Senior gardaí believe commissioner’s resignation stage-managed
Senior sources say Callinan sacrificed to make Taoiseach look strong
Senior Garda sources believe Callinan was sacrificed to make the Government look strong
Senior gardaí believe careful Government planning went into the departure of Martin Callinan from the office of Garda Commissioner.
As they see it, Callinan was already embattled two weeks ago after months of controversy when the Government learned of the secret recording by gardaí of calls in and out of Garda stations.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny dispatched Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell to Callinan’s home to impress upon him the seriousness for Government of the ongoing and emerging Garda problems. And two days later Callinan decided he had had enough and walked.
As the media was digesting the resignation story, the Government dropped the tapes bombshell and revealed it had set up a commission of inquiry into the matter.
Kenny looked decisive and strong at the head of a Cabinet united to resolve the mess.
Just a week earlier Leo Varadkar had called for Callinan to withdraw his “disgusting” remarks about the Garda whistleblowers.
Labour Ministers followed Varadkar’s utterances, in open defiance of the Taoiseach’s appeal to keep their thoughts for Cabinet meetings.
It was some turnaround in a week.
Senior Garda sources who have spoken to The Irish Times believe Callinan was sacrificed as part of a well-crafted plan to make the Government look strong and united and to suggest the ongoing controversies were of his making.
They have said the Government’s suggestion it established the commission of inquiry so quickly because it feared the tapes were about to be destroyed is completely at odds with what was going on in Garda headquarters.
Race for information
“All the effort was to find out exactly what we had,” said one officer about the recordings. “It was about getting as much information on that as we could and ordering them, itemising them and filing them – the complete opposite of getting rid of them.”
Another said the Attorney General instructed that the tapes not be destroyed because of the exhaustive Garda process to establish the exact legal position of the force and its obligations in relation to the tapes. “We were already doing what she advised; retaining the stuff and putting order on it.”
Another officer said he could not recall a time when news of a major controversy broke in the same statement announcing the establishment of a commission of inquiry to examine it.
“The result of that is that the (Oireachtas) committees can’t call the key people in and question them about what happened in the days before (Callinan) went because the inquiry will have to be given priority and that might take years. It’s worked out very well for the Government. Do you think that’s a coincidence?”