Garda Commissioner faces new calls to stand aside after audits

Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan says his party has no confidence in Nóirín O’Sullivan

Jim O’Callaghan: “It really is the function of Government to try and restore public confidence in the guards”

Jim O’Callaghan: “It really is the function of Government to try and restore public confidence in the guards”

 

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan faced renewed calls to stand aside following the publication of two critical internal Garda audits on Wednesday.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour repeated their demands for the Garda Commissioner to stand aside from her role.

This follows the release of two Garda reports which found 1.45 million breath tests were wrongly recorded by gardaí and 14,500 people were wrongly convicted of motoring offences.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on justice Jim O’Callaghan said his party had no confidence in Ms O’Sullivan, and believed her position was untenable. In the event she does not stand aside, the Government should take the necessary steps, Mr O’Callaghan added.

He denied it was the role of Fianna Fáil, as a partner in the confidence and supply arrangement, to ensure Ms O’Sullivan’s removal, saying: “It really is the function of Government to try and restore public confidence in the guards.”

The Dublin Bay South TD stressed the need for accountability for the falsification of Garda data over a seven-year period.

Sinn Féin spokesman on justice Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said there seemed to be a culture of impunity at the higher levels of An Garda Síochána. He said Ms O’Sullivan had been plagued with a number of controversies but appeared to be above accountability.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin also echoed the calls of Opposition TDs, and called on Ms O’Sullivan to stand aside.

Full confidence

The Government, meanwhile, insisted it would not act to remove the Garda Commissioner from her role. Speaking on 3 News, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar insisted Ms O’Sullivan retained the Government’s full confidence, but expressed alarm at the findings of the breath-test report.

Mr Varadkar said the issues identified in the report began before the Garda Commissioner took office.

“As far as the Government is concerned, what happened is entirely unacceptable. I’ve heard people try to blame things like resources and training. You would never see a school principal – and there often are resource constraints in schools – you would never see a school principal falsifying the roll numbers. You would never see a surgeon in the health service claiming to have treated more patients.”

Discrepancies

In a statement the Policing Authority said the scale of the discrepancies disclosed was alarming. The authority has asked financial auditors Crowe Horwath to undertake a similar examination of the figures. The independent examination, which will also assess the two reports published by the Garda, is expected to be published within weeks.

In the statement the authority said it retained serious concerns about the management and supervision within the Garda.

“The authority welcomes the commissioner’s acknowledgement today of the serious failures in the Garda Síochána systems, processes, supervision and management, and her commitment to ensuring that the required changes are made.”