Wednesday 13 December 2017

Noirin O'Sullivan set to defend garda attitude to whistleblowers

Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan is set to face Jusitce committee. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan is set to face Jusitce committee. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Niall O'Connor and Jim Cusack

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan will for the first time face questions from TDs over the alleged smear campaign against whistleblowers that has rocked the force.

The Justice committee will also hear how garda management is dealing with the morale crisis within the force as rank-and-file gardaí prepare to go on strike.

But the latest set of whistleblower allegations - which are now the subject of a judge-led review - are expected to feature heavily today.

Central to the controversy is Superintendent David Taylor, who has claimed in a protected disclosure that garda management sought to discredit the character of Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Supt Taylor, the force's former press officer, has claimed Commissioner O'Sullivan was personally told of efforts to discredit Sgt McCabe.

She has rejected any such assertion.

Read more: Garda Commissioner was 'not privy to or approved of' alleged campaign to discredit garda whistleblower

But in her statement to the committee, which was circulated to members last night, the Commissioner makes no reference to the ongoing controversies that have dogged the force.

Instead, she focuses heavily on the success of Operation Thor and the joint operation with Spanish police to tackle gangland crime.

"In relation to organised crime, An Garda Síochána has made significant progress in disrupting and tackling such gangs over the last number of months," Ms O'Sullivan says.

"We've built on the expertise in our Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau by introducing a Special Crime Task Force to focus on criminals working at lower levels in organised crime gangs.

"You've seen the results. Significant arrests and seizures in the last few weeks that have degraded organised crime gangs by taking guns, drugs and cash from them. Lives have been saved - with 12 assassination attempts foiled."

There was speculation this week that Commissioner O'Sullivan would withdraw or seek to defer tomorrow's committee sitting.

However, sources close to her insisted this was never the case.

Members of the committee include TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly - who have been at the forefront of raising the whistleblowers issue.

Irish Independent

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