Maurice McCabe 'Disclosures' Tribunal to sit on Monday

Judge Peter Charleton.

The public Tribunal of Inquiry into allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe is to hold its first hearing on Monday, it has emerged.

The 'Disclosures' Tribunal is being headed by Judge Peter Charleton, who has wasted little time in establishing the public work of the inquiry, writes Daniel McConnell of the Irish Examiner.

Following reports in the Irish Examiner, the Government bowed to pressure to establish a Tribunal as opposed to a private Commission of Inquiry after Sgt McCabe said he could only have confidence in a public investigation.

The Irish Examiner understands that Judge Charleton will make an opening address at the commencement of the Tribunal, which will take place in Dublin Castle.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice has said proceedings will commence at 9.30am.

It is understood that once underway, the tribunal will spend up to three months in private preparing for full public hearings to commence.

Judge Charleton is expected to conclude the McCabe body of work between nine months and a year.

News of the first day's sitting comes as the head of the policing authority saying she has concerns about the ability of Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan in carrying out her role while the tribunal is underway.

Policing Authority Chairperson Josephine Feehily said she has confidence in Commissioner O'Sullivan's capacity with her senior team to run the organisation but it is the parallel running of her job and servicing the tribunal which raises a question.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Ms Feehily said the work of the Charleton Tribunal is hugely important but should move at a pace to bring a finality to a "saga" that is "potentially corrosive" to policing and to garda morale.

She said the issues before the Charleton Tribunal now need to be investigated as they have been damaging to public confidence in the gardaí and the morale of members. It will give all parties a chance to say their piece, she said.

The concern about the culture of An Garda Síochána has been there for some time, she said, and the Policing Authority has pressed the organisation to do a culture audit, which is now out for tender.

The issue of "how to create an environment for speaking out" needs to be properly implemented, she said.

She added that the authority is concerned that the focus of senior garda management will be on the tribunal rather than on policing but said the commissioner is looking at how best to manage it.

Ms Feehily said she is also concerned the motivation, energy and morale of the gardaí will be affected negatively by the tribunal.

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