Independent TD Clare Daly has heavily criticised Nóirín O Sullivan’s ongoing insistence she has no questions to answer over the treatment of whistleblower Maurice McCabe, saying her comments have failed to explain what happened.
The opposition TD hit out at the garda commissioner’s statement denying her legal team were instructed to claim Sgt McCabe was motivated by malice as other opposition parties called for further action on the issue.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Independents4Change TD Ms Daly said the reality is Ms O Sullivan “is continuing to say very little” and said questions surrounding why the garda’s legal team focussed on the malice suggestion “are still unanswered”.
She noted that while Ms O’Sullivan said the references to this issue in correspondence leaked earlier this month were “selective”, “she doesn’t say they were not true”.
While welcoming Ms O’Sullivan’s decision to investigate claims by two garda officers who said Sgt McCabe admitted to them in 2008 his concerns were based on malice before a tape provided by the whistleblower proved this was not the case, Ms Daly said the garda commissioner has been aware of the issue for more than a year.
The Dublin North TD questioned why the case was being examined now at a time when the commissioner is coming under pressure, saying “unfortunately the same very bad practice as regards the vilification of whistleblowers has continued”.
Her comments were supported by fellow Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace, who speaking in the Dáil said Ms O’Sullivan “hasn’t a leg to stand on” and should consider stepping down now.
In a statement, Sinn Féin justice spokesman Jonathan O’Brien said Ms O’Sullivan’s comments “fail to provide the clarification necessary in relation to her direction to her legal counsel”.
“The fundamental question remains as to whether Commissioner O Sullivan is the most appropriate person to oversee changes in how whistleblowers are dealt with,” he said.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O Callaghan said he “welcomes” the fact Ms O’Sullivan said she did not tell her legal team to “impugn the integrity” of Sgt McCabe.
However, he accepted that there is “some public disquiet” arising from the 2008 meeting allegations by two officers, saying: “There appears to be a conflict of evidence as to what happened at that meeting. It is important some clarity be brought to that issue.
“And in fairness to all involved, we are better off doing that formally rather than the commissioner simply trying to resolve it.”
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