Fennelly commission report - Evasiveness undermining credibility

TOMORROW marks the first anniversary of the resignation — though that description hardly seems plausible when all of the factors are considered — of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Yet, despite the establishment of the Fennelly commission to investigate the series of interventions that led to Mr Callinan’s premature and unexpected departure from the Phoenix Park, we are none the wiser about what provoked his “resignation”.

Instead of transparency and substance we have — once again — speculation and evasion. Instead of openness and complete honesty we have an administration kicking to touch, an administration turning one more time to credibility-sapping stonewalling.

Indeed, the Government has been so very mercurial over Mr Callinan’s fate that it is increasingly difficult to match its promises on transparency and a new openness in public life with the reality of their omertá-as-usual performance.

The challenge set to Mr Fennelly last April 8 was hardly on a par with that faced by the Warren Commission or the Bloody Sunday hearings.

There are a finite, pretty small, number of actors in this one-act drama and it should have been possible to come to reliable conclusions within weeks — no longer — of the terms of reference being finalised.

Though Tánaiste Joan Burton said yesterday she hopes the Fennelly report will be made available as soon as is possible, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was under pressure from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin over the inordinate delay around its publication and his refusal to offer any clarification on its progress or his role in its deliberations.

Mr Kenny, just as he did last year when under pressure over his support for his besieged and soon-to-be former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, has once again resorted to a pretty threadbare fig leaf.

Mr Kenny has argued that he is legally precluded from commenting on the commission or its work. Speaking in the United States last week, Mr Kenny said it was “an offence for anybody associated with the commission to comment on it and I do not propose to breach the law”.

Mr Martin has rejected that defence saying that the relevant act — the 2004 Commissions of Investigation Act — does not include any such constraints.

Though he has not directly accused Mr Kenny of being misleading, that is the direct implication of his charge.

The did-he-jump, was-he-pushed resignation of the leader of a police force in any democracy is a serious business.

Any such event should be treated with gravitas and the expediency needed to establish if an abuse of position by those who wished to see a senior officer removed was involved.

You can dress this sorry saga up as you like, but there is a stink about it and the only way to clear the air is to publish the Fennelly report.

Any further delay again undermines our public life and our Government’s credibility.

Find more comments here


With documentary film ‘Fantastic Fungi’ set to take the world by storm, Joe McNamee looks at the fabulous world of mushroomsDocumentary explores the magic of mushrooms

I lead a very busy life — I’m a mature student in college — and I separated from my partner but the separation was my decision. I hate myself when it beckons as it ultimately makes me fatter, it has the reverse effectDear Louise: I had my bulimia under control. But the demon has returned

This year has been particularly difficult and stressful, and I think that’s an even more important reason to make time for your health.Derval O'Rourke: Resistance is far from futile and necessary

Best-selling author Faith Hogan is keeping the faith during the lockdown, thanks to her Moy Valley haven in Ballina, Co Mayo.Shape I'm in: Keeping the Faith during lockdown

More From The Irish Examiner