Fitzgerald declines to express confidence in secretary general

Minister asked three times about Brian Purcell following Guerin report publication

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan (left)  with newly appointed Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald  outside her department where they met today. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Tims

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan (left) with newly appointed Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald outside her department where they met today. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Tims

 

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has declined to express confidence in the secretary general of her department, despite being asked to do so three times.

Ms Fitzgerald was asked about Brian Purcell, the most senior official in the Department of Justice, at a press conference this afternoon following the publication of the Guerin Report.

The report is critical of the how complaints from whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe were handled in the Department of Justice.

“In relation to the secretary general, I have just been appointed to the department. I have just received this report so I will be having further discussions with him in relation to the content of the report,” Ms Fitzgerald said when asked to expressed confidence in Mr Purcell.

She was asked the same question a further two times, and provided a similar answer on one occasion and declined to answer on another.

The Dublin Mid-West TD also said: “The secretary general of my department will ensure that the handling of complaints received by the department meets with best practice in receiving and responding to complaints.”

Ms Fitzgerald earlier met Noirin O’Sullivan, the interim Garda Commissioner, and said the issue of Sgt McCabe being allowed access to the Pulse system again was discussed.

Sgt McCabe was banned from using the system, and Ms O’Sullivan has undertaken a review of that decision.

The minister said Ms O’Sullivan will be soon make clear whether Sgt McCabe is to be given access to the internal Garda system once more.

She also welcomed “the fact that Commissioner O’Sullivan has already signalled the need for a sea change in the culture of the force.

“She will have my full support in doing whatever is necessary to achieve this. If root and branch reform is what’s needed, root and branch reform is what will happen.”