Fianna Fáil back Garda Commissioner amid latest whistleblower claims

Fianna Fáil have backed Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan amid fresh allegations she led a campaign to undermine garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

But justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said the garda chief would have to resign if any truth was found in the new claims now be investigated in a full inquiry.

The new claims centre around Supt David Taylor who, under protected disclosure, alleges Ms O’Sullivan and her predecessor Martin Callinan instructed him to negatively brief the media, a charge both strenuously deny.

The Government has agreed to hold a commission of investigation into the allegations, which also include that Ms O’Sullivan orchestrated how an RTÉ broadcast reported leaks from a separate inquiry claiming Sgt McCabe was a “liar and irresponsible”.

The inquiry will look at communications between gardaí and journalists as well as the mobile phones of senior members of the force.

Mr O’Callaghan said very serious allegations were being made against the current and former garda commissioners and there was a need for a “thorough” inquiry.

He noted that the terms related specifically to claims made through a protected disclosure by Mr Taylor, the former head of the garda press office. The terms were quite specific and stated the probe would be essentially about whether the current and former garda commissioners were involved in a “campaign” to discredit Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Mr O’Callaghan noted the claims had been denied by both Mr Callinan as well as Ms O’Sullivan. But Mr Taylor disputes this, insisting the campaign took place.

The importance of a commission of investigation would be that it would have the powers to order witnesses to give evidence, it could access documents as well as access mobile phones belonging to gardaí, the TD told Newstalk radio.

“I think because it is such a specific allegation that we should be able to get a response to this promptly.”

He said that if allegations were made about somebody that “fairness” should allow that person put forward a defence.

“In my opinion a person who denies an allegation shouldn’t be forced out of their job.”

The Dublin Bay South TD added that Commissioner O’Sullivan had his faith at this moment and time.

However, he also added: “If the allegations against the commissioner are substantiated, her position will not be tenable.”

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