‘Root and branch’ probe into gardaí, says Independence Alliance

The Independence Alliance considered pulling out of Government over the way in which the Taoiseach and other government ministers have handled the Maurice McCabe scandal.

Demanding Enda Kenny’s “head on a plate” and that of Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan were also given considerable consideration in recent days as the Alliance had a number of “very serious” meetings to decide their future.

However, they received assurances that a “root and branch” investigation of the gardaí headed up by an independent international expert will now take place.

While the five members of the Independent Alliance made it clear that they were comfortable supporting the motion of confidence in the Government in the Dáil last night, they failed to express confidence in Enda Kenny.

After meeting with Mr Kenny yesterday evening the Alliance said they were still unsatisfied with his version of events on the whistleblower controversy.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said the group had told Mr Kenny that they “were very disappointed with a lot of confusion that had occurred in government in recent days” and added that they found it “unacceptable”.

Asked if they still have confidence in the Fine Gael leader, another member of the Alliance said: “We have confidence in the Government to do their business and that is as far as we could go”.

Speaking about the Taoiseach he added: “The man is damaged, seriously damaged and he should come to a natural conclusion as a result of that. He has shorted his lifespan as Taoiseach by his actions.”

Nóirín O’Sullivan: The Independent Alliance considered demanding the Garda Commissioner’s ‘head on a plate’ . Picture: Gareth Chaney

Asked if a withdrawal from Government was an option Mr Ross said: “We considered it”.

When Mr Ross was asked if the Alliance have confidence in Mr Kenny he said it would “not be appropriate in this situation where we are putting down a motion of confidence in the Government to suggest that we have no confidence in the Taoiseach.”

He stressed that the Alliance went into minority Government “in good faith” and that is “greater than any individual or personality within it and we are committed to delivering on the promises we made when we took office”.

The Alliance went into the meeting — which was described as “frank and open” — with a number of demands, including changes to how cabinet works and the establishment of an investigation headed up by an independent, international, policing expert.

The Tánaiste approved the investigation into wider issues of public concern within the gardaí.

A number of names were mentioned to lead the investigation during the meeting. It is understood it was decided that someone of the calibre of former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, John Stalker, or Denis Bradley former vice-chairman of the police board for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) be chosen.

Finian McGrath said “root and branch reform” was required to restore “confidence and trust” in the force.

“We are going to weed out people who are involved in any bad practices in any situations,” he added.

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