Sunday 11 December 2016

Garda Commissioner accused of 'misleading' Dáil Justice Committee

Chairman warns Independent TD Clare Daly about 'privilege abuse'

Published 10/11/2016 | 14:22

Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: Arthur Carron
Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: Arthur Carron

INDEPENDENT TD Clare Daly has questioned the validity of a High Court Judge’s special inquiry into allegations made by two senior garda officers.

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Ms Daly was also warned by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl about what he described as “specific allegations” that Garda Commissoner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, had misled the Dáil Justice Committee.

The Independents4Change TD said the Commissioner had said at the Committee that she had no knowledge about a campaign of harassment against members of the force.

The Ceann Comhairle said he was trying to uphold TDs’ rights to raise matters of public concern via absolute Dáil privilege. But there was a longstanding tradition of not making allegations against individuals.

“We should be very careful how we use absolute privilege,” the Dáil chairman warned.

Ms Daly said she was very conscious of her obligations and was merely stating facts. She also said the Commissioner had lost the rank and file members’ support by her intervention in the pay dispute and her “threat of martial law.”

The Independents4Change TD said there was one week to go before retired High Court Judge Iarlfhlaith O’Neill reported to the Justice Minister about his examination of “protected disclosures” from two senior garda officers.

Last month, the Government appointed Judge O’Neill to review four reports from within the Garda on the treatment of whistleblower Sgt McCabe and asked for a report in six weeks.

The claims were made in protected disclosures to the Minister by two garda whistleblowers and relate to an alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

 She said, with just a week to go, the Judge had yet to meet the men concerned, or hear from them, and the only contact made was to ask their lawyers to forward the disclosures to the Garda Commissioner.

“You couldn’t make this up. What kind of inquiry do you honestly expect us to believe that this is?” Ms Daly asked.

Justice Minister Frances  Fitzgerald said the court ruling today again showed the importance of respecting another person’s good name and avoiding allegations. She expected the Judge’s report next week and had no other knowledge of the matter.

The Minister said that, unlike Deputy Daly, she would not prejudge the Judge’s investigation. She would consider his report in due course and act upon it.

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