Tánaiste announces judge-led Commission of Investigation into 'garda whistleblower smear campaign'
TANAISTE Frances Fitzgerald has announced a judge-led Commission of Investigation into allegations of a smear campaign led by garda management against whistleblowers.
But the Justice Minister twice refused to say whether Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will be asked to step aside pending the outcome of the commission.
The commission will be led by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton, who will have powers to compel witnesses.
The move was recommended by retired High Court judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill, who recently conducted a scoping exercise into claims that garda management sought to discredit garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
Judge O’Neill’s probe focused on two protected disclosures made to Government, one submitted by Sgt McCabe and the other by Superintendent David Taylor.
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 refused to say whether any members of garda management would step aside pending the completion of the investigation.
“In terms of your question, let me say to you that these are allegations. 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.