Leo Varadkar: Good woman leaving office without a full hearing

The Taoiseach strongly defended Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald in spite of her decision to resign over a failure to act over a Garda management strategy to discredit whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Leo Varadkar reiterated that Ms Fitzgerald had “no hand, act or part” in trying to discredit the Garda whistleblower in relation to documents which show the Tánaiste was made aware of a Garda plan to do so.

Mr Varadkar said he expected Ms Fitzgerald to still play a role in politics and said she would not have had to resign if the Department of Justice had originally supplied all documents on the issue.

“So, it is with deep regret that I have accepted her resignation. It is my strong view that a good woman is leaving office without getting a full and fair hearing.”

Ms Fitzgerald quit as Tánaiste and as a minister after outrage over new documents showing she was told of the garda strategy in 2015. She had told the Dáil she never knew of the attack plan.

Addressing the Dáil after her resignation, the Taoiseach insisted Ms Fitzgerald deserved to be given a full hearing on the controversy.

He said he had not asked her to resign and praised the reforms she undertook as a minister.

“In the past few days, a drip-drip of information may have made certain things seem greater than they are. There was a feeding frenzy, and it became impossible for her to get a fair hearing based on the full facts. I hope that will change in the period ahead.”

Other tributes to Frances Fitzgerald, who also resigned her role as jobs minister, were paid by the employers’ group IBEC. It welcomed the fact that the country would not be facing into a December election, at such a crucial juncture in Brexit negotiations.

Ibec also said: “The department has made significant strides over recent months, ensuring that the concerns of business were well recognised in Government. Frances Fitzgerald played a key role in this. It is vital that this work continues once a new Minister is appointed.”

While most opposition leaders were critical of the Tánaiste, Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin did say Fine Gael had suffered a loss.

“Deputy Fitzgerald is a well-liked member of this house and has many achievements as a minister to her credit. I elieve she took the right decision, given recent revelations and the best interests of the country. No one in this house takes any pleasure from deputy Fitzgerald’s resignation as a Tánaiste and a minister.”

Local supporters in Ms Fitzgerald’s constituency said they would continue to support the former Tánaiste. Lucan councillor Vicki Casserly, in the Dublin Mid-West constituency, said: “I like so many Fine Gael members am devastated that Frances had to resign without a fair hearing.

“I remain committed to continuously working and supporting her in the constituency.”

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