Department of Justice Secretary General Brian Purcell is now to attend the Justice Committee next week to answer questions in relation to the Guerin Report.
But he has told the committee he will not answer questions about the resignation of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny sent Mr Purcell to Mr Callinan’s house on the eve of his resignation to express his disquiet over revelations that telephone calls at garda stations had been recorded [specifically telephone calls involving Marie Farrell, a key witness in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder case.]
Fine Gael TD and junior finance spokesman Brian Hayes spoke to Ivan Yates on Newstalk Breakfast this morning about Mr Purcell’s refusal to speak about Mr Callinan’s resignation.
Brian Hayes: “I want to see the review completed, I want to see exactly what transpired within the Department of Justice, that’s what [newly appointed Justice Minister] Frances Fitzgerald said. In fairness to her she’s only in the job a wet week at this stage and I think it’s important that we review exactly what occurred. And I’m not going to say whether I’ve got confidence in person or another, until such a time as we know what happened, when and where. But I will say this: I don’t believe anybody, any senior official has the right to set the terms, upon which, he or she will go before a committee. I think it’s only appropriate and right that a senior civil servant would come before an Oireachtas committee and answer all questions surrounding their handling of an issue and their management of a department. And I don’t think anyone has the right to do that and I expect it to be the exact same in Mr Purcell’s case.”
Ivan Yates: “Fair enough. Did you read the Sean Querin report and what it said about the Department of Justice?”
Hayes: “I read the conclusions, I haven’t read the whole…”
Yates: “He didn’t put a tooth in it. He said that the minister was given no paper trail of advice, saying that he had a statutory responsibility to effectively second guess the gardai investigating the gardai, in the case of the McCabe allegations. I mean is that not enough to say that Mr Purcell’s position is untenable?”
Hayes: “Well I would have thought that not only would Mr Purcell have to come before the committee but, secondly, that this would have to be a section in the upcoming Commission of Investigation. I was on your programme six weeks ago, you might remember at the time, and I said, this was the day after Enda Kenny had obtained from Micheal Martin the information which ultimately led to the investigation by Mr Guerin. I said that if the recommendation of the initial investigation by Sean Guerin was that we needed a full-blooded Commission of Investigation that the Government would do that. I think at the time you poo-pooed it and said ‘oh no, that’s not gonna happen and that’s just political speak’. Well it has happened and I think this is going to have to be a module within the Commission of Investigation, surrounding all of the information. Because clearly information was not given to the minister. There is some dysfunctional nature within the department, there’s no doubt about that. If one looks at the whole legacy issues surrounding this and other problems, it goes back to a communications link. And maybe, we need to be much clearer, maybe? We need to be much clearer as to where the operations of the gardai stand, where the operations of the Department of Justice stand but I would have thought that this would have to be a module within the Commission of Investigation and, as such, we’ll have to get to the bottom of it.”
Yates: “Do you agree with Leo Varadkar that the Department of Justice is not fit for purpose?”
Hayes: “That’s evident.”