From top: Enda Kenny (left) and Bryan Dobson on RTÉ’s Six One last night; Anne-Marie McNally
This just spin.
Enda Kenny did not fire the Garda Commissioner.
Are we clear?
Anne-Marie McNally writes:
When you’re a school kid you wait anxiously for your end of year report. You try and get a gander at it before the parents set eyes on it and all hell breaks loose.
When you’re the Taoiseach of the country it’s water off a duck’s back. At this stage Enda has so many reports coming at him that he doesn’t know if he’s a news editor or a politician.
Each report or inquiry represents its own little scandal. Each little scandal got kicked to touch at some stage along the way by the Taoiseach announcing (in his gravest voice) that a commission of investigation will be established and a report will be produced.
What Enda forgets is that at some stage, the ball will come back in from touch when the report is finally ready. But don’t worry, Enda’s got a game plan for that as well – he gathers the Cabinet into a team huddle, they touch knuckles and shout ‘SPIN’ before rushing off in different directions to the various media outlets to get their version out before most journalists have had a chance to open the front cover of said report.
We witnessed it in all its spinning glory just last evening. The Fennelly Report arises from the Fennelly Commission which was tasked with investigating various matters of public interest relating to An Garda Siochanna and the circumstances surrounding the ‘resignation’ of the Garda Commissioner.
The report landed in the public sphere around 5pm Tuesday evening. Enda & Co had gotten a copy on Monday evening, held a meeting with the current Garda Commissioner and Minister for Justice on Tuesday morning, but kept schtum all day Tuesday.
When the 288 page report was dropping on journalists desks on Tuesday evening Enda was already en-route to Montrose all set to give his spiel on Six One.
Enda assured Bryan Dobson that the report fully vindicated him; not only had he not sacked the Commissioner but he’d never even pushed him into retiring. Bryan probed and prodded Enda (in so much as he could given that he hadn’t had time to read the report) but Enda held firm – nothing to see here, the Commissioner resigned of his own volition and this is a storm in a tea cup.
Oh, and we have full confidence in the Government appointed Attorney-General, Marie Whelan who the report found had been at the heart of the ‘communication issues’ which led to the significant confusion regarding Alan Shatter’s knowledge of the Garda taping issue.
Enda’s yarn was spun to the nation by 6:30pm. At that stage Journalists were getting to grips with the actual reality of the report.
Enda’s assertions that he had not sacked the Commissioner and had nothing to do with his retirement seemed to sit in stark contrast to the report’s findings that Enda had sent the Secretary General of the Department , Brian Purcell, to the Commissioner’s home late on a Sunday evening in what was described as an ‘unprecedented move’.
It went on to say that Mr Purcell – who described it as the ‘worst day of his life’-informed the Commissioner that the Taoiseach didn’t have full confidence in him.
Essentially the entire point of the visit was to encourage the Commissioner to consider his position. When the Commissioner said he planned to retire in 3 months, he was informed the next morning, by Enda, that his retirement must be immediate. But he wasn’t pushed out at all, at all. Right so Ted.
My point here is an obvious one. We can have all the reports in the world – and we almost do at this stage – but unless we take the time to read, interpret, and understand exactly what they find then we are left at the mercy of a well-oiled spin machine who will paint a very different picture to the reality.
We would do well to remember that and make an effort to become the eagle-eyed parents awaiting the report card no matter how hard the kid tries to spin us a good news story.
Anne-Marie McNally is a Political and media strategist working with Catherine Murphy TD and The Social Democrats. Opinions expressed may not necessarily be shared by her employers. Follow her on Twitter: @amomcnally