Nóirín O’Sullivan likely to face grilling on Garda report

Ministers try to end O’Higgins commission controversy but matter to re-ignite next week

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is expected to be brought before the Oireachtas justice committee to answer questions on the fallout from the O’Higgins report into alleged Garda malpractice. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is expected to be brought before the Oireachtas justice committee to answer questions on the fallout from the O’Higgins report into alleged Garda malpractice. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

 

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is expected to be brought before the Oireachtas justice committee to answer questions on the fallout from the O’Higgins report into alleged Garda malpractice.

As Government ministers sought to move on from the latest Garda controversy, arising from the revelations of whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, political sources predicted the controversy would re-ignite when the matter is debated in the Dáil.

It was virtually certain that Ms O’Sullivan would be called in to address the committee, after it is set up next week, the sources said.

Some Government ministers strongly backed Ms O’Sullivan on Tuesday as the controversy over her legal team’s comments to the O’Higgins commission about Sgt McCabe continued.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said he has “every reason to believe” Ms O’Sullivan’s account that she did not and never had “regarded Sgt McCabe as malicious”.

“I acknowledge the statement last night of the Garda Commissioner,” Mr Flanagan said.

“I’ve every confidence in the Garda Commissioner, and I’ve every reason to believe the Garda Commissioner in her utterances on this matter.”

In Brussels, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed called for “closure” on the controversy arguing that the publication of the commission’s report marked the “end of the matter”.

However, speaking in the Dáil where she was standing in for the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald was guarded on the matter.

No involvement

She concentrated on the victims in the matters brought to light by Sgt McCabe, and she also said she and her department had no involvement in Ms O’Sullivan’s approach to the O’Higgins commission.

“I have met the commissioner and she accepts fully the recommendations and the report and has made it clear what her attitude to Sgt Maurice McCabe is at this point and was in the past. She has made that very clear in the statement. We have to accept that statement from the commissioner,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

The commission was set up to inquire into complaints by Sgt McCabe about policing at Bailieborough Garda station and in the Cavan-Monaghan division.

The Dáil heard criticisms of some media reporting of the commission’s findings before its publication which stressed the exoneration of senior gardaí on accusations of corruption and highlighted criticisms of some of Sgt McCabe’s evidence.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said: “We had much selective leaking and managed interpretations of the report in advance, which were disingenuous and led people down the wrong tracks.”

Further details from the private hearings of the commission’s evidence emerged on Tuesday night.

According to reports on RTÉ, the barrister representing the Garda Commissioner, Colm Smyth, told the judge that his “instructions at all times were to challenge the motivation and credibility of Sgt McCabe”.

However, he added that “it was an error on my part” when he said earlier he was to challenge Sgt McCabe’s “integrity”.

Mr Smyth also represented 24 other gardaí in the commission’s hearings.

The Dáil is likely to debate the report next week, subject to agreement between the whips.