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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017

Vol. 962 No. 3

Leaders' Questions

I acknowledge that this is a difficult day for the Taoiseach and his colleagues, particularly Deputy Frances Fitzgerald. Everyone accepts that. Deputy Fitzgerald is a well-liked Member of the House and has had many achievements as a Minister to her credit. However, she took the right decision today, given recent revelations and the best interests of the country. No one in this House takes any pleasure from Deputy Fitzgerald's resignation as Tánaiste and Minister; rather, everyone must learn lessons, the most fundamental being the nature and quality of the relationship between this Parliament and Government. Democratic accountability to this House and transparency from Government are the foundations of our parliamentary democracy. They have been sadly missing in the past few weeks. Genuine issues were raised by the Opposition for over three weeks and were dismissed for far too long.

At the core of this has been the appalling mistreatment of Maurice McCabe by the institutions of the State. Every citizen has a stake in the vindication of his integrity and good name. We on this side of the House were instrumental in forcing the establishment of the Charleton inquiry as a public inquiry with public cross-examination simply because Maurice McCabe was no longer prepared to have any inquiry held behind closed doors and face trials again. It was at his insistence and our insistence to the former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, that that happened on that occasion.

Deputy Kelly's parliamentary questions on this issue should have been answered. Every Deputy in this House has the absolute right and expectation that when questions are put to the Government and its Departments, no matter how sensitive, correct and honest answers are given. This is crucial. We have said this many times before and much of what the Taoiseach read out earlier is the fruit of our agreement and our discussions over the weekend about this issue. This has to be the nail in the coffin of secrecy and silos in the Department of Justice and Equality. Yes, there must be a fundamental change in the culture of that Department, but the Government must also take responsibility and take legitimate questioning by the Opposition, not as partisan grandstanding all the time. Over the past three weeks the Government has taken too dismissive an attitude to Opposition Members who raised very important and profound questions.

Every correction of the Dáil record, every non-answer and every answer to a question never asked only deepened suspicions and anxiety among Opposition Members about what was being hidden. In that context, will the Taoiseach confirm that the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Charles Flanagan, will issue a statement to the House and apologise for the manner in which questions were answered?

I can confirm that arrangements are being made for the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Charles Flanagan, to make a statement to the House to apologise for the failure of his Department to answer questions fully in the past couple of weeks, to offer further assurance that questions which have not yet been answered will be answered in full and that in the future he will ensure, as will his Secretary General, questions are answered properly.

I am certainly not in any way happy about how the last couple of weeks have played out. Notwithstanding the enormous distraction this has been for the Government and the country, we did not have to end up in the situation we are in today. Had questions been answered properly and in full, I certainly would not have had to come into the House on two occasions to correct what I had said. The information I have given in the House has always been the full truth, or at least the truth as it was given to me. Second, had all of the questions been answered and the e-mails found and put in the public domain seven or ten days ago, I do not think it would have been necessary for the Tánaiste to tender her resignation this morning. It is a very sorry state of affairs that has occurred in the past week or two. That is, of course, why last week I ordered the trawl of all documents in the Department of Justice and Equality, which is why the additional e-mails came to light last week and in the past couple of days. It is also why I ordered the progress report on the implementation of the Toland reforms, which was published last night and shows which reforms have been implemented and which have yet to be implemented. I will ensure the report is fully implemented in the period ahead.

At the heart of all of this, on a day like today, is the human cost, not just the human cost to Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, her family, friends and colleagues but also, of course, the human cost to Detective Sergeant Maurice McCabe and his family who, once again, are in the spotlight of public attention and seeing their pictures on the front pages of the newspapers through no fault of their own.

I hope that answers Deputy Micheál Martin's question.

I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. It is welcome that the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Charles Flanagan, will be coming before the Dáil to issue a statement. The external inquiry on which the Taoiseach and I agreed into why the documents that have now emerged were never sent to the Charleton inquiry has to happen. We must also ensure the external oversight group on which we agreed, which is to set about changing, rapidly and urgently, management structures within the Department of Justice and Equality, will happen very quickly. These are two key issues that go to the heart of democratic accountability and on which the Taoiseach and I are in agreement. We also agreed that where Deputies had relevant questions or concerns about this entire issue which they wished to put via parliamentary questions, this facility would be made available to them by the Minister and the Government to make sure any outstanding issue would be dealt with quickly. In addition, as I said, we need to look at the structures and the quality of the engagement between Parliament and the Government in terms of parliamentary questions and replies.

The Taoiseach and I agreed on Friday, when we met for the first time to discuss this matter, that neither of us wanted to have a general election. We both worked genuinely to avoid that reality, notwithstanding the very different positions we had on this issue. Our positions on Brexit have always been aligned in terms of the national interest. That will continue and we will continue to facilitate the workings of government in the coming months and beyond in line with the confidence and supply agreement to ensure the country will have the necessary stability to meet the very fundamental challenges that are facing the nation.

I will add to that by acknowledging that Deputy Micheál Martin, as leader of Fianna Fáil, and the Fianna Fáil Party engaged in good faith with me and the Government over the weekend in our efforts to avert an unnecessary general election. Both parties were always of the view that an election should be avoided if it could be.

I regret that it necessitated the resignation of a very good person this morning but that ultimately was her decision, and ultimately that was what was required to avoid us going to the country tomorrow.

Turning to the other matters that we discussed over the weekend, the justice reforms will all be done and implemented. This includes an opportunity being given to Deputies to sit down with the senior officials in the Department to ask, face to face, exactly the questions they are asking so that answers can be given to them. As is the case in other Departments, a dedicated service or hotline will be set up in the Department of Justice and Equality which people can contact if they are not satisfied with the replies they are getting. This service already exists for matters related to social protection and health, and some other Departments. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Charles Flanagan, proposes to introduce that service for the Department of Justice and Equality also.

After a week of the Taoiseach dithering and scrambling for cover, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald has done the honourable thing. She has taken the honourable course and finally resigned as Tánaiste. We have had a week of the Taoiseach and the leader of Fianna Fáil desperately conniving to sidestep or avoid genuine accountability. Today, at last, we now have the right outcome but it should not have taken this long.

It was clear some time ago that Deputy Frances Fitzgerald had to go not for fear of an election, but because of her grave failures as the Minister for Justice and Equality. The Taoiseach failed to act decisively and to take the appropriate action. He thought that he could brazen this out and instead of acting as a Taoiseach should, he played a game of bluff and a game of political poker with his partner, Deputy Micheál Martin.

Sinn Féin moved its motion of no confidence in Deputy Frances Fitzgerald because we wanted her held to account for her failure to challenge the attempts by very powerful agencies of this State to smear and destroy Maurice McCabe. We wanted her and the system held to account for the disingenuous manoeuvrings which led to both her and the Taoiseach misleading the Dáil repeatedly. Make no mistake, if Sinn Féin had not moved its motion, the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil leader would have been quite happy to maintain the fiction that political accountability could be achieved in some other way. Deputy Micheál Martin was happy to maintain this fiction right up until last night when it became undeniable that the Tánaiste's position was completely untenable. It is a very alarming reflection on the Taoiseach that he continued to support this fiction up until a couple of hours ago.

There are now serious questions over the Taoiseach's judgment. It is clear that his handling of this issue turned a scandal into a political crisis and then into an absolute shambles of governance. The Taoiseach repeatedly misled the Dáil and supported a Minister who had clearly failed in her duties. The Taoiseach stood by those who had turned a blind eye to the smearing of Maurice McCabe when the Taoiseach should have held them to account. The Taoiseach put the interests of Fine Gael above all else. This was the first real test of the Taoiseach's leadership and he has failed it in a most spectacular fashion.

Let us be clear - the Tánaiste is gone but this debacle is not over, not by a long shot. For all the lip service the Taoiseach has paid to the importance of the Charleton tribunal, the Department of Justice and Equality withheld relevant documents from the tribunal. That is a breach of the law. I want to know what the Taoiseach proposes to do about that. The Taoiseach told us that the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Charles Flanagan, will apologise for not answering parliamentary questions. Will the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, who sat beside the Taoiseach and allowed him to mislead the Dáil, explain also to the House how he allowed that to happen?

I thank the Deputy. I assure the Deputy that neither I nor anyone on this side of the House has any fear of genuine accountability.

Every time I come to the House, I act in good faith and tell the truth as I believe it to be. I put on the record the facts as they are given to me. If Members of the Deputy's party down the years and today acted with that level of standard, honesty and truth, we would be living in a much better country than we are at present. Indeed, Deputy McDonald misled the Dáil herself on Thursday in her interaction with the former Tánaiste when she claimed that some of the emails were sent to or from gardaí. Of course, none of these emails involved any gardaí. They were emails sent between officials, advisers and politicians. The Deputy has yet to correct the record in the context of the error she made on Thursday. Even though she clearly did not know all the facts on Thursday last - we know from the record that she did not know all of the facts-----

She is not part of the club.

-----it did not stop her putting down a motion of confidence in the Tánaiste.

The Government hid the facts from us.

That is because for Deputy McDonald and the Sinn Féin Party this was never about getting to the truth or ensuring fair play; it was just about getting ahead and scoring points. Now, they are just trying to figure out on whom they can inflict damage next.

Blame Sinn Féin again.

That is not the way honourable parties and politicians should operate.

Tell us another porky.

Please, Deputies.

The allegations that have been made against Deputy Fitzgerald by Deputy McDonald are now matters for the tribunal. I hope that, after this episode, Members on all sides of the House will at least allow the tribunal to do its work and hear evidence in the calm, judicious way in which tribunals operate and to give us the full facts. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of that tribunal is.

As to Deputy McDonald's question about why certain emails were not provided to the Charleton tribunal under discovery, I do not know the answer. That is why I have ordered an external investigation to try to find out why the emails were not provided to the tribunal when they should have been. I remind the Deputy and the House that the only reason those emails came to light was that I ordered a trawl of emails and documents last week because I was not confident or satisfied that the Department had released all of the information it had because I had to come in here on two occasions and correct the record.

It was because of questions asked here.

I never want to be put in that position again. The House can be sure I will be holding the Department and its senior officials to account to ensure that neither I nor any Minister or Member of the Dáil will ever be put in that position again.

No doubt the Taoiseach has studied the documentation clearly. As a matter of fact, there was an email from gardaí to the Department. Whatever about that-----

Whatever about that.


If I can point out to the Fine Gael benches, I am merely demonstrating that the Taoiseach, I hope inadvertently, has misled the House again and I am correcting the facts.

For those who have not read the documents which were released, perhaps they might take the trouble to do so and then come at this from an informed position. The net point I put to the Taoiseach relates to the issue of the withholding of documents from the Charleton tribunal. That is not just a matter of sloppy practice or an administrative error, it is a breach of the law. I want to know what the Taoiseach, as Head of Government, proposes to do about that. He has turned up email correspondence and records of phone calls that were withheld from the tribunal and these happen to be the very pieces of documentation that were perhaps the most politically sensitive; those pieces of correspondence that clearly linked the former Tánaiste and her state of knowledge of the malicious legal strategy. I want to know what the Taoiseach proposes to do about that breach in the law. I invite him to go beyond a general statement about some unspecified general investigation. We want to know, in the spirit of accountability, that the law will be respected and upheld.

There were indeed emails from gardaí to officials in the Department of Justice and Equality, but not among those which were in the public domain last Thursday or the one to which the Deputy referred in her contribution last Thursday, which was that of 15 May 2015. The latter was entirely an email involving officials, advisers and the Minister.

Did the Taoiseach get that from the Department?

