Tuesday 17 October 2017

Former Attorney General Michael McDowell calls on Garda Commissioner to step aside

Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Former Attorney General Michael McDowell has said it is “neither fair, nor appropriate nor defensible” to allow Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to remain in place.

Mr McDowell, who is providing legal advice to Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, told the Seanad today that the commissioner “must step aside” while a tribunal investigation on an alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe takes place.

The senator said: “As a former Tánaiste, Minister for Justice, and Attorney General I believe I am in a good position to form an opinion as to whether it is appropriate or inappropriate for the Commissioner against whom the gravest allegations of misconduct have been made and will not be able to exercise that authority and to exercise those functions while the tribunal is being organised and while it is investigated over a period of three months.”

Ms O’Sullivan has been engulfed in whistleblower controversy amid claims she was aware of a smear campaign targeting Sgt McCabe.

However, she has insisted that she will not step aside while a tribunal investigates the claims.

“The easiest option for me would be to step aside until the Commission finishes its work," Ms O’Sullivan said in a statement on Monday.

Under fire: Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: Damien Eagers
Under fire: Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: Damien Eagers

“I'm not taking that option because I am innocent."

But speaking in the Seanad today, Mr McDowell said: “The relationship between the government and the Commissioner of an Garda Síochána must be based on confidence. 

“Confidence in anyone’s language includes a solid belief that the person in question is truthful and reliable in every respect. 

“Confidence cannot be said to exist if sufficient doubt exists in the mind of the government in respect of the gravest allegations to warrant the establishment of a tribunal of enquiry.”

He added: “Moreover, it is totally inconceivable that officers including senior officers of a disciplined force should be asked in public to accuse the person on charge of them of grave misbehaviour in evidence, and furthermore to instruct counsel to cross examine that person as to her honesty, reliability and suitability for office.”

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