Examination of O’Sullivan’s private email not shared with department

Report sought after it emerged O’Sullivan used commerical email to send Garda correspondence

Deputy Garda commissioner John Twomey who appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice onThursday. Photograph: Collins

Deputy Garda commissioner John Twomey who appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice onThursday. Photograph: Collins

 

Gardaí conducted an inquiry into the use of a private email account by the former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan but did not notify the Department of Justice or the Policing Authority of its findings.

The Oireachtas Committee on Justice heard chief administrative office Joe Nugent carried out a review of Ms O’Sullivan’s gmail account before she left office.

However, he did not identify any “sensitive emails” relating to her role as commissioner, Mr Nugent said.

Mr Nugent reported verbally but it is not known who he informed. He did not make any report to the Policing Authority or the Department of Justice.

The Authority and the Department had both sought a written report after it emerged in late 2016 Ms O’Sullivan used a commercial email service to send official Garda correspondence.

The committee heard evidence from Mr Nugent and Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey of Ms O’Sullivan using her gmail account to send news articles for their attention.

However, both insisted they did not receive anything Garda-related from that email account.

Mr Nugent said revised practices are in place for all gardaí regarding the use of personal email accounts for official emails.

Gmail accounts are set up by the Garda’s IT section on official Garda phones and iPads, but communicating Garda business through this system could be contrary to the internal and electronic mail policy in An Garda Síochána.

Earlier at the Oireachtas committee, Mr Twomey declined to comment on the workings of the Charleton inquiry, tasked with investigating the smear campaign against Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Acting Garda Commissioner Donal O’Cualain has issued a Section 41 to the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan regarding concerns raised with him about the establishment of a unit within the gardaí to liaise with the tribunal.

Mr Twomey told the committee he was precluded from answering any questions on the matter.

“We have written to the Committee in advance of today to advise you the matter you wish to discuss forms part of the terms of reference being considered by the Protected Disclosures Tribunal being chaired by The Hon Mr Justice Peter Charleton and I have been advised that we cannot say anything here today that would put at risk the ongoing work of the Tribunal.

“I trust the members of the Committee share that concern, consequently we are strictly precluded from commenting on matters before the Tribunal.

“At all times, our aim is to assist in establishing the facts and truth relating to all matters before the Tribunal. In that regard, we have furnished the Tribunal with tens of thousands of pages of material and we will continue to provide the Tribunal with all assistance it requires.”