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

Micheál Martin earlier accused the Taoiseach of being “shifty and underhand” while Gerry Adams said Kenny should resign.

Updated 6.03pm

19/6/2015. British Irish Council Summits Enda Kenny Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

FIANNA FÁIL IS to table a motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the wake of the publication of the Fennelly report.

Micheál Martin confirmed his party’s intention to table the motion once the Dáil returns and said this should be as early as next week despite TDs not being due back until 23 September.

A spokesperson for the Tánaiste said this evening there was no expectation that the house will be recalled early.

Elsewhere, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said Kenny’s position had become “untenable” and said the Taoiseach should resign and call an immediate general election.

This afternoon, the Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald confirmed that in addition to the Taoiseach her party was tabling a motion of no confidence in Attorney General Máire Whelan.

McDonald said that Whelan’s position was not tenable in the wake of the Fennelly report’s revelation that she substantially modified her initial evidence to the commission regarding the seriousness of garda station recordings.

“The bottom line is that the Attorney General is the advisor to government and in that capacity has a duty to the state but also to the the citizens,” McDonald said.

What we see in Fennelly is a sequence of indecision, a unilateral decision not to inform a minister of government, the former justice minister, on matters that the Attorney General regarded of the most serious nature.

The Tánaiste’s spokesperson said this evening that the coalition has “full confidence” in the Attorney General. Whelan was appointed AG in 2011 on the recommendation of then Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.

‘No option’

As the political fallout from the report continues, Martin told reporters this morning that the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had been given “no option but to retire in a series of circumstances that were unacceptable”.

The whole purpose of sending the [Department of Justice] secretary general [Brian Purcell] out [to his house] was to get the commissioner to retire. The commissioner himself says that.

Martin said that given Alan Shatter’s evidence to the commission it would make it “extremely difficult” for the former justice minister to support any motion of confidence in Kenny.

He politely describes the Taoiseach’s evidence as pure fantasy. Now I’ll leave it up to everyone else to make their own interpretation of that. Pure fantasy.

Leo’s defence

Earlier Health Minister Leo Varadkar defended the Taoiseach’s position with regard to the Fennelly Report in a lengthy interview given to RTE’s Morning Ireland.

Speaking regarding Callinan’s dramatic departure from office in March 2014, Varadkar said that “the expectation would be that he (Callinan) would come back with some sort of response” following the visit of Brian Purcell to his home on the night of 24 March, not resign immediately as he actually did.

However, Varadkar did acknowledge that if he had been in Callinan’s position on that night he would have sought a personal audience with the Taoiseach.

“If that had happened to me I would have sought a meeting with the Taoiseach, or direct contact with him. That did not happen. We don’t know why,” he said.

Varadkar went on to stress that it wasn’t the Taoiseach’s place to make personal contact with the Garda Commissioner, despite the fact he had hitherto backed him fully, as the natural route for such communication was via the Department of Justice.

“What we have here are different accounts from different people and when you have 5 or 6 people giving evidence you’re going to get different accounts,” he said.

The idea that the Taoiseach sought to sack the Commissioner has been debunked by the report.

When asked whether or not the resignation of Callinan could qualify as constructive dismissal, ie a position being made untenable due to the conduct of an employer, Varadkar replied that he didn’t think that it could.

“The commissioner decided to retire. He could have decided otherwise,” he said.

25/4/2015. Fianna Fail Ard Fheis Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

‘Shifty and underhand’

Earlier on the same programme, Martin delivered a withering assessment of the Taoiseach’s conduct with regard to the resignation of the former Garda Commissioner.

Martin described Enda Kenny’s behaviour in March 2014 per his Fennelly Report evidence as “shifty and underhand”, and said that the report, issued yesterday, stood as a “damning indictment” of the Taoiseach’s handling of the crisis.

Martin said that the dispatching of the then Secretary General for Justice Brian Purcell to Callinan’s home on 24 March was tantamount to a sacking of Callinan in all but name.

“In the real world that is effectively sacking the Garda Commissioner,” he said.

The Taoiseach and the government have interpreted the Fennelly report’s findings as being a full exoneration of his behaviour with regard to Callinan’s exit.

“Any lay person reading the evidence will know that (a sacking) is what happened,” said Martin.

Let’s get real here, a secretary general going out at midnight to a commissioner’s house, that’s unprecedented in itself.
Why did the Taoiseach accept the Commissioner’s resignation? Why did he insist that it should be with immediate effect?

Martin went on to condemn the “dysfunctionality” of Enda Kenny’s cabinet at the time of the Garda whistleblower crisis, which he said the Taoiseach must also share the responsibility for.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

Originally published 8.29am

Read: The ‘uncomfortable’ meeting in Martin Callinan’s house that led to his early retirement

Read: Martin Callinan had up to 10 black bags of his personal papers shredded

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