A paper that gives an update on the trawl of records at the Department of Justice was given to the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this afternoon.

The document details the scope of the search that is set to be completed on Monday.

The trawl was ordered by the Taoiseach last week after an email sent to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, when she was Minister for Justice in May 2015, resurfaced.

It is the email that revealed the legal strategy that was set to be pursued against the Garda Whistleblower Maurice McCabe at the O'Higgins Commission.

The opposition has said the Tánaiste should have acted on it when the email was initially sent to her.

Ms Fitzgerald said she did not remember reading the correspondence and she said it made clear that she could not legally intervene.

It is understood that no one is certain that more information will not emerge from the Justice Department once the search is finalised.

Talks between Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin are set to continue tomorrow.

They will also focus on the Disclosures Tribunal and the work that will begin in early January.

However on the main sticking point, there remains no change in the position of both sides.

Fianna Fáil believes the Tánaiste must leave office and the Taoiseach is fully backing Ms Fitzgerald.

Detailed discussions around this are not likely to take place until Monday.

Earlier today, Mr Varadkar said that Ms Fitzgerald is an "honourable and distinguished" politician and has done nothing wrong. 

Speaking at the opening of FemFest earlier today - a festival celebrating women organised by the National Women’s Council - Mr Varadkar said that yesterday he read Ms Fitzgerald’s maiden Dáil speech, when she spoke of role of women in Irish society.

He said that for a quarter of a century, she has been championing issues of importance to women. 

He described the Tánaiste as an "honourable and distinguished politician" and said she has "done nothing wrong".

"I think there is a real injustice here in people calling for her to resign in these circumstances," he said.

"I don't want to see a good woman who I think has done enormous service in Irish public life, who has been a real asset to Irish politics, brought down in this way.

"I just don't think it would be fair, I don't think it would be right and I don't think the majority of the Irish people would like that to happen."

"I don't want there to be any ambiguity about this, there is no subtle message being sent out there to the Tánaiste that she should even consider resigning," he said.

"I won't be seeking her resignation, I don't want her to offer it to me."

Mr Varadkar said his sense was that the public do not want an election either before Christmas or in the New Year and if the Tánaiste has a case to answer it should be before the Disclosures Tribunal.

He said the Dáil should not be a jury.


Read more:


Mr Varadkar said that Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan did not see the email from the Department of Justice prior to him seeing it. 

While Mr Flanagan was informed of the document the previous week, Mr Varadkar said the minister only saw the email the same day as the Taoiseach did "on the Monday". 

He said Minister Flanagan acted appropriately and instructed that the document be sent to the tribunal.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are on an election footing.

The Fine Gael national executive, which is in charge of organising selections conventions, held an emergency meeting at party headquarters this morning and chairperson Gerry O'Connell said it had approved a number of selection conventions and expects to have 50% of its candidates selected by Tuesday.

Asked when he expects a general election to take place, he said if the Dáil is dissolved next week it would likely be the week of 18 December, but said the party did not want an election.

He said the only people that will cause one are Mr Martin and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

The Fianna Fáil frontbench has also been told to step up its election preparations.

Mr Adams has said that regardless of what Fianna Fáil does, the party will go ahead with its motion of no confidence next week, saying the only thing that will stop it is the Tánaiste stepping down.

"This is nothing personal against Frances Fitzgerald. This is Sinn Féin doing our job - holding the Government to account," he said.