Leaders' Questions

I ask all Members who are raising issues today to keep an eye on the clock.

Last week in the Dáil I asked the Taoiseach a number of questions relating to the knowledge of the Tánaiste, while she was Minister for Justice and Equality, and of her Department of the adversarial legal strategy of the Garda Commissioner during the O'Higgins commission of investigation. In May 2014, the Tánaiste, who was then the Minister for Justice and Equality, stated very clearly that she was committed to providing Maurice McCabe and whistleblowers with the highest levels of legal support and that she was very conscious of the significant role he had played in revealing wrongdoing and malpractice. The Taoiseach indicated in his reply to my questions on the issue that the Tánaiste had no prior knowledge and only found out about it after the fact, at around the time that it came into the public domain. He followed that up the following day, in response to Deputy Howlin, and referred to May 2016 as the date of her becoming aware of this. We now know that is not true. The Dáil was misled.

The Taoiseach was misled by the Tánaiste. Deputy Kelly had, prior to this, asked basic questions which the Ceann Comhairle is now following up. Deputy Kelly did not get straight answers to those questions; he got answers to questions he did not ask.

Listening to the Tánaiste just before I came in, she said she had received an email which related to a criminal charge against Mr. McCabe being raised at the tribunal on the basis that it had not been properly investigated. That raises all sorts of issues. I have to inform the Taoiseach that, just a minute before I arrived in here, I took a phone call from Maurice McCabe - he had been on to another Deputy. He is adamant that such an issue was never raised during the O'Higgins inquiry. He is taking very serious issue with the remarks of the Tánaiste on the "News at One" today and, it is my understanding, will be issuing a statement. The House will appreciate I have only taken the call. I am not in a position to adjudicate on this but it again raises more questions than answers.

Again, I would make the point that it seems there was an attempt over the weekend to downplay the nature of the adversarial attack on Maurice McCabe at the inquiry - it was just about motivation and credibility. In fact, it was about integrity. This is on the record of the House, and it might have been Deputy Howlin who spoke over a year ago in regard to this issue. It was in the public domain, courtesy of Michael Clifford and of Katie Hannon of RTE. Mr. Smyth stated: "[M]y instructions are to challenge the integrity certainly of Sgt McCabe and his motivation". This was in response to questions from Mr. Justice O'Higgins. I can go through the whole transcript but I will not, as I do not have time.

The bottom line is that the Dáil was misled last week. Very basic questions are not getting answers. I want to ask about the email the Tánaiste spoke about. Who initiated that email? Who was the justice official who sent that email to the Tánaiste? Did the Tánaiste read the email in regard to the issue that she raised? Essentially, will the Tánaiste come before the House, make a comprehensive statement on this and answer questions that Deputies could put to clear this up once and for all? This is a very serious issue.

Go raibh maith agat. The Deputy's time is up.

Far from upholding the integrity of Maurice McCabe and offering the highest level of protection, which the Tánaiste said she would do, by her acquiescence and incuriosity on this issue, the Government essentially remains complicit from beginning to end in this sordid affair regarding the undermining of Maurice McCabe.

I remind the House that misleading the House is one thing but deliberately misleading the House is another matter. We are all mature politicians. I want you to stay within the Standing Orders.

I did not use the word "deliberately".

The terms of the reference of the tribunal are about communications involving the Commissioner. Let us be very careful. I call the Taoiseach.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for clarifying that, of course, to mislead the House is to deliberately seek to deceive the House; to misinform the House is to give information that may not be fully correct. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify matters as best I can. The House will appreciate, once again, that I do not have first-hand knowledge of any of these matters. I am replying based on briefings from other Departments and other Ministers but I will do my best to shine a light on things. I want to note as well that these are matters before a tribunal, a tribunal established by this House to investigate into these matters, not a role this House can hold.

I can confirm once again that the Department of Justice and Equality had no hand, act or part in the legal strategy pursued by the former Garda Commissioner. The Tánaiste had no hand, act or part in the legal strategy pursued by the former Garda Commissioner. The Department of Justice and Equality had no prior knowledge of it. The Tánaiste had no prior knowledge of it either and, therefore, could not influence it. The Department of Justice and Equality only found out about it after the fact - after it had already happened. The same applies to the Tánaiste: she only found out about it after the fact - after it had already happened.

Subsequent to my reply in this House last week, I received some new information in the form of an email I saw at 11.30 p.m. last night for the first time. This is an email between two officials in the Department of Justice and Equality describing a conversation with a third party, an official in the Office of the Attorney General. This email was then forwarded to the Minister for information.

The email speaks of a dispute between the legal team of the Garda Commissioner at the time and Sergeant McCabe. It concludes that neither the Attorney General nor the Minister had any function in the matter. The email has been provided to the disclosures tribunal. I do hope that in some way clarifies the matter as best as I can.

In relation to Sergeant McCabe, I want to say Sergeant McCabe is somebody who I have had dealings with. I met him when I was Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he made allegations relating to penalty points, allegations which few people believed to be true, but because of the evidence he provided to my Department, I believed that they may well have been true. I subsequently met him and subsequently supported him on a number of occasions, particularly at times when it was not possible to do so. He is one of the bravest people that I have ever encountered in public life and he is somebody who has been very much wronged by the State on a number of occasions because of his bravery and because of his willingness to shine a light into some dark places.

I really hope that we all accept that these are now matters for the disclosures tribunal. That tribunal should be allowed to do its work.

The Tánaiste spoke to the Taoiseach last week. The point I made was that the Dáil had been misled. There is no question about that. Misleading information was given to the Dáil. I am not saying that it was deliberately misled, but it was misled because we were given clear information that the Minister and the Department only knew a year later regarding a row with the Department.

There is genuinely great unease on this matter, given the history. The protestations of support for Sergeant Maurice McCabe contrast with how the system has consistently dealt with him. The public articulation of support bears no relationship with the consistent adversarial attack on his integrity, his motives and what he was about. That followed right through. The significance of the revelations in the O'Higgins report is just that, because in the aftermath of that report, the Government, including the Minister, continued to express full confidence in the Garda Commissioner notwithstanding the clear adversarial nature of the activity at that commission, in essence by the State and legal counsels representing agencies of the State. That is the point.

We are finding it difficult to accept the credibility of what the Tánaiste is offering us in terms of the level of awareness of the Department and herself and when they became aware. Is the Taoiseach still holding that it was a full year afterwards in May 2016? Can we get any clarity on that? The Taoiseach did not answer my question on whether the Tánaiste will appear before the House to give a comprehensive statement on the matter and take questions on it.

I think that the ordering of the House obviously is a matter for the Business Committee, and there is a mechanism under special-----

The Taoiseach can offer.

-----notice questions to raise matters such as this. Again, I am conscious that this House has set up a tribunal to establish the truth about these matters, including carrying out an inquiry into-----

The Government rigged the terms of reference.

-----the former Commissioner's legal strategy in this regard and also-----

The Department of Justice and Equality is not included.

-----the role of State entities, including the Department of Justice and Equality. That is why this House established a tribunal and I would be reluctant to agree to any parallel process in this House that would be separate from or undermine in any way the work of the tribunal. I would need to take-----

The Taoiseach is protecting the Tánaiste.

-----advice on that.

As the Tánaiste said in the radio interview in the last hour, she did not recall the email at the time at which she spoke to me. She was away at the time in Dubai. I was subsequently away in Sweden. She was away in Boston. We only had the opportunity-----

The Dáil is the place to answer those questions.

-----to speak again last night.

The Taoiseach could start with-----


-----the Tánaiste's response at 1 p.m. today-----

We will move on to Sinn Féin and Deputy Pearse Doherty.

-----concerning a criminal charge about something that had never happened.

Please, allow Deputy Pearse Doherty.

I wish to raise the same issue with the Taoiseach. The answers that he has given the House today are again unsatisfactory. We know that he misled the Dáil, intentionally or not, last week because the Department of Justice and Equality has now clarified that it has miraculously found an email that has been missing for the past two years. We now know that the Tánaiste became aware of this a full year earlier than the Taoiseach claimed in the Chamber last week. I welcome the fact that he has corrected the record of the House and acknowledged this, but that does not deal with the entire issue. We have contradictory information, which raises more questions, particularly given the Tánaiste's interview on RTÉ.

