O’Sullivan can keep legal team for tribunal despite resignation

Charleton tribunal probing whether she was party to any smear campaign against Sgt McCabe

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photograph: Alan Betson

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan can continue to use the same legal team at the Charleton tribunal following her resignation from office on Sunday, it is understood.

A legal team acting on behalf of An Garda Síochána and “particularly on behalf of former commissioner of An Garda Síochána, Martin Callinan, and the current commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan”, was granted full representation at the tribunal last March.

Legal sources said this legal team, which is already acting for a number of retired members of the force, can continue to represent Ms O’Sullivan.

Alternatively, she could seek to be represented separately with her own legal team.

The acting commissioner, Deputy Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, will now assume the key role with regard to dealing with the tribunal, which Ms O’Sullivan had done until Sunday.

The tribunal is investigating allegations of a smear campaign against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Concerns expressed

In March lawyers acting for Sgt McCabe and fellow whistleblower Supt David Taylor expressed concern that the same legal team was representing both the former commissioner and his successor.

Michael McDowell, counsel for Sgt McCabe, said he was concerned about potential conflicts of interest as well as the role that might be played by Garda headquarters in the gathering of evidence for the tribunal.

The chairman, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, said that the “whole issue of conflicts of interest is something we perhaps take an exaggerated view of”.

There are no allegations against Mr Ó Cualáin before the tribunal. In relation to Ms O’Sullivan, the tribunal is investigating whether she was party to any smear campaign against Sgt McCabe. It is also investigating the directions she gave counsel when the confidential proceedings of the O’Higgins Commission were under way, and whether she sought to influence an RTÉ news report on the findings of that commission.

Ms O’Sullivan has said she was not party to any smear campaign and did not know of any such campaign.

Hearings on matters involving the two former commissioners are expected to take place in late October.

The tribunal is expected to resume hearings next week, when it will investigate matters concerning Garda Keith Harrison and any contacts there may have been between the Garda and the family agency Tusla.