Fine Gael TD breaks ranks to call for Garda Commissioner to step aside during probe
A FINE Gael TD has become the first member of his party to call for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to step aside for the duration of the commission of investigation into allegations of a smear campaign against a garda whistleblower.
Wexford TD Michael D’Arcy also said he believed 10 journalists were contacted by gardai with smear allegations against garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Mr D’Arcy said the “names and reputations” of all gardai are in “disrepute” because of allegations against Ms O’Sullivan.
Justice Peter Charleton has been tasked with establishing whether garda management, including Ms O’Sullivan and former Commissioner Martin Callinan, were involved in a campaign to blacken Sgt McCabe’s name after he made allegations of malpractice in the force.
Speaking during a Dáil debate on the terms of reference for Justice Charleton’s investigation, Mr D’Arcy said: “The information I have been given is that up to 10 journalists were briefed in relation to Sergeant McCabe.”
Mr D’Arcy also raised concerns over the fact Ms O’Sullivan’s husband Jim McGowan investigated leaking claims against that the former head of the Garda press office David Taylor.
Mr Taylor submitted a protected disclosure which led to the current investigation into smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.
Mr D’Arcy said Mr Taylor’s phone, which was confiscated by gardai, could hold evidence central to Justice Charleton’s Commission of Investigation.
“I do believe it appropriate that Supt Dave Taylor who is out on leave for 21 months and who hasn’t been convicted of anything – so he’s on leave for 21 months - I do believe it appropriate that the Garda Commissioner step aside,” he said.
“I do think in the interest of natural justice that the commissioner step aside in the interest of Garda Siochana. The interest of one individual cannot come in ahead of the police force,” he added.