I have already answered the Deputy McDonald's question. Last week I ordered a trawl of all the documents and Members have seen the outcome of that already. I ordered a progress report on the implementation of the Toland report and Members have seen the output of that already. As of today, I am ordering an external inquiry into why the Department of Justice and Equality did not find those emails-----

Carried out by whom?

-----and why they were not sent on to the tribunal.

By whom will it be carried out?

I am absolutely open to suggestions for who should carry it out but the norm in these circumstances is for it to be carried out by a Secretary General of another Department or of the Government. It may be the case that a reason cannot be discovered for why these documents were missed but I want to find out, for my own information at the very least. We will deal with it when we have an outcome

It is important to reiterate what the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Charles Flanagan, said and has said consistently throughout this affair. When he was made aware by his Secretary General on Monday night last - not Monday gone by but the one before that - that a document had been discovered pertaining to Maurice McCabe, he did exactly the right thing. He instructed the Secretary General to send it on immediately to the tribunal and that was subsequently done.

It was a week later.

It is of deep regret to me that he did not actually see that email, that document for another week, when I saw it. Perhaps if he had seen it, we might have been in a different situation today but he acted absolutely appropriately in saying the email should be sent on to the tribunal, which is exactly where these documents are supposed to end up.

He did not even look at the email.

There is, no doubt, relief among ordinary people across the country that the Taoiseach did not inflict a general election on them in the face of the pressures - often very serious financial pressures - they face in the run-up to Christmas, to gain some cynical political advantage which I think was part of his calculations in how he dealt with this unfolding crisis. How else can he explain that, right up until the last minute, he protected the former Minister for Justice and Equality, even though he knew over the weekend that the Tánaiste had misled the Dáil about the extent of her knowledge of an absolutely foul smear campaign against Maurice McCabe?

This place never ceases to amaze me. I have just come from the Business Committee. Given the scale of events unfolding around us, in which we have lost a Minister and Tánaiste over the revelations that she misled the Dáil and with serious questions hanging over the current Minister for Justice and Equality over why he did not inform the Taoiseach of the extent of the knowledge within the Department at the time about the campaign against Maurice McCabe, and the questions the Taoiseach has to answer on why he protected the Tánaiste until the very last minute when it was politically unsustainable for anything to happen other than that she step down, I proposed that the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, and the former Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, come to the House to answer questions. There was a complete conspiracy of silence at the Business Committee. My request for questions to be taken on all the unanswered questions was opposed across the board. It was even suggested, incredibly, that the Taoiseach should not even take Leaders' Questions today, though there was a quick backing down from this suggestion.

The Taoiseach is trying to close the can of worms that has been opened on this scandal and Fianna Fáil is colluding with him, which is absolutely outrageous as so many questions remain unanswered. If information that should have been given to Mr. Justice Charleton was not given, who else in the Government at the time knew what Deputy Frances Fitzgerald and the rest of the Department knew? Did the Cabinet sub-committee on justice reform know about it? Did it deliberate on it? Is there other information in other ministries or memos on this matter that has not been handed over to Mr. Justice Charlton? Why did the Government and Fianna Fáil continue to defend Noreen O'Sullivan right up to the end, given that people in the Government knew that she had this knowledge of the smear campaign against Sergeant Maurice McCabe? It is absolutely extraordinary. We do not want to have a general election before Christmas because the people do not want to have one inflicted on them, but how can anybody have confidence in the Government, given its handling of this issue? The people certainly need to have a general election to get rid of the Government as soon as possible in the new year.

The Deputy referred to this morning's meeting of the Business Committee. To make it very clear to the membership, when he raised that matter, as he did very strongly this morning, it was pointed out that the reason such a debate could not be facilitated was Standing Order 59 explicitly prohibited such a debate. It states a matter shall not be raised in such a manner as it appears to be an attempt by the Dáil to encroach on the functions of the courts or a judicial tribunal. We are all aware that Mr. Justice Charlton issued a very clear and unambiguous statement on 24 November, in which he set out the work to be considered and undertaken by the tribunal, beginning in early January. The Deputy was also advised at the meeting that if he wanted to have the debate, he could do so either by changing the Standing Order, something that is open to the House, or by tabling a substantive motion.

On a point of order-----

There is no point of order.

There are no points of order during Leaders' Questions

It is about Ministers.

Not during Leaders' Questions.

It is a point of order.

It is not convenient.

The Ceann Comhairle has just raised a point of order. I want to raise one.

No, I did not.

Is the Deputy going to suggest something I have said is incorrect?

The Ceann Comhairle should outline my response to the points made at the Business Committee.

The Deputy objected to all of them.

I also pointed out that Deputy Frances Fitzgerald had come in here last week and answered questions which had not been considered to infringe on the competency of the tribunal. If it happened last week, it can happen this week.

I will ask the Taoiseach to deal with the questions asked.

It is not a Standing Order but grandstanding.

Not for the first time the Deputy's question is a little confused. He started by saying how pleased he was the people would not have to tolerate a general election before Christmas and finished by saying we needed to have one as soon as possible; therefore, it is a little hard to reply to questions of that nature.

I did not request that I not take Leaders' Questions today. If anybody made that request, it certainly did not come from me. I am here two days a week to answer questions for the best part of three hours. I am happy to do so and will continue to do so.

The humility shown here today is astounding.

Please, Deputy.

I will continue to do so for as long as I hold this office. It was never and will never be my intention to plunge the country into an unnecessary general election. I did everything I could over the weekend and in the past few days to ensure that would not be the case because we have a lot of work to do as a Government, not least with phase one and phase two of the Brexit talks coming up. The country does not need to find itself in a situation where we would have a caretaker Government, potentially for three or four months, during that very important period. As I have always said, I will do my best to make the Government work and last.

To answer the Deputy's question, I regret the fact that the former Tánaiste offered her resignation this morning but she did so for all of the right reasons. I did not seek it; she offered it of her own volition.

She did so for the reasons I outlined in my statement, namely, in the interests of the country and the good governance of this country.

To ensure that the date on which the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, was informed of the first controversial email and the date that I saw it are correct on the record, the Secretary General of the Department told the Minister on Monday, 13 November, that he was going to retire. The Minister was also informed of the existence of a document on that date, at which point he said it should be sent to the tribunal right away. Both he and I saw it for the first time on 20 November, one week later.

This is the establishment trying to put the lid back on the can of worms that has been opened. It is quite extraordinary. It was perfectly okay for the former Tánaiste to come to the House last week and for us to ask questions about these matters. There was no problem with the Charleton tribunal, although there had been some suggestions previous to that, mainly from the Government, that there might be. It turned out that there was not. Now, because Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have decided to put a lid on this matter, suddenly legalese is being used to justify saying that we cannot ask questions as to why the Taoiseach protected the former Tánaiste at the weekend when he was in possession of the knowledge that she had misled the Dáil about the extent of her knowledge and that of her Department of the smear campaign against Maurice McCabe. Incidentally, we now also know that she did not get legal advice from the Attorney General at that time, which was her excuse for not acting on the information that this smear campaign was being conducted against Maurice McCabe at the O'Higgins commission. I do not buy these legal covers for the Government now trying to run away from the questions that hang over the Taoiseach and the current Minister for Justice and Equality in the context of his stance and his failure to disclose the information that he had about this matter and in respect of the questions that still remain for the former Tánaiste.

I thank the Deputy.

It is absolutely extraordinary. Just to conclude-----

The Deputy is way over time.

The people of this country did not want an election inflicted on them before Christmas. The Taoiseach discovered that at the weekend. We all know that. However, that is not an excuse for these questions not being answered.

I thank the Deputy.

After the way the Taoiseach has handled this matter, his legitimacy and that of the Government have been shredded. The people need an alternative Government.

