Garda whistleblowers Maurice McCabe and John Wilson have welcomed Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar's tribute to them for highlighting the penalty points controversy.
They also welcomed Mr Varadkar’s call for the Garda Commissioner to withdraw comments he made describing their actions as “disgusting”.
Mr Callinan used the term to describe the leaking of details of the quashing of penalty points but later said this was not a reference to the character of the whistleblowers. While Mr Varadkar said yesterday he still has confidence in Mr Callinan, he said the commissioner “isn’t above criticism”.
Mr Wilson said he was “very pleased” with Mr Varadkar’s comments while sources close to Sgt McCabe said he was thankful for the “excellent” comments.
The Irish Times also understands Mr Varadkar attempted to raise a number of concerns with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in recent weeks on a number of road safety issues, as well as Mr Callinan's recent appearance at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Garda Inspectorate report on the penalty points controversy.
Speaking at a Road Safety Authority conference in Dublin yesterday, Mr Varadkar also said it would be "appropriate" for Mr Callinan to withdraw the comments he made at the PAC.
“I think the commissioner should withdraw that remark which was made on the record of the Dáil and make any other corrections he needs to make to the testimony he made to the Public Accounts Committee,” Mr Varadkar said at the Road Safety Authority conference.
“I think it is very important to bear in mind that the Garda whistleblowers only released information about people after they tried to use the correct procedures and those procedures failed them and when they did release the information, they did it through Oireachtas members which is provided for under the Garda Act of 2005,” the Dublin West TD said.
"So yes, I do think that remark should be withdrawn," she added.
Mr Varadkar thanked Sgt McCabe and Mr Wilson “on my own behalf and on behalf of the thousands of families who have had to endure the pain and loss that flows from the death of a loved one on the road”.
He added: “They may not have got everything right but they did shine a light into a dark place and forced those who would rather turn a blindeye to face up to the truth.”
A statement from An Garda Síochána said Mr Callinan’s use of the word disgusting “was not in reference to the character of either Sgt McCabe or former garda Wilson, but the manner in which personal and sensitive data was inappropriately appearing in the public domain without regard to due process and fair procedures”.