COMMISSIONER MUST NOW STAND ASIDE

Issued 8 February 2017

Brendan Howlin, T.D., Leader of the Labour Party has commented on the announcement this afternoon of the establishment of a Commission of Investigation under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Peter Charleton.

“The Garda Commissioner heads a policing service charged with protecting the security of the State, preventing crime and vindicating the human rights of each individual.

“Yet at the same time, and while still discharging these onerous statutory responsibilities, Commissioner O’Sullivan now faces a statutory investigation as to whether –

  • She directed the Garda Press Office or knew about a direction to brief the media negatively against one of her own Sergeants and to accuse him of being motivated by maliciousness and revenge,
  • She directed the Garda Press Office or knew about a direction to draw journalists’ attention to an allegation that the Sergeant had committed sexual assault against his own minor family members, and
  • She knew about a carpark meeting between Commissioner Callinan and Deputy John McGuinness, at which these scurrilous allegations were repeated, or
  • She planned and orchestrated broadcasts on RTE, purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O’Higgins Commission Report, in which Sgt McCabe was falsely branded a liar and irresponsible.

“In the course of this inquiry, the Commissioner’s mobile phones and her phone records for a 2 year period are to be examined, as are all Garda electronic and paper files, to see if she is implicated in this affair.

“Nóirín O’Sullivan as Garda Commissioner is the custodian of the very records that Judge Charleton will be demanding to examine, in order to see if they disclose wrongdoing by the Commissioner.

“I believe this places her in an untenable position.

“While I understand the sensitive nature of the work carried out by Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill, aside from his proposed terms of reference for a commission of investigation, only five paragraphs of his report have been published. It is difficult in that context for any public reassurance to be provided that all of the issues at play have been fully considered.

“I believe it is necessary for Deputies from all parties to be permitted to read the O’Neill report in full before agreeing to these terms of reference, to ensure that they encompass all of the allegations contained within the protected disclosures. That said, the terms of reference which have now been published appear comprehensive at first reading.

“Since my statement in the Dáil this morning, I have received numerous queries, all of which have revolved around two fundamental questions.

“The first of these is which Commissioner I was referring to. For the avoidance of doubt, the allegations which I received and outlined under Dáil privilege were in relation to Commissioner O’Sullivan.

“The second question I have received is whether the journalist to whom I referred had received direct contact from Commissioner O’Sullivan. The journalist to whom I spoke this morning is somebody I know, and who I believe has the utmost integrity. That journalist has not received direct contact from Commissioner O’Sullivan, but has direct knowledge of such contacts with other journalists.

“I am satisfied that the allegations raised with me this morning were of sufficient gravity that they deserve to be considered in full, and that they underline the need for Commissioner O’Sullivan to stand aside from her duties while the commission of investigation is underway.

“The truth of all these matters will be determined by the commission of investigation. In the meantime, we require to maintain complete public confidence in an Garda Síochána as an essential pillar of our democracy and security.”