Associates will form 'ring of steel' around garda chief in inquiry
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan is to appoint some of her closest associates, some of whom are retired gardaí, to an internal unit aimed at preventing her from being sacked as Garda Commissioner.
The Irish Independent can today reveal an unprecedented level of unrest within the force over Ms O'Sullivan's appointments to an internal unit established to liaise with the Charleton Inquiry.
Mr Justice Charleton will establish whether there was a smear campaign within An Garda Síochána against whistleblower and Garda sergeant Maurice McCabe.
But this newspaper can reveal that several senior members of the force have contacted Garda Headquarters in recent days to request instructions and guidance because they either want to submit evidence, or fear they will be called as witnesses.
A number of senior officers voiced concern that this instruction was not forthcoming.
The issue has caused consternation in Garda Headquarters.
And in further revelations, Ms O'Sullivan - who is at the centre of the Charleton Inquiry - has appointed some of her closest associates to the liaison team with the judge involved.
These are understood to include retired assistant commissioner Mick O'Sullivan and former chief superintendent Brendan Mangan.
It can also be revealed that Detective Superintendent Tony Howard has been made go-between for the force and Judge Charleton.
This is despite the fact that the officer is a close associate of both Commissioner and her husband Detective Chief Supt Jim McGowan.
Despite the huge unrest, the Policing Authority last night said: "The deployment of staff is an operational matter for the Garda Síochána."
A spokesman for An Garda Síochána said: "An Garda Síochána is committed to co-operating fully with the Disclosures Tribunal.
"As the Commissioner outlined at the public meeting of the Policing Authority recently, procedures have been put in place to ensure An Garda Síochána provides the Disclosures Tribunal with information it requires from across the organisation on the relevant matters promptly. An Garda Síochána does not comment on named individuals."
The Charleton Inquiry has set a deadline for next Monday for the deadline for submissions.
Politicians, journalists, gardaí and various State officials will be called.
The terms of reference were expanded following a demand by the family of Sgt McCabe.
The family is taking legal action against the Child and Family Agency after it emerged a file was left on the agency's system for over two years about the family.