Justine McCarthy, in yesterday’s Sunday Times, wrote:
“It doesn’t matter a damn to the majority of people in this country whether polling day is in November or February. Calendar watching is a banal distraction when the chill of déjà vu runs down your spine as you watch your country hurtle back down the road to perdition. Speculation about the election date is Paddy Power-style journalism.”
“On Tuesday of next week, this government will deliver the fifth and final budget of its team. It will be the surest test of Fine Gael’s and Labour’s commitment to fairness. The omens are not good.”
P*** off BBC. How about doing something on your own prime minister getting his bits stuck between the mouth of a dead pig? Or Osborne and his (Redacted] with the hose pipe and [redacted] all night with [Redacted] on crystal meth…
From top: Labour TD Michael McNamara and Fianna Fáil TD Eamon Ó Cúiv on Tonight With Vincent Browne last night
This afternoon a Fianna Fáil motion of no confidence in Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be discussed in the Dáil before a vote takes place tomorrow.
It follows the publication of the Fennelly Report which looked at the stepping down of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Last night, on Tonight With Vincent Browne, Mr Kenny raised the matter and asked Labour TD Michael McNamara – who just recently rejoined the parliamentary Labour Party – what he thought of it.
Mr McNamara said:
“First of all, I haven’t had the opportunity to read the report because of its timing and I’ve been doing other things for the past two weeks frankly…On the basis of what you’ve [Vincent Browne] have told me, I mean, equally, I’m reminded of how fond you are of Enda Kenny. I mean I’d like to read the report before I comment. I came here tonight to discuss rural issues.”
In addition, Mr Browne asked Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív about the report. He also hasn’t read it, saying:
“I didn’t read the report but I’ve listened carefully to reports and discussions on the report.”
“The reason for the motion is that Fianna Fáil want to get ahead of their erstwhile colleagues, Sinn Féin so if the Opposition want to play games then that’s fine, the Government will respond. But our serious intent here is securing the recovery for all our people. We know now the economy is rising in confidence and the opportunity presents itself for Government to make further decisions to help that.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the Dáil gates of government buildings this morning after he was asked about the motion of no confidence.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny at IBEC’s President’s Dinner in the RDS last night
We’re IBEC baby.
There can be no doubt that we’re in a new phase in Ireland. Even in the room tonight there’s a deeper optimism. Across business people are starting to breathe again the belief is coming back…
For all of you, for Ireland the future was uncertain. But as a nation we did what we’re good at. We faced up to the challenges head on. Painful as it was, we knew what we had to do to bring Ireland back from the brink. This Government, together with the people, implemented a recovery plan to bring us to where we are today.
Together, we restored our international reputation. Together, we supported the changes to help create 125,000 extra jobs since 2012. Together, we made Ireland Europe’s fastest growing economy. Today, we are witnessing the fruits of that recovery. The long-term goal of reducing the deficit to under 3% of GDP will be achieved this year. Given the very strong increases in growth it’s likely we’ll see our debt-to-GDP ratio fall below 100 per cent by the end of this year. Our recovering economy is fuelling a surge in tax revenue. In fact, after the first eight months of 2015, tax revenues are almost 10% higher on the same period last year.
This is an important time in our recovery. Some people will look at these figures and shudder thinking ‘Oh god, here we go back to the political burlesque of ‘Showtime’. The bravado of “If I have it, I’ll spend it.”
Except they can relax that’s not going to happen. With this government we are never going back to boom and bust. We are never going back to auction politics that actually sold off nothing except public trust and faith in politicians.
…It is clear to everyone that there are many paths to choose from in the coming years. Despite what some might lead you to believe, stability, economic growth, and job creation don’t just happen by chance. Choices have consequences. The upcoming General Election will ask the people of Ireland which choice they want to make, the path they will choose. Our approach will be crystal clear. We will prioritise measures that help create more jobs and make work pay.
Given the ordeal the Irish people have endured during the downturn, they deserve to know what exactly the disparate groupings hoping for Government are proposing for the next 5 years. It’s not good enough to tell people what you’re against. You need to tell people what you’re for and how you intend to get there. I am confident that when the people examine the options before them that they will choose stability, progress and securing the recovery over ones that have ruined the economy or those that would ruin it.
But in the next Government we need to be more radical and do a lot more to provide large sections of Irish society the opportunity to access the world of work. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past where the long term unemployed miss out on the chance to support themselves and their families in a recovering economy.
The past few years have been difficult for our country. The emerging recovery has been hard won – thanks to you. The opportunity is there now to secure it.
The Government that I lead has a plan to do just that. There will be no going back to boom and bust – bad business as usual. We must go on and improve and finish what we started. To create jobs for our people, to create a strong economy that can support our vital public services, and to come out of this dark period even stronger than ever.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking last night at IBEC’s President’s Dinner in the RDS, Dublin.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and United Left Alliance TD Joan Collins with activists Donal Toolan (left) and Michelle Gaynor among a number of campaigners engaged in a multi-day protest outside government buildings against cuts to disability services in recent budgets.
Enda Kenny at Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare, Co Limerick last night
It may be the last time he does one of these.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny appeared in odd form on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland earlier live from the Fine Gael parliamentary party gathering in Adare, Co Limerick.
Host Cathal Mac Coille questioned Mr Kenny on the north, the economy, Irish Water and the Fennelly Report.
Includes: strange ‘Child Care, Child Care’ malfunction.
Cathal MacCoille: “Welcome back to Fine Gael’s pre-election gathering in Adare in County Limerick where I’ve just been joined by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Good morning!”
Enda Kenny: “Morning, Cathal.”
MacCoille: “If these institutions were to collapse, how serious would that be in your view?”
Kenny: “Well if they were to collapse, obviously it could be a very long time before you get back to a situation where you would have what you might call normal running of an executive and assembly. Obviously in an election situation the people make their decision and they elect who they think best or why they favour in terms of the parties that they represent and so on. But I think this can be avoided, but it needs a realistic appraisal by people who have had very harsh things to say about each other where there are clear differences of opinion, strong differences of opinion but you have to look at the bigger picture and the bigger picture are the people of Northern Ireland and their futures.”
MacCoille: “Is this going to end up almost inevitably as previous crises have with the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister having to get involved in Belfast or London or somewhere?”
Kenny: “Well I spoke to Prime Minister Cameron when we agreed to invite the parties back to talks to settle their differences arising originally from the welfare reform situation which was accepted by Sinn Fein and then rejected by them and then the other difficulties insofar as a comment made by the PSNI chief constable the PSNI was concerned, insofar, insofar as I’m concerned as Taoiseach and I’m sure so far, I’m sure so far as the British Prime Minister is concerned, we will continue to work with the parties every way we can to see that they have the opportunity to get this show back on the road. I must make it clear beyond the limits of where they are that there’s going to be no more money produced by the British government.”
