Nóirín O’Sullivan asked before resigning if Charlton legal bill would be paid

FoI documents show former Garda commissioner told €37,000 due to her in arrears

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan: was told by Noel Waters, then secretary general of the Department of Justice, she would be fully indemnified by the State in all legal actions. She was also told she would be paid €37,000 in arrears. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan: was told by Noel Waters, then secretary general of the Department of Justice, she would be fully indemnified by the State in all legal actions. She was also told she would be paid €37,000 in arrears. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan checked if her legal representation at the Charleton tribunal would be covered by the State as she resigned last year, documents released under Freedom of Information requests by The Irish Times show.

Ms O’Sullivan was told by Noel Waters, then secretary general of the Department of Justice, that she would be fully indemnified by the State in all legal actions.

She was also told she would be paid €37,000 salary in arrears.

Correspondence between the department and Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park at the time of Ms O’Sullivan’s retirement last September show that Mr Waters offered clarifications on her pension and payoff.

She was given clarification about her legal representation at the Charleton tribunal, which is inquiring into an allegation that a smear campaign was orchestrated against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, on the instructions of senior management.

“If and when you retire from office, you can continue to be included in the brief of the legal team representing Garda management before the tribunal, instructed by the CSSO [chief state solicitors office] in relation to the Disclosures Tribunal and represented by that legal team,” Mr Waters tells Ms O’Sullivan.

“The legal team will receive its instructions from the commissioner of the day but you may instruct that legal team on your behalf.”

Indemnity available

Mr Waters – who subsequently stepped down as secretary general of the department – also adds that in “any existing future litigation (which term includes any tribunal, investigation, inquiry, commission, arbitration, or related procedure) against or involving you after you leave office, arising from or connected with your official actions as commissioner or in any other position held by you in the Garda Síochána, an indemnity will be available to you”.

In a follow-up statement to the release of documents, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said: “The former commissioner sought clarification in relation to legal representation at the tribunal following her retirement.

“She was informed that in line with standard practice and the rules relating to indemnity. . . she would continue to be indemnified by the State in legal actions related to her public service professional role.”

On her retirement package, Mr Waters said the period between March and November 2014 in which she served as “acting commissioner” before being appointed full time to the post would be paid at the €180,613 salary level of full commissioner.

Mr Waters said Ms O’Sullivan would be due a total of €37,000 in arrears, which “will be paid as soon as is practicable”.

“Your pension entitlements will be passed on your final salary of €180,613 and the period during which you were acting commissioner will be fully reckonable for pension purposes.”