Saturday 27 December 2014

Paul Williams: Turmoil in garda management

Published 25/03/2014 | 11:50

Martin Callinan’s dramatic resignation this morning has created turmoil in the management of the national police force.

His unprecedented decision to resign rather than apologise to the garda whisleblowers suggests that it was a step he was not prepared to take.

Not even his closest friends in the Garda top brass had any idea that the Commissioner was going to fall on his sword minutes before he announced his departure.

Privately Callinan had confided in his closest confidantes that he regretted using the word “disgusting” at the Public Accounts Committee in January.

But he is also a stubborn man who wouldn’t back down if he believes that he was right.

His attempts to clarify his comments at the PAC fell on deaf ears amid the fury of a political storm spearheaded by Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Independent TDs.

The fact that senior Government ministers joined calls for Callinan to retract his comments about ex-garda John Wilson and serving sergeant Maurice McCabe was a game changer.

It was clear that an unprecedented storm had developed that no one could have foreseen when this controversy first emerged.

The announcement about the Commissioner’s decision was to be the first topic on the agenda for this morning’s cabinet meeting which is deeply divided on the subject.

The opposition which has been baying for blood has now got its first head but they won’t stop there – Alan Shatter is now firmly in their sights.

What the Minister says over the next 48 hours will determine his fate although it is clear that he has no intention of resigning.

He can argue that his claim in the Dail that the whistleblowers did not co-operate with the Penalty Points investigation headed by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney came from the Garda Commissioner in the first place.

It would appear that he was misinformed.

Meanwhile Deputy Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, who has long been tipped to be Callinan’s successor, has been literally thrown in at the deep end as she must now assume the role of a caretaker leader of the force.

O’Sullivan has not been tainted by the long-running penalty points controversy and she is regarded as a hugely capable police officer.

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