MacCoille: “But might the two of you get involved directly?”
Kenny: “To be honest with you, Cathal, if this came down to a situation where the continuation of the executive and assembly and normal functioning of government under devolution given and accepted and voted for by the people, then of course I would go to every limit to see that that would happen.”
MacCoille: “Just one final question – the IRA which is at the heart of the row, in your view does the IRA exist in some shape or form, and, if so, what?”
Kenny: “Well the evidence available and pronounced by the Minister for Justice in the jurisdiction down here, the 26 counties, is that it doesn’t. Clearly there are Chinese walls if you’d like to use that phrase, in terms of Northern Ireland. The cell operation, the Army Council, I had a row with Martin McGuinness many years ago about this and I believe him when he says it was stood down, it doesn’t mean these persons doesn’t meet, the question here is and I can’t comment on the PSNI and the information or evidence that they have or might not have in respect of the McGuigan murder or other murders, but you can’t have a situation of fear along the border where people are afraid to open their mouths about anything.”
MacCoille: “But are you saying in this state you accept that the IRA doesn’t exist in any form, for example the shadow form Michael McDowell suggested?”
Kenny: “I think that Michael McDowell when he was in government and the, the situation was, was agreed at that time was that there wasn’t a requirement then to abolish it completely in case it was replaced with something else, I would think that the cell formation of the so-called IRA is no longer functioning in that manner, it doesn’t mean that the persons who are members of cells don’t meet in terms of criminal activities particularly in Northern Ireland.”
MacCoille: “The general approach to the election which you signaled again in your speech to the party last night, presenting the voters with a choice between stability in the continuation of this government or Fine Gael in government and chaos, but beyond that what’s your general pitch to the voters for choosing you again?”
Kenny: “Well I’d say the first thing is that we’ve come on a particularly difficult journey here over the past 4 and a half years and I’d be the first to say from moving round the country to, to every county, I know, Cathal, that there are many people who face real challenges every day, and I understand that and they come to my office and they write to me and they talk to me and there’s a story behind every door. So, in order to deal with all those many challenges you have to have an engine that’s capable of delivering proper services for them, and that’s why, when we set out in the beginning, the mandate given to us by the people was to fix the public finances and put the country back to work so, essentially, the more people you have working the less taxes they pay and the better social services you have…”
MacCoille: “But what about the next mandate? Is it essentially saying – us or chaos?”
Kenny: “It’s government or chaos. I listened to the leader of the Sinn Fein party this morning, talking about, about the opportunity that he’s presenting. He did say, and he’s confirmed that they want to standardise tax relief, so for instance on pensions, a garda married to a teacher, both on €40,000, would be paying nearly €2000 in extra taxes under that kind of regime, now what this government what Fine Gael and Labour have set out, was to reduce the tax burden, and that’s paying dividends with growth figures of 7% yesterday, very strong and quite extraordinary in a European context but as Michael Noonan pointed out, the Government is going to be very careful, going to be very prudent, very responsible with this, people say to me, I tell you now, you’re a politician I don’t want anybody to blow the recovery that I see happening before my eyes.”
MacCoille: “Yes, but all of the TDs and senators you speak to here raised this in one shape or other, I’m sure you’ve heard from them, surely after growth figures as good as yesterday, exchequer returns as good, there has to be room surely for a little more in tax cuts or USC?”
Kenny: “Extra monies, whatever they are, can be put into a buffer situation reduce your debt and so on. We’ve already set out in the Spring statement the parameters of the forthcoming budget.”
MacCoille: “€1.5 billion as Michael Noonan set out. Is that it? No more?”
Kenny: “Between 1.2 and 1.5 and we’re staying within that. That means, Cathal, that we want to continue to make the recovery for everybody. It is fragile, we don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of China, we don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of the Middle East, but what we do want, is to create more jobs reduce that burden that’s why for instance Richard Bruton has gone round with the action plan for jobs in different regions…”
MacCoille: “Right. What about the pressure you’re under, for very good reason, to assist people under pressure with their mortgages, old age pensioners, rural areas, Fianna Fail have raised this recently, saying you need to do something where rural areas where the recovery hasn’t happened yet or people don’t see it?”
Kenny: “These are all challenges. But we’ve set out a number of priorities. To reduce the tax burden, and we’ve mentioned USC in this regard, to deal with the anomaly in respect of self-employed people…”
MacCoille: “Yes but there are possibilities here. I’ve mentioned the rural areas, you’re a rural TD, you know other places where, recovery, people don’t see it. Do you not see the need to do something? They talk about tax breaks, and on the programme, Michelle Mulherin did here as well, your fellow constituency TD…”
Kenny: “Well, you see, I obviously come from a very rural county, the concept of the impact of the VAT reductions, abolition of travel tax on the hospitality sector has been very strong, the CAP, the recent contributions from the Euro Commission in terms of the drop in milk prices and the difficulties with farmers at the moment, the competition now in terms of supply of broadband so people can do the business from home and have access to proper speeds, the infrastructure that will come from a capital programme to…”
MacCoille: “Yes, but do you see the need to respond to any more of these calls? For example from rural areas?”
MacCoille: “And will you?”
Kenny: “And part of the government’s programme has been Construction 20/20…”
MacCoille: “But what about now, what about the last budget before the election?”
Kenny: “Child care, child care. Well I see the budget actually as the first in the next phase of dealing with many of these challenges child care costs, self employed, reduction of the overall tax burden and the opportunity to create more jobs because if you look at all the other parties and the different groupings that are there all of them are talking about increases in taxes we’re looking the other way at reducing the tax burden with consequential growth in jobs.”
MacCoille: “We obviously don’t want to go into specifics. Just a number of other issues. Your big headache, obviously, is Irish Water. Is there any change possible on the cards either before the election or after it or is Irish Water and the payments plan and the water conservation is that the way it’s going to be, set in stone?”
Kenny: “If you were to do it again you’d probably do some things differently.”
MacCoille: “But would you do anything differently now?”
Kenny: “The decision is right to have a single entity manage the water the waste water system for the country what we’re at here is asking people to make a fair and affordable contribution. For example I was in France last week signing some contracts with trade people, businesses, I met a young man from Ireland who has an apartment in Dublin and an apartment in Lyon. He pays his single charge in Dublin and he pays over 1000 Euros for water in France.”
MacCoille: “What’s the point of the water conservation grant so called? Eurostat doesn’t accept it for what it is, it’s cumbersome, it needs a bureaucracy to run it and it annoys people who when they’ve paid their water charges they’ll get it and others who don’t will also get it, what’s the point of continuing?”
