Taoiseach rejects claims he lied about Callinan departure

Heated exchanges in Dáil over White’s assertion Kenny sacked Garda commissioner

Taoiseach Enda Kenny who  rejected Opposition claims in the Dail that  he lied about  the circumstances surrounding the departure of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny who rejected Opposition claims in the Dail that he lied about the circumstances surrounding the departure of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 13:35

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has rejected Opposition claims he has lied over the circumstances surrounding the departure of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused Mr Kenny of hiding behind the Fennelly commission investigating the issue and said “for some reason you will not come into the House and tell the truth”.

But during heated exchanges Mr Kenny suggested Mr Martin was “not familiar with the truth” during a row over claims Mr Kenny fired the then commissioner.

During leaders’ questions Mr Martin referred to a letter sent last week by Minister of State Alex White to 5,000 members of the Labour Party in which he said: “I will not stand over a position where the Taoiseach looks to fire the commissioner of the gardaí without as much as a phone call to the leader of the Labour party”.

Mr Martin asked if Mr Kenny had spoken to Mr White and if he agreed with what he said because the Garda commissioner could only be removed by the Cabinet and “essentially you set in train a series of events to remove the former commissioner without telling your Cabinet colleagues”.

Mr Kenny said he had not spoken to Mr White, whom he said was involved in a leadership contest for his party and “I do not accept Minister White’s assertion”.

In turn, Mr Kenny told Mr Martin:”You made a charge in this House and you’re going to have to stand over it and you won’t stand over it for very long”.

Mr Martin said “one of your own Ministers has made the charge and you haven’t done anything about that. You haven’t even talked to him. You’ve some neck to come in here and lecture me about that when one of your own Government Ministers has made the assertion.”

The Taoiseach said “I’m well aware of the legislation regarding the removal of a person with the stature of the Garda Commissioner”.

It was “my duty and my responsibility” to bring to the commissioner’s attention his grave concerns about the revelations by the Attorney General about the unsolved murder case in West Cork of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and the taping of phone calls to Garda stations.

Mr Kenny said he brought those concerns to Mr Callinan’s attention “because I would have to inform the Cabinet in the morning of those concerns and anxieties”.

But Mr Martin rounded on him and told the Taoiseach to “stop changing your story as it goes on”. He said it was the commissioner who first brought the issue of phone recordings to the Department of Justice’s attention and the issue “wasn’t actually about a specific Garda recording either. It was about the wider issue of phone recordings at Garda stations that you claim to be so concerned about.”

He added that a working group had been established, the AG’s office was alerted to it and a letter was sent to the minister for justice of the day. Mr Martin dismissed “the idea that it was a bolt out of the blue”.

Mr Kenny told the Fianna Fáil leader “you can pander to the populace if you wish to do that. I have to deal with my responsibilities in the office I occupy.”