Taoiseach still believes Frances Fitzgerald 'did no wrong'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he still believes former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald 'didn't do anything wrong', writes Sally Gorman.

Speaking about Ms Fitzgerald's resignation over the controversial emails surrounding Sgt. Maurice McCabe the Taoiseach said: "I believe there was some level of awareness there but not any detail."

Defending his former colleague on air with RTÉ's Marian Finucane this morning, Mr Varadkar said he ultimately "wanted to stand by a colleague, who I believe didn't do anything wrong."

To which Finucane replied: "Did she do right, did she take action?"

According to Mr Varadkar: "Frances acted properly" and "she is a very cautious politician, she is the kind of person who will follow procedure and take advice."

Mr Varadkar started the interview by stating: "It has been a long week in politics" but reminded listeners that it is not the "first time an Irish government has gone through a political crisis," and says he does not believe the Government has been "weaked" by recent ongoings.

In light of the Maurice McCabe scandal, the Taoiseach admitted it had been going on "far too long and needs to be dealt with", adding that there is serious reform needed in the Department of Justice.

Varadkar also revealed he is due to appoint an independent senior barrister to investigate the emails.

He said: "Having seen this go on for too long and having seen the loss of a colleague, I am determined to reform the Department of Justice and the Gardaí.

The Taoiseach continued by saying later in the interview that "the relationship between Gardaí and the Department of Justice is just too close."

When Ms Finucane asked Mr Varadkar whether he felt "out of his depth" over the past week he said:

"No I didnt, I am going through things for the first time, I want my Ministers and backbenchers to know that I am the type of person to get to the truth and that I will give them support."

Speaking about the country being on the brink of a general election before Christmas, Finucane asked: "How irresponsible would that have been?"

But Varadkar reassured listeners saying: "I was always confident we would avoid that, we didn't want an election at this time, we just couldn't allow that."

He is also determined that "we will get through to our budget in October next year."

Leo Varadkar said the reason we now have a tribunal is to see whether there was collusion.

Speaking about that tribunal, the Taoiseach said: "There is going to be a witch hunt and nobody is going to be safe."

"Whether it was an error or neglect, action will be taken."

Mr Varadkar then went on to outline the plan of action.

He said: "The plan is to advertise for a new Garda Commissioner, it will be open to external applicants.

"It isn't going to be enough to bring in a new Commissioner, we need a management team, there are different options as to how we can do this."

Ms Finucane went on to ask the Taoiseach how it felt to be before the Dáil unaware and uninformed.

He said: "It is an extremely unpleasant experience, you feel very exposed."

He admitted that incorrect briefings can "knock your confidence."

He concluded the interview on Radio One by saying: "This episode is a lesson for all of us."


 

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