Kenny: “Conservation is a…”
MacCoille: “Its not for conservation, it’s just €100 into your hand.”
Kenny: “But people are still able to beat the cap that’s there.”
MacCoille: “But what’s the point of a €100 Euro payment into your hand. It convinces nobody.”
Kenny: “There are people who have been paying for water for 50 years all over the country with private water schemes and private pumps.”
MacCoille: “So why give €100 to someone who isn’t paying their water bill?”
Kenny: “Everything comes at a cost.”
MacCoille: “But these people aren’t paying anything they say they won’t pay.”
Kenny: “You asked me if this was the right thing to do. The bills will accumulate if they don’t pay we’ve made that perfectly clear.”
MacCoille:“So why give them €100 euro in the meantime?”
Kenny: “In this country we’ve said we won’t cut off the water supply. The decision is the right one, the prices are fixed out to 2019, the other end of not just water but waste water, you can’t continue having all these sewerage schemes that are completely inadequate, rivers and lakes…”
MacCoille: “So you’re saying no change?”
Kenny: “I’m saying that obviously Irish Water/Eirvia have set out their business programme and you’ll see opportunities there for lessening the cost of the business entity that is Irish Water, but the decision is the right one, to manage this properly Sinn Féin for instance, in their hypocrisy now support affordable charges in Europe but not here…”
MacCoille: “But they contest that, but anyway, the Fennelly Report, Taoiseach. You describe yourself as Martin Callinan’s strongest defender, he felt you put him in a position where he had to retire, looking back do you feel, do you accept, that you, the way you handled it was a mistake, do you regret any way you handled it?”
Kenny: “The Fennelly Commission Report is part of a much larger report that Mr Justice Fennelly is looking into, which are the tapings…”
MacCoille: “We don’t have much time, excuse me, you were this man’s strongest defender, he felt, the judge felt, that he was put in a position where he had to retire, do you regret any aspect of the way you handled it?”
Kenny: “The conclusions of the Fennelly Report are very clear.”
MacCoille: “I’m not asking about the conclusions, do you regret, if you were his strongest defender, your words, you lost him, so do you regret any way you handled it?”
Kenny: “I’m telling you, Cathal, I was accused of sacking the Garda Commissioner.”
MacCoille: “I’m not asking you about that.”
Kenny: “Well I’m telling you. And the reason…”
MacCoille: “You said you were his strongest defender. You lost him. He felt you were getting him to retire.”
Kenny: “The Commission Report points out quite clearly that Commissioner Callinan made the decision himself under direct questioning, it was his decision to retire, he had other options, he decided not to use them…”
MacCoille: “And did you make any mistakes?”
Kenny: “He could have decided not to retire, he could have said to the Secretary General ‘Did you not tell the Minister for Justice that I wrote to him?’ he could have said, I want to go and talk to the Minister for Justice…”
MacCoille: “Did you make any mistake at all in the way you handled it?”
Kenny: “The Commission Report is very clear in its conclusions, it’s written by Justice Fennelly, a Supreme Court judge and that’s what people should read and I’m very clear in the way I handled it, was the correct thing to do.”
MacCoille: “Obviously I’m not going to get an answer to the question. Thank you. In terms of your own personal intentions, you said you would retire some time in the next term
Kenny: “No, I didn’t say that. People put this on any kind of comment you make. I want to win this election I except Fine Gael and Labour to return to Government, I think 10 days out from the election, in 2016, when people focus on issues…”
MacCoille: “Will this be your last general election as leader?”
Kenny: “I intend to win the election, to lead the next government and to serve a full term.”
MacCoille: “And then?”
Kenny: “I intend to serve a full term the next time.”
MacCoille: “Will you run in two elections or one?”
Kenny: “God knows what the future holds, but for me, my intention is to fight the election, to win the election, get Fine Gael and Labour back into government, continue the
recovery, provide stability and serve a full term.”
MacCoille: “An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, thank you very much for talking to us.”
Further to the Fennelly Report into the firing resignation of garda commissioner Martin Callinan.
…If you were Enda you’d have given yourself a big wink in the bathroom mirror. You were being sucked in to a political whirlpool and now you’re standing on the shore, home and dry.
You needed two bodies, [former Garda commissioner Martin] Callinan’s and that of his close ally [former Minister for Justice] Alan Shatter. The manoeuvre of blaming Callinan for the thing he didn’t do (the tapes) allows you to make it look like you’re making him accountable for the things he did (rage at the whistleblowers).
Callinan’s resignation makes Shatter’s inevitable. But you didn’t lay a finger on either of them. The handsome chap in the mirror deserves a “Fair play to you, boy!”
But here’s the thing: this kind of stroke, this ingenious opportunism, is possible only in a system that is deeply, thoroughly and deliberately screwed-up. If the people whom we trust to run the country for us were doing basic things properly, it couldn’t happen….
From top: Justice Niall Fennelly; Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, Brian Purcell and Alan Shatter; Attorney general Maire Whelan and Enda Kenny
The 300-page Fennelly Commission Interim Report.
Laden with contradictory evidence.
And a troubling lack of notes or meeting records.
The report investigated the stepping down of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan in March 2014, following claims that Taoiseach Enda Kenny sacked him – contrary to law.
It was published yesterday evening at around 5.30pm just before Taoiseach Enda Kenny appeared on RTÉ Six One and told host Brian Dobson: ‘The charge made doesn’t stand up’
Readers will recall the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier on December 23, 1996 in west Cork and the two subsequent arrests of Ian Bailey in relation to her murder investigation.
Mr Bailey claimed the arrests and other Garda actions in relation to him were unlawful and in 2007, Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas instituted High Court proceedings against the State. This action was unsuccessful and a verdict was returned on March 30th 2015.
During the discovery of documents in this case against the State, in October 2013, it emerged that incoming and outgoing telephone calls at Bandon Garda Station, pertaining to Bailey, were recorded in 1997. Three conversations in particular – two between members of An Garda Siochana, and one between a Garda and a civilian, Ms Marie Farrell – were deemed to contain material which hinder the State’s defence in the Bailey case.
It later emerged that Bandon Garda Station wasn’t the only station recording calls.
Readers may recall how, on March 10, 2014 former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan wrote to the Department of Justice General Secretary Brian Purcell informing him of the practice of Garda station calls being recorded.
The letter requested Purcell to inform the then Justice Minister Alan Shatter of the recordings. In his letter, Callinan stated the Attorney General’s office was informed of the matter four months previous and that transcripts were forwarded to the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Justice.
