Tanaiste says she has 'full confidence' in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan
TÁNAISTE Frances Fitzgerald has said she has "full confidence" in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to remain in her role during the Disclosure Tribunal.
Ms O'Sullivan has been under pressure to step aside for the duration of the Tribunal into alleged mistreatment of Garda whistleblowers.
Last week Policing Authority chairperson Josephine Feehily raised concerns about the commissioner's ability to fulfil her role while the inquiry is underway.
"I would say we have a degree of confidence, but we are concerned," Ms Feehily told RTÉ.
She said the authority was confident in terms of the commissioner's capacity to run the force.
But the parallel running of a very complex organisation while servicing the tribunal was a different matter, she said.
Ms Fitzgerald said she fully respected what Ms Feehily had to say.
She added that it is "reassuring" for the public that the Authority "will continue to monitor the situation in relation to the demands that will be on the Garda Commissioner of both meeting the Tribunals demands and doing the very important work of leading An Garda Síochána."
"So I do have full confidence in the Garda Commissioner to do that job but I would also want to say that I certainly recognise the important work of the Policing Authority and as I say I think it’s quite appropriate what Josephine Feehily and the police authority had to say, that they will monitor the situation as it emerges," Ms Fitzgerald added.
Minister Leo Varadkar also said he had confidence in the Commissioner. He said she will "have to judge for herself" whether she can fully discharge the role of Garda Commissioner and contribute to the Tribunal.
He added: "I would be very reluctant for us to move into a situation whereby officeholders were required or individuals were required to step down or step aside just because they’re under investigation.
"I just don’t think that would be a good precedent for a number of reasons."
The Disclosure Tribunal, opened today by Mr Justice Peter Charleton, is set to investigate whether a smear campaign was orchestrated by senior gardaí against whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
It has been claimed that Ms O’Sullivan was aware of it the alleged campaign.
She has strongly denied this and rejected suggestions she should step aside either permanently or temporarily, saying she made the decision "because I am innocent".