Harris calls on Martin to apologise to Fitzgerald for 'hounding her out of office'

Frances Fitzgerald

By Elaine Loughlin, Political Correspondent

Demands have been made on Micheál Martin and Mary-Lou McDonald to apologise to former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald for "hounding a good woman out of office".

The Charleton Tribunal report published yesterday found that Ms Fitzgerald acted appropriately at all times and the judge accepted her evidence around her knowledge of, and responses to, an alleged Garda strategy to undermine the reputation of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Judge Charleton also said that she had "selflessly resigned" as the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (having formerly held the Justice portfolio) last year in "the national interest".

Lashing out at the Fianna Fáil leader Health Minister Simon Harris said Mr Martin had decided that Ms Fitzgerald was not entitled to due process and instead "demanded her head on a plate".

"I think Frances Fitzgerald was vindicated. I think it's really disappointing that the opposition have yet to apologise for the charges that they made against her which have now been found to be false," Mr Harris said.

"They hounded a woman out of office (for) political expediency and their statements in the last 24 hours have been mean-spirited.

"She was not afforded due process - Judge Charleton was very clear on that. It might not be a popular thing to say but even Government Ministers are entitled to due process; she wasn't afforded that, Micheal Martin decided she wasn't entitled to that.

"He, for political expedience and to mark Sinn Féin, demanded her head on a plate...It was disgraceful behaviour and he should apologise and he should correct the record of the Dáil, as should Mary-Lou McDonald."

Asked if he thought Ms Fitzgerald should return to Cabinet, Mr Harris said: "That's a decision for the Taoiseach, but I have no doubt that Frances Fitzgerald has a major role to play in Irish politics."

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