Fianna Fáil leader attacks Minister for Justice for ’hiding away’ during Garda crisis

Story emerging ‘drip by drip’ and nobody believes eveything now out in public - Martin

Fianna Fáil’s Seán Fleming, leader Micheál Martin and Dara Calleary outside the Dáil yesterday. Mr Martin claimed in the Dáil that  the Garda commissioner “was pushed aside following a series of deeply suspicious events”. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Fianna Fáil’s Seán Fleming, leader Micheál Martin and Dara Calleary outside the Dáil yesterday. Mr Martin claimed in the Dáil that the Garda commissioner “was pushed aside following a series of deeply suspicious events”. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 01:00



In the Dáil yesterday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused Minister for Justice Alan Shatter of “hiding away” while a profound crisis affected An Garda Síochána.

In a sharp attack on the Minister, Mr Martin claimed that “instead of taking responsibility he limited himself to a couple of carefully scripted appearances” in the Dáil.

“This week the Minister for Justice went into hiding.”.

Introducing his Seanad Reform Bill, Mr Martin excoriated the Minister, and said “for only the second time in our history the head of our police force resigned – and did so following an approach by a senior official at the request of the Taoiseach”.

“By any definition this is a major public issue – yet the Minister did not do a single interview. He hid from public sight entirely on Monday and Tuesday.”

However, Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd said he utterly refuted the content and tone, as well as the hypocrisy, shown by Mr Martin.

He said that “in times of serious political issue” Mr Martin had voted with the “party’s former leader, Bertie Ahern, and kept him in power during the most appalling ruining of our economy”.

Mr O’Dowd was representing the Government in the debate on Fianna Fáil’s legislation to reform the Seanad.

Suspicious events
In his speech Mr Martin said the Garda commissioner “was pushed aside following a series of deeply suspicious events”.

“Each element of this story has emerged drip by drip, and there is not a person anywhere who believes that everything is now out in public.

“Even the Government’s most craven supporters now concede that we are facing a profound crisis which touches on one of our most important institutions.”

But “in the face of this we have for months seen a strategy of attacking opponents, false claims left on the record, a reluctance to investigate serious allegations and an absolute refusal to accept even the most basic principles of democratic accountability”.

He added: “Worst of all, we as members of the Oireachtas but not members of Government had no powers to force him to address this fundamental issue.

“We have met for four days this week and the questions we have been allowed to ask about the departure of the Garda commissioner were limited to two sessions of Leaders’ Questions, with the Taoiseach falling back on his now traditional approach of doing everything possible not to answer the questions.”

Weakest parliaments
Mr Martin said this was proof if ever it were needed that “we have one of the weakest parliaments in the democratic world” as he introduced his Seanad Reform Bill which calls for all citizens to be enabled to vote for 43 of the Upper House’s 60 members, without a change to the Constitution.