Unclear if inquiry needed into Callinan SIM card - O’Sullivan
Commissioner says too early to say if former head of force wrong to shred personal papers
No decision has been made on whether former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan acted inappropriately when shredding his personal papers and not returning the SIM from his work mobile phone, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said on Thursday.
The Fennelly Commission interim report into the circumstances around Mr Callinan’s departure from officer 18 months ago revealed last week he had shredded his personal papers on leaving office. It also said efforts to find the SIM card from his work phone were not successful.
The commission said the SIM card may have been important because Mr Callinan updated senior figures in the Department of Justice, including former minister Alan Shatter, by text and that there was a lack of paper records around key issues.
Speaking at a passing out ceremony for 94 newly trained gardaí at the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary, Commissioner O’Sullivan refused to be drawn on what policies and procedures were in place for the handling of Garda property used by retiring members.
She said an “examination” of the interim report was already underway by an assistant commissioner and that any matters identified would be fully addressed.
Asked if she felt Martin Callinan acted inappropriately, she said: “No, I certainly wouldn’t say that until such time as the examination has been completed.”
The Fennelly Commission also found that when the first secret recordings of calls to Garda stations was discovered, at Bandon Garda station, the senior officer from Cork contacted then deputy commissioner O’Sullivan, who was in charge of operations at the time.
He sent a report to her on the matter but this was not sent to Mr Callinan, who as a result briefed the Attorney General on the issue based on only partial information.
The Garda’s chief administrative officer Cyril Dunne, among others, also had access to the report. “In this instance, it appears that each (O’Sullivan and Dunne) was of the view that responsibility for briefing the commissioner on the recordings issue as it developed lay with the other,” the Fennelly commission noted.
Elsewhere, the commission concludes: “The commissioner was not adequately informed by his management team regarding the details of the telephone recording issue.”
When asked in Templemore why she felt it more appropriate for a senior civilian in the force to supply such important information to Mr Callinan, she said it was important to realise that some of the civilian positions created in the Garda were of equal rank as the deputy commissioner post she filled at the time.
Asked if she was surprised at being singled out for criticism in the Fennelly report she said: “I think the findings of the report are the findings of the Commission, I wouldn’t comment any further on that.”
The review in the Fennelly Commission would take “a number of weeks” adding it would not be clear until it was completed whether any Garda investigation, into the SIM card issue, was warranted.
Away from the Fennelly Commission, Commissioner O’Sullivan said the Garda’s assessment of the current status of the Provisional IRA had not changed.
“As the (Independent Monitoring Commission) report found in 2011, and our assessment is consistent with that; that the military structures of the IRA have disbanded, that the IRA has given up its terrorist capacity.
“But, however, some members, former members, of the Provisional IRA remain involved in criminal activity.”
Commissioner O’Sullivan in February issued a letter to Sinn Féin saying the Garda had no information that the Provisional IRA still existed and was involved in crime. This became politically contentious when the PSNI last month said it believed the Provisional IRA was involved in the Belfast murder Kevin McGuigan in Belfast.