Dáil chairman, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail, is “considering” a fresh complaint from Labour TD Alan Kelly over information he sought over the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
Mr Ó Fearghail yesterday received new correspondence from Mr Kelly and he is now taking the matter under consideration for adjudication, a spokeswoman for the Oireachtas said.
Mr Kelly has been highly critical of the quality of responses from Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan over whether his department knew anything about the legal strategy to “attack the credibility” of Sgt McCabe when he was being cross-examined by lawyers for ex-commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan in May 2015.
The Oireachtas spokeswoman told the Irish Examiner Mr Kelly has submitted “fresh correspondence” over what he has said were the “disgraceful” answers he received from Mr Flanagan and his department.
Mr Kelly received replies on Wednesday to several questions relating to May 15, 2015, and whether or not a call went between the then commissioner’s office and the Department of Justice.
In response, Mr Flanagan refused to address the substantial points in Mr Kelly’s questions saying they “appear to refer to issues which are specifically within the terms of reference of the Disclosures Tribunal under Mr Justice Charleton”.
“We must be careful not to say anything which would interfere with the tribunal’s work. I have previously indicated that it would not have been appropriate for my department to interfere in any way with the approach of the Garda commissioner to the O’Higgins commission of investigation. I can assure the Deputy that there is no question of my department having prior knowledge of the legal strategy to be adopted by the former Garda commissioner,” Mr Flanagan replied.
“I would also point out that in accordance with the Dáil standing orders, nothing should be raised in the House which could appear to encroach on or prejudice matters which are before a tribunal. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on matters within the remit of the tribunal.
“However, if the Deputy or indeed anyone else either in this House or outside, has information which is relevant to the terms of reference of the tribunal, they should bring that to the attention of Mr Justice Charleton.”
Meanwhile, the Government did not block Fianna Fail’s legislation to give more powers to the Independent Policing Authority despite saying it was opposed to it. The bill passed second stage in the Dáil. Fianna Fáil said the Government had no option but to let it pass or it would have lost the vote.
Its justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said: “It is most welcome that my legislation to give more powers to the Policing Authority will now go to committee stage.”
Under the terms of the Garda Síochána (Amendment) Bill 2017, the Authority would be given “greater oversight over the workings of An Garda Síochána and the Commissioner’s office”.
Under the bill, the authority will be empowered to supervise the functioning of the Garda Commissioner’s Office and supervise the discharge of those functions by the commissioner.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved