There have been renewed calls for the Garda Commissioner to resign after reports she unsuccessfully applied for a top job in Europol but now will remain on as the head of the force.
The commissioner has been linked with a senior specialist role in the EU police force in recent weeks but reports claim she was unsuccessful in applying for the post.
Gardaí and Government figures are reluctant to speak about developments regarding Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, who will return from holidays next month. Following the high-profile scandals that have hit the force, ministers insisted they have confidence in the embattled Garda chief and her plans for reform.
However, Labour’s justice spokesman Seán Sherlock has raised serious doubts about Ms O’Sullivan’s ability to remain on if she was looking to get out of her job.
“If the person who is meant to be leading the transformation of our policing is actively applying for jobs elsewhere, it doesn’t fill me with confidence. There is a huge job of work required to overhaul An Garda Síochána and restore the confidence of the public in senior management.
“If the Garda Commissioner is looking for an exit strategy, maybe it’s time the Government gave her one by removing her from office. The Minister for Justice should clarify whether he is happy for the commissioner he has tasked with overhauling our police force to be looking for new positions elsewhere,” said the Cork East TD.
Europol yesterday would not be drawn on who had applied for a position of special operations within the EU force, or from which countries applications were made. A spokeswoman said this was for data protection reasons, but that efforts to fill the post were ongoing.
Government figures refused to be drawn on reports that Ms O’Sullivan was rejected for the top post as she did not have enough experience in management.
Ms O’Sullivan is expected to return from holidays in the coming weeks, after an extended six-week leave.
Facing an appearance before a tribunal investigating an alleged campaign to smear Garda whistle-blowers, the commissioner is also preparing to address internal scandals in the force.
These include further investigations by the Public Accounts Committee into internal audits and an internal Garda report on fake alcohol breath tests.
Ms O’Sullivan also has a scheduled appearance before the policing authority. Garda sources last night confirmed that Ms O’Sullivan will return to work in the first week of September.
The Government has maintained it still has full confidence in Ms O’Sullivan despite Opposition calls for her to step aside over the mounting scandals.
Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan said it was now time to move on after the job reports on Ms O’Sullivan.
“Now that the distraction of the commissioner’s potential move has ended, it is essential that the ongoing and very real issues of governance facing the gardaí are immediately addressed,” he said. “In particular, Garda senior management needs to provide explanations to the public about the announcement it made five months ago that there were 939,000 false breath tests recorded on the Pulse system and 14,500 wrongful convictions.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved