Update: Sinn Féin call on Garda Commissioner to step down immediately

Update 10.40pm: Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald has called for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to immediately step aside following the

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Irish Examiner revelations that she described as "unprecedented" and "quite frankly disgusting and vile".

The party's Deputy Leader welcomed the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into allegations Ms O'Sullivan had knowledge of a campaign to smear Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Ms McDonald said: "Revelations this evening that An Garda Síochána were sent a file by TUSLA into an alleged crime that turned out to be entirely unsubstantiated are unprecedented and quite frankly disgusting and vile.

"Such are the allegations in this case, it is in incumbent on the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to step aside immediately for the duration of the Charleton Commission's investigation.

"The Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald must also explain how she could possibly have been unaware of this contact between An Garda Síochána and another state agency, as she claimed in the Dáil in response to a question from me today. How could that possibly have been the case?"

Update: This afternoon a Fine Gael backbencher broke ranks, telling the Dáil the Garda Commissioner should step aside and that he doesn’t believe Noirín O’Sullivan.

Michael Darcy also described the situation as GUBU-like.

“I have to put on the record that I don’t believe the commissioner,” he said.

“I don’t believe her because of her actions and how she instructed her legal counsel to deal with the O’Neill investigation.”

Earlier: Taoiseach Enda Kenny has given his full backing to the Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan, writes Daniel McConnell in Warsaw.

Speaking in Warsaw, Mr Kenny said : “You cannot have a country if everybody against whom allegations are made has to step aside.”

Mr Kenny said the call for Noirín O’Sullivan to step aside while a Commission of Investigation probes whether she had knowledge of a campaign to smear whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Speaking in Poland, the Taoiseach said Ms O’Sullivan has “the full confidence of Government”.

Asked if it was credible for her to remain as garda chief during the inquiry, which will last at least nine months, Mr Kenny said: “There is no prima facie evidence. There is no indication of any wrongdoing of any kind on behalf of the Garda Commissioner.

“For that reason she is fully entitled to the support of government.”

Mr Kenny also denied that he is concerned losing a second garda commissioner under his watch could shorten the lifetime of the Government.

He said the suggestion was “utterly irrelevant”.

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