No clarity on garda Jobstown evidence

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was accused of “filibustering” and “damaging confidence” in the organisation when quizzed over whether or not the Garda review into the Jobstown incident would examine allegations of gardaí giving inaccurate evidence in the criminal trial.

Despite repeated questioning at the Public Accounts Committee, the commissioner was unable to clarify clearly if concerns regarding the garda evidence would form part of the review.

She said that when the “totality of matters” before the courts were concluded that “obviously, that will feed into the review”.

But she subsequently said the review would “not examine the court process” as gardaí didn’t have the authority to do that.

Ms O’Sullivan said GSOC would be the appropriate authority to investigate such complaints or she said people could make a complaint to their local garda station.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the commissioner was “deliberately not answering” the question.

She said the commissioner’s replies were the “kind of remarks that damages confidence” in the organisation and accused her of “filibustering”.

Party colleague David Cullinane said it was “unacceptable if the commissioner is allowed to filibuster”.

The commissioner told Deputy McDonald there were matters still before the courts and that she could not jeopardise or prejudice that.

She said all parties are “entitled to due process, natural justice, and fair procedures” and that if anyone had concerns they could go to GSOC or any garda station.

Asked would assistant commissioner Barry O’Brien examine the allegations, the commissioner said the review would examine the “circumstances of the entire affair”.

Deputy McDonald said there was “public concern about potential perjury” and asked would this not form part of the review.

“Perjury is obviously a very serious matter and also a criminal offence,” said the commissioner, adding there were mechanisms there to pursue that, through GSOC or the local garda station.

Pressed by Ms McDonald to answer yes or no as to whether the review would include the specific allegations, the commissioner repeated that people could bring complaints to GSOC or garda stations.

Chairman Sean Fleming (FF) intervened to seek clarification and the commissioner said that when the court cases were completed the “totality of matters will feed into the review”.

When he again sought clarification, the commissioner said the review was aimed at “lessons learned”.

Pressed by Mr Fleming would the review include court proceedings once the cases were over, the commissioner said “yes”, but then said it would “not examine court cases” as gardaí had no authority to do so.

Earlier, the commissioner rejected suggestions from Deputy Cullinane that there were “other motives” behind the Garda’s failure to complete its report into the breath test and penalty point scandals before yesterday’s meeting.

“I would like to reject any accusation we are acting in any way sinister,” said Ms O’Sullivan, adding that assistant commissioner Michael O’Sullivan’s report would be completed by end of the month.

Mr Fleming told the commissioner that the gardaí could not have a draft copy of their report into Templemore — as they had requested — before it was being published next Tuesday. The chairman said this was normal procedure.

As part of the PAC examination of the 2015 Garda Appropriation Account, the commissioner was asked on monies spent on PR and coaching by senior officers.

She said there had been reports in the media that €140,000 had been spent by her on preparation for PAC meetings. “This is completely untrue,” she said.

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