Nóirín O’Sullivan faces public questioning over Sgt McCabe

Garda Commissioner’s meeting on Thursday with Policing Authority will be live-streamed

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan will face questions in public about the recent controversies surrounding Sgt Maurice McCabe when she appears before the Policing Authority on Thursday.

The two-hour meeting, which is open to the media and members of the public and is live-streamed, will begin with one hour set aside for a discussion on “assuring policing performance in the context of matters in the public domain”. It is understood the commissioner will be asked about the developments in the case of Sgt McCabe and the impact on the Garda.

It has also emerged that at a private meeting with Garda management last month, the Policing Authority raised concerns about discrepancies in the number of random breath tests carried out on motorists.

The Irish Times has revealed recently that the operation of drink-driving checkpoints across the State is being audited after it emerged the number of breath tests recorded on the Garda Pulse system appears significantly higher than the number of motorists tested.


Significant discrepancy

The audit began after the Medical Bureau of Road Safety in 2015 noticed a significant discrepancy in the number of disposable mouth pieces for breath test screening devices being ordered by gardaí compared to the number of breath tests being recorded on Pulse.

While the authority has scheduled a “roads policing” meeting for April, it is expected the matter may be discussed at Thursday’s meeting.

However, it is the recent revelations around the Garda whistleblower debacle and the establishment of a tribunal of inquiry to examine an alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe that is likely to dominate the line of questioning to the commissioner at the meeting.

In 2006, an allegation was made by a teenage girl that she had been sexually assaulted by Sgt McCabe. The Director of Public Prosecutions directed in 2007 there were no grounds for prosecution.

Around nine months after the DPP decision’s, Sgt McCabe began whistle blowing about what he saw as shortcomings and corruption in the Cavan-Monaghan Garda division. Some of his complaints were upheld and others rejected by the O’Higgins commission which investigated them.

Historical complaint

It has been alleged that while he was whistleblowing the historical complaint against him was relayed to people to undermine him.

Former head of the Garda Press Office Supt David Taylor has claimed in a protected disclosure that he was directed to send hundreds of text messages to other Garda members, journalists and politicians about Sgt McCabe.

While Martin Callinan was the Garda commissioner during the period in which Supt Taylor claims the texts were sent, it has been alleged Ms O'Sullivan – then deputy commissioner – was aware of the campaign to undermine the whistleblower.

Such was the pressure on her last week that she was forced to issue a statement saying she was not stepping aside and protesting her innocence.

“A campaign of false accusations, repeated and multiplied, does not make me guilty of anything,” she said in relation to those accusing her.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times