Friday 20 January 2017

'It's not up to me to tell the Tánaiste how to do her job' - Chief Whip Regina Doherty

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 18/05/2016 | 10:48

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Chief Whip Regina Doherty is confident the Justice Minister supports the Garda Commissioner in her reform of the force.

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Speaking on RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland, the Meath East TD also said there has been a “cultural change” in the gardaí since Nóirín O’Sullivan was appointed.

Last night, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was repeatedly pressed on whether she had full confidence in the commissioner on RTE’s Prime Time.

On the programme, leaked documents to the O’Higgins inquiry claimed that Ms O’Sullivan accused whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe of being motivated by “malice” in making his allegations.

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty
Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty

When asked whether she could express confidence in the commissioner if the reported transcripts proved to be accurate, the Tánaiste said: “I couldn’t possibly answer a question that is put like that.”

A statement from her spokesperson later clarified her remarks: “What she was trying to do was give a fuller context on what was happening.”

Read More: Justice Minister refuses three times to fully back O'Sullivan

Ms Doherty addressed the questions of confidence this morning.

“I know that the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice, in terms of her leadership in an Garda Síochána, absolutely has confidence in the commissioner,” she said.

“There is a cultural change in an Garda Síochána since Noreen O’Sullivan took over, you can’t escape that fact.”

She added that she didn’t know if the leaked documents were “factually correct” or “in context”, but that “people want answers”.

When asked how she would handle the issue, she said: “It’s far from my job to tell the Tánaiste how to do her job and she’s well capable of doing it, but the issues have been raised from the RTE programme last night and I’m quite sure that people will want to find whether they are actually real or not real.”

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

The Fine Gael TD also said: “I would expect somebody to find out if there is veracity in that, if it is factual and the actual overall context of what it is, and then you would be more informed.

“I’m quite sure there's probably a number of people checking that today, but at the end of the day, the responsibility, I would feel, lies with government.”

Ms Doherty also discussed claims by Ibec that the number of independent TDs appointed to Cabinet will cause difficulties in developing coherent government policies.

“What I would say to Ibec is there’s nobody on the government benches that is afraid of making any decisions.

"The last five years definitely proved that and electorally we have suffered because of that, because we absolutely put the country first.

“I’m not going to be afraid nor are other ministers afraid to put forward ideas, even if they may be voted down,” she said.

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