Varadkar: Legal support for Martin Callinan under review

By Daniel McConnell
Political Editor

The decision to legally support former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan in his defence against whistleblower Maurice McCabe is being reviewed, the Taoiseach has said.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions, Leo Varadkar said he wished to see all cases involving state agencies and former Sgt McCabe be settled.

Responding to questions in the Dáil following the broadcast of an RTÉ documentary on the ill-treatment suffered by Mr McCabe at the hands of his superior officer, Mr Varadkar said advice is also being sought from the Attorney General Seamus Woulfe on pursuing Mr Callinan and his former press officer Dave Taylor for contribution to damages that may be paid to Maurice McCabe as part of those likely settlements.

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said given the damning conclusions of the Disclosures Tribunal, Mr Callinan should not recieve “one red cent” to fund his defence.

Mr Varadkar in response said the decision to offer support Mr Callinan was taken in July ahead of the publication of the third interim report of the Disclosures Tribunal.

He said he wanted again to acknowledge the contribution of Maurice McCabe and his service to the country.

He said the time has come for the State to do right by Maurice McCabe and his family and said this is happening, even if it is coming late in the day.

He reiterated his belief that Mr McCabe, who recently retired after 30 years' service, was a “distinguished” member of An Garda Síochána.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan informed the Dáil he had met with Mr McCabe and his family to offer a State apology to him face to face.

He said he was willing to debate the issue of the review on the Callinan case in the Dáil if desired by the Opposition.

Mr Varadkar said he shares public anger at the repeated sight of senior public servants who get involved in wrongdoing “sailing off into the sunset” with generous retirement packages.

“I get extremely annoyed when people who get involved in wrong doing 'sailing off into the sunset' with golden handshakes but we have to be conscious of people having paid into their pension funds,” Mr Varadkar said in response to a question from Social Democrat Róisín Shortall.

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