She now tells us that she was aware in May 2015 that legal counsel for the Garda Commissioner was making allegations of a serious criminal nature against Sergeant McCabe and was also claiming that this complaint had not been investigated. We hear that Sergeant McCabe is disputing at the commission that that ever happened. We need to square that circle.

The Tánaiste told us she cannot even remember being told this and receiving the email in 2015. Let us cast our minds back to the significance of this controversy. We all know it has caused great hardship to Sergeant McCabe and his immediate and wider family. It has also led to the resignation of the Minister for Justice and Equality, the confidential recipient and the Garda Commissioner. Is it really credible to tell us that the Minister for Justice and Equality at the time got an email which said that the legal counsel for the Garda Commissioner was questioning a senior garda whose involvement and bravery, as the Taoiseach said, resulted in the resignation of those three individuals, that informed the Minister that serious criminal complaints were being made against the said garda, and that said that accusations were being made by the Commissioner through the legal representative that the complaints were not being investigated by the Garda which she oversees, and the Minister cannot remember reading that email? That really stretches credibility.

Many other things stretch credibility. We know that the Department miraculously found this email on Thursday. I am not sure when the Tánaiste was made aware of it. Again, it was the investigative journalism of Katie Hannon, along with Mick Clifford, who uncovered the story last year. She put this information into the public domain. The Taoiseach's Twitter account, the Tánaiste, Deputy Fitzgerald, or the strategic information service did not put this information into the public domain. An investigative journalist had to draw the information from the Department and Minister.

A serious number of questions need to be answered. If the Tánaiste cannot answer these questions credibly, there will be serious questions about whether the she can remain in her position. This is a major political crisis because the Taoiseach has put false information on the record of the House. He has now corrected the record of the House, but there are now other serious questions.

When will the Tánaiste make herself available to answer questions, not just to RTÉ but to the Deputies in the House who hold her accountable? Will she make herself available today? Will the Taoiseach, as leader of Fine Gael, ensure that it supports a change to the Order of Business so that we can have proper statements and questions to the former Minister and current Tánaiste?

This is an email between officials from two and half years ago. It is not inconceivable and certainly should not give rise to conspiracy theories that it may take a few days for somebody to find such an email. It should be borne in mind that it is an email between two Department of Justice and Equality officials in which one official relates a third party conversation he had with an official from the Office of the Attorney General. The email concludes that it is the view of the officials that the Attorney General and Tánaiste had no function in this matter. This pertains to a legal strategy in which the Tánaiste and Department had no hand, act or part, about which they knew nothing prior to the fact and about which they only found out after the fact. The conclusion at that time was that they had no role in the matter.

Nobody is making the accusation, to my knowledge, that the Tánaiste or Department were involved in devising a strategy which was devised by the Garda Commissioner in regard to Sergeant McCabe. The accusation we are making is that the Minister became aware not of the generalities but the specifics of this. The Taoiseach has seen that letter and I ask him to put it in the public domain. He has not repeated what the Tánaiste repeated on RTÉ, namely, that the letter which was subject of the conflict or row that took place at the commission of investigation involved serious criminal complaints being made against Sergeant McCabe, that Sergeant McCabe denied them and that the Commissioner's legal representative was also making the accusation that they were not properly investigated. Is that what is in that letter? Will the Taoiseach put that letter into the public domain?

We are now accusing the Minister of having knowledge of this. She told us she had knowledge of this and that she knew the legal counsel of the Commissioner was going down this avenue.

She tells us also she cannot remember reading the letter. It is not credible that a Minister for Justice and Equality, given the sensitivity of this issue and the commission of investigation at that point, simply did not read an email, or if she did read an email cannot remember reading that email.

I ask the Taoiseach again if he will publish the contents of that letter to which the Tánaiste is referring. Will he confirm to this House that the comments the Tánaiste made on RTÉ are on the contents of that letter, which relates to the serious criminal allegations made against Sergeant McCabe? Will he, as leader of his party, make time available so this Dáil will have ample time for all Members to question the Minister for Justice and Equality on this matter?

As I said, leaders of political parties do not make time available in the House. We have a Business Committee that decides how time is allocated in the House.

I do not know if I have the authority to publish this email.

The Tánaiste quoted from it.

Again, it is something I would have to check and on which I would have to get legal advice. I am conscious that this is now a matter before a tribunal. The email is among the documents furnished to the tribunal.

