Monday 22 January 2018

Defiant Garda boss believes she has also become victim of smear campaign

Staying: Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Staying: Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan believes she is now the victim of a "campaign" of false accusations aimed at discrediting her leadership of the force.

The Garda chief is adamant that she will not step aside while an inquiry into the alleged smear campaign against whistleblower Maurice McCabe takes place.

The Irish Independent understands Ms O'Sullivan's determination to remain in place is partly driven by a belief that others within the force and political circles are out to destroy her reputation.

"A campaign of false accusations, repeated and multiplied, do not make me guilty of anything," she said in a strongly worded statement yesterday.

Sources say Ms O'Sullivan is "strongly of the view" that certain elements within the force are out to get her and that a campaign against her has "been ratcheted up over the last few weeks".

Regardless of the mounting calls for the commissioner to step down, they say she is "not one to bow to political pressure".

Fianna Fáil, which had repeatedly defended her right to remain in position, has now changed its approach, with party leader Micheál Martin saying: "The commissioner should assess where she stands."

Labour's Brendan Howlin has called for her to step aside "without prejudice" until the controversy is resolved, while Sinn Féin has taken a similar line.

However, the Government continues to express confidence in Ms O'Sullivan.

Read more: 'Everybody entitled to presumption of innocence' - Taoiseach says Commissioner deserves fairness

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "Everybody in this country is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and, in this case, the quicker that commission of investigation gets under way and to do its work the better for everybody concerned."

Colleagues described the uncompromising language used in a statement issued by Ms O'Sullivan yesterday as "extraordinary" and "unprecedented" for a serving Garda Commissioner.

"My position remains unchanged. Nothing has emerged in the last three weeks which in any way changes that situation," she said in response to the growing clamour for her resignation.

"I have made it clear that I was not part of any campaign to spread rumours about Sgt McCabe and didn't know it was happening at the time it was happening.

"I have repeatedly refuted that claim and do so again."

Ms O'Sullivan said the "easiest option" would be for her to step aside until the commission completes its work.

"I'm not taking that option because I am innocent and because An Garda Síochána, under my leadership has been making significant progress, with the help of our people, the Government, the Policing Authority and Garda Inspectorate, in becoming a beacon of 21st-century policing," she said.

Despite this the Social Democrats are to seek a Dáil vote on the commissioner's position.

Read more: Majority believe garda commissioner should stand aside pending Commission of Inquiry - poll

They have compiled a motion relating to a number of aspects concerning the current crisis, which states that "the current Garda Commissioner be requested to step aside for the duration of this investigation and be replaced by an international senior police officer, in a caretaker capacity, for this period".

Minister of State John Halligan told the Irish Independent that while he believes Ms O'Sullivan should be allow stay in position, if she is replaced it should be by a person from outside An Garda Síochána.

Irish Independent

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