The Garda Commissioner has a statutory duty under Section 41 of the Garda Siochana Act 2005 to keep the Minister and the Secretary General of the Department of Justice fully informed of various matters, including: “significant developments that might reasonably be expected to affect adversely public confidence in the Garda Siochana.”
However, Mr Shatter claims he was unaware of the letter’s existence until a copy was handed to him during a Cabinet meeting on March 25, 2014, 15 days after it had been delivered by hand to Purcell’s office on March 10.
Readers may also recall how Shatter was not informed of the stations’ recordings until March 24, 2014 – at a meeting in Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office involving Mr Shatter, Mr Kenny, Mr Purcell, Attorney General Máire Whelan and Secretary General to the Department of the Taoiseach Martin Fraser.
Kenny sent Purcell to the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s home at 11pm that night.
The following day, on March 25, 2014, Callinan stepped down from his role after being in An Garda Síochána for 41 years – prompting Opposition politicians claiming that Kenny effectively sacked Callinan.
Only the Government has the power to remove a Garda Commissioner from office.
In April 2014, the Government appointed Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Nial Fennelly to lead a commission of investigation into the Garda tapes and tasked it with examining the circumstances of Callinan’s resignation.
The interim report from the Fennelly Commission was published dealing with two main items:
1) The furnishing of the letter dated March 10, 2014, to Shatter, and
2) The sequence of events that led to the stepping down of Callinan on March 25, 2014.
Evidence was received by the Fennelly Commission, under oath, from 26 witnesses. The initial draft report was delivered to 60 people who were identified or identifiable in the report, inviting them to make submissions. Subsequently, 20 submissions were made and ‘a number’ of amendments followed.
The Commission looked at the day-to-day communication between Callinan and Purcell from October 2013 and March 2014 and the report stated, ‘This was almost exclusively made up of texts and telephone calls.’
Fennelly found, between October 2013 and March 2014, Callinan sent between 30 and 40 texts per month from his phone to Purcell.
It also stated the Assistant Secretary in charge of Crime and Security in the Department of Justice, Ken O’Leary, was ‘almost always sent the texts as well‘.
The texts referred to breaking crime stories, such as drug seizures, robberies, assaults, shootings, knife attacks, murders, road traffic accidents and arrests, while some related to individual guards who appeared before the courts.
According to Callinan, he was made aware of issues relating to phone recordings in the Ian Bailey case ‘within a week or so of October 18, 2013‘ but ‘remained unaware of the existence of a general recording issue until a meeting with the Head of Legal Affairs of An Garda Siochana, Mr Ruane on 8th November 2013.’
On November 11, 2013, a meeting was held in the Attorney General’s office.
At the meeting were Callinan, Deputy Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, Ruane and Ruth Fitz Gerald, the Advisory Counsel in the Office of the Attorney General.
The report states that, during this meeting, Fitz Gerald was first briefed by Callinan about the recordings issue. She told Fennelly she advised Callinan to tell Shatter about the issue.
On November 19, 2013, Fitz Gerald briefed the Director General of the Attorney General’s Office, Liam O’Daly, about the recordings issue and, according to Fennelly, he gave a direction to the effect that the Justice Department be informed.
Ruane told Fennelly that at another meeting, on November 22, 2013, which involved O’Sullivan and pertained to the Bailey case against the State, Callinan stated, towards the end of the meeting, that he had no difficulty informing the Department of Justice.
In a handwritten note of the meeting, Ruane wrote:
“Comm has no difficulty with that & will inform Sec General.”
The Attorney General Maire Whelan told Fennelly:
‘My impression was … that the Garda Siochana were very proprietorial of their relationship with the Department of Justice and. .. my impression certainly would be that it would be not very well received if there was any intervention directly by my office.’
This was disputed by Callinan, who told Fennelly:
‘He had always assumed that the Attorney General’s Office would copy the Department of Justice with any advice given to An Garda Siochana‘.
Fennelly noted discrepancies between Callinan and Purcell’s version of events regarding who knew what and when.
“Mr Callinan says that he did, in fact, report the matter around that time, in one or more conversations with the Secretary General of the Department, Mr. Brian Purcell. His evidence in that regard is disputed by Mr Purcell, who has no recollection of being briefed on the telephone recordings issue at any time prior to 10th March 2014. Mr Purcell goes further and says that he is certain that no such conversations took place.”
“Mr Callinan has not given any exact date or dates on which he says he spoke with Mr Purcell regarding the general recording issue. The former Commissioner has unavoidably laboured under the very substantial handicap of having no access to documents to assist him in his recollection. Against that, it is fair to note that he did not retain his personal documents.”
In fact, a lack of documents pertaining to Callinan’s evidence was highlighted in detail by Fennelly.
“It has been striking how little documentary evidence is available. Important decisions were not formally recorded and were communicated orally. Such work practices make it very difficult to identify what decisions were made, by whom and for what reasons.”
“The Commission requested from An Garda Siochana all relevant documents, correspondence and reports relating to the matters the subject matter of this report and, in particular, sought diaries and personal notebooks belonging to the former Garda Commissioner, Mr Martin Callinan. Mr Callinan informed the Commission that he had cleared out all personal papers after he announced his retirement on March 25th 2014 and that he did not have any written notes to support his evidence, particularly in relation to informing Mr Brian Purcell, Secretary General of the Department of Justice about the issue of the telephone recordings.”
“Furthermore, assistant commissioner Jack Nolan – the liaison person appointed to assist Fennelly’s investigations – said, ‘I am advised that the then Commissioner, at some point in the late afternoon [March 25th 2014] went to a filing unit in the Conference Room where he kept personal papers. He asked Superintendent Walsh to get some black refuse sacks as he wished to sort through his files. Later still he asked Superintendent Walsh to dispose of several bags of personal papers. There were possibly 8 – 10 bags, filled to a few inches if (sic) paper in each bag and knotted on the top. Superintendent Walsh advises that he did not see nor was he aware of what was contained in the bags other than then Commissioner Callinan informing him that they were personal papers gathered over the years. Assistant Commissioner Nolan went on to say that the black sacks were brought from the Conference Room to the shredding bins, which remained locked until the papers were shredded on April 4th 2014.”
Fennelly went on to request access to Callinan’s mobile phone.
However, it found:
“Given the evidence that had been received, that almost all communication with the Department of Justice was through texts, the information contained on the mobile phone of Mr Callinan was extremely relevant. The Commission asked Mr Callinan about his mobile phone . He confirmed that the phone he used as Commissioner was an official phone. He said he did not know where it was…the Commission made enquiries of An Garda Siochana regarding the former Commissioner’s mobile phone. Assistant Commissioner Nolan said that the phone had been returned to An Garda Siochana by Mr Callinan, that the SIM card had been removed and the phone then returned to Mr Callinan. He went on to state that he believed that the SIM card was subsequently destroyed.”
