Opposition TDs urged to correct Dáil record on Garda smear claims

Taoiseach says TDs should do ‘right thing’ in relation to comments on Fitzgerald and O’Sullivan

A file image of former minister for justice  Frances Fitzgerald and former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at Templemore Garda College. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

A file image of former minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald and former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at Templemore Garda College. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called on Opposition TDs to correct the Dáil record about allegations they made in the Garda smear controversy that hurt some people and cost the State “a lot of money”.

Mr Varadkar said members of the Oireachtas as well as the Government needed to respond to the Disclosures tribunal report into smears against Sgt Maurice McCabe, who made protected disclosures about malpractice in the force.

He said in the Dáil that in relation to Garda Keith Harrison a number of TDs “raised false allegations in this House and in doing so gave them credibility”.

Mr Varadkar said TDs should “do the decent and right thing” and correct the record where false charges were made against former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The tribunal rejected allegations by Mr Harrison and his partner Marissa Simms, including a claim that Ms Simms was compelled by gardaí to make a statement against him which led to a referral to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

He also alleged he was the victim of a five-year intimidation campaign after arresting a fellow officer for drink driving in Athlone in 2009.

‘A lot of damage’

Mr Varadkar said the allegations were taken up by the media “which took them to be true even though they were not.

“That caused a lot of damage and a lot of hurt to some innocent gardaí and eventually cost the State a lot of money,” he said. “Some members of this House need to correct the record with regard to what they said about Keith Harrison.”

He also said comments that Ms O Sullivan was part of a conspiracy to smear Sgt McCabe should be withdrawn and the record corrected.

“While the former Garda commissioner did not do everything right, the tribunal has clearly found that she was not part of such a conspiracy.”

Mr Varadkar also said the central charge made against Ms Fitzgerald that she was aware of the alleged legal strategy of the former Garda commissioner and that she failed to act on it, was also false.

Citing the report of Mr Justice Peter Charleton the Taoiseach said the judge found that Ms Fitzgerald’s response was “considered, appropriate and correct. He has found very much in her favour in that regard.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said there was “a lot of anger” that it looked as if Supt David Taylor, who had “aided and abetted” former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan to smear Sgt McCabe, would be able to retire on on a full pension and appeared unlikely to face disciplinary proceedings.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin reiterated that it was “quite striking” that the Government had focused on the political domain rather than the conclusions of the tribunal about Mr Callinan and about Tusla.