Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said comments made by Junior Minister Michael D'Arcy blaming local gardaí for not acting "sooner and better" on threats against Quinn executives are not the view of Government.
Mr Donohoe said he wanted to make clear that the Government supports the Gardai now and into the future and appeared to slap Mr D'Arcy down by saying the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan reaffirmed the Government's support of the Gardai.
Mr Donohoe said he spoke to his junior minister to clarify the position.
“Well I make it very clear today the view of the government in relation to this, this was communicated quickly last night, by the Minister for Justice and I want to reaffirm that. I have spoken to Minister D'Arcy,” he said.
Mr D'Arcy has ignored calls to apologise to gardaí for claiming that members of the force on the ground had let the Quinn Industrial Holdings QIH executives down and said that it should have been up to the Taoiseach, Justice Minister and Garda Commissioner to get involved on every occasion.
Both senior gardaí and rank and file members of the force have called on the Minister of State Minister of State for Public Expenditure to clarify his "chronically ill-informed" and "shockingly elitist" comments.
Asked if the Minister of State would be issuing an apology or would be clarifying his remarks, a spokesperson for Mr D'Arcy said: "We won't be making any further comment."
When pressed whether Mr D'arcy went “rogue,” Mr Donohoe said: “Minister D'Arcy was asked a question, he answered that question. He's a very, very good and very close colleague of mine. He's a crucial figure in the government in the area of financial services.”
He added: “I understand why he made the statement that he did, because all of us have been moved and deeply horrified by the experience that Mr Lunney has gone through and his bravery in making clear what was perpetrated upon him."
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors described the remarks as “unhelpful” and said members involved in the major cross-border operation against the gang behind the violent campaign aimed at directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings are “very committed” to the investigation.
Backing their AGSI superiors, rank of file gardaí said Minister D'Arcy's comments were “chronically ill-informed” and demanded he apologise.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) president Jim Mulligan said: “Mr D'Arcy absolves the people who allocate funding and determine resources of any blame, while the people who risk their lives on the ground with insufficient resources are, according to the minister, at fault.
“These comments are not just chronically ill-informed, they are shockingly elitist. It's like blaming bank clerks for the bank crash.”
Mr Mulligan noted that the commissioner and the justice minister had distanced themselves from the comments and added: “Minister D'Arcy must withdraw his comments and apologise immediately.”
Garda James Morrisroe, GRA representative for the Cavan/Monaghan Division, said the minister's comments were “misinformed”.
He said staffing levels at Ballyconnell Garda Station in Co Cavan, which covers the area where many of the attacks and incidents have occurred, had been cut by two-thirds over the last number of years.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan said: “I would agree with the Garda Representative Association (GRA) that Minister of State Michael D’Arcy should apologise for saying that Gardaí in the border region have ‘let down’ the Directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings. Minister D’Arcy showed a complete lack of understanding of the unique policing needs along the border and of the challenges faced by Gardaí in terms of resources and staff numbers.
“In a very typical Fine Gael response, Minister D’Arcy tried to wash his hands of the issue saying it wasn’t a matter for the Government. His comments were unhelpful and only serve to worsen an already volatile situation. "