From top: Civilian officers in An Garda Siochana’s statistics unit Lois West and Laura Galligan at a meeting of the Oireachtas Justice committee in March; Chief Administration Officer at An Garda Siochana Joe Nugent at a meeting of the committee this morning
Two civilian officers in the gardaí’s statistics unit Lois West and Laura Galligan told an Oireachtas committee that the misclassification and inaccurate recording by gardai of crimes and homicides left some women at risk of domestic violence.
The two women said, as they tried to raise their concerns, they were subjected to “severe pressure” to withdraw their concerns, “to ignore our professional standards”, and their “integrity, both personal and professional was undermined and attacked”.
The force’s Chief Administration Officer Joe Nugent told the Oireachtas justice committee that the women’s information was “reliable and accurate”.
Juno McEnroe, of Breakingnews.ie, reports:
Senior gardaí have said the evidence from two civilian analysts over inaccurate homicide statistics was “reliable and accurate”.
The force’s chief administrative officer, Joseph Nugent, told the Oireachtas Justice Committee this morning that there were “concerns” about the way the two female civilian staff had been treated.
…Questioned this morning, the force’s chief administrative officer said it was “worrying” the way the two analysts had been treated.
Both he and the acting garda commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, who is out of the country, had “concerns” about their treatment, the committee was told.
…But Mr Nugent said he didn’t know why their work wasn’t given attention. Furthermore, asked why their work and concerns had not been given attention, Mr Nugent said there had been a “difference in perspective” around issues.
Members of senior Garda management are fielding questions in the Oireachtas justice and equality committee in light of the Crowe Horwath report for the Policing Authority on the fake breath tests and issuing of summonses.
Readers will recall how, on Sunday, November 27, 2017, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace, while speaking about the gardai, told TV3’s The Sunday Show:
“Myself and Clare Daly have some new stuff to break very soon that would make the hair stand on your head about stuff that’s happening at present.”
Further to this…
At the justice committee this morning, Mick Wallace said:
“Only this week, we met a member of An Garda Siochana, he’s just put in a protected disclosure and he’s out sick for a while due to stress from work.
“And he’s given us incredibly detailed information about things that have been happening, right up unit recently.
“To be honest, we found it hard to believe that such things that he told us about could still be happening. And the way that, when he raised concerns about several issues, how they were dealt with by senior management.
“It was really disheartening for us because you know what, people might think that ‘oh, Daly and Wallace just want to be giving out about things’. But you know what, we won’t be vindicated until we have a police force that everyone will be proud of.
“And we’ve been tackling issues for over five years and if nothing has changed, well, that means, we’re wasting our time and we’ve failed. We want things to be done right.
“But it was really disappointing to look at the information he gave us around this, he’s put in a protected disclosure, we haven’t put it into the public domain yet.
“But, I suppose his basis to it was, not much has changed yet.”
“Now, I still believe, I’m an optimist by nature and I think things will change but sadly not enough has changed. And poor Maurice McCabe…is lucky to still be alive, that he didn’t do away with himself when the pressure was so great at times.
“But it would be very sad for him if nothing changes and very disappointing for him because nobody wanted change in the gardai, and having done his work, than of the people that came forward anyway, than Maurice McCabe.”
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, and other senior gardaí, at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality on March 30
You may recall how Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s recent appearance before the joint Oireachtas committee on justice and equality, in the wake of the near 1million false breath tests and 14,700 wrongful convictions. See a timeline of the matters here.
After the meeting, the committee asked Ms O’Sullivan to respond to 27 questions by noon yesterday.
The following are some of the questions sent to Ms O’Sullivan, parts of her answers that are pertinent to the questions and some notes on the same.
It would appear Ms O’Sullivan and the Medical Bureau of Road Safety’s accounts of events still do not tally.
