herald

Saturday 1 October 2016

Taoiseach has '100pc' confidence in under-fire Garda Commissioner

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan is under pressure (Photo: Damien Eagers)
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan is under pressure (Photo: Damien Eagers)

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he backs under-fire Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan "100pc" as she remains at the centre of a storm over leaks from the O'Higgins investigation.

Ms O'Sullivan has come under pressure as more leaks surfaced about how her lawyers questioned the credibility of whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe during Judge Kevin O'Higgins' investigation into allegations of garda malpractice.

"I have 100pc support for the Garda Commissioner, the first woman garda commissioner in the history of the State, overseeing the most radical change in garda structures since the foundation of the State," Mr Kenny said in Washington last night.

Ms O'Sullivan has been urged to clarify the discrepancy between her public and private stance on Sgt McCabe's actions.

Credibility

While she openly praised Sgt McCabe in public, leaked transcripts showed her legal team were instructed to attack his credibility and motivation.

The matter was raised in the Dail yesterday.

Addressing Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin referred to the leaks as "fairly damaging".

"The bottom line is the transcripts are there now for all to see, Tanaiste, and we can't live in some sort of make-believe world that they're not," he said.

He quoted from one transcript, where Judge O'Higgins asks the barrister representing the Commissioner, Colm Smyth, if he was saying that Sgt McCabe was "motivated by malice".

"If these are instructions from the Commissioner, so be it," Mr Martin quoted the judge as saying.

"So be it. That is the position, judge," Mr Martin quoted Mr Smyth as saying

Mr Martin told Ms Fitzgerald that the controversy "needed be comprehensively and transparently addressed".

Later in the O'Higgins investigation, it is understood that Mr Smyth acknowledged it had been an error on his part when he had said his earlier instructions had been to challenge Sgt McCabe's integrity.

He told the judge that the Commissioner was challenging Sgt McCabe's motivation and credibility in relation to the corruption and malpractice allegations.

Also speaking in the Dail, the Tanaiste pointed out that Ms O'Sullivan had accepted the report's findings and said that she had also said she had never suggested that malice was Mr McCabe's motivation.

"I will have ongoing conversations with the Commissioner, and if it is feasible and legal for the Commissioner to put further information in the public arena, I have no doubt that she will do that."

She said that it would be "helpful" if Ms O'Sullivan did clarify the matter.

Ms Fitzgerald said she wanted to put on the record that the O'Higgins report found that Sgt McCabe raised "genuine and legitimate" concerns and he showed "courage".

Ms Fitzgerald's spokesman last night reiterated that the Tanaiste had "full confidence" in the Commissioner.

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