The Taoiseach has dismissed calls for the Tánaiste’s resignation amid fresh controversies over the treatment of Garda whisleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Leaders questions in the Dáil was dominated by new details which reveal that Frances Fitzgerald was sent an email in 2015 detailing the legal strategy taken by the gardaí to attack the credibility of Sgt McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission.
Just last week the Taoiseach had told the Dáil that Ms Fitzgerald had not been made aware of the campaign against Sgt McCabe until May 2016.
Under sustained questioning and accusations that he had misled the Dáil, Leo Varadkar was forced to admit that the former justice minister had sight of the email in 2015 — a fact he was not aware of when he answered questions on the same issue last week.
The Taoiseach said: “The email speaks of a dispute between the legal team of the Garda commissioner at the time and Sgt McCabe.”
Taoiseach described Sgt McCabe as one of the “bravest people” he had ever met and had been willing to “shine a light into some dark places”.
However, he maintained the Tánaiste had “no hand act or part” in the legal strategy and “did not know about it until after it had happened, did not know beforehand”.
Mr Varadkar told the Dáil he had seen the email for the first time at 11.30pm on Monday. Speaking on RTÉ radio, the Tánaiste said she had forgotten about the email but had been reminded of the existence of it again last Thursday.
However, this was queried by Mr Martin in the Dáil who asked “given the sensitivity of this issue it is not credible that the Tánaiste did not read the email or having read it, did not ask questions?”
Mr Martin accused the Government of being “complicit in this sordid affair” through Ms Fitzgerald’s “acquiescence and incuriosity”.
Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty questioned how such an email could “miraculously re-appeared after two years” adding that “many other things stretch credibility”.
He said it had taken the investigation of Irish Examiner reporter Michael Clifford, and RTÉ journalist Katie Hannon to first uncover the story.
“The Taoiseach’s Twitter account, the Tánaiste, Deputy Fitzgerald, or the strategic information service did not put this information into the public domain.”
Mr Doherty added: “A serious number of questions need to be answered.
"If the Tánaiste cannot answer those questions credibly, there will be serious questions about whether the she can remain within her position. This is a major political crisis.”
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