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Shameful lack of records

September 13th, 2015 9:38 AM

By Southern Star Team

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editorial
editorial

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny and his compliant Cabinet and Fine Gael party colleagues seem to be the only people in the country who are saying that he did not, effectively, fire Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. It may not have been, as he protested to Mr Justice Niall Fennelly – whose report on the circumstances leading to the erstwhile Commissioner’s hasty ‘early retirement’ was published last week – the Taoiseach’s intention to force this situation when he sent senior civil servant Brian Purcell to Mr Callinan’s home late at night to articulate his crisis of confidence in the police chief, but it is difficult to envisage how there could have been any other outcome to such an action.

A nocturnal visit from the then Secretary General of the Department of Justice to one’s private residence with such tidings from the Taoiseach would obviously signify some sort of urgent need for closure after months of relentless controversy about Garda ‘whistleblowers’ that, seemingly, could not wait until a formal meeting could be convened the following morning at Government Buildings or the Department of Justice. The necessity for the home visit – which Mr Purcell said he made with ‘a heavy heart,’ probably meaning that he had a good idea in his head going there what the likely outcome would be – was not satisfactorily explained in the Fennelly Report.

The big problem with compiling such reports is the shameful absence of a proper paper trail in terms of minutes of crucial meetings, which has been a disturbing trend in recent years. Mr Justice Fennelly’s team would have had to rely on the individual recollections of those who attended the various meetings held in the days leading up to the dramatic resignation of Commissioner Callinan on March 25th, 2014 and some of these may have been at variance with one another.

Ironically, Enda Kenny was highly critical of the Fianna Fáil-led government’s lack of minutes of meetings when crucial decisions were taken, such as the night in September 2008 when it was decided to give a blanket guarantee to Irish banks in order to prevent their collapse. He promised at the time that any government led by him would be open and transparent about their dealings, but this certainly did not happen during the protracted saga which culminated in the Garda Commissioner’s ‘early retirement’ last year.

Mr Callinan initially offered to retire within two to three months, but the Taoiseach insisted that it be with immediate effect, which further weakens his argument that sending Mr Purcell to the police chief’s home was not intended to spark his resignation. Here again, we had reports of several bags of documents being shredded on the Commissioner’s departure and the SIM card from his mobile phone going missing, which makes it difficult to ever properly investigate what goes on behind the scenes in the corridors of power.

It is little wonder that there was a rush by opposition parties to table motions of no confidence in Enda Kenny’s leadership for when the Dáil resumes for its autumn term on September 22nd. Even though the motions put down by Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin – with the latter’s also expressing no confidence in Attorney General Máire Whelan – will probably be countered by motions of confidence by the coalition government parties, who will ultimately win the day with their parliamentary majority, the debate will further undermine Enda Kenny and his government, months out from a general election.

The ‘early retirement’ of Commissioner Martin Callinan and subsequent resignation of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter – who seems to have been kept out of the loop leading up to the Commissioner’s departure – both happened in the two months leading up to the local and European elections and did politically damage both Fine Gael and Labour. The revelations of the Fennelly Report won’t help them now, either, as they call the credibility of the Taoiseach into question after exposing a serious lack of the openness and transparency he promised for his term of office.

It will not have helped their cause either that progress has been painfully slow in Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald’s efforts to reform the secretive way her department and An Garda Siochana tend to go about their business.

editorial
editorial

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny and his compliant Cabinet and Fine Gael party colleagues seem to be the only people in the country who are saying that he did not, effectively, fire Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. It may not have been, as he protested to Mr Justice Niall Fennelly – whose report on the circumstances leading to the erstwhile Commissioner’s hasty ‘early retirement’ was published last week – the Taoiseach’s intention to force this situation when he sent senior civil servant Brian Purcell to Mr Callinan’s home late at night to articulate his crisis of confidence in the police chief, but it is difficult to envisage how there could have been any other outcome to such an action.

A nocturnal visit from the then Secretary General of the Department of Justice to one’s private residence with such tidings from the Taoiseach would obviously signify some sort of urgent need for closure after months of relentless controversy about Garda ‘whistleblowers’ that, seemingly, could not wait until a formal meeting could be convened the following morning at Government Buildings or the Department of Justice. The necessity for the home visit – which Mr Purcell said he made with ‘a heavy heart,’ probably meaning that he had a good idea in his head going there what the likely outcome would be – was not satisfactorily explained in the Fennelly Report.

