Saturday 25 March 2017

Justice Minister 'has failed to respond to correspondence from Garda whistleblowers' - Mary Lou McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald at the launch of the Sinn Féin alternative budget 2017 yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
Mary Lou McDonald at the launch of the Sinn Féin alternative budget 2017 yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

SINN Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has claimed that Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has failed to respond to correspondence from Garda whistleblowers for months.

Ms McDonald made the allegation in the Dáil where she also asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny if he has confidence in Ms Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

The debate in Leinster House comes after it emerged that two senior Gardaí made protected disclosures to Ms Fitzgerald within the last week.

The disclosures allege that attempts were made to undermine a Garda whistleblower through encouraging other officers to attack his character.

Mr Kenny said today that ultimately a judge may be appointed to look into the claims.

Ms Fitzgerald this morning told a Dáil committee that she is examining the allegations and is committed to protecting those who raise concerns from within the Garda force.

Ms McDonald later raised the issue of whistleblowers in the Dáil saying claiming that Ms Fitzgerald failed to respond to a number of whistleblowers.

"I understand that the minister has in fact been in possession of correspondence for some months. I understand that the minister actually failed to respond to a number of Garda whistleblowers," she said.

She went on to say: "Who is accountable for the smearing of Garda whistleblowers?"

And Ms McDonald asked if Mr Kenny has confidence in the Garda Commissioner, Ms O'Sullivan, in her capacity to protect whistleblowers. She also asked if he has confidence in Ms Fitzgerald.

Mr Kenny said he has not seen correspondence that Ms Fitzgerald has received adding "nor should I have because it was sent to her under that act [Protected Disclosures Act].

"I assume that the information contained therein needs to be examined and needs to be reflected upon very carefully because it is very serious. Otherwise it wouldn’t be received under that section of the act," Mr Kenny said.

He added: "I’ve already said I have absolute confidence in the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner. I don’t have any reason not to."

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