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Political system has questions to answer on Tribunal developments

12 January 2018

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Spokesperson on Health

Labour TD Alan Kelly has said an explanation is needed for the volume of material provided to the Disclosures Tribunal in recent weeks, and accountability for why newly revealed records of emails and phone calls are only coming to light now.

Deputy Kelly said:

“Several days on, there has still been no explanation from An Garda Síochana and the Department of Justice for the dozens of boxes of documents and evidence provided to the Disclosures Tribunal in recent weeks.

“It is essential that the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan now provide an explanation for this. With the Dáil resuming next week, I will be seeking answers to ensure there is political accountability.

“From the evidence presented at the Tribunal this week we now know that there were not just emails on the issue, but also a number of detailed phone calls.

“The revelation that a personal gmail account was used by the former Garda Commissioner to contact the then Minister for Justice, and the content of those emails is particularly shocking.

“When I questioned the Chief Administration Officer (CAO) of An Garda Síochána on this gmail account at the Justice Committee in December, he confirmed to me that he examined the former Commissioner’s personal email account and reported verbally to the Policing Authority on it, and at that Oireachtas Committee he said to me that he ‘saw no evidence of official emails of a sensitive nature’.

“Frankly, I fail to see how emails to the then Minister for Justice on the O’Higgins Commission could not be classified as sensitive. Either the emails were not seen, were deleted, or were not disclosed.

“The details of calls between the Commissioner and the Secretary General and other senior civil servants have also been confirmed at the Tribunal.

“This new information should have been provided in response to my questions to the Department on 27 October, and 8th November. It deeply concerns me that in response to my specific questions the Department did not at that time check their records, and accurately answer my questions. Disturbingly this information should have already have been disclosed to the Tribunal.

"The parliamentary questions I asked on the 8th November requested specific information on phone calls. The Minister must explain why he didn't ask his then Secretary General whether those calls took place, and what records there were of those calls when these questions were being answered.

“It is now obvious that only for the political crisis in late November and early December that ended with the resignation of Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, this new evidence and facts would not have been revealed, and we would not have had many key participants as witnesses.”

ENDS

Notes:

Transcript of questioning by Alan Kelly of Chief Administrative Officer of An Garda Síochána, Joseph Nugent at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, 7 December 2017 regarding private gmail account of former Commissioner:
https://beta.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_committee_on_justice_and_equality/2017-12-07/3/

Questions tabled by Alan Kelly for answer on 8th November

To ask the Minister for Justice what was the purpose of the telephone call from Commissioner O’Sullivan to the Secretary General of the Department on Friday May 15th 2015 and will he make a full public statement on the matter?

To ask the Minister for Justice to publish the logs/notes and diary entries in the Department regarding the phone call between Commissioner O’Sullivan and the Secretary General of the Department on Friday May 15th 2015 and will he make a statement on the matter?

To ask the Minister for Justice when the Departmental Minister at the time was informed about the phone call and/or the details of the phone call between former Commissioner O’Sullivan and the Secretary General of the Department of Justice on Friday May 15th 2015 and will he make a public statement on the matter?

To ask the Minister for Justice when anyone in his Department was made aware of the decisions taken at the meeting of senior garda management in Garda Headquarters on Friday May 15th 2015 and will he make a full public statement on the matter?

Questions tabled by Alan Kelly for answer on 27th October

To ask the Minister for Justice to outline fully the extent of consultation that the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan had with the Department of Justice prior to Commissioner O’Sullivan giving instructions to her legal team representing her at the O’Higgins Commission?

To ask the Minister for Justice to outline fully the extent of meetings and communications in any way that the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan had with the Department of Justice prior to Commissioner O’Sullivan giving instructions to her legal team representing her at the O’Higgins Commission? Please provide dates and times of meetings, communications type, attendance and agendas?

To ask the Minister for Justice if anyone in An Garda Siochana has made a complaint to his Department regarding the manner in which the former Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan gave instructions to her legal team representing her at the O’Higgins Commission and if so how this is being dealt with by his Department?

To ask the Minister for Justice what contact, meetings, correspondence the Secretary General of the Department Mr. Noel Waters or any of his senior officials had with the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan or any of her senior staff or advisers prior to Commissioner O’Sullivan giving instructions to her legal team representing her at the O’Higgins Commission? Please provide dates and times of meetings, communications type, attendance and agendas?