The Tánaiste quoted extracts.

It is public. It was discussed on the radio.

It is within the terms of reference of the tribunal to look into these matters.

The terms of reference are too narrow.

I must restate the fact, and this has been over and back in different forms for nearly two weeks now, I am still not clear what allegation is being made.

The Tánaiste and the Department of Justice and Equality had no hand, act or part in the legal strategy. They did not know about it before the event happened.

They sat on the information and did nothing after the fact.

If she did know, what did she do? Nothing.

There is a record of an email between officials discussing it after it had already happened, at which point, needless to say, it would have been too late for the Minister to influence it or intervene.

It was sent to the Minister.

She would have not have had the authority to do so anyway.

Perhaps it was to establish a tribunal more quickly when she realised what was going on.

The advice in the email is that the Minister and the Attorney General had no function in such a matter.

The question was whether the Taoiseach would confirm what the Tánaiste said was in the email.

The Garda Commissioner had her own legal strategy.

The spin unit will be going into overdrive now.

It is an unfortunate fact that over recent weeks, the Taoiseach has given inaccurate information to this House twice. Both occasions related to the Department of Justice and Equality and both now require explanations from the Taoiseach. The first occasion related to the staffing of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. The Taoiseach told the House in September on the advice of the Department of Justice and Equality that the role of the detective inspector had been filled on a part-time basis while recruitment of a full-time person was under way. This was not true. The person the Taoiseach referred to did not fall under the management of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. In truth, that vacancy remains unfilled more than a year after it arose. I ask the Taoiseach to correct his statement to the Dáil on that matter.

Second, and potentially more seriously, the Taoiseach made comments to me in this House last week when I was trying to get information that the series of questions posed by Deputy Alan Kelly failed to get from the Department of Justice and Equality and its Minister. The Taoiseach stated the Tánaiste had informed him she only became aware of the legal strategy against Sergeant McCabe around the time it entered the public domain. That is, quite simply, not true and this is not a small matter. The legal strategy was designed to fundamentally discredit Sergeant Maurice McCabe and subvert the course of justice, a matter of enormous importance. This good man could have been destroyed. The strategy was deployed behind closed doors from where it could not be revealed by Sergeant McCabe under threat of criminal sanction. At the same time the Garda Commissioner was instructing her lawyers to discredit Sergeant McCabe, she and the Tánaiste were publicly lauding him. The strategy was fundamentally dishonest.

If the Tánaiste knew even in general terms, as we have now been told, what exactly does that mean? Will the Taoiseach produce the email partially quoted by the Tánaiste on the RTÉ news programme at 1 p.m.? Any Minister being told in any terms of a development as potentially explosive as this would say bluntly, "tell me specifically what happened and why".

That such an email resulted in no action, and cannot even be recalled, is simply not credible. Last week the Taoiseach's view was that the Tánaiste did not know about this and therefore could not be asked anything about it. We are now being asked to accept that she was told by email that an allegation of a serious crime had been part of the legal strategy, yet she still did nothing. That any Minister for Justice and Equality would fail to examine an issue that so fundamentally goes to the heart of the administration of justice in this State is troubling. That the Tánaiste appears to have misled the Taoiseach last week on this matter speaks to the functioning of Government itself.

These are serious matters. Will the Taoiseach outline the contacts that he has had with the Tánaiste and the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality to ensure that questions asked in this House are fully and accurately answered? Will he explain how something as serious as this could have reached the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality's desk without triggering questions or actions of any kind?

As the Tánaiste notes, there was a commission of investigation underway at the time under a judge which was set up by this Government, and we now have a disclosures tribunal established by this House to look into all of these matters. The email is not my property and I do not know if I have the authority to publish it. It is a document before the tribunal, so I will have to take advice on that matter. I have had no direct contact with the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality. I have had contact with the Minister for Justice and Equality and have done my best to find out as many of the facts about this matter as possible. In terms of my contacts with the Tánaiste, we spoke on the phone when she was in Dubai last week. As she has said on the radio just now, she did not recall the email at that time. However, what she said to me was substantially true, that she only became aware of the details of this set of events when they came into public knowledge. We have an email between officials relating to a third party conversation in relation to events that happened at the commission which was forwarded to the Tánaiste for information. The conclusion at the bottom of that email was that she had no function in the matter at all.

