Up to Kenny to explain Garda chief’s resignation, says McDowell

Former tánaiste Michael McDowell has said "it is the business" of Taoiseach Enda Kenny to explain to the Dáil the controversial circumstances surrounding the resignation of the Garda Commissioner.

Up to Kenny to explain Garda chief’s resignation, says McDowell

Speaking at the MacGill summer school in Donegal, the former Attorney General also warned that “there will be serious problems” with the planned independent Garda authority.

His comments came as Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said last night that she wants cultural and structural changes in the gardaí.

However, Mr McDowell compared the planned garda authority to the HSE and warned that the new body would allow the Government to ignore responsibility for the force.

Mr McDowell, a previous leader of the Progressive Democrats, attacked Mr Kenny’s continued refusal to reveal what happened the night before the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan departed from his post.

Mystery surrounds what was said to Commissioner Callinan by Department of Justice secretary general, Brian Purcell the night before Mr Callinan gave his resignation letter to Government. The Taoiseach 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.

He now says a special inquiry, which he has given evidence to, is examining the issue but has refused to explain what transpired.

It was fundamental that the executive was accountable to the people, but matters had been instead deferred to a commission of investigation which takes six months, he said.

It was “the business” of Mr Kenny to explain.

Mr McDowell also warned there were problems setting up a Garda authority, as promised by the Coalition. He said it would move responsibility of gardaí to an agency like the HSE.

Speaking last night, Ms Fitzgerald said she wanted a ‘sea-change’ in the performance and oversight of justice and policing.

“The big ticket items include oversight, change management and the role of whistle-blowers. All of them are being addressed.

“But the more subtle changes, the ones affecting all systems and the behaviour of every individual, include everything from local administration, to internal communications, from performance standards, to crime prevention, from culture to human resource management,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

“And while I will be the first to welcome the many innovations implemented by the gardaí in recent years and decades, I cannot be blind to the reality that, in some areas, the structure and culture have changed little.”

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