Wednesday 18 September 2019

Minister waiting for AG advice on 'smear' inquiry

Tanáiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Damien Eagers
Tanáiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Damien Eagers
John Downing

John Downing

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is still waiting on the Attorney General's advice on how to handle a report on alleged smears against a garda whistleblower.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill examined allegations that Sergeant Maurice McCabe was the subject of a smear campaign by at least one named senior officer. The claims are understood to be denied, giving rise to conflicts of evidence.

In October the Irish Independent reported that another whistleblower at the centre of the Garda controversy alleged Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan was personally told of the smear campaign against Sergeant McCabe.

Superintendent David Taylor, the officer making the explosive allegations, met Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and his Chef de Cabinet Deirdre Gilliane at Leinster House. During that 90-minute meeting, Supt Taylor claimed senior garda management orchestrated a campaign to discredit the character of Sgt McCabe.

It's understood he has also claimed Commissioner O'Sullivan was made aware of the campaign through text messages and other forms of communication.

But these allegations contradict a statement by Commissioner O'Sullivan in which she said she was "not privy to nor approved of" any action targeting an officer in the force. She said she would "condemn any such action" and reiterated her stance that any employee's concerns "will be taken seriously and the matters examined".

Sources last night said it was not possible to say when the next move is made in the process. But a fuller inquiry into the case is quite likely.

"We cannot say at this stage when the Attorney General will furnish her report to the Minister," a source said.

The Minister has come under sustained pressure from opposition TDs on the long-running controversy. She has been challenged to publish the findings amid allegations that the issue is undermining public confidence in An Garda Síochána.

Irish Independent

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