Pressure on Nóirín O’Sullivan over Maurice McCabe ‘malice’ claim

Pressure is growing for an explanation to be given by the Garda Commissioner on why her legal team argued that Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe was motivated by “malice”.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald joined the chorus of demands yesterday, saying Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan needed to make it clear that Sgt McCabe was acting in good faith when he made allegations of Garda malpractice.

The issue is expected to be raised this week in the Dáil, when debate will take place on the O’Higgins inquiry, which examined claims of malpractice against the force.

Speaking to RTÉ yesterday, Ms McDonald said the issue of claims that Sgt McCabe had at some stage acted with malice needed to be addressed.

“Frances Fitzgerald as Minister [for Justice] and as Tánaiste needs to come forward and make statements.”

“I also think the Garda Commissioner needs to come out at this stage and make it absolutely plain that at no stage was the Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe acting in anything other than good faith.”

A statement to the media by the Garda Commissioner’s representatives at the weekend said that under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, she could not by law comment on any evidence or submission given to the judicial inquiry.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called on Ms O’Sullivan to address the claims and is expected to raise the issue in the Dáil this week. Ms Fitzgerald will take questions in the Dáil tomorrow, when the issue is expected to be raised by Opposition TDs.

Asked at the weekend whether Ms O’Sullivan enjoyed her full confidence, a statement issued on Ms Fitzgerald’s behalf said: “There is no question of issues of confidence in the Garda Commissioner arising.”

Her spokesman did not add to that yesterday when questions were put to the minister’s department.

The Irish Examiner last week revealed that documents from the O’Higgins inquiry show Ms O’Sullivan’s legal team claimed Sgt McCabe was motivated by “malice” when he highlighted malpractice in the force.

Documents from the O’Higgins Commission, which were not published, showed the inquiry was told by senior counsel for Ms O’Sullivan 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.

This was found not to be the case. Furthermore, in the final report for the inquiry, the retired judge stated that Sgt McCabe was an entirely truthful witness and his bona fides were fully accepted.

Sgt McCabe’s counsel, Michael McDowell SC, also, during hearings for the inquiry, objected to the accusation by Garda management that his client was motivated by malice, during the private sessions.

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