Tánaiste must clarify Department knowledge now or face tribunal - Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called on the Tánaiste to come before the Tribunal to provide full clarity in relation to what the Department knew of the approach that the Garda Síochána was going to take in the O'Higgins Commission.
Speaking this morning, Teachta Ó Laoghaire stated;
“The comments from the Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald, in response to the questions raised by Alan Kelly were ambiguous at best, and evasive regarding both her and the Justice Departments prior knowledge of the attempts to discredit Garda Maurice McCabe.
"If it is the case that the Department was aware, and either assented to or approved of such a course of action, then the campaign to undermine the credibility of Garda McCabe goes right to the heart of Government. This is a deeply concerning possibility.
"The need for the Government to provide clarity on this is obvious and urgent. The Tánaiste has referenced the Charleton Tribunal as being the appropriate place to discuss this. However, the terms of reference do not cover the Departments involvement, and whether it would have been privy to this approach of undermining credibility.
"So we cannot know for certain if it will be discussed or explored there, and in any event, the Tribunal cannot be used as cover for legitimate questions about a Government enquiry.
"Therefore it is my view that the Tánaiste must come before the Dáil, and make it clear that the Department had no such knowledge - and if she cannot do that, the the Dáil needs to have a discussion as to whether or not an expansion of the Terms of Reference is required to include representatives from the Department.
"That would ensure that the Tribunal does examine that, and that Tánaiste Fitzgerald, and Departmental officials would therefore come before the Tribunal.
“I think the Government has to answer questions on what are some very serious allegations that have been levelled regarding their prior knowledge; and should be discussed as a matter of urgency in the Dáil - Frances Fitzgerald should take the earliest possible opportunity to clarify this issue.