The extent to which former justice minister Alan Shatter was excluded from top-level talks on the phone recording controversy was due to his perceived closeness to the former Garda commissioner, according to independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace.
The Fennelly Report highlights how Mr Shatter appeared to be excluded from the Taoiseach’s key dealings regarding the revelation of the longtime practice of recording phonecalls in garda stations, while it also illustrates how the former secretary general in his own department, Brian Purcell, failed to inform the then-minister how he had been told two weeks before by then-commissioner Martin Callinan about the recordings.
By then the former justice minister and commissioner had been the subject of fierce criticism over his handling of the penalty points controversy and related issues, and yesterday Mick Wallace said the Fennelly Report shows the Taoiseach was “determined to offload both of them”.
Deputy Wallace said the phone recording issue had “bugger all” to do with former Commissioner Callinan but that it was “used as an excuse to get rid of him”.
As for Deputy Shatter, with whom the Wexford TD had numerous run-ins, he said: “He was probably one of the best ministers in there but he just did not handle policing issues well.
“I would agree the department itself is more powerful than the minister and Shatter was probably one of the first ministers in a long time to challenge the power of the department.”
But he claimed the relationship between Mr Shatter and Mr Callinan had been “unhealthy” and said: “The Taoiseach had a problem with the fact the minister had such a close relationship with the commissioner.”
Deputy Daly, who alongside Deputy Wallace had called for both Mr Shatter and Mr Callinan to resign their posts before both ultimately did so, said the manner in which the former justice minister was excluded at key moments by the Taoiseach and others showed the “dysfunctionality” within the department of justice at that time.
“It’s very slapstick, the whole thing,” she said.
As for Mr Callinan, she said: “He should have gone but he should have been properly dismissed by Cabinet for the right reasons.”
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