Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will seek to clarify attempts by her legal team to discredit whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Ms Fitzgerald came under further pressure in the Dáil yesterday to answer questions on how Ms O’Sullivan had directed her legal team in the O’Higgins inquiry.
She appeared to place the onus on the commissioner to address the controversy, saying in the Dáil that she could not comment on the leaked transcripts.
Leaders of the three opposition parties pressed Ms Fitzgerald on details which have emerged showing that the commissioner’s legal team said they were instructed to argue that Sgt McCabe was motivated by malice.
However, Ms Fitzgerald said a number of times that it would be up to the Garda commissioner to provide further details. “I will obviously have ongoing discussions with her. I have no doubt she will seek to clarify as much as possible the points raised by Deputy [Micheál] Martin in her own interventions,” she said.
Later in the debate, Ms Fitzgerald said: “Clearly, if the commissioner saw fit to make further comment and if she were in a legal position to do so it would be helpful in terms of answering some of the points made by the deputy.
“I have no doubt that within the legal constraints she will say as much as possible when she is questioned in future on these issues.”
Addressing the transcripts, which have been published by the Irish Examiner, Ms Fitzgerald claimed these leaked documents are “illegal” and it would be “inappropriate” of her to respond to them.
However, referencing yesterday’s Irish Examiner, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said “the bottom line is the transcripts are there for all to see”.
He said “we can’t live in some make-believe world” and pretend they are not available. “The reality is they are in the public domain and they make for stark reading. It is stated that the instructions were at all times to challenge the motivation and credibility of Sgt McCabe in regard to the corruption and malpractice allegations,” said Mr Martin.
He said the transcripts showed that Sgt McCabe had been treated in a “hostile and adversarial manner”.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams questioned whether Ms Fitzgerald had asked Ms O’Sullivan about the instructions she gave her legal team on Sgt McCabe. “There is no legal barrier on you answering these questions, in fact you are obliged to do so,” he said.
He suggested that Ms Fitzgerald leave the chamber and return today after she had spoken to the Garda commissioner.
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