Friday 26 December 2014

Quinn: Garda Commissioner right to expect whistleblower to come to him first

Published 24/01/2014 | 12:15

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was right to expect that a whistleblower in the force should come to him first about concerns.

The Minister said discipline in a police force in any democracy was “critically important”.

Mr Quinn was responding to moves by the commissioner to seek legal advice on whether he can block whistleblowers from appearing before the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Mr Callinan is seeking legal advice on the issue after PAC invited Sgt Maurice McCabe to appear before it in the controversy over allegations of corruption by senior officers in cancelling penalty points.

Another whistleblower, retired garda John Wilson, has indicated that the also wants to appear before the committee the same issue.

Speaking at the PAC yesterday, Mr Callinan described the behaviour of the two whistleblowers as disgusting in opting to make unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and criminality against senior colleagues in a public forum.

He said it was extraordinarily unfair that the allegations were being aired when nobody else in the force had sight of them

Responding to questions today, Mr Quinn did not comment directly on Mr Callinan’s possible legal attempt to block the appearance of the whistleblowers at the PAC.

However, he said:“I would think that a whistleblower in any organisation should first and foremost be able to have confidence to come to the chief executive officer and I think the commissioner is correct insisting  that in the first instance, he gets a chance to deal with a compliant before it goes to Public Accounts Committee or any other forum.

The minister  replied   “ I really don’t know” when asked whether Gardai lacked the confidence  to seek to have issues dealt with internally. 

Mr Quinn said the police force in any country was not just another arm of the public sector, but was a central arm in any democracy.

He added: “I think discipline in the police force in any democracy is critically important. I think structures within that force are such, and I say this as someone not responsible for area, and therefore I am cautious, a whistleblower in an open democracy, should have sufficient confidence in the first instance, to share with the  commissioner whatever concerns he or she has.

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