Tánaiste ‘disturbed’ by FF vow to sack Garda Commissioner

Frances Fitzgerald and Noirin O'Sullivan, Templemore, April 2017

The Tánaiste is “very disturbed” that Fianna Fáil would sack Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan immediately if the party gains power, dubbing it “profoundly undemocratic”.

It comes as Cabinet have signed off on the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland which will be chaired by Seattle police chief Kathleen O’Toole.

The review of the gardaí is to be given the power to make immediate recommendations if they feel there are changes that must be implemented urgently.

The commission, which was set up in the wake of numerous scandals in the force, will be given 15 months to carry out a full root and branch investigation of the force.

However, speaking in the Dáil, the Taoiseach said there would be a rolling report where the commission can make recommendations, which the Government will act on, on a regular basis.

“As recommendations come though in respect of policing, they can be dealt with by Government instead of waiting a full 15 or 18 months for a final report,” he said.

“The terms of reference are good, detailed and exact, and the commission will give a different impetus to the way the culture in the Garda evolves.”

Separately, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald hit out at claims by Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath that his party would sack the commissioner immediately if it goes into Government.

Ms Fitzgerald said she was “very disturbed” by the claim, saying it “suggests a star chamber, suggests no fair process, it’s against all natural justice”.

Referring to the review, which will look at the management structures, recruitment, ongoing professional development, as well as the diversity within the force, she said: “It’s really important that we restore public confidence. I believe that having this commission will help restore that public confidence.”

The Tánaiste said the process will be “an opportunity to stand back and examine how we are to be policed”.

Forcing debate

A third, or 24 out of 70, Leaders’ Questions debates were dominated by garda scandals since September.

Whistleblower controversies (15), calls for Ms O’Sullivan to resign (7), fake Garda figures (4), strike threats (9), and Government launched garda reviews (8) have been the most consistently raised Leaders’ Questions subjects.

Government and policing authorities have launched 17 inquiries and reports into garda scandals.

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