“Following this information, the Commission again wrote to Mr Callinan and asked him to search for the phone. He found it and furnished it to the Commission but it had no SIM card in it and no information stored on it. The Commission wrote to Assistant Commissioner Nolan requesting details of how the SIM card had come to be destroyed and who had authorised this, as well as details of the policy of An Garda Siochana in relation to mobile phones once members have left office. Assistant Commissioner Nolan was originally of the view that the SIM card had been destroyed in Garda Headquarters but subsequently stated that the SIM card had not been returned by the former Commissioner and it had been cancelled remotely on May 30, 2014, as it had not been used since April 16, 2014.”
Following on from this, Fennelly issued a discovery order to the service providers for Callinan’s phone.
But it found:
“As a result of this order, a certain amount of meta-data was made available to the Commission but the contents of text messages were not retrievable.”
Callinan was able to furnish Fennelly with his diary for 2014 but not for 2013.
It was noted:
“Mr Callinan was able to produce to the Commission his personal diary for 2014, but could not locate his diary for 2013 and searches carried out by An Garda Siochana have also failed to produce it. If the former Commissioner, on retirement, was in a position to take his diary for 2014 with him, one would have thought that he would also have the diary that related to 2013. However, Mr Callinan has been unable to find it, in spite of several requests from the Commission. If, on the contrary, the former Commissioner’s 2013 diary remained at Garda Headquarters, it might have been expected that it would be carefully preserved in circumstances where the Government announced the establishment of a Commission of Investigation on the very day of the Commissioner’s retirement. It must be presumed that the diary for 2013 was included in the bags of “personal papers” that were shredded following Mr Callinan’s departure.”
As for the diary of 2014, Fennelly noted two entries of interest:
• On 7th January 2014 , Mr Callinan wrote: “Meeting Sec. Gen here on Thursday [January 9] c 10am – update him on Murders, phone recordings , Bailey etc.”
• On 10th March 2014 , Mr Callinan wrote: “Letter to Sec Gen by hand – Update on phone recordings @ Stations.”
Curiously, Fennelly noted that Callinan didn’t bring these entries to the attention of Fennelly and that he ‘appeared unaware of their existence until the Commission asked him to comment on them.’
In regards to the meeting on Thursday, January 9, Fennelly noted that neither Callinan nor Purcell could recall the meeting.
Fennelly also issued a discovery order to Callinan’s mobile phone service provider. However…
“[The discovery order] allowed the Commission to obtain and examine records of telephone calls made between the Commissioner and Mr Purcell, as well as calls between their respective offices; but, in circumstances where Mr Callinan has not been able to specify with certainty the dates on which he believes he spoke with Mr Purcell about the recording issue, these records are of limited assistance.”
The Department of Justice provided Fennelly with copies of text messages sent between Callinan and Purcell between October 2013 and March 2014 from Purcell’s phone and they yielded no mention of the Garda tapes.
However, after obtaining all available records of phone calls between October 1, 2013 and March 25, 2014 – between Callinan and Purcell – a call lasting 7 minutes and 25 seconds long was recorded as having taken place on November 13, 2013, from the Justice Department to the Commissioner’s office. Callinan told Fennelly he believed it was during this call that he told Purcell about the Garda tapes issue. The record of this call was in records provided by the Department of Justice but not in those of An Garda Síochána.
Another call on November 26, 2013 – from Purcell’s office to Callinan’s office, lasting 17 minutes and 28 seconds – was recorded. Callinan told Fennelly he believed this was the second time he spoke to Purcell about the recording issue. No note or other written record of the content of these telephone conversations has been found.
In conclusion on the question of whether Callinan told Purcell prior to March 10, 2014, largely based on the two diary entries that Callinan didn’t make Fennelly aware of and the 17 minute and 28 second phone call of November 26, 2013, Fennelly found:
‘The Commission accepts that some verbal report of a general kind was made, but it was not of such significance as to make any real impact on Mr Purcell. It is significant that Mr Callinan agrees that he did not ask Mr Purcell to inform the Minister.’
‘Such a verbal report did not comply with the Commissioner ‘s obligation to keep the Secretary General and the Minister “fully informed” as required by s. 41 of the Garda Siochana Act 2005.’
In its investigation of why Shatter did not receive Callinan’s letter of March 10 until March 25, Fennelly noted that Shatter was just after returning home from Mexico on the morning of Friday, March 21, 2014.
At lunchtime on that day, the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Justice Michael Flahive attended a meeting with Shatter for 90 minutes. During the meeting, the matter of the Garda tapes nor the letter of March 10 ever arose.
‘The Assistant Secretary of the Department of Justice, Michael Flahive, who was in charge of this issue in the absence of the Secretary General, Mr Purcell, continued to believe that the Minister had, in fact, been informed of the letter… Mr Shatter, in his evidence to the Commission, made pointed comment on Mr Flahive’ s failure to mention the letter of 10th March 2014 at a meeting which largely concerned An Garda Siochana. Mr Flahive, in his evidence, reiterated that he was working under the assumption that the Minister was aware of it, because he thought that Mr Purcell would have informed him.’
Later that day, Flahive received a voicemail from Mr Liam O’Daly, Director General of the Office of the Attorney General, asking him to ring him.
“Mr O’Daly asked Mr Flahive whether the Minister for Justice had been fully briefed, both in relation to the Bailey situation and the more general recording issue. According to Mr O’Daly, Mr Flahive assured him that the Minister was fully briefed up. Mr Flahive agreed that he had conveyed to Mr O’Daly that the Minister was aware of both the Bailey and the general recording issues. Mr Flahive gave these assurances based solely on his mistaken belief, perhaps more accurately, his assumption that the Secretary General of the Department, Mr Purcell, had given the Garda Commissioner’s letter of 10th March to the Minister for Justice.”
Fennelly noted that while Flahive was of the understanding that Shatter had received the letter, the call from O’Daly prompted him to think the Attorney General had serious concerns about the matter.
“Flahive told the Commission that he had a distinct memory of sitting at his desk for maybe 30 seconds or so, thinking whether he would ring the Minister. He decided that he would. This telephone call has presented the Commission with one of its most difficult and challenging issues. Two persons of distinction have given directly contradictory versions of the facts. Since the credibility of each of these persons is in issue, the Commission has treated it with great care.”
