Fitzgerald backs O’Sullivan amid fresh calls for resignation

PAC vice-chairman Alan Kelly urges Fianna Fáil to push for Garda Commissioner’s exit

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald: backed Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald: backed Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has backed Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan amid renewed calls for her resignation over comments she made at a meeting of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Ms O’Sullivan has been urged to step down by Fianna Fáil, although its justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said his party would not table or support Dáil motions of no confidence in the commissioner.

The latest controversy arose after a PAC meeting this week which discussed financial irregularities at the Garda training college in Templemore.

John Barrett, the Garda’s director of human resources, and a civilian officer, said he held a two-hour meeting with Ms O’Sullivan in July 2015 to discuss the issue.

However, Ms O’Sullivan said there was a “brief” exchange over a cup of tea. Mr Barrett also said there was a “culture of circling the wagons and I was banging into the wagons”.

Ms O’Sullivan yesterday said: “Under no circumstances did I mislead the committee.”

She added: “After the meeting of July 27th, irrespective of how long it took, immediate steps were taken to address all of the issues.”

Dysfunctionality

Fianna Fáil said the matter “exposes significant dysfunctionality at the top of the organisation” but Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Ms Fitzgerald said they had confidence in Ms O’Sullivan.

Ms Fitzgerald’s spokesman said the Tánaiste noted both Ms O’Sullivan’s comments yesterday and at the PAC, “where she demonstrated she took the appropriate action as soon as soon as these issues came to her attention”.

Tipperary Labour TD and PAC vice-chairman Alan Kelly called on Fianna Fáil to “come to their senses” and push for Ms O’Sullivan’s departure. He said it should have already done so on numerous other issues.

“What happened in relation to whistleblowers and what has happened in penalty points and other issues, as well as this week in the PAC, proved that this Commissioner should not be in office and is not fit to be head of An Garda Síochána, ” he said.