Why did the commissioner of An Garda Síochána hand the government a missile to fire off at Phil Hogan? Why was Phil Hogan cautioned in Kildare over using a mobile phone while driving?
These questions concern the old chestnut of the interaction between policing and politics and require answers, preferably in an official forum.
The incident in Co Kildare in which Mr Hogan received a caution over a mobile phone is central to the government calling for his resignation.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin told Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio that news of the incident prompted he and Leo Varadkar to ask Mr Hogan to “consider his position” on Sunday.
Mr Martin said that the incident recording Mr Hogan’s presence in Kildare was in conflict with earlier statements the EU commissioner had given.
Mr Hogan’s spokesman has stated that he “stopped off briefly in Co Kildare on August 17 en route from Kilkenny to Galway. He was stopped by a Garda for using his mobile phone while driving.
“He stopped briefly at his apartment to collect personal belongings and essential documents relating to the EU-US trade negotiations, which continued while the (EU) commissioner was in Galway.”
Mr Hogan reportedly received a caution from the garda and no more. Co Kildare was then and remains in a state of partial lockdown which permits only essential travel.
Mr Hogan’s interaction with the gardaí was a private matter.
Yet the detail found its way to the office of the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, who then passed it onto the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee – or the secretary of the department. Ms McEntee informed the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.
There is provision for the garda commissioner to pass information about an individual onto political masters in certain circumstances.
Under Section 41 of the Garda Siochana Act 2005, this can be done for reasons including security of the state, public confidence in the gardaí, accountability to the Oireachtas and a few others. The final part of the section allows for “any other matters that in the commissioner’s opinion, should be brought to the minister’s attention”.