In terms of the other matter raised by the Deputy, during oral questions two weeks ago I was asked a supplementary question concerning the vacancy of the position of Garda detective inspector at the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, ODCE. In my response I stated that:

I understand the duties and role have been undertaken by another detective inspector in addition to other duties. An ambitious programme of recruitment and promotion is now underway across An Garda Síochána. This is taking some time, but arising from the process a new appointment will be made to the post as soon as possible. In the interim, the Garda authorities have confirmed that they intend to assign the role on a full-time basis, effective immediately. It is important to note that there has been a full complement of gardaí at sergeant rank throughout this period.

Subsequent to that, the Director of Corporate Enforcement wrote to the acting commissioner on Tuesday, 14 November, to draw attention to inaccuracies in what had been reported in the media and to communicate his concern in that regard. In recording those concerns, the director noted that the aforementioned inaccuracies appear to have been formed on the basis of information provided in the House. This correspondence was only brought to my Department's attention on foot of a media query on Friday, 17 November. The ODCE did not write directly to me or to the Department of the Taoiseach. My answer in the House was based on a briefing from the Department of Justice and Equality, which had received the information from the Garda.

On foot of the correspondence between the Garda and the ODCE, I want to provide the following clarification. An Garda Síochána advised that inspector cover was provided to the ODCE from March 2017. As I said in the House, this was somebody who had other duties at the time as well. In his letter to the acting commissioner, the director states that at no point had a detective inspector been assigned to him and that at no point had the detective inspector come under his direction. The director further states that under those circumstances the individual, referred to above, in his view could not be delegated with the director's powers, nor could the director share otherwise confidential information with the individual referred to. As set out in my original answer, An Garda Síochána had informed the Department of Justice and Equality that it intended to assign the role on a full-time but interim basis with immediate effect, and that a permanent officer would be assigned following an ongoing promotion competition.

Subsequent to that and after my answer an issue arose with the candidate identified to carry out the role. I have now been assured by the Department of Justice and Equality that an inspector has been identified to fill the role on an interim full-time basis. Following a meeting yesterday, Monday, 20 November, between the director and the detective chief superintendent of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau I am informed that the inspector will take up his new role with effect from Monday, 27 November. An internal Garda Síochána competition is expected to conclude in early 2018. Following this, a full-time detective inspector will be assigned to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, ODCE, on a permanent basis.

I gave the Taoiseach an extra minute to allow him to answer the question fully.

I will deal with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement issue on another occasion because I have only one minute now.

The Tánaiste said on radio, and the Taoiseach repeated, that she cannot recall the email. She says she does not remember it because the email said that no action was required of her. Surely the very fact that an official of a Department informed her of this matter meant that she was expected to do something. Since she could not make public comment about them, on being apprised of these matters did the Tánaiste inform Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill, who the Government tasked with scoping out the terms of further inquiry, of this information that a serious charge of a criminal nature had been made against Sergeant McCabe?

I know that Deputy Howlin has served in two Governments, perhaps three-----

He has been a Minister on many occasions and is very aware that Ministers all the time receive emails from officials for information. All emails are not for action.

They are not all of equal value either.

This is very serious stuff.

When the information that is provided in the email tells the Minister that he or she has no function in the matter, that sets out the parameters very clearly-----

I would have thought an email that included the name McCabe would have required attention.

-----that this is something in which the Minister has no function-----

I think the subject required an answer.

-----and no role.

The Deputy's second question was addressed to the Tánaiste and I am sure she will answer it in due course.

Will she come into the House to answer it?

That is pretty fundamental.

The Tánaiste will answer "in due course"?

That is what the lads are paying €5 million for.

It is a pretty fundamental question. There is either a record or there is not. Mr. Justice O'Neill was told or he was not.

The Deputies well know that I have no responsibility for the answers the Taoiseach gives.

The Tánaiste will answer "in due course".

That is some accountability from this Government, is it not?

She will talk to the spin unit first.

