The Social Democrats have accused Fine Gael of spoiling for an election rather than coming clean about the severe failings of the Tánaiste in her handling the Maurice McCabe email affair.

Party co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said this morning:

“It was spelled out to Frances Fitzgerald in the email she received in May 2015 that the appalling campaign to blacken Maurice McCabe’s name was continuing under a planned legal strategy directed by the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. The fact that the email did not set off alarm bells with the Minister points to either incompetence on her part or something more sinister.

“It is incredulous to hear Minister Regina Doherty on the airwaves this morning describing this as a “trumped up issue”. It is actually a fundamental issue and both the Tánaiste and the current Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan have serious questions to answer. Frances Fitzgerald needs now to either come clean or resign.

“This entire incident is a critical test of the Taoiseach’s leadership. If he can’t deal decisively with his own ministers, then how can he deal competently with other issues? He seems to be careering headlong towards a general election when what’s needed is for him to actually do his job as leader of government and clarify all issues surrounding this affair.

“Trust and competence is a fundamental issue at the heart of this entire affair. In the last government, Fine Gael failed to protect whistleblowers and was not prepared to sort out the serious problems in the Gardaí and the Department of Justice. We are now seeing this appalling trend being repeated by the current administration.”

ENDS

24 November 2017