Taoiseach assessing Fennelly report on Callinan resignation

Parties have 21 days to object to inquiry’s findings on resignation of Garda chief

The resignation of  Garda commissioner Martin  Callinan (above) in March 2014 caused a political storm. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The resignation of Garda commissioner Martin Callinan (above) in March 2014 caused a political storm. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is assessing the implications of the Fennelly Commission report on the issue of the resignation of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

The report was distributed on Thursday to the individuals at the centre of the investigation. One of the key figures is believed to be abroad on holiday.

All of those mentioned in the report have 21 days to make submissions to Mr Justice Niall Fennelly if they wish to dispute any facts or findings in the report.

The commission was established last year to investigate the taping of phone calls at Garda stations, but decided to produce an interim report on Mr Callinan’s resignation.

It is understood those who were directly involved in the events leading up to Mr Callinan’s resignation, apart from one person who is out of the country, were hand-delivered the report on Thursday by a designated officer of the commission.

This group is believed to include the Taoiseach; Attorney General Máire Whelan; secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach Martin Fraser; former minister for justice Alan Shatter; former secretary general at the Department of Justice Brian Purcell, and Mr Callinan himself.

Other, less centrally involved parties will receive extracts of the report that are relevant to them by registered post in the coming days.

Covering letter

Each copy of the report distributed is accompanied by a covering letter informing the recipient that it is an offence to acknowledge receipt of the report or to divulge its contents.

In the light of this instruction, none of the parties to whom the report was distributed were prepared to make any comment on its contents.

If Mr Justice Fennelly does not receive any objections within 21 days, it is expected he will submit the final report to the Taoiseach at an early date.

That report will be published immediately, in accordance with the law.

Mr Callinan’s resignation in March 2014 caused a political storm.

It came amid a series of controversies surrounding the Garda and the Department of Justice that ultimately led to the resignation of Mr Shatter as minister for justice.

Home visit

Mr Callinan resigned the morning after he was visited at his home by Mr Purcell, then secretary general at the Department of Justice.

The Taoiseach instructed Mr Purcell to tell Mr Callinan of the gravity of the situation regarding the taping of phone calls at Garda stations.

Mr Kenny stood accused by the Opposition parties of effectively firing Mr Callinan, an issue that he has been under pressure to address.

The Taoiseach argued at the time that Mr Callinan retired and was not fired.

The commission was established in April 2014 to examine covert recording of phone calls in some Garda stations between 1980 and 2013.

It was set up after it emerged that phone calls were taped during an investigation into the still unsolved 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, and that there was a recording system used in some Garda stations.

The commission’s terms of reference include establishing whether any telephone conversations between solicitors and their clients were taped in Garda stations.

It will also try to establish whether information obtained was used improperly or unlawfully, and particularly whether solicitor/client conversations were used for any purpose.

The commission was also asked to provide an interim report on Mr Callinan’s resignation.