Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 961 No. 7
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] The Taoiseach was misled by the Tánaiste. Deputy Kelly had, prior to this, asked basic questions which the Ceann Comhairle is now following up. Deputy Kelly did not get straight answers to those questions; he got answers to questions he did not ask.

Listening to the Tánaiste just before I came in, she said she had received an email which related to a criminal charge against Mr. McCabe being raised at the tribunal on the basis that it had not been properly investigated. That raises all sorts of issues. I have to inform the Taoiseach that, just a minute before I arrived in here, I took a phone call from Maurice McCabe - he had been on to another Deputy. He is adamant that such an issue was never raised during the O'Higgins inquiry. He is taking very serious issue with the remarks of the Tánaiste on the "News at One" today and, it is my understanding, will be issuing a statement. The House will appreciate I have only taken the call. I am not in a position to adjudicate on this but it again raises more questions than answers.

Again, I would make the point that it seems there was an attempt over the weekend to downplay the nature of the adversarial attack on Maurice McCabe at the inquiry - it was just about motivation and credibility. In fact, it was about integrity. This is on the record of the House, and it might have been Deputy Howlin who spoke over a year ago in regard to this issue. It was in the public domain, courtesy of Michael Clifford and of Katie Hannon of RTE. Mr. Smyth stated: "[M]y instructions are to challenge the integrity certainly of Sgt McCabe and his motivation". This was in response to questions from Mr. Justice O'Higgins. I can go through the whole transcript but I will not, as I do not have time.

The bottom line is that the Dáil was misled last week. Very basic questions are not getting answers. I want to ask about the email the Tánaiste spoke about. Who initiated that email? Who was the justice official who sent that email to the Tánaiste? Did the Tánaiste read the email in regard to the issue that she raised? Essentially, will the Tánaiste come before the House, make a comprehensive statement on this and answer questions that Deputies could put to clear this up once and for all? This is a very serious issue.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Go raibh maith agat. The Deputy's time is up.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Far from upholding the integrity of Maurice McCabe and offering the highest level of protection, which the Tánaiste said she would do, by her acquiescence and incuriosity on this issue, the Government essentially remains complicit from beginning to end in this sordid affair regarding the undermining of Maurice McCabe.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I remind the House that misleading the House is one thing but deliberately misleading the House is another matter. We are all mature politicians. I want you to stay within the Standing Orders.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I did not use the word "deliberately".

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The terms of the reference of the tribunal are about communications involving the Commissioner. Let us be very careful. I call the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for clarifying that, of course, to mislead the House is to deliberately seek to deceive the House; to misinform the House is to give information that may not be fully correct. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify matters as best I can. The House will appreciate, once again, that I do not have first-hand knowledge of any of these matters. I am replying based on briefings from other Departments and other Ministers but I will do my best to shine a light on things. I want to note as well that these are matters before a tribunal, a tribunal established by this House to investigate into these matters, not a role this House can hold.

I can confirm once again that the Department of Justice and Equality had no hand, act or part in the legal strategy pursued by the former Garda Commissioner. The Tánaiste had no hand, act or part in the legal strategy pursued by the former Garda Commissioner. The Department of Justice and Equality had no prior knowledge of it. The Tánaiste had no prior knowledge of it either and, therefore, could not influence it. The Department of Justice and Equality only found out about it after the fact - after it had already happened. The same applies to the Tánaiste: she only found out about it after the fact - after it had already happened.

Subsequent to my reply in this House last week, I received some new information in the form of an email I saw at 11.30 p.m. last night for the first time. This is an email between two officials in the Department of Justice and Equality describing a conversation with a third party, an official in the Office of the Attorney General. This email was then forwarded to the Minister for information.


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