the Taoiseach’s version of the events which led to Martin Callinan’s departure last year.

Updated 3.20pm 

ENDA KENNY HAS declined to comment on a poll finding that most Irish people don’t believe his account of the events leading up to the retirement of the Garda Commissioner.

Just 12 per cent of people believe the Taoiseach’s version of the events which led to Martin Callinan’s departure last year, according to a poll conducted for the Claire Byrne Live programme on RTÉ last night.

The poll was conducted in response to the publication of the Fennelly report last week. Kenny claims the report vindicates him citing the commission of inquiry’s conclusion that “the former commissioner decided to retire, and that he could have decided otherwise”.

Fennelly also concluded that Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell’s visit to Callinan’s home on 24 March last year – on the instruction of the Taoiseach – was the “immediate catalyst” for the commissioner’s retirement the following day.

The Amárach Research poll found that 55 per cent of people don’t believe the Taoiseach’s version of events while 33 per cent say they don’t know.

Asked about the poll findings twice today, Kenny would only say:

I accept the conclusion and the findings of an eminent Supreme Court judge who spent sixteen months providing his report. He was given a chance to bring in a specific terms of reference and he has complied with that and I accept the conclusions of it.

The Taoiseach also insisted he had confidence in his own secretary general and the most powerful civil servant in the country, Martin Fraser, despite his evidence to Fennelly appearing to contradict Kenny’s.

“Of course I have confidence in the secretary general,” Kenny said.

This afternoon, Tánaiste Joan Burton also failed to address questions about whether the poll findings damaged the Taoiseach’s credibility and hers.

She said: “The judge has set out… and it’s the judge who has set out very clearly his findings in relation to the actions of the Taoiseach.

So the people have to read the report and the judge has been extremely clear in his findings.

‘Unpicking a conclusion’

Speaking at the same event as Kenny earlier, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton would not be drawn on whether the poll damaged his party leader’s credibility. He said:

We appointed a Supreme Court judge to deal with this issue and the Supreme Court judge has drawn his conclusions and those are the conclusions that matter and they have found that the Taoiseach acted properly in this issue.
The Irish people wanted this issue investigated and it has been investigated by the most independent authority that you could appoint and that authority has found that the Taoiseach acted correctly. He did not seek to move to sack the commissioner.

Bruton said that people cannot “keep unpicking a conclusion that has been reached” insisting that the government stands by the conclusions of Fennelly.

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson Padraig MacLochlainn today said that the poll findings showed the Taoiseach’s credibility over the Fennelly report is “in tatters”.

The fact remains that the report does not vindicate the Taoiseach and his credibility is in tatters over his desperate attempt to distract from the real consequences of his actions that night.

“The Fennelly Report was very clear in pointing out that the visit by Mr Purcell to the Commissioner’s home was the ‘immediate catalyst’ for the Commissioner’s decision to retire.”

The question poll participants were asked was:

Following the Fennelly report do you believe the Taoiseach’s account of the events leading up to the retirement of the Garda Commissioner last year?

The response was:

  • Yes – 12%
  • No – 55%
  • Don’t know – 33%

The poll was conducted today by Amárach Research. The survey panel comprises more than 1,000 adults who all own a smartphone. More details here.

Read: Enda Kenny facing motion of no confidence (and his AG could be in trouble too)

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