Monday 22 January 2018

Fianna Fail increases pressure on under-fire Garda Commissioner

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Fianna Fail has this weekend significantly increased pressure on Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan to consider her position after the chair of the Policing Authority, Josephine Feehily, offered qualified support, saying she had a "degree of confidence" in the Commissioner and her senior management to run An Garda Siochana.

Yesterday, a senior Fianna Fail source told the Sunday Independent: "The comments of Josephine Feehily add a new dimension to the issue of the Garda Commissioner's position.

"Obviously the Policing Authority is monitoring developments. Our position remains that the Commissioner should examine her ability to continue to do her job, but that due process also still applies.

"However, public hearings at the Charleton Tribunal need to start as soon as possible - and the issues surrounding the Commissioner would preferably be in the first module, to deal with this once and for all."

The first meeting of the tribunal investigating alleged smears against Garda whistleblowers will be held tomorrow morning.

The Disclosures Tribunal will hear an opening statement from Mr Justice Peter Charleton at Dublin Castle.

While it is for Mr Justice Charleton to outline procedures at the tribunal, the fact that Fianna Fail would like to see the claims and counter claims related to the Garda Commissioner examined immediately adds significantly to the pressure on Ms O'Sullivan.

The Garda Commissioner has denied the allegations against her and has said in strong terms that she would not be stepping down.

"The easiest option for me would be to step aside until the commission finishes its work. I'm not taking that option - because I am innocent and because An Garda Siochana, 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 has said.

However, in relation to the management of An Garda Siochana, Ms Feehily has said: "I would say we have a degree of confidence but we are concerned. I'm not saying that that's a deep concern at this point. The tribunal hasn't begun.

"We have flagged that concern to the Commissioner. We asked her the question in public yesterday and so I think it remains to be seen, whether the accelerator can be kept to the floor in policing, and in modernising the organisation while servicing the tribunal."

The Disclosures Tribunal, as it has been officially named, will give all parties a chance to say their piece, Ms Feehily added.

The first meeting of the tribunal investigating alleged smears against Garda whistleblowers will be open to members of the public.

However, no applications for representation will be made on the first day of proceedings.

Sunday Independent

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