Saturday 18 November 2017

Garda superintendents want quick answers on Callinan's retirement

From left, Supt Gerry Smith, president of the Association of Garda Superintendents, Justice Minister Alan Shatter and interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan
From left, Supt Gerry Smith, president of the Association of Garda Superintendents, Justice Minister Alan Shatter and interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Tom Brady, Security Editor

SENIOR gardai want answers within eight weeks as to why Martin Callinan resigned.

The country's superintendents have backed calls for the fast-tracking of an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Mr Callinan's shock retirement.

Mr Justice Nial Fennelly is expected to spend a year probing the existence of garda tapes. His remit includes Mr Callinan's departure.

However, both the Dail Justice Committee and the Association of Garda Superintendents have suggested that it would take a shorter timeframe to produce a report into the garda chief's unexpected retirement.

Controversy has surrounded Mr Callinan's retirement since it emerged that Taoiseach Enda Kenny sent a Department of Justice official to his house to discuss the tapes issue on the night before he announced that he was leaving the force.

The general secretary of the Association of Garda Superintendents, Pat McCabe, declined to comment on whether he believed Mr Callinan had been the victim of a 'political coup' but welcomed an early disclosure of the truth.

In London yesterday, Mr Kenny also spoke of the importance of establishing the truth behind the garda tapes. He accepted the crisis that has engulfed the garda force had led to a number of difficult weeks for the Government.

INTEGRITY

But he insisted that the establishment of a garda authority, expected later this year, will ensure that the public "can have trust and belief in the integrity in An Garda Siochana".

"What is involved here is getting at the truth and that's what really important," he said.

The association's annual conference in Naas, Co Kildare, heard yesterday that the allegations of corruption levelled against the force were not true.

The superintendents accepted that mistakes had been made in the past and pointed out that these were now being rectified. But they rejected accusations of widespread corruption and malpractice in the force.

Association president Supt Gerry Smith said its members had serious concerns about remarks "by certain individuals" that labelled gardai as being corrupt.

He said: "These comments are hurtful, unfortunate and regrettable. This association, as a group of professionals, totally refute any inference or insinuation of systemic corruption by our members."

Supt McCabe said that while whistleblowers might not get everything right, the force had to listen to them and the concerns they voiced.

He welcomed the setting-up of the commission of inquiry into taping of telephone calls at garda divisional headquarters over the past 30 years and said he believed that it would establish the truth of what he regarded as legacy issues.

Supt McCabe said the association was not aware of the extent of the taping and that non-emergency calls were being recorded in stations.

He also welcomed the proposal for an independent police authority.

Asked for his view on the possible appointment of an outsider to the post of commissioner, Supt McCabe said his members would work with whatever the legislators decided to do and fully support whoever was appointed to the post.

He pointed out that their loyalty was to the people, whom they served. But he was adamant that morale in the force was good and said responding to a challenge would make them stronger.

Irish Independent

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