Wednesday 20 September 2017

Fianna Fáil will not press for removal of garda chief Nóirín O’Sullivan

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Arthur Carron
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Arthur Carron
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin has softened his stance on the position of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, telling his TDs that she is “innocent until proven guilty”.

In a significant move, Mr Martin tonight made it clear that he will not press for the removal of the Garda Chief.

He told the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting that they must adhere to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” and that the allegations against her will be dealt with by the tribunal.

On Monday, Mr Martin called on on Ms O’Sullivan to examine her own position.

But his remarks in a meeting at Leinster House today represent a clear softening in his stance.

Mr Martin briefed TDs on his meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as well as the party’s decision to abstain during the motion of confidence in the Government.

He said the focus needs to be on ensuring that the terms of reference for the tribunal of inquiry into the alleged smear campaign against Maurice McCabe are acceptable.

The meeting also heard from disgruntled TDs who said they should be informed by Fine Gael ministers of upcoming job announcements in their constituencies.

This prompted Mr Martin to direct his TDs to replace the phrase “confidence and supply” with the term “facilitation” when it comes to describing Fianna Fáil’s relationship with Fine Gael.

During the meeting, Carlow/Kilkenny TD John McGuinness said he would “love to vote against the Government”, telling colleagues “I don’t have any confidence in them”.

Other deputies echoed his remarks but accepted the need on this occasion to abstain.

Mr McGuinness also demanded that the terms of reference for the inquiry to include the Shane O’Farrell case.

Meanwhile, there was praise expressed for the party’s justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan, who has been embroiled in a row with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald following his claims that he told her of the Tusla link to the McCabe case.

Some deputies claimed that Ms Fitzgerald “lied” in relation to the meeting. She has at all times denied Mr O’Callaghan’s assertions.

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