A section of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s diary – released to Sinn Fein under the Freedom of Information Act – which suggests that Mr Kenny met or was supposed to have met Justice Minister Alan Shatter on the morning of Sunday, March 23.
March 23 was the day Attorney General Máire Whelan told Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the practice of recording incoming and outgoing Garda station phone calls. Justice Minister Alan Shatter was supposed to have been told of the practice, and the Ian Bailey tapes, the following day, on March 24. The then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigned on March 25.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach has since said there was an error in the diary released to Sinn Fein and that no such meeting between Mr Kenny and Mr Shatter took place on March 23.
In the Dail earlier this afternoon:
Mary Lou McDonald: “Today, we will commence statements on the report by Mr. Guerin. However, I wish to step back a couple of weeks to revisit the account of events given by An Taoiseach in respect of his knowledge of the revelations of the practice of taping phone calls to and from Garda stations. Those matters are the subject of a separate commission of investigation led by Mr. Justice Fennelly.”
“An Taoiseach has stated on the public record that he was first informed of the taping practice on Sunday evening, 23 March, when during a phone conversation with the Attorney General on an unrelated matter, she raised the issue. The Taoiseach then said that on Monday 24 March he met the Minister for Justice and Equality and Brian Purcell, Secretary General at the Department of Justice and Equality, and that he asked Mr. Purcell to go to see the Garda Commissioner at his home. We all know that this meeting resulted directly in the subsequent resignation of the Garda Commissioner.”
“It strikes me that the Tánaiste was left out of the loop in that sequence of events, and that was confirmed again by the subsequent developments around the resignation of the former Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter. I will say no more about that.”
“I have obtained, through a freedom of information request, the Taoiseach’s diary from the week in question. It does indeed refer to a meeting or conversation with the Attorney General on Sunday evening, 23 March, at 5.30 p.m. to be precise. However, it also contains a reference to an earlier meeting on that Sunday and it reflects that at 7.30 a.m. the Taoiseach met the Minister for Justice and Equality and his officials. The Taoiseach has made no reference whatsoever to that meeting in his public account of the events or in his account to the Dáil.”
Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett: “Could the Deputy ask a question please?”
McDonald: “A number of questions arise. Was the Tánaiste aware of the meeting? Did the Taoiseach inform him of it? Could he tell us which officials from the Department of Justice and Equality were present at the meeting? Was Brian Purcell there? Could he tell us what was discussed at the meeting? Was the taping of phone calls to and from Garda stations discussed? Was the fate of the Garda Commissioner discussed? Might that explain the marked reluctance of Brian Purcell to deal with the matter before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality?”
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: “It seems to me that they are all questions Deputy McDonald should usefully put to the Taoiseach. I do not keep the Taoiseach’s diary. I do not know what meetings he did or did not have on Sunday 23 March. With the greatest respect, Deputy McDonald should ask him directly about those issues.”
Previously: Thin Blue Line Updated
Pic via Michael Brennan
Transcript via Oireachtas.ie