Six-week investigation by former judge to decide the fate of garda chief
Published 08/10/2016 | 02:30
the fate of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan could be sealed in just six weeks after a retired High Court judge was appointed to investigate an alleged smear campaign against a garda whistleblower.
Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill is to examine allegations that senior Garda management orchestrated a campaign to discredit the character of Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
The explosive claims, made under protected disclosure laws by Superintendent David Taylor, have left the force reeling and heaped major pressure on embattled Commissioner O'Sullivan. The Garda chief refused to comment on the allegations yesterday, but a garda statement last night said that the force would co-operate fully with the review process.
While appearing at a press conference to mark a foiled robbery in Dunboyne, Co Meath, the Commissioner said the allegations of a smear campaign are for "another day".
As revealed by the Irish Independent yesterday, Supt Taylor has alleged that Commissioner O'Sullivan was personally told of the smear campaign against Sgt McCabe. It is claimed she was sent text messages which detailed some of the efforts to damage the officer's character.
The allegations are heavily levelled against former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, whose resignation in 2014 plunged both the force and the Government into chaos.
Both she and Mr Callinan are now expected to be called to answer questions by the judge leading the review.
Sgt McCabe has separately submitted his own file under protected disclosure laws which will be examined by the judge.
Both he and Supt Taylor were last night examining the terms of reference of the review, which should be completed within six weeks. Mr Justice O'Neill's review will also examine reports compiled by John Barrett, the civilian head of human resources in the force, into Sgt McCabe's treatment.
The reports detail the now infamous meeting, between Mr Callinan and former Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John McGuinness.
During the meeting, Mr Callinan allegedly told Mr McGuinness that Sgt McCabe "wasn't to be trusted".
It is also claimed the ex-Garda chief tried to persuade Mr McGuinness not to call Sgt McCabe as a witness to the PAC.
Meanwhile, Government sources last night said they anticipate the judge will recommend a full Commission of Investigation into the force following his six-week review.
Fianna Fáil Justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan welcomed the move and said it is important to ensure "we can get to the truth of these matters".
In a statement, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said it is vitally important "the claims of people making such disclosures are properly addressed".
Following a meeting with Attorney General Máire Whelan, Ms Fitzgerald said that "the rights of everyone to fairness and proper procedures have to be vindicated".