Last evening, the letter from the former Commissioner, Mr. Martin Callinan, to the Department of Justice and Equality for the attention of the Minister in respect of the telephone recording issues was published along with a report from the Department's Secretary General. It is fair to say that the letter from the Garda Commission gives a clear sequence of actions, outlines the comprehensive interaction that the Commissioner had with many State agencies - the Chief State Solicitor's office, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Attorney General's office - and references that consultations would need to be held with the Data Protection Commissioner following advices from the Attorney General. It goes on to assert that the Attorney General advised that an inventory of all of the recordings would be compiled and also that the Commissioner's main concern was as a data controller. These are all important points because, when one reads the letter, it is difficult to find anything wrong with how the Commissioner responded to the issue, both legally and within his duties, given the comprehensive nature of his response.
The Secretary General's report is also interesting, but leaves many questions unanswered. On one particular issue, it is clear that the Secretary General is saying that he briefed the Minister on the content of that letter on the Monday evening, before the Cabinet meeting, at 6 p.m. Accepting that the Minister did not get the actual copy of the letter until the following day, he was clearly briefed on the issue. That is at odds with what the Taoiseach told me yesterday in the House when he stated categorically: "I am assured by the Minister for justice that he was not so briefed." This goes to the heart of the issue. Following on from this and the meeting between the Taoiseach, the Attorney General and the Secretary General, the Secretary General was sent to Commissioner Callinan essentially to put pressure on him to reflect on his position, leading to his resignation.