Tuesday 27 September 2016

Déjà vu as pressure mounts on chief

Published 20/05/2016 | 02:30

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: Caroline Quinn
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: Caroline Quinn

In August of last year, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan found herself at the centre of a major controversy in relation to the force's stance on the existence of the IRA.

  • Go To

In August of last year, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan found herself at the centre of a major controversy in relation to the force's stance on the existence of the IRA.

The brutal murder of Kevin McGuigan in West Belfast, and the subsequent admission by the PSNI of IRA involvement, sent shockwaves through political and policing circles both north and south of the border.

But the controversy quickly developed into a political crisis - partly because of Commissioner O'Sullivan's lack of speed in clarifying the position of An Garda Síochána on the IRA's existence and the nature of its activities.

Fast forward nine months and you can't but help feel a sense of déjà vu.

This time, Commissioner O'Sullivan issued a statement on Monday night which was, at kindest estimate, inconclusive.

Since then, the embattled garda chief has remained silent while a sheaf of documents associated with the O'Higgins Commission of Inquiry have entered into the public domain.

The position as of now is that her lawyers appear to have challenged the "credibility" and "motivation" of Sergeant Maurice McCabe all through the inquiry proceedings.

This contrasts with her public praise of the garda whistleblower.

Let's be clear: her actions - and perhaps the lack of them at this stage - are adding to the atmosphere of uncertainty which surrounds this issue.

At Leinster House, there is growing unease that the political fallout will compound difficulties faced by an already beleaguered new Government.

Back in August of last year, Commissioner O'Sullivan eventually released a 900-word statement clarifying the force's stance on the IRA.

It took about four days too many - and was only issued after the political pressure reached a peak.

That pressure is not far off those levels this time around.

Everybody accepts that any Garda Commissioner must be careful and sparing in their public utterances.

But, as leader of the nation's police force, she does have an obligation to address urgent matters such as this in a timely fashion.

The suggestion within garda circles last night was that Commissioner O'Sullivan may wait until her public appearance in front of the newly formed Policing Authority, which is due to take place next week.

Perhaps she should speak sooner - and help bring this sorry saga to a conclusion.

Irish Independent

Read More

Promoted articles

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice