Amid calls in the Dáil for her resignation yesterday, Ms O’Sullivan released a statement seeking to make it clear she condemned any attempt to start a campaign against a fellow officer.
In the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed his absolute confidence in Ms O’Sullivan, but announced that a sitting judge would most likely be asked to investigate the details of two protected disclosures given to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald on Monday.
“Commissioner O’Sullivan would like to make it clear that she was not privy to nor approved of any action designed to target any Garda employee who may have made a protected disclosure and would condemn any such action,” said the statement. “It would be inappropriate for An Garda Síochána to comment on the specifics of any protected disclosure.
“In order to maintain public confidence in An Garda Síochána, we are anxious that the full content of the disclosures giving rise to the commentary be comprehensively examined at the earliest opportunity.”
During Leaders’ Questions, Independents4Change TD Clare Daly pressed the Taoiseach, claiming that evidence of maltreatment of whistleblowers was presented as far back as 2014.
She said Ms O’Sullivan’s position is untenable and that she “should go”.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald asked whether Ms Fitzgerald and Ms O’Sullivan were running for cover.
In response, Mr Kenny agreed that the claims were very serious and that it would be utterly unacceptable if whistleblowers were not treated properly. His Government would not shirk its responsibility in this regard, he added.
Ms McDonald said “the revelations” were contributing to declining morale in the force and would cause future whistleblowers to think twice before coming forward.
She said nothing had changed since Sergeant Maurice McCabe and Garda John Wilson had been smeared.
Ms Daly said she knew “for a fact” that people who have come forward and made protective disclosures since Ms O’Sullivan came to office. She added that people in the stations who bullied them have been included on promotions list.
Earlier, Ms Fitzgerald said she will not act as “judge and jury” in relation to dramatic whistleblower allegations that have been sent to her.
Addressing the Oireachtas Justice Committee yesterday, Ms Fitzgerald said she cannot comment on the allegations even though material has been made public.
She said she would ensure the allegations would be “very carefully” assessed and considered and that the appropriate response would be put in place.
“I can’t be judge and jury,” she said, adding that her role was to ensure that a proper procedure was put in place and that allegations were “fully tested and fully investigated”.
Nóirín’s notes on a scandal in blue
“Dissent will not be seen as disloyalty,” she said while acting commissioner.
“If somebody has something to say, if somebody wants to bring something to our attention, they may not always be right but what they see and what they say can act as a catalyst for change and continuous improvement.”
Asked if she agreed with her ex-boss, Martin Callinan’s assessment that the actions of whistleblowers was “disgusting”, Ms O’Sullivan said the use of the word was “unfortunate”.
She said that any member of An Garda Síochána who wants to raise an issue of concern will be supported in doing so.
She also said that the use by any member of An Garda Síochána of the confidential recipient mechanism is a confidential process and as such the gardaí are not in a position to comment on the particular case at this stage.
Ms O’Sullivan said senior managers within the force are fully supportive of the whistleblower Maurice McCabe. Ms O’Sullivan also said gardaí want all members of the force to feel free to bring forward any issues they want to raise.
Ms O’Sullivan phoned Maurice McCabe promising to deal with claims of bullying made by the whistleblower.
She called the sergeant after appearing before a Dáil committee. Ms O’Sullivan is also believed to have vowed to sort out the 13 harassment claims made by Mr McCabe.
“The commissioner has always said that any member with information or issues will be supported in bringing them forward.
“Bullying of anyone in An Garda Síochána will not be tolerated,” Ms O’Sullivan’s spokesman said in response to fresh harassment allegations raised in the Dáil by Mick Wallace about officer Nick Keogh.
Reports in therevealed that Nóirín O’Sullivan’s legal representative questioned the character and motivation of whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins commission of investigation.
“Like every member of An Garda Síochána, Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s contribution is valued and the service has changed for the better in response to the issues about which he complained,” she said. “I want to make it clear that I do not — and have never — regarded Sergeant McCabe as malicious.”
The commissioner issued the statement after demands for her to respond the claims in a report on unpublished documents from the inquiry by the
‘‘I have on numerous occasions expressed my support for any employees who have issues and concerns. As commissioner I have actively asked employees to bring forward issues and concerns. We learn by listening.”