Friday 15 December 2017

FF: Policing Authority should judge 'capacity' of O'Sullivan to do job

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: INM
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: INM

Cormac McQuinn and Niall O'Connor

Fianna Fáil wants the Policing Authority to decide whether Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan should remain in her post.

The party yesterday published a Dáil motion which calls on the Government to take immediate steps to resolve what it describes as a "crisis in confidence" in An Garda Síochána.

It states the recent scandal around breath tests has raised serious questions about the management of the force.

The motion has called for the Policing Authority to be empowered to assess the "capacity" of Ms O'Sullivan to restore confidence in the force - but stops short of calling on her to step aside or be sacked.

Privately, many Fianna Fáil TDs want the party to withdraw support for the Commissioner in a bid to have her removed.

But the party leadership has taken a different view.

The motion, which will be voted upon on Thursday, states that only the Government can legally remove a commission from its post.

Nonetheless, its publication will ensure that Ms O'Sullivan faces another week at the eye of a political storm.

Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and Solidarity/People Before Profit have also published motions due to be debated in the coming days.

The Policing Authority last night said it will now begin an audit into a series of traffic-related issues, such as the one million phantom breath tests.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted he has "full confidence" in Attorney General Máire Whelan after she was criticised by the Fennelly Commission, which examined the taping of phone calls in and out of Garda stations.

Ms Whelan is under serious pressure after Mr Justice Nial Fennelly found that she "presented an alarming picture" of the taping of phone calls in a move that left Mr Kenny shocked.

The commission also found that Ms Whelan did not inform the then justice minister Alan Shatter - though she was made aware of the situation in 2013.

Mr Shatter yesterday spoke for the first time since the publication of the report, which found Garda management displayed "almost total ignorance at the highest level" of the taping of phone conversations at stations.

The former TD claimed Ms Whelan "overreacted" and "showed poor judgment" over the issue.

He also claimed that Mr Kenny "generated a sense of alarm" once the issue of the recordings at Garda stations was brought to his attention in March 2014.

But speaking in Berlin, Mr Kenny rejected the claim that the AG's position is untenable.

"The Attorney General was quite justified in bringing what was a very serious matter to the attention of Government and to myself," Mr Kenny said.

"The findings of the commission are that the taping of telephone calls over an extended period to many Garda stations was illegal and unconstitutional," he added.

Irish Independent

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