Q1. Can you confirm that the anonymous April 2014 letter from the Garda reservist in the Western Region was the only prompt for the initial audit of breath test figures in the Southern Region, and the subsequent national audit? Or is it the case that the information from the MBRS given to An Garda Siochana had a role to play in the audits being ordered?
A. The anonymous letter originating from a Garda Reserve in the Western Region was the catalyst for the examination in the Southern Region and the subsequent national examination. A number of other actions were also taken before the examinations commenced, which are set out below. An Garda Síochána had no information in July 2015 from the Medical Bureau of Road Safety to influence the decision to initiate the examination in the Southern Region.
The examination in the Southern Region had already commenced when concerns were first mentioned, informally, to a Superintendent from the Garda National Traffic Bureau by the Director of Medical Bureau of Road Safety. He stated, at the time, that these concerns were not raised as a ‘red-flag’ issue, however reassurance was given that any concerns he had in this regard would be addressed in the context of the examination underway.
…The letter, dated 22nd August, 2014, from the Medical Bureau of Road Safety pertained solely to procurement matters. It did not highlight discrepancies in the records held by An Garda Síochána and those of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety.
Broadsheet: During an interview with RTÉ’s Cathal Mac Coille, on Morning Ireland, on March 28, 2017, Denis Cusack of the MBRS said that the MRBS wrote to An Garda Siochana in July 2014 about discrepancies between the figures the MBRS had for the breath test mouthpieces that they had supplied to the gardaí and the number of breath tests that the gardai claimed to be carrying out. Of this letter in July 2014, Mr Cusack said: “It was an alert that something wasn’t adding up.”
From top: Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan leaving the Justice Committeee hearing yesterday; Deputy Commissioner Dónall O’Cualáin, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality yesterday
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan appeared before the Oireachtas justice committee yesterday to field questions on the near one million phantom breath tests and 14,700 wrongful motoring convictions.
Further to this…
A timeline of events…
2009: An Garda Síochána start recording Mandatory Alcohol Testing (MAT) checkpoints on PULSE.
May 15, 2013: A report by assistant commissioner John O’Mahoney into the quashing of penalty points by gardaí is published and finds there is no widespread quashing of penalty points.
October 1, 2013: The Comptroller and Auditor General, which was given information by Sgt Maurice McCabe, issues a report which finds one in five motorists avoided penalty points because their cases are not pursued. For 2011 and 2012 – the C&AG found approximately 2,900 cases were terminated for around 700 vehicles, with three or more cases terminated each.
March 26, 2014: Justice Minister Alan Shatter apologises to Sgt Maurice McCabe and former garda John Wilson for telling the Dáil in October 1, 2013 that the two whistleblowers didn’t cooperate with Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney’s report into the quashing of penalty points.
April 11, 2014: Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar writes to the acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan about information that was sent anonymously to Gay Byrne, chair of the Road Safety Authority. The information, allegedly from a Garda reserve, contains allegations concerning the way in which MAT checkpoints are being carried out in the west of Ireland. The information also contains allegations that road traffic legislation is not being enforced.
April 24, 2014: An Garda Síochana are made aware of discrepancies in breath test figures. On the same day, Assistant Commissioner of the Western Region Dónal Ó Cualáin submitted a report in respect of road traffic enforcement in the western region. Mr Ó Cualáin advises that the issues raised will be placed on the agenda for the Garda’s next Regional Performance and Accountability Framework meeting.
May 2014: In a letter to the Department of Justice, An Garda Síochána states that it has looked into the claims regarding MAT checkpoints and is satisfied that correct procedures were in place for MAT checkpoints that did take place. Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald tells this to the Dáil on March 28, 2017.
May 8, 2014: Garda Nick Keogh, a member of the drugs squad in Athlone, makes a formal complaint to the confidential recipient Judge Pat McMahon about a garda in the drugs squad and their alleged involvement in the supply of heroin in Westmeath, Offaly and Longford. Garda Keogh also claims a State mobile phone was supplied by a senior garda to a suspended garda whom Garda Keogh alleges has links to drugs trade in Co Westmeath.