“At first, the Minister for Justice’s private secretary could not put Mr Flahive through, as the Minister was on another call, but he soon called back and put the call through. Firstly, Mr Flahive asked the Minister if he was aware of the issue of the general system of recording calls from certain Garda Stations. The Minister said that he was not. Mr Flahive was surprised, given his belief that the Minister had received the letter of 10th March 2014. Mr Flahive said that he “straight away realised that the Minister didn’t know anything about this. ” He said that he explained the matter as succinctly as he could, but does not think he mentioned the letter itself. In fact, he did not have the letter in front of him. Mr Flahive gave the following account in his written statement to the Commission:-
“I then advised the Minister of the essence of the letter from the Garda Commissioner, namely of the discovery, in the context of the Ian Bailey case, of a general system of recording of phone calls to and from certain Garda stations, that the practice had been stopped by the Garda Commissioner in November 2013, that the Commissioner was consulting the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner on how best to deal with the recordings which had been retained, that the Attorney General was personally greatly concerned at the emergence of the practice, that the Attorney General was likely to raise this matter at Cabinet, and that Mr O’Daly intended to meet the Secretary General and me on Monday to discuss the matter. I indicated to the Minister that he would be updated on the outcome of that meeting .”
‘Mr Flahive has told the Commission that he was absolutely categoric that he “explained the entirety of the substance of the letter from the Commissioner”. As stated however, he did not have the letter with him. Nor did he tell the Minister about it.’
Shatter told Fennelly that Flahive never mentioned the letter in his phonecall – matching the evidence of Flahive in that regard.
However, Shatter also said Flahive ‘did not brief him about the existence of the tapes or the Attorney General ‘s concerns.’
In a written submission to Fennelly, Shatter said:
“I can categorically state that Michael Flahive did not raise any issue that caused alarm bells to ring with me – which a full account of the contents of the Garda Commissioner’s letter and the Attorney General ‘s level of concern as expressed by Liam O’Daly would certainly have done.”
Similar to the discrepancies between Purcell and Callinan’s evidence, Fennelly found that of Shatter and Flahive were also at odds:
“Mr Flahive reiterated in his evidence that he was one hundred per cent sure of it, that he had not the slightest doubt about it, the conversation took place exactly in the way he had described it. Mr Shatter was equally categorical that he was not briefed by Mr Flahive in the manner described by him.”
On March 26, Flahive became aware that Shatter was going to tell the Dáil that he first learned of the Garda tapes on March 24 and that he wasn’t going to tell the Dáil that Flahive called him on March 21.
After speaking with Purcell about his concerns, Fennelly noted,
“Mr Flahive prepared an aide-memoire [on March 26, 2014] which was handwritten on an A4 sheet of paper. It stated:- “Spoke to Sec Gen this morning about sentence in Minister ‘s Dail statement for today to the effect that the first he heard of the existence of a general system of recordings of phone calls to and from Garda stations was on Monday of this week (24 March) and that he did not get a copy of the Commissioner ‘s letter of 10 March until Tuesday (25 March). I reminded Sec Gen that, after speaking to Liam O’Daly, who impressed upon me the importance of the Minister being briefed on this, I had rung the Minister on Friday afternoon (21 March) at around 4.30, and advised him of the discovery of the general system, having first checked with him whether he knew about it (which he didn’t). Sec Gen said that he had this morning raised this with Minister, but the Minister said that he had no recollection of the phone call.”‘
In addition, Flahive also told Fennelly that he informed four colleagues in the Department of Justice of his call to Shatter on Friday, March 21 and that each of these people confirmed this in writing to Fennelly.
On this matter, Fennelly concluded:
“The Commission considers it likely that Mr Flahive did make some mention of the fact that the Attorney General had concerns about the recording issue. However… it seems likely that Mr Flahive did not convey any sense of urgency about the matter in his telephone conversation with the Minister… The Commission is completely satisfied that the Minister acted genuinely as having no awareness of the general recording issue until the evening of Monday , 24th of March 2014.”
In relation to the Attorney General Máire Whelan, she met with Kenny and Fraser on the evening of Sunday, March 23, to discuss the Garda tapes.
“She has told the Commission that, to paraphrase her letter of 5th May 2015, her office was not in possession of sufficient facts to be able to advise. As she said, the ”people in possession of all the information about the circumstances were An Garda Siochana “. In these circumstances, it is surprising that the Attorney took no steps to have contact made with the Garda Commissioner, in order to seek further information on the origin, extent and use of Garda telephone recording systems. After all, it was An Garda Siochana that was seeking advice from the Attorney General’s Office. It is difficult to see how the office would have any difficulty in seeking further information from the body which was effectively in the position of a client. The Attorney did ask her own staff to obtain background information on the recordings which related to the Bailey case. However, as far as the general recording issue was concerned, she gave no instructions to seek further information from An Garda Siochana. Nor did she make contact with the Minister for Justice, who was the primary conduit of information between An Garda Siochana and the Government.”
Fennelly said, in her oral evidence, Whelan told the Commission that:
“…she told the Taoiseach that An Garda Siochana, a central body in the State, had engaged in an extensive practice for decades:- “of recording telephone calls in and out of Garda Stations in complete violation of the law, with total disregard for the requirements predating the 1983 Act [the Postal and Telecommunications Act 1983] of ministerial authorisation , in the light of the Kennedy and Arnold decision and the clear articulation of rights of citizens under the Constitution. .. ” So far as she was concerned, “this was criminal activity being engaged in by An Garda Siochana “. There was no lawful basis that she could find for such behaviour. She did not know what use the material was being put to. She “had real concerns about the rights of individual accused persons, detainees and telephone calls with solicitors”. If that were seen to have occurred it would be “a most grievous matter“.”
“On 22nd May 2015, the Attorney made a written submission to the Commission, with the effect of substantially modifying her earlier evidence of what she had said at the meeting . She now says that, contrary to the evidence given by her at her first hearing by the Commission, she did not convey an unequivocal view to the Taoiseach “as to whether any individual or body had been guilty of criminal activity.”‘
“In essence, the Attorney now says that, at the meetings on 23rd and 24th March 2014 , she had not given an unequivocal view as to whether any individual or body had been guilty of criminal activity. She apologises for having given a contrary impression in her evidence to the Commission and regrets that her “at times trenchant language ” had undoubtedly left the Commission with what she calls an erroneous impression that she had used such language at the meetings and, in particular , that she had used language alluding to criminal activity at the meeting with the Taoiseach and Mr Fraser on the 23rd of March 2014.”
