Thursday 24 May 2018

O'Sullivan to ride out Dáil motions despite TDs' show of no confidence

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: PA
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: PA
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan will today survive a series of Dáil motions - despite the majority of TDs expressing no confidence in the leadership of Garda management.

A number of confidence motions tabled by the Opposition are expected to be defeated because Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin can't reach agreement.

The votes over Ms O'Sullivan's future as Garda Commissioner came just hours after she submitted a 19-page document to the Oireachtas Justice Committee, which detailed the force's response to the breath test scandal.

A senior officer is conducting a major review into the revelations that a staggering 937,000 breath tests were falsified.

In her response to the committee, Ms O'Sullivan revealed:

Separate reviews into the "classification" of homicide and domestic violence figures are taking place.

The falsification of breath test figures was not linked to overtime.

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's officials were alerted to the issue in June 2016.

The Director of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety flagged concerns to gardaí - but said they were not a "red-flag issue".

In her report, Ms O'Sullivan said that an examination into breath test figures in the South region was prompted by an anonymous letter sent from a garda reserve in April 2014.

She said that in March 2015, the Assistant Commissioner in Traffic directed that each division and district should ensure it had mechanisms in place to monitor checkpoints.

Further data in relation to the issue was provided by the Medical Bureau last month, following a formal request.

Politically, Ms O'Sullivan's statement is seen as having adequately addressed the majority of questions that have stemmed from the breath test controversy.

She said the results of breath testing was "neither used as a performance indicator nor justification for incurring overtime".

But Ms O'Sullivan indicated that the 937,000 fake test figures could rise after an internal garda review into the issue has concluded.

And the Garda chief admitted that a review is now under way into the classification of other "incidents", including domestic violence figures and homicides.

"In light of the issues raised by the Garda Inspectorate and the Central Statistics Office, a Working Group has been established to oversee data quality management and, at the time of writing, An Garda Síochána is reviewing the classification of incidents including domestic violence," she said.

Meanwhile, TDs clashed last night over a series of motions that express no confidence in the Commissioner, or Garda management.

During a debate on a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence, Ms Fitzgerald accused the party of trying to "personalise".

"An Garda Síochána faces many problems. But the solution does not lie in this politically motivated motion from Sinn Féin," she said.

Fianna Fáil's justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan said it was the function of the Dáil to remove a commissioner. "We are not a house who decides who should lose their job or not," he said. Sinn Féin's justice spokesperson Jonathan O'Brien said the majority of TDs have expressed no confidence.

Irish Independent

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