On the same day, Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan speaks about Garda Nick Keogh in the Dail, saying:
“At this time, Garda Nicky Keogh – that is his name and he is proud of it – from Athlone Garda Station is presenting information to the confidential recipient, Mr. Justice Patrick McMahon. Given the gaping hole that there is in legislation in this country, which means the avenue of the Ombudsman commission is cut off, he has no option but to go to the confidential recipient. He has been left with no choice but to go public because since last week when the man voted by this Government to be Taoiseach laughed at what he brought to me the word at his local Garda station is that he is a whistleblower or, to use a word being used by many people, a snitch.
“His allegations are serious, including a cover up of an original file which was stolen, with the original incident being removed from the PULSE system; the creation of new statements and appearance of new original information; non-compliance by the Garda with the court order for disclosure and at least one of the accused being threatened by a garda to plead guilty on the day of the court case.”
“[Garda Nick Keogh]’s greatest concern with the drugs operation in November 2009 is that there was a systematic and orchestrated effort by high-ranking Garda officers to induce and coerce citizens, in this case citizens with no previous criminal conviction, to buy drugs from drug dealers, putting them in personal danger, and sell the drugs in turn to undercover gardaí without making any profit, thus boosting crime detection figures concerning arrests, charges and convictions. The result of this operation was that these mostly young citizens of the State, who had no previous drug convictions, now have serious drug convictions.”
“Finally, a further aspect of grave concern regarding the planning of this operation was that the list of persons nominated to be targeted had a notable omission in that a significant and well recognised drug dealer in the area who has long been associated with a senior member of the drugs unit was excluded.”
From top: Deputy Commissioner Dónall O’Cualáin, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality; Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace; Noirin O’Sullivan
In light of the latest Garda controversies.
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, along with Deputy Commissioners Dónall O’Cualáin and John Twomey, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality.
Readers may recall a post from yesterday in relation to Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn’s announcement last week that Superintendent Pat Murray from Athlone had been appointed to carry out the “fact finding” internal investigation in relation to the near one million false breath test figures and 14,700 wrongful convictions.
The post drew attention to the fact that, previously in the Dáil on December 15, 2015, Independents 4 Change TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly spoke about Superintendent Pat Murray.
Mr Wallace said of Superintendent Murray: “This is an individual who has harassed and bullied a Garda whistleblower to an awful degree for a long time.”
He also said that he would give the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald proof of Superintendent Pat Murray reclassifying crime figures.
During this morning’s meeting of the justice committee, Mr Wallace asked about Superintendent Pat Murray and the Garda’s internal investigation.
From the exchange…
Mick Wallace: “Senior garda indiscipline is not under the remit of the Policing Authority, right? But, Commissioner, it is within yours, right? And would you agree that there’s a problem around how Garda indiscipline is dealt with? Now, in line, in tune with the question, I wanted to ask if Superintendent Pat Murray had any involvement in the internal inquiry? You might answer that for me?”
Noirin O’Sullivan: “Deputy, or chair again, I’ll take your direction on this. I don’t think it’s appropriate to speak about individual members and, you know, I’m not sure what the question specifically relates to but I’m happy to answer a question on a broader issue if you wish.”
Chairman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: “Deputy Wallace, can you maybe rephrase? Maybe relook?”
Wallace: “I just read a press report that Superintendent Pat Murray was actually involved in a, but I don’t know if it’s true or not. And I just wanted the commissioner to confirm if yes or no…”
Ó Caoláin: “Is their a relevance to you raising it….
Wallace: “There is yeah, it’s connected to…”
Ó Caoláin: “…To be careful again, in the context of what I cautioned members about, at the outset of the meeting, I’m not privy to what is in your question…”
Wallace: “I’m referring to a new internal investigation that the Commissioner is setting up. And I’m just wondering in light of the problems in dealing with indiscipline in the force, I’m wondering if, whether Superintendent Pat Murray, who has, is under, is the subject of a protected disclosure. And I’m wondering if he got a job involved in the internal investigation or not. Yes or no.”
