Taoiseach insists Tánaiste had no prior knowledge of Garda strategy to discredit Maurice McCabe

Frances Fitzgerald is accused of knowing about plans to discredit him since 2015

Taoiseach insists Tánaiste had no prior knowledge of Garda strategy to discredit Maurice McCabe

Maurice McCabe at Disclosures Tribunal. Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated: 15.15

The Taoiseach has repeated assertions that the Tánaiste did not have prior knowledge of a Garda strategy to discredit Maurice McCabe.

Leo Varadkar told the Dáil last week that Frances Fitzgerald only became aware in May 2016 that the Garda legal team had been instructed to call into question the motives of the whistleblower.

This afternoon, the Taoiseach admitted that the Tánaiste had received an email about a dispute between the Garda legal team and Sergeant McCabe in May 2015.

However, Mr Varadkar said Minister Fitzgerald was told she had no role to play in that dispute.

He explained that the Tánaiste and the Justice Department had "no hand, act or part" in any legal strategy, and "knew nothing about [it] prior to the fact, and only found out about after the fact".

It came as the Taoiseach was urged to correct the Dáil record in relation to Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

The Tánaiste is accused of knowing about plans by the gardaí to discredit him since 2015.

Social Democrats TD Roisín Shortall says it is time for the Taoiseach to clarify the situation.

"We're calling now on the Taoiseach to clarify the situation, to correct the record of the Dáil - because quite clearly what he told us last week was misleading.

"And tell us exactly now when Frances Fitzgerald became aware of the legal strategy, and what action - if any - did she take on foot of that".

"If anyone in the department or the Cabinet was aware that a legal strategy was in place which directly sought to damage the reputation of a whistleblower, then that is clearly an issue of the gravest nature and both the Taoiseach and Tanáiste have a duty to set the record straight urgently."

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Labour TD Alan Kelly said there are serious questions to answer.

"How could he have been told by the Tánaiste that she knew about it some capacity a year later than now, that's what they're saying.

"Is that credible? And how did they story change in just a week?

"And what else is there to come out in the coming days and weeks?"

"We need the Taoiseach to come in today, think very long and hard about what he's going to say, check all his facts, correct the record and we have to have a serious look at the credibility of this Government, the position of the Tánaiste, the position of the Minister for Justice.

"Really, I believe that it's on a life support because of this issue.

"We don't know what else is to come out yet".