The big problem with compiling such reports is the shameful absence of a proper paper trail in terms of minutes of crucial meetings, which has been a disturbing trend in recent years. Mr Justice Fennelly’s team would have had to rely on the individual recollections of those who attended the various meetings held in the days leading up to the dramatic resignation of Commissioner Callinan on March 25th, 2014 and some of these may have been at variance with one another.

Ironically, Enda Kenny was highly critical of the Fianna Fáil-led government’s lack of minutes of meetings when crucial decisions were taken, such as the night in September 2008 when it was decided to give a blanket guarantee to Irish banks in order to prevent their collapse. He promised at the time that any government led by him would be open and transparent about their dealings, but this certainly did not happen during the protracted saga which culminated in the Garda Commissioner’s ‘early retirement’ last year.

Mr Callinan initially offered to retire within two to three months, but the Taoiseach insisted that it be with immediate effect, which further weakens his argument that sending Mr Purcell to the police chief’s home was not intended to spark his resignation. Here again, we had reports of several bags of documents being shredded on the Commissioner’s departure and the SIM card from his mobile phone going missing, which makes it difficult to ever properly investigate what goes on behind the scenes in the corridors of power.

It is little wonder that there was a rush by opposition parties to table motions of no confidence in Enda Kenny’s leadership for when the Dáil resumes for its autumn term on September 22nd. Even though the motions put down by Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin – with the latter’s also expressing no confidence in Attorney General Máire Whelan – will probably be countered by motions of confidence by the coalition government parties, who will ultimately win the day with their parliamentary majority, the debate will further undermine Enda Kenny and his government, months out from a general election.

The ‘early retirement’ of Commissioner Martin Callinan and subsequent resignation of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter – who seems to have been kept out of the loop leading up to the Commissioner’s departure – both happened in the two months leading up to the local and European elections and did politically damage both Fine Gael and Labour. The revelations of the Fennelly Report won’t help them now, either, as they call the credibility of the Taoiseach into question after exposing a serious lack of the openness and transparency he promised for his term of office.

It will not have helped their cause either that progress has been painfully slow in Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald’s efforts to reform the secretive way her department and An Garda Siochana tend to go about their business.

editorial
editorial

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny and his compliant Cabinet and Fine Gael party colleagues seem to be the only people in the country who are saying that he did not, effectively, fire Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. It may not have been, as he protested to Mr Justice Niall Fennelly – whose report on the circumstances leading to the erstwhile Commissioner’s hasty ‘early retirement’ was published last week – the Taoiseach’s intention to force this situation when he sent senior civil servant Brian Purcell to Mr Callinan’s home late at night to articulate his crisis of confidence in the police chief, but it is difficult to envisage how there could have been any other outcome to such an action.

A nocturnal visit from the then Secretary General of the Department of Justice to one’s private residence with such tidings from the Taoiseach would obviously signify some sort of urgent need for closure after months of relentless controversy about Garda ‘whistleblowers’ that, seemingly, could not wait until a formal meeting could be convened the following morning at Government Buildings or the Department of Justice. The necessity for the home visit – which Mr Purcell said he made with ‘a heavy heart,’ probably meaning that he had a good idea in his head going there what the likely outcome would be – was not satisfactorily explained in the Fennelly Report.

The big problem with compiling such reports is the shameful absence of a proper paper trail in terms of minutes of crucial meetings, which has been a disturbing trend in recent years. Mr Justice Fennelly’s team would have had to rely on the individual recollections of those who attended the various meetings held in the days leading up to the dramatic resignation of Commissioner Callinan on March 25th, 2014 and some of these may have been at variance with one another.

Ironically, Enda Kenny was highly critical of the Fianna Fáil-led government’s lack of minutes of meetings when crucial decisions were taken, such as the night in September 2008 when it was decided to give a blanket guarantee to Irish banks in order to prevent their collapse. He promised at the time that any government led by him would be open and transparent about their dealings, but this certainly did not happen during the protracted saga which culminated in the Garda Commissioner’s ‘early retirement’ last year.

Mr Callinan initially offered to retire within two to three months, but the Taoiseach insisted that it be with immediate effect, which further weakens his argument that sending Mr Purcell to the police chief’s home was not intended to spark his resignation. Here again, we had reports of several bags of documents being shredded on the Commissioner’s departure and the SIM card from his mobile phone going missing, which makes it difficult to ever properly investigate what goes on behind the scenes in the corridors of power.

