Kenny to outline events leading up to Callinan departure

Taoiseach to write to commission of inquiry with his account of events leading up to Garda Commissioner’s retirement

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will write to the retired Supreme Court judge Nial Fennelly within two weeks outlining his account of events leading up to the retirement of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Mr Kenny, referring to his decision to send the most senior official in the Department of Justice to Mr Callinan’s home the evening before he announced his departure from the force, said he wanted his “concerns and anxieties” relayed to the then commissioner. The Opposition has said Mr Kenny in effect forced Mr Callinan to step down.

The circumstances around the former commissioner’s departure will be examined as part of Mr Justice Fennelly’s commission of inquiry, which is charged with looking into the systematic recording of phone calls at Garda stations.

"I have made it perfectly clear... that I wanted my concerns and my anxieties about the information given to me [about phone-tapping] by the Attorney General brought to the attention of the former Garda commissioner," Mr Kenny said today at the Bar Council's annual conference in Westport, Co Mayo.

"The sole chairman has written to me. I will respond inside the two-week period to the sole chairman in accordance with the wishes of both the Government and of the Oireachtas committee on justice," he added.

Mr Kenny said he would be happy to work with whoever the Labour Party chose as its next leader but that the selection process was a matter for Fine Gael's coalition partner alone.

“Whoever the Labour Party select as their leader, I’ll be happy to sit down with that leader and work out the continuing programme that we have to fulfil the mandate given to us by the people,” he said. “So it’s a matter entirely for the Labour Party and whoever they select, I’ll be happy to work with on behalf of the Government.”

On the Government’s suspension of a controversial review of discretionary medical cards this week, Mr Kenny said he had been “unhappy” that letters were being sent to people suffering from debilitating and terminal illnesses asking them if they still had those conditions. “I won’t stand for that,” he said. “So we will fix this.”

Asked whether he was concerned about the position of the whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, who has complained about his treatment by members of the force and has been on leave this week, Mr Kenny said: “I think the interim garda commissioner is dealing with that matter now, after some clarification during the week.”