Ó Caoláin: “Commissioner I, again, I’ve no advance indication of the questions such as this presenting. I appreciate that there are subliminal issues involved. You’re free to answer as you deem appropriate and, if the matter is inappropriate, in your opinion, I would accept that that is the case and we’ll move on.”
O’Sullivan: “Well, chair, thank you. Deputy, what I can tell the committee here today is that commissioner Michael O’Sullivan is appointed to conduct the investigation and to establish the facts.”
Wallace: “So you’re saying that Pat Murray is not involved?”
Ó Caoláin: ” That, I think, I think, with respect, the Commissioner does not believe that that is appropriate in the context that you’ve raised. And I’m respecting that, deputy Wallace. Is that, that is your position, Commissioner?”
O’Sullivan: “Yes. The assistant commissioner is in charge of the investigation. There is nobody else in charge of the investigation.”
Wallace: “So is he not involved in it?”
Ó Caoláin: “Deputy Wallace, I ask you…”
Wallace: “All right, ok..”
Ó Caoláin: “Can we move on please?”
Wallace: “Right, I’ll move on. I realise it’s hard to get answers.”
From top: Independents 4 Change TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at an Oireachtas committee meeting this morning
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and other senior gardaí appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality this morning.
Their appearance followed reports of the two protected disclosures made by Sgt Maurice McCabe and former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor.
It’s been reported that Supt Taylor has admitted he was central to a smear campaign orchestrated by Garda management to destroy Sgt McCabe’s name and character, and that former garda commissioner Martin Callinan knew what was happening, as did his successor Noirin O’Sullivan, who was then a deputy commissioner.
Supt Taylor has alleged the campaign included text messages; the creation of an intelligence file on Sgt McCabe; the monitoring of his activities on Pulse, and making false allegations about him to both members of the media and politicians.
It’s also been repaired that Supt Taylor has claimed there is evidence of the campaign on his phone, or phones, that were subsequently seized as part of a separate investigation.
Readers will also recall that on January 24, 2014 – six days before Sgt McCabe gave testimony in private to the Public Accounts Committee – Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness met then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan in the car park of Bewley’s Hotel on the Naas Road for a secret meeting, at which Mr Callinan told Mr McGuinness that Sgt McCabe could not be trusted.
It’s been reported that it was Mr Callinan who sought the meeting with Mr McGuinness.
Speaking of the meeting, Mr McGuinness told the Dail:
The Garda Commissioner confided in me in a car park on the Naas Road that Garda McCabe was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him.
The vile stories that circulated about Garda McCabe, which were promoted by senior officers in the Garda, were absolutely appalling.
In addition, on RTE’s Morning Ireland on Monday, the solicitor of another Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison, Trevor Collins spoke to Cathal MacCoille, saying:
“[Harrison] has suffered and the victimisation, the intimidation, the ostracization that is ongoing… what I can say, without going into detail, is he has been the subject of surveillance, he has suffered victimisation, bullying harassment, as has his family. There has been a dissemination of rumour and innuendo which has been solely designed to undermine his credibility and that has been circulated within certain members of the media, certain politicians and his Garda colleagues.”
Mr Collins also highlighted how different Garda whistleblowers have suffered similar mistreatment and that Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s appointment of former High Court judge Justice Iarlaith O’Neill – to review Sgt McCabe and Supt Taylor’s claims – is a flawed inquiry if it doesn’t include the allegations of other whistleblowers.
Further to this… from this morning’s Oireachtas committee meeting:
Clare Daly: “Commissioner, you said you weren’t privy to any information about allegations of mistreatment of whistleblowers, that your knowledge was very much based on what was in the public commentary and, from what you’ve heard, but is that statement not contradicted by the fact that legal counsel for one of the whistleblowers wrote directly to you 14 times over a two-year period, outlining a litany of direct experiences that he had had in terms of surveillance, intimidation, and all the rest of it?”