As I know and respect the fact that the Cregan commission of investigation is under way, I will not comment on the substance of that inquiry. However, I must raise concerns regarding information that is now in the public domain, regarding a request by Mr. Justice Brian Cregan for a doubling of legal fees, and a significant extension of time for the commission to complete the Siteserv module. If the full increase in legal fees is granted, it is anticipated the inquiry will cost in the region of €25 million but the original preliminary estimate was €4 million. The inquiry commenced in mid-2015 and is now seeking yet another extension to the end of 2018. From the outset of this process, I and others expressed a desire that the inquiry would not cost a fortune and would not go on for years. It is my understanding that commissions of inquiry are answerable to the Dáil and the Taoiseach should confirm that is the case.

The intention, as I understood it, was that the commission would act as a means of investigation led by a judge, that it would take information provided to it and would investigate based on this and other information it received. It was not intended to be a judicial process and I have serious concerns now that it is deviating from the role originally envisaged for it. In my first communication with the commission, I sought an undertaking on confidentiality. I had given assurances to those from whom I had received information that I would not reveal their identities, and I have not and will not reveal their names. My co-operation with the Commission is without question up to the point that such co-operation requires me to divulge confidential sources, thus potentially putting people in harm's way. When whistleblowers come to us as Deputies they sometimes seek assurances about confidentiality and we, as public representatives should, and must respect that.

The information I was given, much of which I passed on to the inquiry, is apparently being reduced in value because I will not identify my sources. I have a problem with that. Now it appears that retrospective changes have been made to the procedures. Recently, I learned that my submission has been widely circulated to what are described as "potentially interested" parties. When I sought assurances on confidentiality from the commission, prior to submitting any information, I was told it would only be divulged as necessary. There appears to have been a significant deviation from “where necessary” to “potentially interested”. That is no small difference.

Will the Taoiseach outline to the Dáil how he intends to handle the request for a doubling of legal fees? If it is to be granted, what Department will the money come from? Will he confirm that the commission is indeed answerable to the Dáil? Does he have concerns regarding the deviation from “where necessary” to “potentially interested” in regard to the circulation of sensitive information supplied to the commission?

The issues raised by the Deputy are not dissimilar to those raised by others. I am conscious that we are discussing a commission of investigation, and that is something which is not a creature of the Government. It is based in the legislation and is accountable to the Dáil, not to me. I am accountable to the Dáil for the actions of Government but not for the actions and operations of a tribunal, court, or a judge who has been appointed to carry out an independent investigation.

Mr. Justice Cregan has asked for an extension until the end of next year. I believe there is no option other than to grant that extension because if we do not do so the investigation will fall. Mr. Justice Cregan has asked that he have until the end of 2018 to continue his investigations and his work, which is appropriate. He has also asked that the legal fees be doubled. The legal fees for commissions of investigation are the same across the board and Mr. Justice Cregan has asked that they be doubled for his commission. I discussed this at a meeting with party leaders last week, or perhaps the previous week, when Deputy Murphy was present. She will be aware that the broad consensus across party leaders was that we should not agree to the request that legal fees be doubled for this commission of inquiry, but that they remain standard across commissions. However, my officials have committed to meet with the judge to discuss other ways in which the work of the commission can be supported, whether through additional staff or other supports.

If the commission is answerable to the Dáil, I do not understand why the Dáil is not involved in this process when an extension is being sought. One difference in the commission of inquiries legislation is that it produces reports periodically. I would have thought that if the commission were answerable to the Dáil then the Dáil should discuss these reports.

Not only is the sum involved considerable but it is taking some time. The commission must conclude its inquires. This is only the first module. Other transactions were to be considered but the way it is being conducted makes it look as though we are moving into the kind of territory of tribunals of inquiry rather than a commission of investigation. Is the Taoiseach concerned that it may be moving into a different format than the one which was envisaged originally? Will he raise that with the judge?

I appreciate the Deputy's sincerity on this but I am being asked difficult questions. I will need to check the legislation to see exactly how the commission of investigation is accountable to the Dáil and how it operates.

I would have to read it again to be sure that I am answering correctly. My recollection from the meeting the party leaders had two weeks ago was that it would be possible for me, as Taoiseach, to extend the deadline by order and that it does not require a vote of the House. However, I would like to check it before saying that with certainty. Mr. Justice Cregan was appointed to carry out this role independently and it would not be appropriate for me, as Taoiseach, to seek to interfere in any way with the way he conducts his investigation.