Latest: Tánaiste says new legal advice shows email reaction was correct; SF to hold off on motion of no confidence

Update 9pm: Sinn Féin says it will hold off on tabling a motion of no confidence in Frances Fitzgerald until after leaders’ questions tomorrow.

The party says it is still actively considering the motion, but wants to give the Tánaiste more time to answer questions it feels she has failed to answer so far.

This evening the Tánaiste told the Seanad she has recieved fresh legal advice that shows her reaction to an email regarding Maurice McCabe was appropriate.

Opposition TDs and Senators have criticised Minister Fitzgerald’s lack of action on foot of the mail which suggested a garda strategy to discredit Maurice McCabe.

Update 7.30pm:Tánaiste says new legal advice shows email reaction was correct

The Tánaiste has told the Seanad she has received fresh legal advice that shows her reaction to an email regarding Maurice McCabe was appropriate.

Frances Fitzgerald has given a statement to the Seanad this evening regarding her handling of the affair.

Opposition TDs and Senators have criticised her lack of action on foot of the mail which suggested a garda strategy to discredit Maurice McCabe at the O'Higgins inquiry.

Frances Fitzgerald has said that legal advice she received today shows she did the right thing at the time.

"The position to be adopted before the O'Higgins Commission of Investigation was for the Garda Commissioner and her own legal team to decide…In fact it would have been inappropriate and improper for me to have interfered," she said.

Update 4.55pm: Sinn Féin will tonight consider a motion of no confidence in the Tánaiste.

Frances Fitzgerald will face another series of questions, this time in the Seanad, about her handling of an email regarding Sgt. Maurice McCabe.

Opposition TDs have called into question the timeline of events provided by both Minister Fitzgerald and Leo Varadkar.

Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly says it’s not satisfactory that misinformation has been given to the Dail, and the party will decide tonight if it will put forward a confidence motion.

"The Taoiseach now has had to correct the record twice in the Dáil. I think that is very very worrying," said Ms O'Reilly.

"I doubt if Sinn Féin are the only party considering how worrying that is.

"We will give consideration to that this evening," she added.

Update 3pm: Minister failed in her duty over Maurice McCabe email claims Micheal Martin

Frances Fitzgerald will tonight address the Seanad as the Maurice McCabe controversy shows little sign of abating.

Opposition parties have today expressed dissatisfaction with the Tanaiste’s version of events regarding an email she received in May 2015 which mentioned serious criminal allegations against Maurice McCabe.

Maurice McCabe has said the information in the e-mail is false, as those allegations were never mentioned at the O’Higgins Inquiry.

Speaking in the Dail this afternoon Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Minister Fitzgerald hgad failed in her duty as then Justice Minister by not acting on the e-mail.

"Essentially by doing nothing she allowed An Garda Siochana to seek to undermine his credibility as a person. A person, to whom she said, she would offer the highest legal protection.

"She may not have thrown him to the wolves, Taoiseach, but she allowed them free reign."

Update 1pm: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has severely lashed two of his own ministers – Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Charlie Flanagan – over the giving of false information to the Dail in the past week, writes Irish Examiner political editor Daniel McConnell.

Mr Varadkar vented his frustration in the Dail under sustained questioning from the Opposition over the Tanaiste's role in the legal strategy to smear Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

He said he was “not satisfied” that on two occasions he has had to correct information which emanated from the Department of Justice, and told the Dail he has ordered a fresh trawl of all related documents to ensure nothing further is left behind.

The Dail heard that Ms Fitzgerald did know in advance of Sgt McCabe being cross examined at the O'Higgins Commission in May 2015 that lawyers acting for then Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan were likely to attack his credibility.

The Dail heard that Ms Fitzgerald received an email from her Assistant Secretary on Friday 15 May, three days before Mr McCabe took the stand.

This is in stark contrast to what the Taoiseach said last week, when he insisted she only knew about it when the matter came into the public domain in May 2016, a full year later.

Mr Varadkar said he was “happy to correct the record of the Dail” but insisted she had no act hand or part in the legal strategy.

But this cut little ice with the Opposition.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Ms Fitzgerald did not throw Sgt McCabe to the wolves but she “did allow them free rein”.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald using information given to her by Labour's Alan Kelly said the email was sent to the Tanaiste on Friday May 15th but Mr McCabe did not take the stand until Monday May 18th.