Noirin O’Sullivan: ” Deputy, as you will be aware, I’m precluded from talking about individual cases but what I can say, in general cases, as I have said earlier, each individual’s experience is different, we are dealing with each individual separately and as an individual and, indeed with their representatives or their legal teams who raise issues with us and all of those are being addressed. We are in the process of retaining a professional expert to review all of these and indeed our experience to date is, because of the, as I say, these are single figure numbers, but nevertheless, each individual’s experience is so different, that actually what we believe is, the professional expert can help us to review our internal structures, our internal process and our approach to things. If there’s areas that we can strengthen, we’re very open to strengthening those but perhaps it is time for a consideration to be given to some kind of an independent entity where all of these issues go to and that people can have some reassurance that there is somebody independently looking at all of these matters and then that we ensure that the internal structures are there to strengthen and support individual needs.”
Daly: “I’ve no intention of going into details on any individual cases butmy question was is it the case, that you received direct contact on 14 occasions from a legal counsel, of one of the whistleblowers stating, and giving very specific information which I won’t give here, outlining his negative experiences as a whistleblower?”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy, again, I’m not able in this forum, in a public forum, to go into individual cases. I think it would be grossly unfair to individuals.”
Daly: “And I’m not asking you to do that, Commissioner. I’m just asking you could you confirm that you received 14 direct communications from legal counsel in relation to these matters. I think it’s a valid question, chair?”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy I have specific obligations under the Protected Disclosures Act, as the employer, to protect the individuals and to protect the identity of individuals and I am not in a position to answer any specific questions in relation to any specific individual or any specific correspondence received in relation to an individual, other than to say that every individual’s case is being treated individually and that we have structures in place to deal with that.”
Daly: “I’m not asking you, Commissioner, to detail any details about an individual case, but I am perfectly entitled to put a question, in terms of, particularly in the context of O’Higgins [inquiry], of the public assurances that we’ve got from your offices that the Garda Siochana are a safe place for people to come forward with information when that public, I suppose, statement is contradicted by other issues – we’ve a right to tease that out and I’d just like to ask you again – …are you perfectly happy to reiterate your statement that you are not privy to any specific allegations involving mistreatment of people who’ve come forward as whistleblowers?”
O’Sullivan: “I don’t think my answer to Deputy [Jim] O’Callaghan was in respect of allegations because I obviously have heard the public commentary in respect of allegations that have been made but I don’t think it is fair or even just to say that all that one has to do is look at what we have put into place, in an effort to support and to support our determination to ensure that people can bring forward facts. And I think the evidence speaks for itself in terms of the structures that have been put in place, in terms of the systems that have been put in place and in terms of the efforts that have been put in place. But without going into individual cases, I cannot go into individual cases and I’m sure …”
Daly: “Nobody has asked you, nobody has asked you to go into individual cases but there has been a huge amount of public statements, and you’ve done it again today to say that you are not privy to any of these complaints, if you like, or more specific examples that are in the public domain, I’m just asking you to either: it’s kind of a yes or no – can you confirm that you are aware or you’re not. Because you’ve said you’re not privy to it. My evidence is that you are but I mean, if you’re telling us you’re not, I’ll move on but could you just tell us whether you are or you’re not.”
O’Sullivan: “Well deputy what I did say was I’m not privy to, nor did I approve, nor would I condone any campaign of harassment or any campaign to malign any individual employee.”
Daly: “So you’re not aware of any circumstances where such claims would have been made, that hasn’t been brought to your attention?”
O’Sullivan: “That isn’t what I’m saying, deputy, what I’m saying is that I, personally, was not privy to, nor would I approve, nor would I condone any campaign against any individual.”
Daly: “So if you had been made aware, of any such allegations, what action would you have taken to deal with that situation?”
