Justice Minister Flanagan apologises over inaccurate information relating to Maurice McCabe

He said he was 'shocked and horrified' records were not provided to the Disclosures Tribunal

Justice Minister Flanagan apologises over inaccurate information relating to Maurice McCabe

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan at the launch of the annual report of the Courts Service for 2016 | Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has apologised to the Taosieach and the Dáil for providing inaccurate information relating to the handling of the Maurice McCabe controversy.

Speaking in the Dáil, Minister Flanagan said: "It has been a major challenge at every step to obtain complete information in a timely manner, indeed, on a few occasions recently, information has been provided to me, to the Taoiseach, and then to this House, which has proven subsequently to be inaccurate.

"This is completely unacceptable and I wish to formally apologise to the Taoiseach, to you Ceann Comhairle and to the House."

He also said he was "shocked and frankly horrified" that there were records in the Department of Justice that should have been provided to the Disclosures Tribunal.

"As minister I have repeatedly emphasised the vital importance of full cooperation by the department with the Tribunal. I have taken every opportunity to stress this within the department and it is an understatement to say I am bitterly disappointed by the events of recent weeks."

"The fact is, that in recent days it has been clear that information in the possession of journalists and members of the opposition has not been forthcoming to me as minister", he said

'Missed significance' of 2015 e-mail

Minister Flanagan also denied allowing the Taosieach Leo Varadkar to misinform the Dáil in relation to a crucial May 2015 e-mail that was sent to the former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

Ms Fitzgerald resigned earlier on Tuesday.

He said he was informed of the e-mail on November 13th, but "missed the significance" of it.

Explaining events surrounding the e-mail, Mr Flanagan said: "During the day I received a phone call from the Secretary General of my department.

He informed me that having reached 40 years’ service, he now intended to retire and he asked me to inform Cabinet the following morning.

"For me, this was unexpected and I was taken aback and began to worry. I was still digesting the news when reference was made to an e-mail pertaining to the O’Higgins Commission and Sergeant McCabe that had been discovered in the department.

"I responded automatically that anything potentially relevant to the tribunal should be immediately conveyed to Judge Charleton.

"I simply missed the significance of the e-mail, which I viewed as just another addition to the 230+ documents already discovered to the tribunal from the department.

"I did not see the actual e-mail until a week later, on the night of Monday, November 20th; that is why I did not raise it with the Taoiseach."

Apology to Alan Kelly

The minister also apologised to Labour TD Alan Kelly, whom he accused of engagaging in a smear campaign against him on November 15th.

On this, Mr Flanagan said: "I had been told by some people in my constituency that Deputy Kelly had made very negative comments about me in their presence.

"I always considered Deputy Kelly a good colleague both in parliament and in government and I confess that I was taken aback and offended when these allegations were made to me.

"I fully accept that I reacted badly and I apologise to Deputy Kelly and to the House and withdraw my remarks."