Ireland’s deputy prime minister resists calls to resign

Ireland's deputy prime minister resists calls to resign

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Frances Fitzgerald was Irish minister for justice during a police whistleblower controversy

Ireland’s deputy prime minister has resisted calls to resign as more evidence has emerged about her level of knowledge surrounding a plan to discredit an Irish police whistleblower.

On Monday, documents revealed Frances Fitzgerald had received a letter discussing the action from an official.

At the time she was the Irish minster for justice.

She faces a vote of no confidence in the Dáil (Irish parliament) on Tuesday.

A government spokesperson said it retained full confidence in Ms Fitzgerald.

The dispute has created a political crisis.

In 2015, the O’Higgins Commission was established by the government to look examine malpractice allegations in the Garda’s (Irish police) Cavan / Monaghan division.

On Monday evening, it was revealed that the now tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) was personally sent a letter from one of her officials in July 2015, which discussed the “aggressive stance towards Sgt Maurice McCabe at the commission”.

The letter is one of a number of documents published by the department of justice from a record trawl requested by Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar.

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Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan retired in September

In a series of tweets on Monday evening, Ms Fitzgerald wrote: “As Justice Minister I could not interfere with the O’Higgins Commission. This is confirmed twice in today’s docs & has been confirmed by the Attorney General.”

A judge-led tribunal is also being held to establish whether senior Garda officers were involved in an alleged smear campaign against whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Ms Fitzgerald also wrote: “The Tribunal will objectively judge the appropriateness of my conduct. I look forward to giving my evidence to the Tribunal early in January.”

Last week Ms Fitzgerald faced questions in the Dáil (Irish parliament) over an email she was sent by former Garda Commissioner, Noirín O’Sullivan, which outlined the legal strategy to be pursued against Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Ms Fitzgerald said she could not remember reading it.

However she recently admitted she was made aware a year earlier than she had previously stated, that lawyers for the garda were going to attempt to discredit Sgt McCabe.

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Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the situation would be resolved if Ms Fitzgerald resigned

On Sunday, it also emerged that Noirín O’Sullivan had discussed the controversial legal action relating to Mr McCabe in a phone call with a senior member of the department of justice in May 2015.

The letter the latest is a series of developments which come as the taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin continue talks to resolve the political impasse which threatens the stability of the government.

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