Shatter says Garda letter only received yesterday
Taoiseach says he learned of taping from Attorney General
Attorney General Máire Whelan, the Government’s legal adviser, attends Cabinet meetings.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said he did not receive a Garda letter on the scale of taping in Garda stations until early yesterday, a fortnight after then commissioner Martin Callinan sent it to the top official in the Minister’s department.
Mr Callinan’s letter to Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell on March 10th raised fresh questions about the sequence of events behind the Government’s move to establish a commission of inquiry into the taping affair.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil he first learned of the generalised taping from Attorney General Máire Whelan at teatime on Sunday. Mr Shatter’s spokeswoman said the matter was first made known to him 24 hours later, at 6pm on Monday.
However, Mr Callinan’s letter said he first consulted Ms Whelan’s office on the matter last November, which was the month the recording system was shut down.
The letter said an internal working group had been tasked with reporting to Mr Callinan once it had consulted with the Attorney General’s office.
The Government spokesman had no comment last night on the suggestion in the letter that Ms Whelan was informed of the matter last November.
The Attorney General, who is the Government’s legal adviser, attends Cabinet meetings.
It is understood that the engagement with the Attorney General’s office last year centred on a court discovery process ongoing at the time.
The full extent of the taping was not then apparent to Government. The Government said throughout yesterday that the information became known to it only at the weekend, prompting immediate action on its part yesterday.