Retired judge Iarlaigh O’Neill has given to the Department of Justice his report on how garda whistleblowers were treated. That report concentrates on protected disclosures, one from Supt Dave Taylor and another Sgt Maurice McCabe. These point to a campaign allegedly driven by senior Garda management “to bury” McCabe. If the existence of such a campaign is confirmed then our police force, especially its senior officers, face seismic consequences.
If that appalling vista is confirmed then other doubts arise. If such a campaign was formalised then what credibility can be given to briefings offered to ministers by those very officers? If such a campaign was activated is it realistic to imagine that sympathetic reporters might have, knowingly or unknowingly, not been used to paint a particular picture to support one narrative over the other?
These are unnerving questions on the probity of one of the essential cornerstones of our society. It may be tempting to look away, to engineer minimum disclosure and consequently minimum damage but it’s far too late for that.
We must look this monster in the eye. If wrongdoing is uncovered it must be dealt with. We cannot pretend the questions are not valid. The credibility of our police force and its place in our society are in question. That is not healthy and it cannot continue no matter what the consequences are.