First, I did not discover it at the weekend. I spoke with Deputy Micheál Martin by telephone on Wednesday and Thursday, and we met on Friday, before the weekend, in our efforts-----

-----to avert an unnecessary general election. It is the Deputy and his fellow travellers who are continuing to demand an election. We in the two large parties in the House managed to avoid that. Again, the Deputy is accusing me of not coming to the House to answer questions. What am I doing now other than standing here and answering questions put to me by the Deputy? The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, is willing to make a statement and arrangements are being made for him to do that.

That is not what was said at the Business Committee.

As in the normal course of events, either he will take questions after that or he will take questions as Minister for Justice and Equality, as he does on a routine basis.

When is he making it?

Of course, there will also be questions on promised legislation later and tomorrow as well.

To answer the Deputy's other question, I ordered the trawl of documents because I had to come to the House twice to correct the record as I had not received full information from the Department of Justice and Equality. I ordered the trawl that allowed these documents to be found and I put them in the public domain on Monday.

Why did the Minister not order it?

I received an interim report on Saturday. I wanted to see what was in the interim report and I wanted to talk to the former Tánaiste about the content of those emails. More than that, I wanted to end the drip, drip of information, emails and email threads emerging day after day. That is the reason I waited until I had the full report on Monday. When I had it, we put it in the public domain within hours. Had the Department of Justice and Equality done that many weeks or months ago, we would not be in this sorry situation today.

I call Deputy Broughan.

Deputy Wallace is speaking for us today.

I was asked to take Leaders' Questions a few minutes ago so I was not expecting it. I have no interest in kicking the Taoiseach or the former Tánaiste today. Since 2012, Deputy Clare Daly and I have been trying to highlight the dysfunctional nature of An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice and Equality. While it is an incredible honour to be in this place and to be put here by the people in one's own area, I also find it incredibly frustrating. It is soul destroying watching the games that are played in here by all sides, not just the Government side. Are we ever going to change how we do things in here? We have lost two Commissioners, two Ministers for Justice and Equality and two Secretaries General. There are whistleblowers today who are as well protected as whistleblowers were six, eight or ten years ago. There is no appetite to protect whistleblowers in this country, regardless of which section they come from.

We have not doubted the dysfunctional nature of the Department of Justice and Equality for a long time. We are members of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality. There has been recent discussion of the Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2017. The hair on your head would stand on end from looking at what the Department is at. Digital Rights Ireland has exposed the Department so much and yet the Department is prepared to go down blind alleys with it that will incur huge costs for the State. We listened to the Ombudsman recently reprimand the Department for its handling of the Magdalen redress scheme. It is mad stuff.

I do not know for how much longer the Taoiseach will be in office. I do not know how in God's name he will rebuild the toxic relationship with the boys on this side of the House. I presume we will have an election before Easter. For however long he remains Taoiseach, be it a month, three months or another five years, I wonder whether there is any chance that we will actually look at everything we do in here and start to take an honest approach to issues and not play games all the time. Can these problems be addressed? Is there any appetite for doing things differently? We do not represent the people in here. Last week, during the debate on the Finance Bill, we debated the fact that AIB will not pay corporation tax for 20 years. I would say the majority of people do not even know that. Given that this bank was on its back and dead and the people paid for its recovery, how does this represent the people when it is not what they would want? What is happening with the NAMA inquiry? Will the Department of Finance give the documents to this inquiry or will it behave in a similar manner to the Department of Justice and Equality? Is Mr. Justice John Cooke just carrying out a desktop exercise? I still insist that NAMA has cost this State more than €20 billion but I do not think anyone wants to know. What is happening in NAMA is crazy but I do not see anyone with an appetite for the truth about it to come out. Is anything going to change?

I am as dissatisfied about all of this as the Deputy. He may not believe that but I really am. This is not the way I want to see Parliament or Government operate and these are not the kind of issues on which I want to focus. In particular, I want to focus on the important negotiations regarding Brexit. An important summit is coming up in only two weeks' time and I have been unable to give that any of my attention for the past number of days. I can assure the Deputy that I do not want things to continue in the way they have been going on for the past number of years.

