Saturday 21 October 2017

Cracks show in Fianna Fáil as party to seek deal with Labour over garda commissioner

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is under pressure. Photo: Mark Condren
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is under pressure. Photo: Mark Condren
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Cracks are showing within the Fianna Fáil leadership over the party’s position in relation to the future if Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Several prominent TDs voiced concerns at a meeting of the party’s frontbench in a move that has put serious pressure on party leader Micheál Martin.

Independent.ie understands that Fianna Fáil will now put forward its own motion on garda management next week - but will stop short of moving on Commissioner O’Sullivan.

Mr Martin is expected to hold talks with Labour party leader Brendan Howlin about a joint motion calling for an urgent overhaul of garda management as the fallout from the breath tests scandal continues.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

At today's frontbench meeting, Mr Martin was warned that he would be in a seriously difficult position if he became Taoiseach while Ms O’Sullivan was Commissioner.

Deputies Eamon Ó Cúiv, Timmy Dooley and Billy Kelleher are understood to have voiced concerns about the party’s stance.

Mr Martin will meet Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald tomorrow about the Government’s root-and-branch review into the garda force.

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The Fianna Fáil position is that it cannot express confidence in the garda chief.

But TDs have come under major pressure at grassroots level to harden its stance and force her removal.

At least one frontbench member called on Mr Martin to support a no-confidence motion,  during  the meeting in Leinster House.

But other deputies, including Thomas Byrne and Niall Collins, said such motions could set a dangerous precedent.

A senior source told Independent.ie:

“There was divided opinion. But we will now proceed with our motion, possibly with the support of Labour.”

Mr Martin told the meeting that Fianna Fáil proposed the Patten-style commission and this is being accepted.

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