Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is under fire from the opposition to clarify exactly why she tried to “impugn” Sgt Maurice McCabe’s character at the O’Higgins Commission.
Yesterday, the Irish Examiner revealed that documents to the O’Higgins inquiry show Ms O’Sullivan claimed Sgt Maurice McCabe was motivated by “malice” when he highlighted malpractice in the force — while praising his actions in public.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin hit out at the commissioner’s reported attempt to call into question Sgt McCabe’s raising of allegations of wrongdoing within the force in her legal dealings with the O’Higgins inquiry. Mr Martin has called on the commissioner to clarify her actions in relation to Sgt McCabe “at the earliest opportunity”.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Martin said: “The report that there was an attempt made to impugn Maurice McCabe’s character and motivation at the O’Higgins Commission is disappointing, disturbing and cannot be left unexplained. I think it would be useful for the Garda commissioner to clarify the report at the earliest opportunity.”
A Garda spokesperson said the commissioner was statute barred from commenting on the commission.
Senior counsel for Ms O’Sullivan claimed initially that evidence would be produced to show that Sgt McCabe had told two other officers that he was making his complaints because of malice he harboured towards a senior officer.
The inquiry was informed that the two officers took notes at the meeting in question.
Sgt McCabe later informed Mr O’Higgins he had a tape recording of the meeting in question, and following a review of that recording, no evidence to show malice was called from the two officers who were at the meeting.
The Labour Party has also called for “clarity” as to whether the two officers who made the allegation are to face any consequence for their actions.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, a party spokesperson said: “Clarity is needed as to whether the two officers referred to in the Irish Examiner story face any consequences for apparently making an allegation that was apparently immediately dropped in the face of irrefutable evidence.”
Independent TD Mick Wallace, who, along with fellow Independent Clare Daly, has been to the fore of raising justice issues since 2012, said the story proved that nothing has changed in the culture of Garda management.
“Alan Shatter, the former minister, and the former commissioner Martin Callinan went in 2014, but nothing has changed in the gardaí,” said Mr Wallace. “It is as difficult being a whistleblower in the gardaí in 2016 as it was four years ago.”
Mr Wallace also criticised the failure of Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to bring forward what he called genuinely reforming legislation to modernise the police force.
A spokesman for Ms Fitzgerald said there is no question of issues of confidence in the Garda commissioner arising.
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