Callinan: ‘I cannot be usurped by subordinates using PAC as platform’

Commissioner to take legal advice after learning committee will hear evidence from garda whistleblower

Thu, Jan 23, 2014, 13:22

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has told the Public Accounts Committee he would be seeking legal advice and reserved the right to take action after learning the committee would hear evidence from a “so-called” Garda whistleblower.

The serving garda has over a two-year period made serious allegations of Garda corruption relating to the termination of motorists penalty points.

“I think it’s grossly unfair,” Commissioner Callinan told this morning’s hearing.

“I cannot be usurped by subordinates coming in to use this committee as a platform.”

He had just been informed in public session by PAC chairman John McGuinness that the one of two Garda whistleblowers had made further serious allegations in correspondence in the past week and would appear before the committee to give evidence next Thursday.

Commissioner Callinan had said earlier in this morning’s hearing that he was against the garda appearing before the committee to give evidence.

He said the man, one of two “so-called whistleblowers”, was a serving garda.

It would be a “rocky road” if serving members were permitted to come before the committee and make criminal allegations about their colleagues.

He added the two men, one now retired from the Garda, who had provided information to members of the Oireachtas on alleged corruption in the cancelling of penalty points may be in breach of data protection legislation.

They had shared large volumes of material on a regular basis and he reserved the right to take disciplinary action against any Garda member who engaged in “bandying around information”.

He believed they should use the confidential reporting system established within the Garda to facilitate whistle blowing. Or they should go to an assistant commissioner examining the allegations around the workings of the penalty points system.

“It’s important to me as commissioner that I have control and authority over the force,” he said of the possibility that disciplinary action may be taken if he felt it was warranted in the future.

He would be undermining the Garda’s role in policing and security if he did not reserve the right to maintain control when he believed police work was being undermined without due control by Garda members seeking to raise their concerns.

Public Accounts Committee chairman John McGuinness (FF) told Commissioner Callinan a box of documents that had been given to the committee by one of the two Garda whistleblowers had now been examined by the committee.

Its members had decided the information it contained was relevant to the committee’s investigations.

Personal information on motorists had been redacted and the documents had been distributed to the committee members during a private session yesterday.

He said Commissioner Callinan could be provided with the redacted versions of the documents.

The Garda could also review the original box of documents, but would not be permitted to take that box away for review.

Mr McGuinness said the whistleblowers had made very serious allegations to the committee in recent days and he felt he was obliged to inform Commissioner Callinan of that.

It was at that point, some two hours into this morning’s hearing, that he informed him of the committee’s decision to hear evidence from one of the whistleblowers next Thursday.

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