Update 12.46pm: Taoiseach has confidence in Tánaiste but not satisfied with 'incomplete information' from Dept

Speaking at Leaders Questions this afternoon, the Taoiseach has said he had confidence in the Tánaiste but he is not satisfied with the information he has been given by the Department of Justice.

It has also emerged that Frances Fitzgerald received an email about Sgt. Maurice McCabe three days before he was cross-examined by the O’Higgins Inquiry.

The Dáil is again focusing on the timeline of events about when the former Justice Minister knew about a garda strategy to discredit Maurice McCabe.

Leo Varadkar has said he is willing to correct the record if he did get the timelines wrong, but he has repeated his confidence in Ms Fitzgerald.

"Yes, I have confidence in the Tánaiste but no I am not satisfied with the fact that on a number of occasions - on these two occasions in the past week - I have been given incomplete information from the Department of Justice," Mr Varadkar said.

"My role here is to account for the government to the House and it is not something that I like to see happen.

"That is why I have asked for a full trawl of documents in the Department of Justice to occur."

Update 12.30pm: Labour TD highlights fresh information on Maurice McCabe e-mail 

Labour TD Alan Kelly has claimed an email detailing the legal strategy of An Garda Síochana taken against Maurice McCabe was sent to the Tánaiste three days before cross-examination took place, writes political reporter Elaine Loughlin.

Mr Kelly has called on the Taoiseach to correct the Dáil record regarding the Maurice McCabe controversy and said he is not satisfied that the Dáil received accurate information from the Taoiseach on two occasions last week.

He said he has submitted a number of other questions to the Department of Justice and the Taoiseah this morning in relation to "on going questions regarding what was known around the legal strategy".

While Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has always maintained she was only notified of the campaign to discredit Sgt McCabe before the O'Higgins Commission after it the fact, Mr Kellly questioned this given the timing of an email she received.

He said: “Yesterday, the Tánaiste circulated an email to the Dáil stating that she was made aware of the legal strategy ‘ in a general way’ on May 15th 2015. Given that the cross-examination of Maurice McCabe took place on May 18th 2015, it is very clear that the Tánaiste was made aware of the legal strategy before the cross-examination of Sgt McCabe took place.

“How could the former Minister for Justice and the Department of Justice have known about the legal strategy on May 15th after the ‘cross examination’ of Maurice McCabe given the fact that the ‘cross examination’ didn’t actually happen until May 18th?

“It is now vital that the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to come into the Dáil and correct the record and give a full account of what happened," Mr Kelly said.

Update 12 noon: Taoiseach answering questions on Maurice McCabe affair as new revelations on email emerge

Today's Leaders Questions in the Dail is being dominated by further questions on the Maurice McCabe email affair after fresh revelations this morning.

Watch live here   

Leaders questions follow a press conference earlier this morning by the Labour party which will ensure Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald will face fresh questions today about what she knew, and when, of the garda strategy to go after Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Tribunal after new details of the email she was sent have emerged.

Labour TD Alan Kelly has released more details of the email which highlight further discrepancies in the account given by the Taoiseach on the Maurice McCabe controversy to the Dail.

These details show the contentious email was received by Frances Fitzgerald on May 15th 2015, three days before Maurice McCabe was cross-examined.

This appears to be at odds with comments made by the Taoiseach in the Dail last week that Minister Fitzgerald only got wind of the Garda legal strategy after the cross examination, according to Mr Kelly.

Ms Fitzgerald who has always maintained she was not aware of the garda strategy in advance.

Earlier: Sinn Fein to call for motion of no confidence in Tanaiste

Opposition TDs say the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald still has questions to answer after facing a grilling last night over her handling of an email regarding Maurice McCabe.

Sinn Féin appears poised to table a motion of no confidence in Ms Fitzgerald, who maintains she does not remember the email sent in May 2015.

Furthermore, Sgt McCabe says the allegation of a serious criminal complaint, mentioned in the email, was not put before the O’Higgins Inquiry which the email was about.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy says if Sinn Féin does table a no confidence vote, there will be an opportunity for the Tánaiste to clear up outstanding issues.

Mr Murphy said: "I think that would giver her space for the kind of debate which could possibly see some answers.

"I think Leader's Questions today will be important, Leo Varadkar was notable by his absence last night in this discussion. He wasn't present, the current minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan was there, so I think we may at least try to get more answers again today."


KEYWORDS: Maurice McCabe

 

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