Tánaiste insists she does not remember receiving 2015 McCabe email

Frances Fitzgerald published the email last night before making a statement in the Dáil

Tánaiste insists she does not remember receiving 2015 McCabe email

Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Tánaiste remains under pressure from opposition parties this morning, after she launched a defence of her handling of the Garda whistleblower scandal in the Dáil.

Frances Fitzgerald has always insisted that she had no knowledge of any garda strategy to discredit whistleblower Maurice McCabe until the details entered the public domain in 2016.

Just last week, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar backed her up in that claim on the Dáil record.

He insisted that it was May 2016 before Minister Fitzgerald became aware that the Garda legal team had been instructed to call sergeant McCabe's motives into question.

However, last night, Minister Fitzgerald published an email she received in 2015, which mentioned a “serious criminal complaint” against Sergeant McCabe.

The email suggested the gardaí may argue that its existence was “potentially relevant” to Sergeant McCabe's motivation for bringing penalty point indiscretions within the force to light.

Sergeant McCabe has always denied the allegation.

Yesterday, Minister Fitzgerald told the house that she had no memory of receiving the 2015 email.

She went on to insist that “neither I nor the Department of Justice had any hand, act or part in the legal strategy of the former [Garda] Commissioner.”

She said she held off on telling the Taoiseach about the email for four days after it was brought to her attention because she was waiting to see "whether other information would emerge that was relevant, and what the legal advice [was]."

She insisted that she was committed to dealing with whistle-blowing issues in "a comprehensive, in a committed, and in a fair manner" during her time as Justice Minister.

However Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the email should have rung alarm bells:

“Do you now accept that email you received should have acted as a red flag?” he asked.

“That you should have held the commissioner to account for the actions she was taking – because she is legally accountable to you.

“Rather than hold anybody to account Tánaiste, you simply forgot the email.”