Tanaiste: Garda Commissioner has 'full confidence' of the Government

Tanaiste Francis Fitzgerald says the Garda Commissioner has the “full confidence” of Government and must be given fair process in answering claims about an alleged smear campaign, writes political correspondent Juno McEnroe.

The Dail is today set to debate a fresh inquiry into allegations that commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and her predecessor led a campaign to undermine and discredit whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Ms Fitzgerald faced questions from Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald during Leaders, who outlined the party's concerns about the claims facing the garda chief.

Ms McDonald said these were serious issues which go to the “core of policing”. The heads of the force had allegedly been involved in a “campaign of character assassination”, warned Ms McDonald.

The inquiry would now look at allegations that the commissioner and her predecessor had "sought allies" in the mainstream media for their campaign to negatively disseminate information about Sgt McCabe, added the Dublin Central TD.

This was a “terrible vista”, including a recent claim by Labour's Brendan Howlin that Commissioner O'Sullivan was allegedly involved in spreading claims of a criminal nature among journalists, said Ms McDonald. The garda chief denies this.

The Sinn Fein TD called for commissioner O'Sullivan to stand aside while the new inquiry was underway.

But Ms Fitzgerald, the justice minister, said the garda chief had the “full confidence” of the government. These were very serious allegations and there were “constitutional obligations” to allow due proceed to take place, replied the minister.

“People are entitled to fair procedure to justice and a proper way of doing things,” Ms Fitzgerald told the Dail.

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