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'What happened here is very clear': Fine Gael backbenchers got an interesting Gardagate FAQ

An email was sent to Fine Gael TDs, Senators and MEPs last week dealing with questions about the ongoing controversy surrounding the Minister for Justice and the gardaí.

Alan Shatter (File photo)
Alan Shatter (File photo)
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated at 7.18pm

FINE GAEL BACKBENCHERS were sent an FAQ to help them deal with questions on what the Minister for Justice knew about recordings of calls in and out of garda stations – and when he knew it.

The email, seen by TheJournal.ie, was sent by Fine Gael’s director of communications Majella Fitzpatrick to TDs, Senators and MEPs last Thursday, 27 March.

This was the day the Taoiseach warned that the recordings could impact tribunals and the Department of Justice was forced to deny it told the now ex-Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan that he could not withdraw his infamous ‘disgusting’ remark.

The email dealt with five questions including:

  • why it took so long for Alan Shatter to apologise to the two garda whistleblowers;
  • whether it was credible that he only found out about the garda station recordings on Monday;
  • whether their local garda station was involved;
  • and the question of why did the Garda Commissioner resign.

On why exactly Callinan resigned, the FAQ dealt with the questions of whether it was because of the taping issue, the whistleblowers, both, or because he was given an “ultimatum” by government. The answer states only:

The Garda Commissioner made a decision to retire citing family reasons and a wish to not distract from the work of the Garda Síochána.”

On the issue of Shatter taking six months to apologise and withdraw comments made in the Dáil – that two garda whistleblowers did not cooperate with the internal garda inquiry into penalty points – the email says that the Minister “was operating on the information available to him at the time”.

“Since then the Minister reviewed the information provided to him and considered the matter in detail. As a result it become clear to him that more should have been done during the O’Mahoney investigation to garner the views and experiences of the whistleblowers,” it adds. 


The second question asked whether it was “credible” that the Taoiseach and the Minister were not aware of the recordings issue until Sunday and Monday respectively. The email stated: “What happened here is very clear”.

It then goes through a timeline, and states that the Garda Commissioner “wrote to the Minister for Justice on 10th March 2014″ and that this letter was not brought to the Minister’s attention.

“The letter was not brought to the attention of the Minister. The Minister in fact was not aware of the letter until Monday 24th March,” the email states. 
  • [NOTE: Since this story was first published, a Fine Gael spokesperson has been in touch with TheJournal.ie to say that the above element of the FAQ was, in fact, incorrect --- and that it should have said the Minister was not aware of the letter until Tuesday 25 March.]

It then details how the Attorney General and the Taoiseach had a conversation on the Sunday, 23 March regarding the revelations and that Kenny discussed the matter with Shatter on the evening of Monday, 24 March, before he briefed opposition leaders and the Cabinet on the Tuesday, 25 March.

The email then poses the question of whether it was “credible” that Shatter was aware of “relatively minor issues such as Deputy Mick Wallace’s penalty points” (it should be noted that Wallace did not receive any penalty points in the incident in question) and not “such an important issue as the taping”.

The briefing states that “these issues are not related” and that the Minister was not aware of these issues but as soon as he did become aware “an agreement was quickly reached to initiate a Commission of Investigation”. 

The email states that there is as yet no information on whether a TD, Senator or MEP’s local garda station is involved, but that it is “extremely important” that these and other questions be answered by the Commission of Investigation.

First published 6.10pm

Official report: Justice Dept didn’t think Callinan’s taping revelations were that important

Here’s Martin Callinan’s 10 March letter to Alan Shatter….

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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