Fennelly findings to dominate Cabinet return

The Government will meet today for the first time since the summer recess

Fennelly findings to dominate Cabinet return

Meetings are being held at Government Buildings in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Cabinet meets today for the first time since the summer recess - with the focus likely to be the finding by the Fennelly Commision that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigned of his own accord.

The Commission's report said Enda Kenny did not force Mr Callinan to quit, but that his decision to do so was a direct result of the Taoiseach having sent a top civil servant to his home.

Sinn Féin says the Taoiseach and Attorney General should resign and that the Dáil should be recalled early next week to discuss issues raised in the report.

Meanwhile, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has called on the Justice Minister to implement her promised "sea change" in policing, as recommended in the Fennelly report.

Executive director Mark Kelly says root and branch reform of policing should include the appointment of a permanent Secretary General at the Department of Justice.

The interim report from the Fennelly Commission says while the visit of the Secretary-General of the Department of Justice sparked the resignation, Mr Callinan could have decided otherwise.

Fianna Fáil says it will not rule out a motion of no confidence in Mr Kenny once it has fully read the report.

The 300 page document that examined the departure of Martin Callinan in March last year was published yesterday evening, after being cleared by the Attorney-General.

Mr Callinan announced his resignation on the morning of Tuesday March 25th - hours after a visit from the then Secretary-General of the Department of Justice, Brian Purcell.

It followed a meeting of the Taoiseach, Attorney-General and officials on the Monday night, to discuss the revelations about to be made public of secret taping of phonecalls in garda stations.

The report says nobody at that meeting was aware of a letter sent by Martin Callinan on March 10th to the Department of Justice alerting of this recording scandal, and is critical that the letter lay in the department for two weeks and was not brought to the attention of the minister.

Mr Kenny says had the letter been known about a visit to Mr Callinan before, the Cabinet meeting would not have been necessary - Mr Callinan did tell the investigation the visit was the immediate catalyst for his retirement.

However Mr Justice Nial Fennelly does accept that Mr Callinan could have decided otherwise on retirement, and accepts that Mr Kenny had no intention of putting pressure on the former commissioner to retire.

In a statement, the Taoiseach said, "I have consistently rejected claims by some in opposition that I either sacked or sought to sack the former Commissioner. I welcome the report’s clear and unambiguous finding that the question of removing the former Commissioner from his position was not even discussed".

"The report confirms that the former Commissioner decided to retire, and that he could have decided otherwise. Furthermore, it finds that I had no intention of putting pressure on the former Commissioner to retire," he added.

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter welcomed the publication of the report.

He said, "public servants must fulfil their obligation to fully brief their responsible minister on important information received by them and promptly furnish to him or her significant documentation or correspondence received on serious or urgent issues".