herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

O'Sullivan should stand aside while we uncover truth of garda scandal

Noirin O'Sullivan
Noirin O'Sullivan

It's difficult to know where to begin in this twisted tale of treachery, lies and deceit. After all, the Sgt Maurice McCabe 'Whistlegate' saga has rumbled on now for nearly 10 years.

Shortly before 2008, Sgt McCabe outed corruption in An Garda Siochana. As a result, an inquiry was set up to examine his complaints. The commission, chaired by Judge Kevin O'Higgins, and the subsequent inquiries upheld Sgt McCabe's claims.

Sgt McCabe has always claimed he was motivated to act to draw attention to what he saw as practices of corruption and malpractice and, to quote him, "to ensure that An Garda Siochana adheres to decent and appropriate standards of policing in its dealings with the Irish people".

Disgraceful

Since Sgt McCabe went public, he and his family have been to hell and back. It is alleged that a disgraceful and shameful campaign led by a cohort of senior officers at Garda HQ attempted to vilify and destroy the sergeant's reputation.

If the public inquiries that will now investigate all aspects of this sorry case find truth in these damning allegations, it will reflect so badly on An Garda Siochana.

Last Wednesday, Labour leader Brendan Howlin stated, under Dail privilege, that a journalist who had direct knowledge informed him that Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan had orchestrated a smear campaign to blacken the name of Sgt McCabe.

The existence of a deliberate smear campaign against Sgt McCabe was given further credence by the disclosure by Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness of a meeting with former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan on January 24, 2014.

At that meeting, Mr McGuinness has since confirmed, he was told of vile allegations against Sgt McCabe.

On last Thursday's RTE Prime Time programme, it was disclosed that Tusla made an error when it accused Sgt McCabe of child sex abuse.

It is clear to everyone now that these must be the very same false allegations that were whispered by Mr Callinan into Mr McGuinness's ear.

To add another twist, Supt David Taylor, who had been arrested on suspicion of unlawful disclosure to the press, was cleared of all wrongdoing by the DPP and reinstated to his post on Monday.

Innocence

This is the officer-turned- whistleblower who has alleged that, when he was in the Garda Press Office, he was directed by Ms O'Sullivan to focus the media on the wrongdoings of Sgt McCabe.

Ms O'Sullivan is entitled, as are all citizens, to the presumption of innocence. She has continually denied any involvement in a smear campaign.

Despite calls from many quarters, she has refused to stand aside while the inquiry is carried out.

This affair has escalated into a huge scandal. In a poll of 1,000 people conducted on Monday, the vast majority said Ms O'Sullivan should stand aside. In the interests of justice for Sgt McCabe and his family, I agree with them.

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