Saturday 19 October 2019

Government challenged to publish full terms of former Garda Commissioner's retirement package

Noirin O'Sullivan said she was leaving the force after facing an
Noirin O'Sullivan said she was leaving the force after facing an "unending cycle" of public and political scrutiny
John Downing

John Downing

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has challenged the Government to publish the full terms of Garda Commissioner's Noirin O'Sullivan'S pension and lump sum calculations.

Mr Howlin said the public needed to know if it was permissible to count the months she served as temporary head of the garda force to arrive at final lump calculations of €300,000 and a yearly pension of over €90,000.

Ms O'Sullivan was confirmed as Commissioner in November 2014 - but served on an interim basis from March of that year.  Pension and lump sum calculations require a three-year threshold to maximise the payments.

The Labour leader is a former Public Expenditure Minister who signed off on the retirement package of the previous Commissioner Martin Callinan which he said were based entirely on legal entitlements and without top-up.

He said that up to yesterday all Ministers were talking about the need for Commissioner O'Sullivan to remain in the job to pursue police reforms.

"Now it appears that at the same time there were 'back-channel discussions' with the Commissioner about her potential leaving," Mr Howlin told reporters at his party's pre-Dáil think-in in Athy.

Speaking today on RTE Radio One, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said Ms O'Sullivan's pension package will reflect the number of years she spent in An Garda Siochana.

Meanwhile, the Labour leader said the nature of these discussions must be published in full.  He said a crucial question was whether the interim period March-November was legally allowable for pension and lump sum calculations,

"You'll find there are very strict legal principles for all of this," Mr Howlin said.  He insisted that a politician could not enhance entitlements which were entirely governed by legal contract.

Mr Howlin added that the Public Expenditure Minister ultimately signed off on all public spending for things like retirements. But he could not say what the position was on interim service as it was a matter for the contract.

The Labour leader also called for a new FBI-style national security agency to separate policing and national intelligence functions. This would make it easier to appoint an overseas candidate and it could be done by merging a cyber security agency with military intelligence.

He also called for wide new supervisory powers for the Policing Authority.

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