Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigns
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Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigns

GARDA Commissioner Martin Callinan has resigned with immediate effect over the on-going whistleblower controversy.

The commisioner informed Ireland’s Minister for Justice Alan Shatter this morning of his decision to step down after more than 40 years in the force.

In a statement, Mr Callinan said that his decision was "in the best interests of An Garda Síochána and my family".

He added: "I felt that recent developments were proving to be a distraction from the important work that is carried out by An Garda Síochána on a daily basis for the citizens of the State in an independent and impartial manner."

The commissioner had been under severe pressure for the past two months since his appearance at the Public Accounts Committee in January where he described the actions of garda whistleblowers John Wilson and Maurice McCabe as “disgusting”.

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Sergeant McCabe and retired garda Wilson were responsible for bringing the penalty points issue into the public domain.

It was the commissioner's failure, and unwillingness, to withdraw his comments about the two men that last week heaped further pressure on him following the vindication of the whistleblowers in  the Garda Inspectorate report.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar called on the commissioner to withdraw the comment but he refused to do so on a number of occasions, insisting that he had "clarified" the comment.

Mr Varadkar was backed in his call by Labour ministers.

In the wake of the commissioner's resignation, Opposition TDs are now calling on Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to step down.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and a number of Independent TDs say he can no longer remain at the Cabinet table.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Fianna Fáil leader Micháel Martin said this was the latest depressing chapter in a long saga and Minister Shatter had to take a significant degree of the blame.

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Mr Callinan joined An Garda Síochána in 1973 and spent nearly 41 years in the force, a service he today said was "a great honour and privilege."

He added in his statement today: "Since becoming Commissioner in 2010 I have never failed to be impressed by the dedication of all serving members and civilian staff even when they faced significant professional and personal challenges.

"The last four years have seen major changes in An Garda Síochána, which were always done in the best interest of the community for whom we do our job. Although some of these changes have not always been easy, statistics from the CSO have shown that they have resulted in a reduction in crime throughout the country. This change in delivery of a policing service has, I hope, provided communities and individuals with a sense of safety and security in their daily lives. "