A Fine Gael junior minister has said under-fire Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan “may well have to resign” from her position due to the escalating series of controversies facing the force.
The newly appointed minister of state for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, confirmed the move may occur due to the “appalling” revelations about the force.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Claire Byrne Show on Saturday, Mr Phelan said no decisions should be made until a number of investigations into garda controversies take place.
While he specifically referenced the cross-party Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC)’s investigation into the Garda College financial scandal, due to be published next month, other inquiries are also taking place into the force, most notably the commission of investigation into an alleged smear campaign against whistle-blower Maurice McCabe.
Mr Phelan said that , until the investigations conclude, Ms O’Sullivan should remain in her position.
However, should any negative conclusions be drawn about her role, if any, in the scandals, he said the commissioner may need to be removed from her role.
“Some of the things that have come out are appalling... [Depending on the outcome] she may well have to resign,” he said.
While Mr Phelan’s comments are strongly qualified by the outcome of ongoing investigations into the force, the fact he did not simply stick to the standard line that Government has confidence in the Garda Commissioner has been seen as significant.
This is in part because of the newly appointed junior minister’s close political ties to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and the fact that Mr Varadkar also recently indicated that Ms O’Sullivan may be removed under his tenure.
In an interview on Newstalk’s Drive programme on the eve of the Fine Gael leadership election result on June 1, Mr Varadkar delivered what was seen as a thinly veiled threat to Ms O’Sullivan’s future.
Asked whether he can continue to have support in her given a series of scandals to affect the force, the then minister Mr Varadkar initially said “Government” continued to do so at this stage but that people losing their jobs due to controversies “needs to happen a little bit more in the public sector”.
The PAC, which has held a series of meetings with Ms O’Sullivan and others over the Garda College financial scandal, is due to discuss its draft report on the matter at a private meeting on Thursday.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved