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?