Mary Lou McDonald denies questions aimed at Garda Commissioner were 'sexist'

Sinn Féin's Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has insisted that she treated Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan fairly during questioning at the Public Accounts Committee yesterday.

She has been criticised for asking Garda Commissioner if she carries any clout as a woman.

“I’m conscious that you are the first woman in the job, and I’m trying to establish here, Commissioner O’Sullivan, because you are in charge, do you carry the level of clout required for a person who is in charge? That’s what I’m asking you,” she said at the PAC yesterday.

Commissioner O’Sullivan responded: “I, as the Commissioner, and the accounting officer of an Garda Siochana, have responsibilities that I delegate to individuals.”

She added: "Throughout the 36 years of my career... I've never chosen to allow my gender to be a barrier to anything that I do and I've never defined myself by my gender. I'm a professional police officer and I'm very proud of that fact."

The Sinn Féin deputy leader later said that it was a legitimate query after allegations of financial mismanagement at the Garda training college.

"I was asking the question of Noirin O'Sullivan - because I wanted to know, and I think it's important to ask - was there, is there some dynamic around her being the first woman in the job that in any way impedes, limits or frustrates the authority that she has to carry to carry out her task," she told Newstalk Breakfast.

She added: “I am conscious that in an organisation, and there are clearly big cultural issues within An Garda Síochána - we saw that around the whole Maurice McCabe debacle for example - so I don't think it's a stretch to ask and to inquire where stands the culture in respect of women within the ranks.

"And particularly in a scenario where, for the first time, a woman is in charge".

She denied that a male politician in the same position would have been criticised.

McDonald, a member of PAC, said the committee, as a whole, was frustrated with the hearings which have been incredible scenarios of “chaos, contradiction and subterfuge”.

Speaking to the Today with Sean O'Rourke Show on RTÉ Radio 1, she said that clear breaches of the law were operating in plain sight in Templemore, for years.

Ms McDonald said there had been 'a short supply' of answers and clarity in terms of unravelling the mess in Templemore.

She accepted that some of the issues at Templemore were legacy issues, however.

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