Labour pressures Callinan despite Kenny warning

Quinn call for Garda Commissioner to ‘end controversy’ signals Cabinet differences

Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives for an EU summit in Brussels: refused to support  calls rebuking the Garda Commissioner. Photograph: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives for an EU summit in Brussels: refused to support calls rebuking the Garda Commissioner. Photograph: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Sat, Mar 22, 2014, 09:40


Labour Ministers are maintaining pressure on Martin Callinan, in defiance of efforts by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to support the Garda Commissioner, amid increasing calls for him to withdraw comments in which the commissioner called Garda whistleblowers “disgusting”.

In a sign of growing differences between the Coalition parties on the issue, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn released a statement calling on Mr Callinan “to end the controversy” just hours after Mr Kenny said he would prefer if the views of the Cabinet were not “aired in public”.

Mr Kenny’s intervention at the conclusion of an EU summit in Brussels came after Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte followed Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar in calling on Mr Callinan to withdraw the comments.

Mr Kenny refused to support such calls.

“I certainly have a preference that if any Minister has an issue to raise, they raise it at the Cabinet or raise it where we would have discussions and deal with them, rather than have them aired in public,” Mr Kenny said.

“I’m not saying that people have to be restricted in their views on anything, but there is a process by which these things should be dealt with.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Mr Kenny delivered a “severe rebuke of the Tánaiste, Minister Burton and Minister Varadkar”.

However, Mr Quinn’s statement, released hours afterwards, said he wanted to “join with my colleagues in encouraging the Garda Commissioner to bring an end to the controversy surrounding the Garda whistleblowers”.

“Anyone in public office can, on occasion, find themselves in a position where their choice of words has been unfortunate.”

Mr Quinn said it was important the debate moved on to introducing an independent Garda authority to “enhance accountability and civilian oversight” of the force.

The Government spokesman said the Oireachtas Justice Committee has been asked to review the powers of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

“and to submit their proposals to the Minister for Justice after which they will be discussed at Government”.

Mr Kenny’s comments also caused some annoyance with Labour TDs.

“Are we supposed to just zip up and wait for him to give us a directive?” asked Parliamentary Labour Party chairman Jack Wall. “That’s out of the question.”

In a further sign of confusion at the top of Government, a spokeswoman for Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said he was “mystified” by suggestions that Mr Varadkar had unsuccessfully attempted to raise concerns with him in recent weeks.