Sunday 25 February 2018

Garda Commissioner will not be asked to step aside during Commission of Investigation into 'garda whistleblower smear campaign'

Garda: Noirin O'Sullivan
Garda: Noirin O'Sullivan
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

GARDA Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will not be asked by the Government to step aside pending the outcome of a Commission of Investigation into an alleged smear campaign against garda whistleblowers.

It was announced today that the commission - led by Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton - will examine claims that garda management tried to discredit garda sergeant Maurice McCabe.

It’s understood Judge Charleton will be given a timeframe of nine months to complete his work.

Although Commissioner O’Sullivan will be asked to give evidence to the commission, she will not be asked to step aside temporary pending this outcome.

This is because no finding of fact has been made against Commissioner O’Sullivan.

Both she and her predecessor Martin Callinan have strongly rejected allegations that they were involved in or had knowledge of a smear campaign.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Picture: Colin O'Riordan
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Picture: Colin O'Riordan

The allegations were made in two protected disclosures sent to the Government under the Protected Disclosures Act by Sgt McCabe and Superintendent Dave Taylor.

The move to set up a commission was recommended by retired High Court judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill, who recently conducted a scoping exercise into the allegations of a smear campaign.

Both officers are also understood to implicate Commissioner O’Sullivan’s predecessor Martin Callinan.

Ms Fitzgerald said she will lay an order before the Dáil tomorrow which formally establish the new commission.

She told reporters that she has already accepted the recommendations and conclusions by Judge O’Neill, as well as a proposed terms of reference for the commission.

Ms Fitzgerald briefed both Cabinet and Fianna Fáil on the developments today.

Speaking in Dublin, Ms Fitzgerald said there is no “prima facie” case against anyone.

I will be laying before the house a draft order establishing the commission of investigation. The judge has recommended that this is the way forward,” she said.

“Clearly then tomorrow when the terms of reference are publish, clearly then it will become obvious the scale of this commission,” she added.

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