Following reports this week in the Irish Examiner that senior gardaí engaged in a campaign to “destroy and crush” a whistleblower within the force, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil a judge is likely to be appointed to investigate the allegations.
Amid calls for her resignation in the Dáil yesterday, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan insisted she was “not privy to nor approved of any action” designed to target any Garda employee who may have made a protected disclosure.
She said she would condemn any such action.
Independents4Change TD Clare Daly during Leaders’ Questions said Ms O’Sullivan’s position as commissioner is untenable and called on her “to go”.
Asked earlier on RTÉ Radio show Morning Ireland whether the whistleblowers felt such orders to destroy the whistleblower came from the top, Ms Daly said it was her understanding they did. “One of them said he had the direct experience of knowing that this came from the top — not believing, knowing. I believe they do have evidence to back that up.”
In Dáil exchanges with Ms Daly, Mr Kenny said: “Somebody must do that and I expect it will be — or certainly could be — a member of the judiciary who would examine the contents of the received document and see if they stand up or not.”
Ms Daly was highly critical of what she called the Government’s failure to act to protect whistleblowers in the face of an avalanche of evidence which has been made available to it.
“The Taoiseach was twice approached by a garda in that division and warned about a senior officer who failed to deal with complaints in that area. Twice since he was approached, that senior officer was promoted, including being handpicked by the Garda Commissioner for a high-profile job in the Phoenix Park, despite three complaints from Garda whistleblowers against him.”
Mr Kenny’s spokesman later said he did not accept the version of events as presented by Ms Daly about the approaches from the garda.
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said the Irish Examiner revelations show the Government has “failed to protect whistleblowers”.
“They contribute to declining morale in the Garda Síochána,” said Ms McDonald. “No doubt, they make other potential whistleblowers think twice about coming forward. It seems that this is the very motive for such smears and attack.”
In her statement, Ms O’Sullivan said she wanted to reiterate that any whistleblower with concerns would be taken seriously and have the matters examined.
Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan also called for a thorough investigation. “It’s extremely serious the allegations that were made in the Examiner article yesterday and that has to be fully and adequately investigated.”
Earlier, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said she will not act as “judge and jury” in relation to dramatic whistleblower allegations that have been sent to her.
However, she committed to putting in place a “fair and just” process to ensure that the allegations are “tested and investigated”.
The Taoiseach last night told Fine Gael party members that Ms Fitzgerald would be “addressing” the latest whistleblower allegations within 24 to 48 hours.
His comments were made after the issue of the overall state of the force was raised at a meeting of the parliamentary party last night.
Wexford TD Michael D’Arcy called for a discussion on the numerous problems within the gardaí at next week’s meeting.
He said mismanagement within the force had led to the loss of a justice minister in the previous government and a commissioner. He added that the current commissioner is “under huge pressure” and that the entire force is in “rag order”.