Majority of voters believe Garda Commissioner should resign

‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll finds nearly 60% want Nóirín O’Sullivan to step down

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan delivers her opening statement to the Oireachtas Justice Committee on the recent data falsification controversies to hit An Garda Síochána


A clear majority of voters believe the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan should resign, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll.

Asked if the Commissioner should resign or not in the light of recent controversies, 57 per cent of respondents said that Ms O’Sullivan should resign. Just under one-quarter of voters (23 per cent) said she should not resign, while 19 per cent did not state an opinion.

Ms O’Sullivan has been the subject of a series of controversies, with a number of inquiries – including a tribunal of inquiry – under way into aspects of Garda management, performance and alleged malpractice.

The Sunday Times reported that a mobile phone used by the Commissioner had gone missing. It was sought by the Charleton Tribunal in its inquiry into allegations that the whistleblower Maurice McCabe was smeared by management including Ms O’Sullivan.

Opposition leaders, including the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and the Labour leader Brendan Howlin have called for the Commissioner to step down, though the Government continues to express confidence in her.

Fine Gael voters are most supportive of the Commissioner, though even among supporters of the Government party almost half say she should resign. Among Fine Gael voters, 47 per cent say she should resign, against 37 per cent who say she should not, and 16 per cent who expressed no opinion.

Among Fianna Fáil voters, 61 per cent say Ms O’Sullivan should step down, while among Labour and Sinn Féin, two-thirds (67 per cent in both cases) say she should go.

The poll was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week among a representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 per cent.

Voters in Dublin were least likely to say that the Commissioner should resign, though even here 52 per cent are in favour of resignation, with just over a quarter (27 per cent) saying that the Commissioner should stay.

In Connacht-Ulster, 62 per cent say that the Commissioner should go, while in Munster and in Leinster outside of Dublin, 59 per cent are in favour of resignation. Among social classes, there is little variation in the figures, though farmers (62 per cent) are more likely to say the Commissioner should resign.

Rural voters (60 per cent) are slightly more likely to say she should resign than urban voters (56 per cent).

Missing phone

On Sunday, Garda headquarters declined to comment on the report that a mobile phone used by the Garda Commissioner during the time of the alleged smear campaign against whistleblower Maurice McCabe had gone missing.

A spokeswoman for the gardaí last night instead said the gardaí remained committed to “co-operating fully” with the tribunal.

One senior source said: “A search of Garda headquarters has taken place in recent weeks to try to find the missing phones, but there’s little hope of the material being found at this stage.

Garda HQ does not hold a record of old phones to show what happens them once they are upgraded, so it’s anyone’s guess at this stage as to what may have happened.”

Gardaí are provided with new mobile phones, Sims and upgrades when necessary by the force’s IT department.

The Irish Times understands that no phones have been as of yet handed over to the Charleton tribunal.