Tuesday 21 November 2017

Commissioner doing 'good job' says Government, but FF wants 'change at top'

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin Photo: Tony Gavin
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin Photo: Tony Gavin
John Downing

John Downing

The Government has again backed embattled Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

But while Fianna Fáil again said the commissioner should step down - it has stopped short of backing a Dáil motion of no confidence in Ms O'Sullivan.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday gave a strong endorsement for the commissioner, who came under fire after questioning at a Dáil committee last week.

Opposition politicians have pointed to what they see as important differences between her testimony and that of senior civilian officials working in An Garda Síochána.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has already expressed confidence in the commissioner and Mr Varadkar has now followed suit.

"The Government has confidence in Commissioner O'Sullivan. We think she's doing a good job in very difficult circumstances and she's bringing about the reforms that are necessary," Mr Varadkar told RTÉ's 'The Week in Politics'.

He said reforms carried out in the force recently had not been given enough recognition. The Garda Authority had been appointed and there would be a commission to look at "root-and-branch" reforms.

But Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin again said his party did not have confidence in the commissioner following the revelations about discrepancies in breath test figures and similar problems about the handling of fixed penalty traffic infringements.

He called for a complete change of senior management in the force.

"My own view is that we need a complete change at the top in relation to An Garda Síochána. We're not in a position to articulate confidence in the Garda Commissioner," Mr Martin told Ivan Yates on Newstalk radio.

"But it's more than just the commissioner. I have to say as well and that is why in the Dáil motion we've put forward the idea that there has to be a commission established to fundamentally change how An Garda Síochána operates."

But Mr Martin said he could not back a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence, which would effectively amount to calling for her sacking.

He said this would be going too far and it was not the role of parliament to seek the sacking of any senior official.

He also pointed to Sinn Féin's troubled relationship with the force. "The Provisional IRA murdered gardaí, made life extremely difficult for many gardaí for many, many years," he said.

Irish Independent

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