Fianna Fáil lashed out at the “shameful errors” of gardaí over the phantom breath tests and false traffic convictions scandals, but stopped short of calling for the resignation of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
The party heavily criticised Garda management during its Dáil motion on the force last night, amid fresh rival party claims that Ms O’Sullivan is trying to silence whistle-blowers within the gardaí who want to speak to the Charleton inquiry.
Speaking during the first of two Dáil motions into the public confidence in the gardaí last night, Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan
supported his party’s call for greater powers to be given to the Policing Authority.
He said it is “extraordinary” that a “simple explanation” has yet to be given by Ms O’Sullivan.
However, in a move widely flagged in recent days by Fianna Fáil, the party did not seek the resignation of Ms O’Sullivan, saying that power is the responsibility for the Government and Policing Authority alone.
Responding to the criticism — which was repeated by Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, who said “if it was any other business she [Ms O’Sullivan] would be asked to step aside” — Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the Garda Commissioner continues to have Government’s support.
She said while what has happened is “unacceptable and disturbing”, it would be wrong for Ms O’Sullivan to be removed, saying “populism parading as reform won’t help either”.
However, her views —which were the only defence of Ms O’Sullivan from any Government member — were drowned out by further criticism from the opposition benches, with Solidarity-PBP and Independents4-Change TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly insisting that Ms O’Sullivan must step down.
After Labour leader Brendan Howlin questioned Ms Fitzgerald’s failure to attend the AGSI conference in Killarney, officially due to Dáil commitments, Solidarity-PBP TD Mick Barry said that Ms O’Sullivan must be removed.
Under Dáil privilege, Mr Barry claimed that the Garda Commissioner is attempting to block whistleblowers from speaking with the Charleton inquiry, as they first have to be given permission by officials Ms O’Sullivan has appointed, adding that it is “only because of Fianna Fáil that she remains”.
Raising the same issue, Mr Wallace said bluntly: “Get rid of the Commissioner now. She is not management material, she isn’t fit for the job.”
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