Time for Garda Commissioner ‘to go’, TDs tell Tánaiste
Clare Daly warns Frances Fitzgerald to act or Nóirín O’Sullivan will ‘take you with her’
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald (left) has insisted she has every confidence in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan (right) to implement policing reforms recommended by the O’Higgins commission into alleged Garda malpractice. TD Clare Daly said it was time for Ms O’Sullivan ‘to go’. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald insisted she had every confidence in the Garda Commissioner to implement policing reforms recommended by the commission of inquiry into alleged Garda malpractice in the Cavan-Monaghan division.
Raising the issue on the adjournment of the Dáil with the Minister, Ms Daly said: “I think it’s obvious it’s time for this Commissioner to go and unless you act, she’s going to take you with her”.
Ms Daly and Mr Wallace were speaking on the ongoing controversy about allegations that legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan had alleged malice in the motivation of Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe in the inquiry.
“The issue is that the Garda Commissioner’s legal team allegedly on her instruction, attempted to deliberately mislead the Commission by entering false information in order to challenge the motivation and credibility of Maurice McCabe,” Ms Daly said. “The fact that legal counsel have come out and said the idea to challenge his integrity was their idea and not the Commissioner’s doesn’t make it any different.”
She said it was “reminiscent of former minister (Alan) Shatter throwing Oliver Connolly under the bus”.
Ms Daly said the commission was also told that two gardaí would give direct evidence that Sgt McCabe was present at a meeting and said he operated under malice. “It was only when irrefutable evidence was presented showing that was false, that allegation was withdrawn,” Ms Daly added.
“There is now an immediate crisis of trust and confidence in the Garda Commissioner. Public statements of her supporting whistleblowers have been contradicted by her actions behind the scenes. It is time for this commissioner to go and unless you act, she’s going to take you with her.”
Mr Wallace said Ms O’Sullivan “is not fit to be the commissioner. Nothing has changed. It’s as it was. You’re not going to change how we do policing in Ireland until we change the hierarchy.”
Mr Wallace said that if the Ms Fitzgerald wanted to change how policing was conducted “we need to get rid of the hierarchy and start from scratch”.
Ms Daly had asked if the Minister would launch a full investigation into the actions of the commissioner in accordance with the Garda Siochana Policing Authority Miscellaneous Act “where you can remove the Commissioner for actions which discredit her office”.
The Dublin Fingal TD asked if the Minister would commission the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to launch an investigation “and if you aren’t, why not?”
The Minister replied: “I believe our focus now should be on taking all the steps necessary in ensuring this does not happen again and that we have a policing service that serves all of the citizens of this country to the highest standard.”
She told the TDs she had had preliminary discussions with the Garda Commissioner “about taking forward the recommendations about policing contained in the report and I have every confidence in her commitment to take this forward”.
Later, Ms Fitzgerald appeared on RTÉ’s Prime Time programme which reported further alleged details of evidence given to Mr Justice O’Higgins.
Ms Fitzgerald said she was not permitted to comment on the reported transcripts .
Asked if she had confidence in the commissioner if the transcripts are correct, Ms Fitzgerald said she “had to go back to the point that these are transcripts that are taken out of context”.
“All of the evidence that I have in relation to the job that the commissioner is doing, in terms of the modernisation and reform, in terms of the changes on the issues that were identified in this report, and indeed the many other reports, is that she is taking those recommendations forward, and is working on them, is dealing with the issues around supervision, putting people in place to supervise...”
She added: “I believe that first of all what we are seeing is selective pieces of evidence and it would be completely wrong of me to comment on selected pieces of evidence” that did not feature in the final report.