Tánaiste says Callinan withdrawal of 'unfortunate' word would be helpful

Saturday 22 March 2014 19.20
Eamon Gilmore was in Belfast attending the annual conference of the Alliance Party
Eamon Gilmore was in Belfast attending the annual conference of the Alliance Party

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has said it would be helpful if Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan would withdraw the "unfortunate" word he used during the whistleblower controversy.

Mr Gilmore make his remarks to journalists while he was in Belfast attending the annual conference of the Alliance Party.

Mr Gilmore also said he supports the stance taken by his party colleagues, Joan Burton and Ruairi Quinn, in relation to the Garda Commissioner's comments on the whistleblower issue.

The Tanaiste said "there are always times that an office holder, public official  can use a word that is unfortunate.

"They [Ruairi Quinn and Joan Burton] have expressed the view that it would be helpful if it were withdrawn and I agree with that."

He also raised the idea of creating a policing board, similar in structure to the one that operates in Northern Ireland.

He said the Policing Board in Northern Ireland "has membership drawn for all parts of society and I think it is time that we looked at an initiative like that in the south."

The Garda Commissioner appeared before the Public Accounts Committee who were investigating allegations of abuse of the penalty points system by two garda whistleblowers..

At the PAC Commissioner Callinan described the leaking of details of the penalty points issue by Sgt Maurice McCabe and former Garda John Wilson as "disgusting".

There has been growing pressure on the commissioner over the issue with several Cabinet ministers backing the call for the comment to be withdrawn.

A statement issued by the garda press office on Thursday reiterated that Commissioner Callinan had used the word "disgusting" to describe the manner in which personal and sensitive data was inappropriately appearing in the public domain.

The statement said clarity had already been given by the commissioner and the term was not used in reference to the character of Sgt McCabe or former Garda Wilson.