Senior gardaí welcome inquiry into whistleblower controversy
Garda officers say McCabe tribunal will give the force a chance to air its account of events
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has told a Policing Authority hearing that the forthcoming tribunal of inquiry would ‘deal in facts, not sides’. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
The tribunal of inquiry into the Garda whistleblower controversy will give the force a chance to air its account of events and end the frustration of not being able to comment, some of its most senior officers have said.
In a sign that the Garda sees the creation of a public inquiry as of real value to it, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan told a public hearing of the Policing Authority that the inquiry would “deal in facts, not sides”.
The Policing Authority is an independent body which oversees the work of the Garda.
The Charleton tribunal will examine whether there was a smear campaign against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Assistant Commissioner Eugene Corcoran said much of the commentary to date had emerged in an environment where the Garda was “totally restricted” in how it might respond.
He said the tribunal would improve that situation as well as boosting confidence and morale.
Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll said there was “a frustration that there was another view of events that has not been aired yet”.
There are “two sides to any story”, he said.
‘Dent in confidence’
There was “great reassurance” among Garda personnel that the inquiry was public and there would be a chance to provide information, he said.
“And bearing in mind, they know this information but they just cannot impart their knowledge of particular events without having a forum such as the public inquiry.
“So I believe that as time progresses and as the inquiry is taking place . . . any dent in confidence will be restored.
“It’s a bit like listening to the defence side of a criminal trial and walking out and having a vote on whether you believe the person is guilty or not without ever listening to the other side of the equation.
“And you will always get a certain view of events in those circumstances.
“So I think people are very much reassured that all the information will come out and will be dealt with in what everyone seems to be believe will be a fair manner by the honourable Judge [Peter] Charleton.”
One of the members of the authority, Maureen Lynot, urged the senior management team to “be careful not to go into group-think”.