Wednesday 21 February 2018

Garda chief must clarify why she changed her story, says PAC chairman

Asked to provide clarity: Garda chief Nóirín O’Sullivan Picture: Mark Condren
Asked to provide clarity: Garda chief Nóirín O’Sullivan Picture: Mark Condren

Niall O'Connor and John Downing

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan appears to have provided conflicting evidence at two separate Oireachtas hearings.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming last night called for urgent clarity after Ms O'Sullivan told the Oireachtas Justice Committee that the force had suffered as a result of a lack of staff and resources.

Pressed on why the breath-test scandal was not dealt with sooner, Ms O'Sullivan specifically cited a depleted Garda management as one of the causes.

"I spent nine months in that position as interim acting commissioner. I was appointed in November of that year.

"It took a further 11 months to have two deputy commissioners appointed. And it was only in January of this year that we got the appointment of a full executive," Ms O'Sullivan said.

However, at a meeting of the PAC in July 2014, Mr Fleming put it to Ms O'Sullivan that losing so many gardaí must have "impacted policing".

She denied that this was the case.

"No, deputy, I wouldn't say it has impacted on our ability," Ms O'Sullivan said.

Mr Fleming now says clarity must be provided by the chief.

"If (Ms O'Sullivan) has given a different version on staffing and resources at the Justice Committee than she did in July 2014, then she will have to clarify that," the Laois TD told the Irish Independent.

The comments came as the Government prepared to publish the Fennelly Report, which examined the alleged taping of phone calls to garda stations.

Speaking in the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government still had confidence in Ms O'Sullivan.

He pledged a comprehensive and immediate review of policing.

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said the Policing Authority must be given extra powers after revelations surrounding the grossly exaggerated breath test figures.

Irish Independent

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