Martin presses Taoiseach for answers on Callinan inquiry
Kenny says he has complied fully with Fennelly investigation into resignation
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: “There is no law which says you cannot say whether you attended the commission or not”. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has claimed there is no legal reason to prevent the Taoiseach saying whether he was recalled to give evidence to the Fennelly commission.
“I find it very difficult to explain why you simply refuse to confirm that,’’ he said. “There is no law which says you cannot say whether you attended the commission or not.’’
Mr Justice Nial Fennelly is heading the inquiry into the secret taping of phone calls at Garda stations and is also due to provide an interim report into the resignation of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan in 2014.
Mr Callinan resigned the morning after he was visited at his home by the then secretary general of the Department of Justice Brian Purcell.
Mr Martin asked: “Can you confirm whether you were called back for a second interview by the commission and can you indicate why you believe you would be breaking the law to confirm that basic issue?”
Mr Kenny said he had complied fully with his responsibilities on the matter.
“I was called before the commission of investigation and I responded to that,’’ he said. “I took the view the law says clearly that it is an offence to make any comment about any evidence before the commission and I took that view quite literally.’’
Mr Kenny said he would publish the commission’s report when it was furnished to him. He said Mr Justice Fennelly had an exemplary record and it was a matter for him as to how he conducted his investigation and he was not subject to pressure from anybody.
Mr Martin said there was no law that said Mr Kenny could not say whether he had attended the commission.
“The law under which the commission of investigation was established does not state that,’’ he said.
He said it was clear from comments made by the commission spokesperson, a solicitor, and the law itself, that there was nothing stopping the Taoiseach confirming whether he was called to appear before it a second time.
“It is important that a Taoiseach does not cite something that is not true,’’ Mr Martin said.
He said Mr Kenny had failed to answer “simple and straightforward’’ questions in the Dáil on what he had said to the secretary general and what the secretary general had said to the former commissioner.
“However, the Taoiseach chose not to do so,’’ he said. “Again, parliamentary accountability was the loser in terms of the sequence of events that have unfolded.’’
Mr Kenny said a Fianna Fáil spokesperson had requested that a commission of investigation be established and “the Government approved this at my request’’.
He said the Fennelly commission was independent, with clear terms of reference, and not subject to pressure from any quarter.
“They were adopted by the Government and voted on and adopted by this House,’’ Mr Kenny said.