Sunday 19 November 2017

Fate of garda chief could be decided by 6-week investigation

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan Picture: Damien Eagers
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan Picture: Damien Eagers

The fate of Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan could be sealed in just six weeks after a retired High Court judge was appointed to investigate an alleged smear campaign against a garda whistleblower.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill is to examine allegations that senior garda management orchestrated a campaign to discredit Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

The explosive claims, made under protected disclosure laws by Superintendent David Taylor, have left the force reeling and put major pressure on embattled Commissioner O'Sullivan.

The garda chief refused to comment on the allegations yesterday. While appearing at a press conference to mark a foiled robbery in Dunboyne, the Commissioner said the allegations of a smear campaign are for "another day".

Supt Taylor has alleged that Commissioner O'Sullivan was personally told of the smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

It is claimed she was sent text messages that detailed some of the efforts to damage the officer's character.

The allegations are heavily levelled against former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, whose resignation in 2014 plunged both the force and the Government into chaos.

Both she and Mr Callinan are now expected to be called to answer questions. Sgt McCabe has separately submitted his own file under protected disclosure laws that will be examined by the judge.

Both he and Supt Taylor were last night examining the terms of reference of the review, which should be completed within six weeks.

Mr Justice O'Neill's review will also examine reports compiled by John Barrett, the civilian head of Human Resources in the force, into Sgt McCabe's treatment.


Fianna Fail Justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan welcomed the move and said it was important to ensure "we can get to the truth of these matters".

In a statement, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said it was vitally important "the claims of people making such disclosures are properly addressed".

"I am determined that An Garda Siochana operate to the very highest standards and this involves ensuring that allegations of wrongdoing are dealt with properly and the persons making those allegations are fully protected and respected," said Minister Fitzgerald.

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