“The Attorney denies using the language of criminality, at least in the sense that she did not say that any particular person or body had committed an offence. It is nonetheless striking that the Attorney General, on the first occasion on which she gave evidence to the Commission, clearly said that she had conveyed to the Taoiseach that An Garda Siochana had, for decades, been involved in a criminal enterprise . That would have been extreme language, if she spoke in those terms. The Commission respects the fact that the Attorney, in a careful and considered written submission, has now modified her evidence and has expressed regret for any contrary impression created. It accepts her qualification of her evidence, as far as it goes. However, it also notes that the Attorney’s initial evidence on this point was given in response to a direct question from the Commission as to what she said to the Taoiseach regarding her concerns on 23rd March.”
Fennelly noted that it was odd that neither the Taoiseach nor Whelan contacted Shatter at this point, given that O’Daly, the Director General of the Attorney General’s Office, had, just two days before, contacted the Department of Justice to find out if Shatter was ‘fully briefed’ on the issues. It also noted that O’Daly wasn’t aware of Whelan and Kenny’s meeting on Sunday, March 23 until after Callinan had stepped down.
On March 24, at about 6pm, Purcell and Flahive met Shatter to brief him on the Garda station recordings issue.
“The briefing had not concluded when it was interrupted by a telephone call from the Taoiseach to the Minister calling him to a meeting in his (the Taoiseach’s) office. The Minister left at once. While it is not clear to what extent the issues concerning the telephone recording system had been discussed before the Minister left, it is clear that, once more, the letter of 10th March 2014 had not been mentioned by either by Mr Purcell or Mr Flahive before the meeting was interrupted.”
In his evidence to Fennelly, Shatter expressed surprise at Whelan for not informing him of the Garda tapes before she briefed the Taoiseach particularly given that they would have been in contact very often.
In response to this, Whelan told Fennelly,
“The Attorney, in response to this point, said that the Minister was, as she put it, ”part of the narrative “. She said, in her evidence:- “But there was also another reason [for not contacting the Minister], and that is, part of the issue involved the Minister himself. So, in addition to being the Minister seised with functions under the legislation regarding the Gardaí, he was also part of the narrative and there were issues, allegations touching and concerning the Minister himself personally …. So, he was very much directly involved but as a participator rather than as the line Minister” .”
In relation to this, Fennelly noted:
“The Attorney’s failure to contact Mr Shatter is all the more puzzling, in circumstances where she had been informed that the Minister for Justice was “fully briefed” on the matter. Given that her instructions from the Taoiseach on Sunday night had been to “check and double check the facts” , it is somewhat perplexing that she did not contact the one person who, as she believed, was in a position to enlighten her. In addition, Mr Shatter, as Minister for Justice, was uniquely placed to contact the Garda Commissioner for explanations and clarifications. The Commission accepts that the Attorney was not under any duty to contact the Minister in these circumstances, but considers that it would have been both reasonable and prudent for her to have done so.”
As for Kenny, he told Fennelly he didn’t believe he was required to contact Shatter. He told the Commission,
“I wasn’t under any requirement at all to have the Minister attend at any meeting here. The Attorney generally apprised me of certain facts. I asked her, as was my responsibility, to have those facts checked and double -checked andfrom my point of view to get a written analysis of those facts so that I would be clear about what I was dealing with. So there wasn’t any requirement to have anybody else there while I asked the Attorney General to check what she was telling me and have it verified “.
The sending of Brian Purcell to the home of Martin Callinan was decided during a meeting on the evening of Monday, March 24. At the meeting were Kenny, Whelan and Fraser and it started at 6pm.
Kenny called Shatter to join the meeting at 6.20pm. Purcell joined at around 9pm at the request of Fraser. The meeting ended at 10pm, after which Purcell went to Callinan’s home.
So what happened at the four-hour meeting?
“The Commission faces… a dual dilemma. Firstly, the participants differ significantly, on some points sharply, in their recollection of what was said, on some of the most crucial points. Secondly , nobody attending the meeting took any note or record whatever of its proceedings. There is significant divergence in the evidence of the participants concerning the absolutely central question as to the content of the message that Mr Purcell was asked to convey to the Garda Commissioner. The Commission asked Mr Fraser, as Secretary General to the Government, why there was no record ofthis important meeting and he told the Commission that the way the Government operates is that the minutes of Government meetings are limited to recording the decisions made . No minutes are kept of who said what at a meeting… Although a decision was, in fact, made at the meeting of 241 h March 2014, no record at all was made of what was decided.”
“It is agreed by everybody who attended the meeting that a decision was made to ask Mr Brian Purcell , in his capacity as Secretary General of the Department of Justice, to visit and speak to the Garda Commissioner at his home, on behalf of the Taoiseach. No note or record, of any kind, was made of what Mr Purcell was asked to say to the Commissioner. Regrettably , there is sharp disagreement between the participants at the meeting regarding that precise question… From the evidence given by Mr Fraser, it appears that the Commission must rely on the record of the Cabinet decisions of 25th March 2014 to ascertain what decision was made at the meeting in respect of the Garda Commissioner. That record shows that the Commissioner had announced his retirement. It discloses neither the fact that Mr Purcell was required to attend at the Commissioner’s house nor the instructions given to him. Of these important matters, there is no record of any kind.”
“It is particularly unfortunate that nobody attending the meeting, except for Mr Brian Purcell, knew that the Commissioner had, fourteen days earlier, written formally to him as Secretary General of the Department of Justice, outlining the basic facts of the very issues which were the subject of the meeting. Unfortunately, Mr Purcell failed to mention this letter at any stage. Thus, a meeting which concerned essentially the Garda telephone recording issue, regarded by all as a serious new issue, so important that the Secretary General of the Department of Justice was to be sent to speak to the Commissioner late at night in his home, took place in entire ignorance of the fact that the Commissioner himself had already taken the step of officially notifying the relevant Government Department about it.“
Fennelly’s summary of each of the attendees’ evidence concerning the meeting included the following:
“At some points in his evidence , Mr Purcell seemed to say that the Taoiseach was saying that he “would not” as distinct from “might not, ” in the situation envisaged, be able to express confidence in the Commissioner. After close questioning , Mr Purcell accepted that “might ” was the correct formulation.”
“Mr Fraser ‘s recollection was that the Taoiseach was very concerned that, were he to tell the Cabinet about the recording issues, that would aggravate an already difficult position for the Commissioner and the Government. He continued:- “And the question of whether he [the Taoiseach] could express confidence in the Commissioner in that situation (which was at that point hypothetical, but likely) was on his mind. He was also, and he said this several times, … very concerned that ifhe at any point/ailed to express confidence in the Commissioner, that the Commission er would presumabl y feel compelled to resign, That was supposition on his part , and he was very anxious about that respect. ” Mr Fraser added: “there was a possibility that the Taoiseach would not be able to express confidence in the Commissioner. “
“Mr Shatter did not recall the Taoiseach saying , as Mr Fraser had said he did, that “he was very concerned that if he at any point failed to express confidence in the Commissioner, that the Commissioner would presumably feel compelled to resign. ” However, Mr Shatter added that he was “sure that the Taoiseach was very aware of the fact that if at any time he failed to express confidence in the Commissioner the Commissioner would be compelled to resign.”
