Wednesday 29 March 2017

Commissioner 'humiliated her Garda assistant'

Retired senior officer claims his redeployment was 'belittling'

Concerns: Derek Byrne wrote to the Garda Commissioner
Concerns: Derek Byrne wrote to the Garda Commissioner
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

A recently retired assistant commissioner accused Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan of trying to "humiliate and belittle him" before he left the force, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The allegation was made by Derek Byrne, who officially stepped down from his position last week after he was appointed police commissioner for the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean.

The spat between two of the force's most senior officers comes at a time of unprecedented turmoil and backbiting in Garda Headquarters.

Byrne clashed with O'Sullivan when the commissioner decided to move Byrne from commissioner in charge of national support services to having responsibility for the traffic division.

Byrne, who had been an assistant commissioner for the past eight years, sought to block the move through his solicitor.

Byrne's legal team sent O'Sullivan a letter, which has been seen by the Sunday Independent, in which Byrne claimed he had "significant difficulties in his interactions" with the Garda Commissioner.

Byrne's solicitor said the Garda Commissioner's decision to move their client was "malicious" and claimed O'Sullivan was "targeting" Byrne to "humiliate and belittle" him.

It is understood O'Sullivan responded to Byrne, telling him that under the law it is the Garda Commissioner's prerogative to decide where her assistant commissioners should be stationed.

The row between the two senior officers is understood to stem back a number of years. A source said: "They haven't been on speaking terms for some time now.

"Assistant commissioners get moved all the time and that's just the way things go, but Derek saw the move as a demotion."

O'Sullivan's decision to move Byrne was made long before he took the role as police chief in the Cayman Islands.

However, sources said she still pushed to redeploy him to the traffic division after his appointment was announced. A well-placed source said the legal clash between the two senior officers was "typical of the toxic relationships" currently causing tensions in Garda Headquarters.

Byrne, who jetted out to the Cayman Islands last week, sent a detailed letter to Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald outlining concerns he had with Garda management. The letter was not sent as a protected disclosure or under section 42 of the Garda Siochana Act, which would have required Fitzgerald to launch an investigation into the claims.

It is also understood O'Sullivan did not attend the former assistant commissioner's retirement party last week.

A Garda spokesman said: "An Garda Siochana do not comment on correspondence received by The Garda Commissioner."

Meanwhile, the Garda Commissioner is awaiting the outcome of an independent investigation into allegations that garda whistle-blower Maurice McCabe was targeted by senior gardai for raising concerns about malpractice in the force.

Sunday Independent

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