O’Sullivan: “Any issues that are brought to our attention by any individual are fully addressed and that is the case in terms of all of the individuals, have brought matters to our attention, or indeed any member of any representative of any individual, those issues are being addressed in the structures and the processes that we have there. As I say we are in the process of retaining an independent, professional expert to review those processes and it may indeed need to go beyond that but we can only do what we can do internally and what we have control of and that is why we have somebody independently being retained review either areas that can be strengthened, recognising that individual needs are different.”
Daly: “If everything is improving, you’ve said that the numbers of whistleblowers are single figures, could you explain maybe why all of those single figures, five at least, if not more, are presently out sick and have been on protracted sick leave for a period of time because of work-related stress.”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy, again, and I’m very conscience that we are speaking about single figure numbers and, even by extension, that could serve to identify individuals and I’m precluded from speaking about individual cases and, as the employer, I have a duty of care to all of the individuals and their circumstances but there are systems in place to support and to help the individuals concerned.”
Daly: “It’s very difficult to get an answer, chair.”
Daly: “I mean, obviously, some incredibly serious issues were raised here this morning and I do think that clarity is actually critical and I note Commissioner that, on a number of occasions, that you said that you weren’t privy to, nor aware of, nor approved any campaign to target whistleblowers and I’d just really like you to be concise around some of these issues, yes or no preferably. Like, is it your assertion that you were never directly made aware of any such allegations in relation to the targeting of whistleblowers?”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy, I can only repeat what I said. I am not privy to, nor would I approve, nor did I approve, nor would I condone, any actions such as targeting any individuals other than individuals engaged in criminal activity in the sense of targeting that we spoke about earlier.”
Daly: “Okay. I note you’re reluctance to answer again so maybe I’ll help by partly answering for you. I’m aware that you were directly made aware – I have the correspondence and your replies in my folder here – in relation to allegations of precisely such, a campaign of targeting in relation to whistleblowers. So what I’d like to know is what actions did you take on foot of hearing about those allegations?”
O’Sullivan: “Well deputy I’m sure you will appreciate that I’m not aware of neither who the disclosures are, the content of the disclosures, or the allegations that you are suggesting and in such circumstances it would not only be inappropriate but it would be impossible to comment.”
Daly: “I’m sorry, Commissioner, but I didn’t actually ask you to comment on any individual cases at all. I think that would be inappropriate, I was talking about the general processes which I think are incredibly fair questions, in the context of the seriousness of what is the case. And particularly, in light of your comments, that the system is changing, when really, on a fairly regular basis, evidence is being produced to say that things aren’t changing. And I’m wondering how you can, if you like, square that circle?”
O’Sullivan: “Well I cannot comment on something which I have not seen, I am not aware of and I think that there is a process that is being set up where there will be fair procedure and due process provided and Mr Justice O’Neill can address any issues arising from that.”
Daly: “I would just like to put on the record, chair, that I have seen that you have seen these allegations and, in that sense, I find your response quite upsetting actually in many ways. But I wonder maybe the last question that you could answer: how do you explain, if you’re not aware of any of these allegations, and yet these allegations are there and they exist both in terms of documented proof going back over years and, as you said yourself, huge conversation in the public domain, if you’re not aware of that and yet they still continue, is that not a huge problem? Particularly as they’re continuing in different parts of the country, in different regions. Supposedly, without any of your knowledge, is the issue really then that you have no authority amongst your members? That they’re flagrantly doing the opposite of what you’re telling them to do? And does that not put your position in jeopardy?”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy, I’m not in a position to comment, or indeed should I comment, or it’s impossible to comment on unsubstantiated allegations which are put into the public domain by elected representatives and others. And I’m very much aware of the unsubstantiated allegations which are in the public domain, I’m also aware that a process has been established where all of these matters can be afforded due process and fair procedure, to allow for proper examination of all these matters and I will fully cooperate, as will An Garda Siochana with that process.”
