Fianna Fáil repeats call for Garda Commissioner to quit

Latest: Fianna Fáil has again expressed its desire to see Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan resign her post.

Fianna Fáil repeats call for Garda Commissioner to quit

Update 3pm: Fianna Fáil has again expressed its desire to see Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan resign her post, writes Daniel McConnell.

Party leader Michéal Martin and Justice Spokesman Jim O’Callaghan both reiterated their calls for Ms O’Sullivan to depart on foot of the breath tests controversy, saying her refusal to do so is damaging the force.

Speaking today on Newstalk radio, Mr Martin said: “We believe that, in our view it’s in the interests of An Garda Siochana into the future that the Garda Commissioner should consider her position. We do not have confidence in her position given all that has happened.”

He told broadcaster Ivan Yates that they were entitled to call on her to resign but made it clear they were stopping short of forcing her from her post.

“We understand the demarcation line, we understand that the precedent that would be created where motions in the Dáil could essentially render the position of any public servant, particularly a Garda Commissioner, essentially sacking a Garda Commissioner I think is a bridge too far in terms of the legislative provision, the law was brought into being in a very specific way so that there wouldn’t be the politicisation of a Garda Commissioner,” he said.

He said in his view there should be a complete change at the top in relation to An Garda Siochana.

“We’re not in a position to articulate confidence in the Garda Commissioner because of the breath test debacle and also the fixed penalty charges debacle,” he said.

He said there has to be a commission established to fundamentally change how An Garda Siochana operates, a bit like what happened in the transfer mission of the RUC into the PSNI in Northern Ireland, the Patten Commission, which looked at a whole range of issues from recruitment, from operation, from continued professional development, standards, resourcing as well.

“That has to happen in the Republic. That’s the most effective way to reform and change what has happened with An Garda Siochana,” he added.

Meanwhile, while speaking on RTE’s This Week programme, Mr O’Callaghan said the failure by Ms O’Sullivan to give effective answers to the making up of almost one million breath test results forced him and his party to call on her to resign.

“This was a big decision for us as a party but we are not in a position to express confidence in her as Commissioner,” he said.

“We demanded accountability and answers from the Commissioner. She issued a statement and we didn’t get that accountability from her,” he added.

Mr O’Callaghan added that if he was in government he would move to exercise powers open to the Minister for Justice to remove the Commissioner.

He said the 2005 Garda Siochana Act, in Section 11, which allows for her removal under three conditions.

“If in Government, we would invoke Section 11,” he said.

But for now, Ms O’Sullivan does retain the confidence of the Government with Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar saying: “She is doing a good job in very difficult circumstances”.

Earlier:

Pressure is once again mounting on the Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan to resign.

The head of the Garda analysis service has written to Commissioner O'Sullivan saying he was not given a copy of Ireland's homicide figures before they were presented to the Policing Authority.

Dr Gurchand Singh is the head of the unit responsible for verifying Ireland's crime statistics.

His comments come after Fianna Fáil last week joined calls for Commissioner O'Sullivan to step down.

Noirín O'Sullivan
Noirín O'Sullivan

Labour Senator and barrister Ivana Bacik says the claims warrant an investigation.

"I suppose a lot of us thought Noirín O'Sullivan's appointment would mark a turning of the page and a shift in culture," she said.

"This is fairly serious stuff - that he's saying he was misrepresented as having signed off on a report that he hadn't even seen an advance copy of.

"So again it places the Commissioner, I think, in even more difficulty."

More in this section