herald

Saturday 22 July 2017

'Clear new leadership is needed in An Garda Siochana', says Howlin

Brendan Howlin at the James Connolly commemoration
Brendan Howlin at the James Connolly commemoration

A report that gardai tapped the telephone of a political party activist working for the rival of a Government minister was "profoundly worrying", said Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin.

He was concerned the alleged "rogue actions" by gardai could have been "politically motivated", he said.

He spoke following revelations in the Sunday Independent about the phone-tapping by garda intelligence of a political party worker.

The report stated that the phone-tapping had stopped after a garda raised concerns it was for "political purposes".

"I'm obviously worried myself and I think it adds to the whole broad list of issues that shows that, if it's true as I'm reading the papers like everybody else, shows an element of rogue actions being taken and if they were politically motivated," he said.

"If people could utilise An Garda Siochana for political ends, it is profoundly worrying," he added.

He posed the question: "Is there more to come?"

"We need to have clarity in relation to that. Even in terms of who can investigate these matters now," he said.

He expressed his concerns prior to addressing the Labour Party's annual James Connolly commemoration at Arbour Hill in Dublin.

Mr Howlin said there was growing concern about a number of serious issues concerning the management of the force and the leadership of Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.

Shocking

"I think most people are numbed now by the series of shocking revelations, one after another, some now going back years," he said.

"There comes a time when doing what is right is much more important than any political consequence and it is quite clear to me that a new leadership is required in An Garda Siochana.

"Public confidence has been seriously eroded by all that is going on."

Mr Howlin said he could not imagine how a police commissioner would not take responsibility that a reported one million driver breath tests did not take place.

"Whatever culpability is involved, responsibility is something different and normally the head of a State agency, where those manifestly improper things happened, would take responsibility," he said.

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