Callinan sacked on ‘trumped-up charge’, Dáil hears

The Government has been accused of sacking former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan on a “trumped-up charge” in a bid to protect embattled Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Callinan sacked on ‘trumped-up charge’, Dáil hears

The accusation came as a senior minister warned that the privacy laws may have to be changed because of the garda phone bugging saga.

Mr Shatter was also accused last night of being aware of a crucial letter which vindicated the garda chief’s handling of the garda taping saga, despite claims he had not seen it for two weeks.

During a Dáil debate on a motion of no confidence in Mr Shatter, Fianna Fáil TDs criticised the credibility of Mr Shatter as well as Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Independent TDs accused the minister of turning a blind eye on other serious allegations and crimes.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said a list of crises had mounted up under Mr Shatter’s watch.

He argued that Mr Shatter should have resigned a year ago, when the last vote in the minister was held after he leaked details about gardaí stopping Independent TD Mick Wallace on the road.

Mr Martin asked how coalition TDs could have confidence in Mr Shatter when he said last month that the establishment of an independent garda authority would be damaging for the force.

His party colleague Timmy Dooley said what was at issue was not Mr Shatter’s intelligence or capacity for hard work but rather his capacity to manage issues.

The Clare TD argued Commissioner Callinan was effectively forced out of office to save Mr Shatter’s skin.

Mr Dooley claimed Mr Shatter and his department secretary general Brian Purcell were aware of a letter sent by the garda chief to the department on March 10 about the secret taping of phone conversations into and out of garda stations.

He said the garda chief was sacked “on a trumped up charge” because he had done something else wrong in relation to garda whistleblowers, the garda ombudsman or other issues.

The garda’s letter, which only emerged after he quit, outlined what was being done about the 2,485 tapes.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the revelations of the recording of phone calls to and from garda stations might, in time, result in further changes in privacy law, including a constitutional response.

“While establishing a policing authority is of paramount importance, and the Government will set about the task forthwith, there are other issues that will arise,” he said

Mr Noonan said Fianna Fáil was “bereft of all credibility” and most of the recent controversies resulted from incidents that happened when Fianna Fáil were in office: “In this respect, Fianna Fáil have performed a major conjuring trick, in which the people who caused the mess are blameless and the man who is cleaning it up is supposed to be of fault.”

Health Minister James Reilly said Mr Shatter had proven himself to be “a compassionate minister” in setting up a scheme for Magdalene laundry victims.

Jerry Buttimer (FG) accused Mr Martin of “political opportunism” and said Mr Shatter will bring “full equality for all of our citizens and deserves our support.”

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