It is little wonder that there was a rush by opposition parties to table motions of no confidence in Enda Kenny’s leadership for when the Dáil resumes for its autumn term on September 22nd. Even though the motions put down by Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin – with the latter’s also expressing no confidence in Attorney General Máire Whelan – will probably be countered by motions of confidence by the coalition government parties, who will ultimately win the day with their parliamentary majority, the debate will further undermine Enda Kenny and his government, months out from a general election.

The ‘early retirement’ of Commissioner Martin Callinan and subsequent resignation of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter – who seems to have been kept out of the loop leading up to the Commissioner’s departure – both happened in the two months leading up to the local and European elections and did politically damage both Fine Gael and Labour. The revelations of the Fennelly Report won’t help them now, either, as they call the credibility of the Taoiseach into question after exposing a serious lack of the openness and transparency he promised for his term of office.

It will not have helped their cause either that progress has been painfully slow in Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald’s efforts to reform the secretive way her department and An Garda Siochana tend to go about their business.

editorial
editorial

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny and his compliant Cabinet and Fine Gael party colleagues seem to be the only people in the country who are saying that he did not, effectively, fire Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. It may not have been, as he protested to Mr Justice Niall Fennelly – whose report on the circumstances leading to the erstwhile Commissioner’s hasty ‘early retirement’ was published last week – the Taoiseach’s intention to force this situation when he sent senior civil servant Brian Purcell to Mr Callinan’s home late at night to articulate his crisis of confidence in the police chief, but it is difficult to envisage how there could have been any other outcome to such an action.

A nocturnal visit from the then Secretary General of the Department of Justice to one’s private residence with such tidings from the Taoiseach would obviously signify some sort of urgent need for closure after months of relentless controversy about Garda ‘whistleblowers’ that, seemingly, could not wait until a formal meeting could be convened the following morning at Government Buildings or the Department of Justice. The necessity for the home visit – which Mr Purcell said he made with ‘a heavy heart,’ probably meaning that he had a good idea in his head going there what the likely outcome would be – was not satisfactorily explained in the Fennelly Report.

The big problem with compiling such reports is the shameful absence of a proper paper trail in terms of minutes of crucial meetings, which has been a disturbing trend in recent years. Mr Justice Fennelly’s team would have had to rely on the individual recollections of those who attended the various meetings held in the days leading up to the dramatic resignation of Commissioner Callinan on March 25th, 2014 and some of these may have been at variance with one another.

Ironically, Enda Kenny was highly critical of the Fianna Fáil-led government’s lack of minutes of meetings when crucial decisions were taken, such as the night in September 2008 when it was decided to give a blanket guarantee to Irish banks in order to prevent their collapse. He promised at the time that any government led by him would be open and transparent about their dealings, but this certainly did not happen during the protracted saga which culminated in the Garda Commissioner’s ‘early retirement’ last year.

Mr Callinan initially offered to retire within two to three months, but the Taoiseach insisted that it be with immediate effect, which further weakens his argument that sending Mr Purcell to the police chief’s home was not intended to spark his resignation. Here again, we had reports of several bags of documents being shredded on the Commissioner’s departure and the SIM card from his mobile phone going missing, which makes it difficult to ever properly investigate what goes on behind the scenes in the corridors of power.

It is little wonder that there was a rush by opposition parties to table motions of no confidence in Enda Kenny’s leadership for when the Dáil resumes for its autumn term on September 22nd. Even though the motions put down by Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin – with the latter’s also expressing no confidence in Attorney General Máire Whelan – will probably be countered by motions of confidence by the coalition government parties, who will ultimately win the day with their parliamentary majority, the debate will further undermine Enda Kenny and his government, months out from a general election.

The ‘early retirement’ of Commissioner Martin Callinan and subsequent resignation of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter – who seems to have been kept out of the loop leading up to the Commissioner’s departure – both happened in the two months leading up to the local and European elections and did politically damage both Fine Gael and Labour. The revelations of the Fennelly Report won’t help them now, either, as they call the credibility of the Taoiseach into question after exposing a serious lack of the openness and transparency he promised for his term of office.

It will not have helped their cause either that progress has been painfully slow in Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald’s efforts to reform the secretive way her department and An Garda Siochana tend to go about their business.

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