It is three years since I used the word "distinguished" to describe Maurice McCabe in contrast to the words used by the then Commissioner and it is three years since I described the Department of Justice and Equality as not being fit for purpose. As I found out as both a doctor and a politician, diagnosis is a damned sight easier than surgery and the cure. It is not difficult to identify some of the obvious problems that exist in our country and in some deep parts of our State.

Identifying them is one thing, but trying to get a grip on them, trying to find out which allegations are true and which are not, and trying to deal with those fundamental problems is a real struggle. It is bedevilling all of us who have the privilege of holding Executive office.

There are things we have done. We have established the Policing Authority, which is holding the Garda to a new level of accountability. When Josephine Feehily and her group are fully up and running, they will hold the Garda to account in a way that has never been done before. The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland has been established under Kathleen O'Toole and I look forward to its interim and full recommendations.

We set up a full tribunal, the Charleton tribunal, which can look into all of these matters. I look forward to the tribunal having its hearings. It will report on its first module, the Harrison module, this week or next. Its reports are already coming and I look forward to its reporting on the McCabe module in the new year.

The Toland report on reform of the Department of Justice and Equality is partially implemented. I announced today that we will set up a change management board, with two or three change management experts who will monitor the full implementation of that report. I have ordered today an external inquiry to answer the question as to why these emails were not found sooner and why they were not sent on to the tribunal. If they were found as a result of a trawl that I ordered last week, they should have been found many months ago when they were required under discovery by the tribunal.

The Taoiseach mentioned Josephine Feehily and the Policing Authority. It does the Taoiseach no favours to try to defend poor and weak legislation on policing that has been implemented in the past number of years. In September, when Deputy Jack Chambers asked her at the justice committee if she was happy that the former Commissioner, Nóirín O'Sullivan, was gone, Josephine Feehily said "No". She said she regretted it and that the former Commissioner had been doing great work on reform. That is not true. Josephine Feehily is just as big a part of the problem. The Taoiseach and I will not agree on that, but perhaps the problems are a lot worse than the Taoiseach knows. He cannot be on top of everything. Unless there is a complete clean-out of the Garda hierarchy, things will not change. We will be bringing stuff in here next week or the week after about what is happening today in An Garda Síochána that will frighten the Taoiseach. The hierarchy has to go.

If we are going to take a fresh approach to things, housing should be one of them. The Government can say it is doing this, that and the other, but it is not dealing with the issue. It will not go away. The housing crisis is going to get worse before it gets better because of how the Government is handling it. I would love to sit down with the Taoiseach if he is interested. I know how it works and the Government is not dealing with it in a way that will fix the problem. The Taoiseach probably does not need me to tell him the HSE is a monster that is almost uncontrollable. I do not know how the Government will solve it. The Taoiseach has a lot on his plate.

I would certainly be happy to sit down with the Deputy between now and Christmas and talk to him about housing. I acknowledge it is an area in which the Deputy has much more experience than I do so I would be happy to take him up on that particular offer.

I have no doubt the Deputy can come to the House with all sorts of terrifying allegations about malpractice and misconduct among gardaí. I welcome the Deputy having the opportunity to do that. The difficulty we always have on this side of the House, when one is in an Executive position, is that one has to first establish which allegations are true and which are not. We know from the O'Higgins commission that allegations made by whistleblowers are not always true. We will know that from the outcome of the Charleton tribunal. We cannot operate in government on the basis that every time somebody comes with an allegation that would make the hair on one's neck stand up, it must be true. Equally, we cannot operate on the basis that it is not true. We cannot dismiss serious allegations because so many of them turn out to be true. We always need to have in place some sort of process or system whereby we can take allegations seriously and then try to identify which ones are true, which ones stack up and which ones do not, and act on them from there.