McCabe’s Pulse access expected to be reinstated

Minister for Justice gives ‘broad hint’ to Garda Commissioner

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan: likely to reinstate whistleblower’s Pulse access rights. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan: likely to reinstate whistleblower’s Pulse access rights. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons


Interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan is expected to lift the ban on Sgt Maurice McCabe using the P

ulse system once a review into the access given to the whistleblower is complete.

Sgt McCabe’s access to Pulse was restricted in December 2012, and while Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said Pulse was an operational matter for An Garda Síochána, she spoke to Ms O’Sullivan about the issue yesterday.

Sources said that while Ms Fitzgerald could not instruct Ms O’Sullivan what to do, she gave a “broad hint” of what she thought.

Speaking at a press conference to mark the publication of the report by barrister Seán Guerin, the Minister said she expected a decision would be made soon.

“She [Ms O’Sullivan] is doing a review and I would expect the Garda Commissioner to be making a statement on that in the near future,” the Minister said. “But it is an operational matter.”

A Garda spokeswoman said: “This matter remains under review. It is not appropriate to comment further until the review is completed.”

Brian Purcell
While Ms Fitzgerald declined at the press conference to express confidence in Brian Purcell, the secretary general of her department, despite being asked to do so three times, a Government spokesman later played down its significance.

He said it was impossible “for the Minister to express confidence or a lack of confidence in someone they’ve just met, in the context of a department that is in clear need of reform”.

The Guerin report is critical of how complaints from Sgt McCabe were handled in the Department of Justice, and Ms Fitzgerald said she would be having “further discussions” with Mr Purcell.

Mr Purcell was previously criticised for failing to pass on a letter from former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan to Alan Shatter, who resigned as minister for justice on Wednesday, over the Garda taping controversy.

Ms Fitzgerald said yesterday: “The secretary general of my department will ensure the handling of complaints received by the department meets with best practice in receiving and responding to complaints.”

‘Sea change of culture’
She also welcomed Ms O’Sullivan’s signal for the need for a “sea change in the culture” of the force. “She will have my full support in doing whatever is necessary to achieve this. If root-and-branch reform is what’s needed, root-and-branch reform is what will happen,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

The Minister noted the Guerin report had found fault with “the adequacy of the performance of An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice and Equality” and said she had concerns about the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and “its relationship” to the inquiries carried out by Mr Guerin.

Mr Guerin said the GSOC failed to provide him with any documentation for his inquiry which meant he “therefore had to complete the review without reference to any such material”. In a letter to the Department of the Taoiseach, Mr Guerin described this as “somewhat unsatisfactory”.

The measures and reforms mentioned by Ms Fitzgerald include the commission of investigation, the establishment of an independent Garda authority, enabling members of the force to go directly to the GSOC, and allowing the Oireachtas justice committee examine GSOC’s legislative framework. All of these initiatives had previously been announced.