Fianna Fáil ‘acting like Donald Trump’ by targeting Garda chief

Threat to sack Commissioner will ‘put shivers down every office holder’ in the State, says Minister

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald (right) has strongly defended Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan (left) in recent weeks following accusations of mismanagement within the force. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has compared Fianna's Fáil's threat to fire the Garda Commissioner to Donald Trump's dismissal of FBI director James Comey last week.

Ms Fitzgerald was responding to comments from Fianna Fáil Finance spokesman Michael McGrath that one of his party’s first acts if elected to government would be to sack Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

“This is extremely disturbing in the democracy. It is like what happened in Washington last week and you can see the furore about that,” Ms Fitzgerald said, referring to the sudden dismissal of the FBI director by Mr Trump in controversial circumstances.

She said it appeared Fianna Fáil “don’t seem to know the law in relation to this issue.

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“There’s very clear procedures laid down. There’s a question of natural justice, there’s a question of constitutional rights.

“If this was being said about any other person there would be outrage about it. It is extremely disturbing in a democracy to have an approach where a person has no rights to fair procedure. It’s very prejudicial.”

Ms Fitzgerald, who was speaking at the annual conference of Victim Support Europe in Kilmainham Castle, said the opposition party’s approach would be a breach of the Commissioner’s human rights.

“It’s really extraordinary to see the main opposition party taking this approach to the question of law and human rights. It really would put the shivers down every office holder in this country if the government of the day were to take an approach such as Fianna Fáil have outlined.”

Ms Fitzgerald has strongly defended the Garda Commissioner in recent weeks following accusations of mismanagement within the force relating to financial irregularities in the Garda Training College in Templemore and the misreporting of crime statistics.

The Minister said the forthcoming “root and branch” review of the force would “help restore confidence and be really good for policing in Ireland”.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times