From top: Mary Lynch on Claire Byrne Live last night and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in the Dáil this afternoon
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald fielded questions from Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien further to the reports that Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s senior counsel told the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation into Sgt Maurice McCabe’s complaints – that McCabe told two officers he was acting out of malice.
The allegation was proven to be false after Sgt McCabe produced a recording of his conversation with the two Gardai – and the matter wasn’t included in the final report.
Before Ms Fitzgerald took questions from Mr O’Brien, she mentioned the victims whose experiences were looked at by the O’Higgins commission – including that of taxi driver Mary Lynch who appeared on last night’s Claire Byrne Live on RTE One.
However, Ms Fitzgerald called her by the wrong name.
Ms Lynch was viciously assaulted by Jerry McGrath who was released on bail before Ms Lynch had made a statement. McGrath went on to attempt to abduct a five-year-old girl and received bail again. He then went on to kill Sylvia Roche Kelly.
Ms Fitzgerald said:
“It is disheartening to read of the experiences of victims. We saw Mary Lyons [sic] last night on RTE and we can see the horror that was visited upon her and indeed other victims.”
Following questions from Mr O’Brien, Ms Fitzgerald said:
Frances Fitzgerald: “I believe we shouldn’t lose sight of the central fact that at the heart of the report are the victims who were let down. I think that’s a very key point for all of us to note. And I think our central focus should be on doing everything possible to make sure what is outlined in those investigations doesn’t happen again.”
“There are severe constraints on what I can say about claims that have appeared in the media, under the Commission of Investigation Act of 2004, which formed the legal basis for putting the commission in place.”
“And I have a duty to respect the law and that duty is not diminished by the fact that some media reports have appeared, you know, purporting to set out a small part of what may or may not have been said.”
“I would obviously refer to the statement from Garda Commission Noirin O’Sullivan where she comments on her response to the report and says that she accepts it in full and has put as much information into the public domain as she can do – saying that she’s legally precluded under Section 11, saying any further and I would just reiterate what she said in relation to Sgt Maurice McCabe’s contribution – that it is valued and that the service is changed for the better in response to the points and the issues about which he complained.”
Jonathan O’Brien: “Thank you, minister. Minister the statement last night of clarity actually clarifies nothing in my opinion. And I think there is an issue here which needs to be clarified. Because we have a situation where we have media reports stating that they’ve seen documentation which alleges that the Garda Commissioner instructed her legal team to insinuate malice on behalf of Sgt McCabe. Now if that is the case then somebody, in my opinion, calls into question her credibility. Because is she saying one thing in public and another thing in private to her legal team, then there’s an issue. Now, the other scenario is that this documentation may not be legitimate and if that’s the case then you have a situation where somebody close to the Commission, more than likely close to the Commission has passed on documentation knowingly that is not factual and one can only presume that somebody would do that to undermine the Garda Commissioner herself…”
Meanwhile, from RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live last night – after Ms Lynch recalled how she was attacked and how the gardaí handled her case…
Claire Byrne: “Has anyone contacted you – this Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan? The previous Garda Commissioner Callinan?”
Mary Lynch: “No.”
Byrne: “This minister for justice, Frances Fitzgerald?”
Lynch: “No. Nobody.”
Byrne: “Minister Shatter before her?”
Lynch: “No, and I’d love to talk to some of them. I would love to talk to both of them actually. I’d like to know why nobody has been made accountable for what happened. Nobody like. Everybody walks away with their hands clean.”
Watch Claire Byrne Live back in full here