Outgoing Justice head ‘kept sweet’ by retaining €200,000 salary

The outgoing head of the Department of Justice, Brian Purcell, is being "kept sweet" by retaining his €200,000 a year salary because of his role in events leading up to the resignation of the former Garda commissioner.

Outgoing Justice head ‘kept sweet’ by retaining €200,000 salary

The claim was made by the Fianna Fáil Justice spokesperson Niall Collins who is calling for fresh hearings of the Justice Committee to establish the events leading up to the resignation of the former Garda commissioner, Martin Callinan.

Following a review which found shortcomings in the management of the department, Mr Purcell will move to a different area in the public service while maintaining the same pay, terms and conditions.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she did not instruct Mr Purcell to step aside following an independent review which found shortcomings in the management of the department.

“I didn’t ask him to stay and I didn’t ask him to go. I asked him his views on the report,” she told Pat Kenny on Newstalk Radio yesterday. “He got the report, he came to me and said that in the best interest of everybody — the department, himself, my job as minister — he felt to stay on, given all the recent events, would be a distraction.”

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on justice, Padraig Mac Lochlainn, said it sends out a message that people in the public service “just don’t take responsibility for failings as you would see in the private sector”.

Mr Purcell was dispatched to Mr Callinan’s home by the Taoiseach on the night before his resignation. It followed a meeting between Mr Purcell, Mr Shatter, the Taoiseach and his secretary general, Martin Fraser.

Mr Collins said all four should appear before the Oireachtas Justice Committee to explain the sequence of events. Health Minister Leo Varadkar said this would not be necessary and it would be dealt with by the Fennelly inquiry which, he said, “should be allowed to do its work”.

Ms Fitzgerald also defended the Taoiseach, insisting he did not sack the Garda commissioner. “He didn’t fire him. Martin Callinan resigned and gave the grounds for which he was resigning,” she said.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said many questions remain unanswered by Mr Purcell ahead of his planned departure from his role. “Given the centrality of his role in the events leading up to the resignation of the former commissioner Callinan, and on the back of the Taoiseach instructing him to go to the commissioner, there are many questions that will remain unanswered. People will demand that there is transparency and accountability on all these matters as the Taoiseach promised when he came into office.”

Chairman of the Oireachtas Justice Committee, Fine Gael’s David Stanton, said “everybody involved in that issue” will be questioned by Judge Fennelly. “I don’t think a commission of investigation can be described as a facade.”

More in this section