Fitzgerald forced to back Garda Commissioner again
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has once again been forced to express confidence in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.
During tense Dáil exchanges about allegations of abuse of garda whistleblowers, Opposition TDs suggested that Commissioner O'Sullivan should at the very least stand aside pending investigations.
Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace demanded that the Justice Minister sack the Commissioner.
He said there was evidence that Ms O'Sullivan was aware of efforts to discredit and harass whistleblowers in An Garda Síochána.
Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue and Sinn Féin deputy Mary Lou McDonald said those at the centre of the allegations have said they would not co-operate with any new inquiries as long as the Commissioner was in office.
Mr McConalogue wanted to know what the minister would do in that case. Ms McDonald said there was no legal bar to the Commissioner standing aside temporarily.
Ms Fitzgerald said An Garda Síochána had given very good service to the community and enjoyed recent successes in the fight against crime.
"But for all their strengths, I have recognised that fundamental reforms are necessary," Ms Fitzgerald said.
She said the Government was going to investigate the most recent allegations involving whistleblowers and would proceed as quickly as possible.
But Ms Fitzgerald insisted due process must respect everyone's legal rights.
"Is an accusation now sufficient to secure a conviction? Is that what you're suggesting?" Ms Fitzgerald asked.
"No findings of wrongdoing of any kind have been made against the Garda Commissioner. I believe in those circumstances she is entitled to our full confidence," Ms Fitzgerald added.
Mr Wallace said the minister had not replied to some of his letters in the past and that these controversies were going on for two years.
"As long as you leave her [Commissioner O'Sullivan] in position, the allegations will continue against that Commissioner - and you know it's only going to get worse," the Wexford TD said.