Gilmore supports creation of Garda board similar to NI policing board

Tánaiste says Martin Callinan should withdraw ‘disgusting’ remarks


Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has indicated his support for the creation of a Garda Board or authority that would hold the gardaí to account in a manner similar to how the North’s Policing Board operates.

In Belfast today where he spoke at the Alliance party conference, Mr Gilmore also supported calls from Fine Gael and Labour Ministers Leo Varadkar and Joan Burton for Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to withdraw his remarks in which he described the actions of Garda whistleblowers as “disgusting”.

Before addressing the conference Mr Gilmore told reporters that he expected the issue of the creation of a policing board would be raised in the Cabinet.

“I think one of the issues we need to look at now is the question of a policing board. There is a Policing Board in Northern Ireland drawn from the broad swathe of society and I think that is perhaps something that we need to have a look at down South,” he said.

“ I expect we will be discussing it at the Cabinet. I think it is something that it is timely now to look at,” he said.

Asked should Mr Callinan withdraw his remarks criticising the whistleblowers, Mr Gilmore said: “I think everybody who holds public office from time to time can use a phrase or a comment that is unfortunate. I think we have said that it would be helpful if they were withdrawn but that is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.”

Mr Gilmore said the issue should be viewed in the context of the Government already taking legislative action to protect whistleblowers and to deal with the concerns already raised.

Mr Callinan made his remarks at the Public Accounts Committee in late January about the whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and retired Garda John Wilson who first raised the issue of penalty points being cancelled. Mr Callinan said: “Quite clearly here, we have two people out of a force of over 13,000 who are making extraordinary, serious allegations and there isn’t a whisper anywhere else, from any other member of the Garda Síochana about this corruption, this malpractice and all of those things that are levelled against their fellow officers. Frankly I think it is quite disgusting, on a personal level I think it is quite disgusting.”

Asked what would happen if Mr Callinan did not withdraw the comments Mr Gilmore said it was a matter “entirely for him.”

Mr Gilmore also commented on Alliance Assembly member Anna Lo’s expressed support for a united Ireland in an Irish News interview.

“Anna Lo expressed her view as to where the future best interests of Northern Ireland lie. She is perfectly entitled to do so and it is disheartening that her comments provoked, from some, a reaction which suggests that she was not entitled to make them,” he said.

Added Mr Gilmore: “As a first principle, we must have absolute respect for those who have a different view - and respect their right to express that view, free from intimidation or recrimination. Our views should always be guided by the principle of consent. Without honest and open discussion, neither society nor politics can progress. The Alliance party should be applauded for allowing and encouraging that discussion.”