“In response to questions from the Commission about the evidence given by Mr Fraser in particular, the Attorney accepted that the Taoiseach was ”preoccupied” by what would happen when these new developments were brought before the Cabinet. She stated:- “The Taoiseach did say that he had repeatedly expressed confidence in the Commissioner, he did say that, yes … And the question of whether he could express confidence in the Commissioner in that situation was on his mind. He was very troubled. .. He was deeply troubled. I mean, he had indicated, without hesitation, given the gravity of the matter, that this warranted a Commission of Investigation. .. “
“The Taoiseach in his evidence referred, on a number of occasions, to the fact that he had previously and unequivocally expressed confidence in the Commissioner. When asked to comment on the evidence of Mr Shatter that, when the revelation of the tapes was under discussion, the Taoiseach said that the matter was very grave and that he would have difficulty in expressing confidence in the Garda Commissioner, he did not expressly deny having used those words, although he could not recall using them.”
In addition, former Tánaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore also gave evidence to Fennelly in relation to a meeting they had on the morning of Tuesday, March 25.
“The Taoiseach, according to Mr Gilmore , went on to say that, if he were asked in the House if he had confidence in the Garda Commissioner , he would not be able to say that he had. He added that, if he said that he had confidence in the Garda Commissioner on the Tuesday, and information relating to these tapes emerged on the Wednesday, he would then be in a very difficult position.”
In conclusion, Fennelly noted:
“The Commission finds it impossible to resist the conclusion that, in some form, the Taoiseach did, indeed say that, putting at its lowest, he might, in light of an impending difficult Cabinet meeting, have difficulty in expressing confidence in the Commissioner. He did so in the knowledge that any equivocation in his expression of confidence was problematic for the Commissioner.”
As for what Purcell was instructed to do, Fennelly was, again, at odds – a situation, it noted, was compounded by the absence of notes or a record of what was said.
“There is sharp controversy as to the substance of the message which Mr Purcell was instructed to impart to the Commissioner. In brief summary, Mr Purcell says that he was asked to convey to Mr Callinan the gravity with which the Taoiseach viewed the matter of the Garda telephone recording systems and to ask him to consider the situation. This view is largely supported by Mr Shatter and, effectively, by Mr Fraser. The Attorney General and the Taoiseach, on the other hand, say that Mr Purcell, while conveying the gravity of the Taoiseach’s concerns, was also asked to obtain the views of the Commissioner.”
“In summary, each of [their] statements says that Mr Purcell was to convey to the Garda Commissioner the gravity with which the Taoiseach viewed the matter or, as it was expressed in some cases, the Taoiseach’s concerns. In that, the five statements are entirely consistent. Mr Fraser, Mr Purcell and the Attorney General speak of “gravity” or “grave concerns. “‘
“If an important component of Mr Purcell’s instructions was that he was to obtain any response, whether in the form of information or views, it is most surprising that none of these five, carefully prepared, written statements says so. It would be extraordinary if an essential component of Mr Purcell’s instructions was omitted by all five such able and experienced politicians and civil servants . This cannot have been accidental.”
In relation to the idea that the Callinan’s position was at issue, Fennelly noted:
“Mr Fraser said in his written statement that the possibility of the dismissal or removal of the Garda Commissioner from his post was not discussed. That evidence was not contested by anyone.”
However, Fennelly stated that in giving evidence, Shatter said:
“The intent of a message going to the Commissioner that indicated very clearly to him that his position was in great difficulty or that he should consider his position.”
In a handwritten note in his diary, written the morning after the visit from Purcell, Callinan wrote:
“BP [Brian Purcell] rang – said he wanted to see me. Sent by Taoiseach , briefed by AG taped telephone calls to Stations etc. – treating the matter very seriously. Putting on Cabinet Agenda next morning will announce Commission of Investigation . Taoiseach unsure how cabinet would receive news. Wanted me aware. I asked – was it perceived I had done something wrong and was assured that was not the case (BP’s conversation with MF). Failed to understand the need for visit!! I asked did the Taoiseach believe I had something to do with setting up recording on non 999 telephone calls – shook his head and said that was not mentioned to him. I asked was it the case that the Govt. did not have confidence in me as Cr. – Sec Gen said there was to be a meeting early the next morning in advance of Cabinet meeting where matter would be discussed – not told who was attending the meeting. Took it visit from Sec Gen meant I was to consider my position, that being the case, I wanted some time to announce my retirement- said I would ring him in the morning. I rang Sec Gen shortly after leaving my house- expressed a desire to retire on 23/5/14 having served 41 years in AGS.”
Callinan also told Fennelly:
“I want to be very clear, there was absolutely no options put on the table to me… I was left in no doubt what I had to do then that evening. I was left in absolutely no doubt.”
Among his overall conclusions, Fennelly found:
“The event which precipitated the Commissioner ‘s decision to retire on 25th March 2014 was the visit of the Secretary General of the Department of Justice to his home late on the night of Monday 24th March, to inform him that the Taoiseach regarded matters involving Garda telephone recording as very grave.”
“The events leading up to the retirement of the Garda Commissioner were beset by serious information deficits and multiple failures of communication.”
“There was no question at the meeting on 24th March of any proposal being made that the Government consider the removal of the Commissioner from office. The Commission accepts that the Taoiseach did not intend to put pressure on the Garda Commissioner to retire.”
“It was, however, the Taoiseach who made the decision to instruct the Secretary General of the Department of Justice to visit the Commissioner at his home, late at night and to inform him that he considered the matters involving Garda telephone recording systems to be a matter of the utmost gravity.”
“The Commission finds that the Taoiseach did not instruct Mr Purcell to obtain the views of the Commissioner on any particular questions; nor did the Taoiseach invite the Commissioner to contact him.”
“Mr Purcell was, at least implicitly, instructed to tell the Commissioner that the matter of the Garda telephone recording systems would be discussed at Cabinet on the following day, that the Taoiseach would be proposing the appointment of a Commission of Investigation and that there was a possibility that he, the Taoiseach , would be in a position where he might not be able to express continued confidence in the Commissioner.”
“Although the Commissioner was conscious of other recent events which had resulted in controversy for himself and for An Garda Siochana, the immediate catalyst for his decision to retire was the visit of the Secretary General of the Department of Justice to his home, and the message that was conveyed to him from the Taoiseach during that visit.”