In his own words: The Garda Commissioner and his ‘disgust’

Remarks came during exchange with TD Shane Ross before Public Accounts Committee

Mary Lou McDonald: “It is a strong thing to  say that they have carried themselves in a manner that is disgusting.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Mary Lou McDonald: “It is a strong thing to say that they have carried themselves in a manner that is disgusting. Photograph: Alan Betson


Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan first used the “d-word” in relation to whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and retired garda John Wilson about

three hours into his appearance before the Public Accounts Committee on January 23rd last.

It came during an exchange with Deputy Shane Ross (Ind) in which the TD put it to the commissioner that the two whistleblowers had uncovered a “systematic” problem whereby “their force is indulging this practice” of cancelling penalty points.

Mr Callinan replied: “Of course Deputy Ross is entitled to his view, and I respect it, but is it not extraordinary that it is just two individuals that are making these huge allegations of system failure, as Deputy Ross has referred to them, and that it is not dozens or hundreds of other members of An Garda Síochána who are making similar allegations?”

Mr Ross remarked: “The people who make such allegations are always very rare because they are fearful of their positions. I am not making any judgment: I am putting the case to Mr Callinan.”

Mechanism and procedure
Mr Callinan replied: “Absolutely. The deputy is right. My position is very clear. Anyone who makes any report of wrongdoing to me, I will deal with it very seriously . . . I will not allow anyone reporting wrongdoing to be bullied, harassed, intimidated or whatever adverb or adjective the deputy chooses to use. That will not happen on my watch. There is a mechanism and procedure for reporting wrongdoing which should not be going off to a third party with a whole raft of serious allegations, criminal and otherwise, and producing them elsewhere.”

However, Mr Ross put it to Mr Callinan that it was “very difficult to justify” that an accusation of a systematic problem should be “left with the Garda” to investigate.

Mr Callinan said: “I find there is a certain irony in that the very person charged with policing the security of this State, the person we all put our trust and belief in on a daily basis, the man responsible for all of these serious matters, is the very person who stands accused by the deputy’s submission of not being open and transparent or producing a report as such. I find that extraordinary.

Serious allegations
“I do respect the notion that gardaí, in certain circumstances, should not be investigating one another. That is why we have the ombudsman commission to deal with those cases. Clearly, here, however, we have two people, out of a force of over 13,000, who are making extraordinary and serious allegations. There is not a whisper anywhere else or from any other member of the Garda Síochána, however, about this corruption, malpractice and other charges levelled against their fellow officers. Frankly, on a personal level I think it is quite disgusting.

“That said, I have openly admitted here to this committee that there were difficulties within the system and that we have addressed them. That is where the deputy and I will agree to differ.”

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Féin) later put it to the commissioner: “It is a strong thing to say that they have carried themselves in a manner that is disgusting.”

He replied: “Correct. In the context of the manner in which they decided to pursue what they are pursuing, that is definitely something that I cannot accept at any level.”

Ms McDonald further put it to the commissioner that “disgusting” was “a strong term”.

Mr Callinan replied: “I agreed with the deputy that it is a strong term. It reflects my view.”