Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is facing increased pressure to clarify how her legal team were briefed ahead of a Dáil debate on the O’Higgins report.
TDs are due to begin debating the O’Higgins report in the Dáil tomorrow, but Ms O’Sullivan has yet to clarify her position despite calls to do so from opposition parties and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
Ms Fitzgerald has reiterated her view that the Garda commissioner will clarify the instructions she gave to her legal team regarding Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Opposition TDs have said Ms O’Sullivan should make a statement in advance of the two-day Dáil debate on the O’Higgins report.
The Irish Examiner has reported on revelations that Ms O’Sullivan’s legal counsel sought on numerous occasions to challenge Sgt McCabe’s integrity and motivations for coming forward. However, after attempts to discredit the whistleblower, her legal team later said they would no longer be pursuing this line.
Yesterday, both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin reiterated calls for clarity from Ms O’Sullivan on the issue.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said: “I think it should be clarified. While we don’t have all the papers there appear to be inconsistencies there.
“It would be beneficial for her, beneficial for the report, the general public, and the entire process.”
Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien said: “It’s going to be increasingly difficult for her to maintain any public confidence. In my opinion she needs to come out as quickly as possible to clarify the situation.
“She is going be the person who is tasked with reforming the culture within the gardaí and will also be responsible for implementing the recommendations in the report.
“To have some credibility she is going to have to rectify or at least clarify the media report,” said Mr O’Brien.
It had been expected that Ms O’Sullivan would make another statement after Ms Fitzgerald told the Dáil last week that “it would be helpful in terms of answering some of the points made by the deputy”.
It is understood there were intense communications between Garda headquarters and the Department of Justice late last week in a bid to craft a statement.
But there have been concerns around the breeching of client-lawyer privilege.
Mr O’Brien yesterday questioned this as he said Ms O’Sullivan had sought legal advice in her position as Garda commissioner and not in a private capacity.
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