Former Labour leader’s evidence to Fennelly conflicts with Attorney General – Peadar Tóibín TD
Sinn Féin has tabled a motion of no confidence in the Attorney General and the Taoiseach arising from the report of the Fennelly Commission. Labour has rushed to defend both the Taoiseach and the Attorney General despite the serious questions arising from their evidence to the Commission.
The statement provided by former Labour leader and Tanaiste Eamonn Gilmore appears to contradict the version of events offered by the Attorney General, a point accepted by the Commission.
Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín said.
“Over the past number of days the Labour leadership have rushed to defend both the Taoiseach and the Attorney General notwithstanding the serious questions arising from the Fennelly Commission. The statement by former Labour leader and Tanaiste Eamonn Gilmore appears to contradict the position of the Attorney General.
“The report details the consistent denial by the Attorney General that the Taoiseach discussed the issue of confidence in the Garda Commissioner at the Monday night meeting when Mr Purcell was dispatched to the Commissioner. This denial is not supported by the statements of three other people present at the same meeting.
“It also contradicts the statement by the former Tánaiste Mr Gilmore in giving his evidence relating to the following day when the Taoiseach raised the issue of not being in the position to express his confidence in the Garda Commissioner.
“The report highlights that the statement by Mr Gilmore, ‘provides significant corroboration for the proposition that the Taoiseach did express doubts about whether he could continue to express confidence in the Commissioner’.
“The continued denial by the Attorney General renders her position untenable.
Notes to Editors;
Relevant Sections of the Fennelly Commission Report
31.37 The Attorney General accepted that there had been reference to the Taoiseach’s previous declarations of confidence in the Commissioner. She accepted that the Taoiseach was troubled and concerned about the outcome of the Cabinet and, at one point, that the question of confidence was on his, the Taoiseach’s mind. On the other hand, she consistently denied that the matter of whether the Taoiseach would or even might be in a position to express continued confidence in the Commissioner in the future was ever discussed at the meeting. The Attorney made two points to support the logic of her position. Firstly, since no fault was being assigned to the Commissioner in respect of the Garda telephone recording matter, the issue of confidence could not, she argued, logically arise. Secondly, if there had been an issue of confidence in the Commissioner, the matter would have been entirely different in character and she would necessarily have had to advise on the legal implications. In particular, she would have had to advise on the effect of the provisions of the Garda Siochana Act 2005, with regard to the position of the Garda Commissioner. The first of these points is logical from a purely legal point of view, but not conclusive when viewed in a political context. There was great existing controversy concerning the Commissioner, especially concerning his remarks at the Public Accounts Committee
31.30 The Taoiseach’s meeting with the Tanaiste, Mr Eamon Gilmore, T.D. at 9 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, 25th March 2014, casts some light on his statements at the meeting. The Taoiseach sent a request to the Tanaiste to meet him privately, prior to the normal parallel pre-Cabinet meetings of the Fine Gael and Labour Party ministers. Mr Gilmore thus met the Taoiseach, who told him of the information he had received from the Attorney General which he, the Taoiseach, described as “very alarming”, in relation to the Bailey case and the general recording issue.
31.31 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.
31.32 The evidence of Mr Gilmore, although it relates to what the Taoiseach said the following day, provides significant corroboration for the proposition that the Taoiseach did express doubts about whether he could continue to express confidence in the Commissioner. Although this conversation occurred after the Commissioner had retired, it is significant that, in an entirely different setting, the Taoiseach was speaking to Mr Gilmore of the issue very much in the same terms as are attributed to him by Mr Fraser, Mr Shatter and Mr Purcell on the evening before.