Mick Wallace: “Commissioner, did you admit that you gave instructions to challenge the credibility and motivation of Sgt McCabe, in relation to the O’Higgins report and my second questions, and I may have missed it, I don’t know, over the last couple of years, but you were sitting beside the former Commissioner Callinan when he described the whistleblowers [Sgt Maurice McCabe and Garda John Wilson] as disgusting. And I’m just wondering minister, Commissioner did you ever disassociate yourself from those remarks?”
O’Sullivan: “Well, firstly, deputy, the O’Higgins Commission which was your first question: At all times, my interactions with my legal advisors were based on legal advice and, as you know, there is lawyer-client privilege pertains to every citizen of this State, and including the Garda Commissioner and, as such, I cannot comment on any interactions between me and my legal advice and that is what my advice is. Secondly, in relation to my sitting alongside my predecessor, former commissioner Martin Callinan, a lot of play has been made of that issue and, you know again that was an interaction at a Dail committee, I am record as saying that the choice of words was unfortunate and what I actually wrote to the Commissioner Callinan was to withdraw those remarks because I do not believe they were said in the way that they came across.”
Separately but also during Ms O’Sullivan’s appearance, Cork Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O’Brien asked Ms O’Sullivan some very direct questions…
Mr O’Brien (above right) started by asking Ms O’Sullivan if she knew of any whistleblowers being put under surveillance.
From their exchange…
O’Sullivan: “Am I aware of any…”
Jonathan O’Brien: “Whistleblowers being put under surveillance?”
O’Sullivan: “Absolutely not, deputy.”
O’Brien: “Ok, are you aware of any intelligence files being opened in relation to whistleblowers?”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy, I’m aware of suggestions in the media, and in public commentary, but I am personally not aware.”
O’Brien: “You spoke, in relation to electronic materials which will be handed over if Justice O’Neill requires it. Can I ask is it one, two or three phones which were confiscated from the whistleblower [Supt Dave Taylor]?”
O’Sullivan: “I don’t think it’s appropriate, we have a number of ongoing live investigations and I don’t think it’s appropriate deputy to speak about individual investigations.”
O’Brien: “But will they be handed over?”
O’Sullivan: “Absolutely, every assistance and any requirement of Justice O’Neill will be fully met by An Garda Siochana.”
O’Brien: “And if there are intelligence files in relation to whistleblowers, will they also be handed over?”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy, I believe there are no intelligence files but if Mr Justice O’Neill requires any access to any area of An Garda Siochana, he will be made fully aware, given full access.”
O’Brien: “Will you undertake to find out if there are any intelligence files in relation to whistleblowers?”
O’Sullivan: “I am not aware of any intelligence files, deputy.”
O’Brien: “Will you ask if there are any intelligence files?”
O’Sullivan: “I can certainly ask but we do not, and I must state this categorically, protected disclosures are relatively a new phenomenon, we do not keep intelligence files. I hope you’ve heard form my colleagues here today, we have enough activities to keep us very busy and creating intelligence files on people who are causing harm to communities.”
O’Brien: “Are you aware of the content of the meeting between the Commissioner Callinan and Deputy John McGuinness?”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy, the first I became aware of that meeting, of the fact that even a meeting took place, was in the media. I am not aware and I have not been aware up to reading it in the media of any interaction between Deputy Commissioner, or sorry, former Commissioner Callinan and Deputy McGuinness in a car park.”
O’Brien: “So you’re not aware of any content which was discussed at that meeting?”
O’Sullivan: “Absolutely not.”
O’Brien: “Have you considered temporarily stepping aside as Commissioner while Justice O’Neill carries out his review? Given that there are a number of allegations that you had knowledge of a campaign to discredit a whistleblower?”
O’Sullivan: “Well, firstly, deputy, what I will do is reiterate my statement, I was not privy to, nor did I approve, nor would I condone any campaign against any individual….”