Purcell faces TD probe on Callinan resignation

The head of the Department of Justice faces questions from TDs today about his role in the controversial resignation of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan as well as the handling of serious allegations against the force.

Purcell faces TD probe on Callinan resignation

Department secretary general Brian Purcell will appear before the Oireachtas Justice Committee, the members of which have refused a request to restrict their questioning to the top civil servant.

The committee will also hear from acting garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, following a number of recent scandals that hit the force.

Committee chairman David Stanton confirmed that two key matters had been agreed by members to discuss with Mr Purcell. These will include questions around matters raised in the recent Guerin report, including the handling of claims against gardaí originally raised by whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

“We will look at the administration [of files] around this. Not the specifics of the allegations. It will be more about how the paperwork was handled,” said the committee chairman.

Mr Purcell will also face questions about his role in a decision by former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan to step down. Mystery surrounds what was said to Mr Callinan by Mr Purcell the night before Mr Callinan gave his resignation letter to Government.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he sent Mr Purcell to visit Mr Callinan’s home to outline the Government’s concern about revelations that Garda stations had been recording phone calls for decades.

Mr Stanton said last night that the committee had received legal advice it may be inappropriate to ask why the Garda chief actually resigned, as he had claimed it was for “family reasons”.

He added: “But there is nothing wrong in asking questions about Mr Purcell’s role in that.”

Mr Stanton said members may ask in general about a secretary general’s relationship with a Garda commissioner and how they communicate or handle issues.

The committee today will also continue its hearings on possible changes to the oversight of the gardaí and the Garda Síochána Act 2005, including the remit of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

Ms O’Sullivan will also outline her thoughts about how a new Garda authority might be set up, the governance of the force, as well as the powers of GSOC.

The North’s former police ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, will also appear before TDs.

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