Niall Collins, FF, outside Dail Eireann
THE FALLOUT from the Sergeant Maurice McCabe controversy will not bring down the Dail – at least in the short term, Limerick deputies have claimed.
Fianna Fail deputy Niall Collins said he has received “zero communication” from anyone calling for another general election.
However, deputy Collins said that the Government’s dealing of the crisis, which unfolded dramatically this week, has been “very poorly handled”.
He said the Government has been “incompetent and incoherent” in its handling of the affair.
“There are far more important issues to be dealt with than calling for another general election. If you had an election in the morning you’d probably have a pretty close configuration to what’s in Dail Eireann, so what will that achieve,” he told the Limerick Leader.
He said he met with Maurice McCabe on several occasions in his role as Fianna Fail justice spokesperson, and has “no doubt that there was a campaign against him.”
McCabe originally made a number of allegations of garda malpractice, including but not limited to, the cancelling of penalty points. He believes he was the subject of an organised campaign to discredit him by senior gardaí as a result of the whistleblowing claims that he made.
It has now emerged that of a file was created by Tusla, the State’s child protection agency, which contained false allegations of sexual assault against a child by Sgt McCabe. The agency has said this was a “clerical error”.
“I think a public tribunal of inquiry, despite all the reservations, is warranted and merited at this point in time,” continued Collins. “I am particularly concerned about the Tusla aspect of the case, and the fact that a file could be created about Maurice McCabe, who has been at the centre of political controversy for the last seven years,” he said.
Overall, he said, what has occurred “beggars belief and is absolutely shocking”.
Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea said “it’s possible for the Government to survive, but I can’t be sure at the moment.
“My philosophy about elections is quite simple – you must always be ready for one at any time. Events of recent days have showed that an election could happen quite easily.
“What has happened to Maurice McCabe is an absolute outrage and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It’s obvious there was a campaign to discredit him and that’s extremely worrying; who exactly orchestrated that campaign will be a question for the commission.”
Asked if he supports the Taoiseach, Fine Gael Senator KIeran O’Donnell, said: “My priority at the moment is ensuring the commission of investigation gets established. That's the critical thing at the moment, and other matters cannot be a sideshow. Other matters are entirely a matter for the parliamentary party.”
Labour deputy and former Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan, said that she believes the Taoiseach’s position has been “weakened”, and said she’d be inclined to agree with the analysis that he probably will take a step back after the St Patrick's day visit to Washington.
“At this stage, things are moving so fast, it's hard to know what will happen. I think in looking at this [another election], you have to look at the interests of Fianna Fail primarily, as they are the ones who can pull the plug. My instinct would be they will try to go through another Budget. They are looking at how they might be perceived by the public if they pull the government down too quickly. It's not in any of their interests to go at the moment,” said deputy O’Sullivan.
Sinn Fein deputy Maurice Quinlivan said they are now on “an election footing”. “I was asked how many posters I have left over from the last election, and how many I will need. Nobody wants an election, but if it comes, I'm ready for it.”
“I really think the Taoiseach's position is untenable. I cannot see him being Taoiseach much longer. I think he is gone already in the party internally.”
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