From top: Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan; former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; and Sgt Maurice McCabe
In The Sunday Times.
John Mooney reported:
“The Disclosures tribunal has been given official notes of conversations between Nóirín O’Sullivan, the former garda commissioner, and senior gardai. They outline the strategy she adopted when dealing with whistleblower Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission.”
“The contemporaneous records show O’Sullivan did not instruct lawyers to question McCabe’s integrity. Instead she asked them to question the motivation and credibility of allegations he was making about garda colleagues.”
“Claims that O’Sullivan had instructed lawyers to question McCabe’s integrity were based on selected transcripts from the commission, which were leaked to newspapers.
“It was suggested she was telling lawyers to challenge McCabe’s integrity in private while publicly commending him for speaking out against wrongdoing.
“O’Sullivan’s legal team subsequently clarified that they had been asked to challenge the whistleblower’s “motivation and credibility”.
“It is understood O’Sullivan was interviewed in private session by Charleton’s investigators last week.”
Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and former Minister for Justice and current Tanaiste France Fitzgerald
Further to questions remaining over what former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the Department of Justice knew of the legal strategy which was employed against Sgt Maurice McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015…
Because, readers will recall, the legal strategy of the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan was outlined at the commission but later dropped after Sgt McCabe proved claims made by the legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan, and claims outlined in a five-page letter by the Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, were untrue…
And how nothing of this abandoned strategy was recorded in the commission’s final report…
And how the Secretary General of the Department of Justice Noel Waters announced he’s stepping down in February – within hours of the Dail hearing of reports of a phone call from Ms O’Sullivan’s office to Mr Waters on May 15, 2015 – the same day Sgt McCabe delivered his first blow to Ms O’Sullivan’s legal strategy…
Daniel McConnell, in the Irish Examiner, writes:
Dáil chairman, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail, is “considering” a fresh complaint from Labour TD Alan Kelly over information he sought over the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
Mr Ó Fearghail yesterday received new correspondence from Mr Kelly and he is now taking the matter under consideration for adjudication, a spokeswoman for the Oireachtas said.
It centred on questions put to the Department of Justice, by Labour TD Alan Kelly, in relation to what knowledge, if any, the department had about the legal strategy employed by An Garda Siochana at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015.
Readers will recall how at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation – which was set up to examine complaints of Garda malpractice made by Sgt McCabe – legal counsel for former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said it would argue that Sgt McCabe made his complaints because of a grudge and that evidence of this would be based on a particular meeting Sgt McCabe had with two other gardai.
This line of argument was dropped after Sgt McCabe produced a recording of the meeting which proved this was untrue.
Mr Kelly has written to the Department of Justice asking what knowledge the former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald had of this legal strategy.
He’s also written to the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the now Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about the same.
He’s now calling for Mr Varadkar to make a public statement on the matter.
He also said he believes that, if the Department of Justice was aware, then the terms of reference for the Disclosures Tribunal – which is being overseen by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton and is examining allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe – need to be widened to include the department.
Further to this…
Mr Kelly spoke to Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio One this morning in which he reiterated his questions.
From the interview…
Sean O’Rourke: “You lay particular emphasis on contacts between the Commissioner’s office and the office of the Secretary General of the Department of Justice on the 15th of May 2015. Why is that date important?”
Alan Kelly: “It’s very important because this is the day that everything changed in relation to O’Higgins and that Maurice McCabe became aware of a different strategy as regards the Commissioner and their legal strategy to him. And, in relation to the whole aspect of whether he had had motives, different motives…”
O’Rourke: “Yeah, a grudge.”
Kelly: “An agenda or had a grudge in relation certain aspects of the gardai and that’s why he acted in the way in which he did. It was proven to be false…”
Kelly: “If they [Department of Justice] come out and say ‘no, they weren’t aware in any way, shape or form, this dies. Because it’s effectively saying look no they weren’t privy to anything. The issue is this: in the questions and answers that I’ve got back from Minister Flanagan, he doesn’t deny that there were meetings. He doesn’t deny that there was something going on.”
Readers may wish to note that, although it hasn’t been mentioned on RTE, Broadsheet previously reported how, at the outset of the O’Higgins Commission, the legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan argued that the reason for this so-called grudge was that Sgt McCabe wanted the directions made by the DPP in 2007 – in respect of a “dry humping” allegation made by the daughter, Ms D, of a guard previously disciplined by Sgt McCabe in 2006 – overturned.
But the DPP’s directions were categorically in Sgt McCabe’s favour.
And what the gardai didn’t know, going into the commission, was that Sgt McCabe had been fully briefed of the DPP’s directions back in 2007 when they were first issued.
These were the DPP’s directions:
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 1st March 2007 together with copy Garda investigation file.
I agree with you and the Guards, that the evidence does not warrant a prosecution. There was no admission. The incident as described by the injured party is vague. It appears that it was only when she was eleven/twelve that she decided that whatever occurred was sexual in nature.
Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault.
Further, the account given to her cousin [redacted] differs in a number of respects to that given to her parents and the Guards.
There is no basis for a prosecution.
And the date Sgt McCabe informed the O’Higgins Commission that he was fully aware of the DPP’s directions, knew they were strongly in his favour and, therefore, had no desire for them to be overturned?
May 15, 2015.
(Readers should note the ‘humping’ allegation mentioned above was revived in 2013 when Ms D went to a counsellor and the counsellor sent a botched referral outlining a much more serious allegation of rape to Tusla.
This botched referral would eventually reach Ms O’Sullivan’s office in May 2014 and the false allegation against Sgt McCabe remained on file in the Commissioner’s office until the Disclosures Tribunal began earlier this year).
Clockwise from top left: Sgt Maurice McCabe, former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, former Assistant Garda Commissioner Kieran Kenny; former Chief Superintendent Jim Sheridan and Superintendent Noel Cunningham, who is also president of the Association of Garda Superintendents
John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, wrote that the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald received a protected disclosure in the summer.
In it, it was claimed that the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan “was informed in May 2014 about a referral from Tusla, the child and family agency, which alleged garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe had been accused of raping a child”.
It’s not known if, on receipt of this information, Ms O’Sullivan notified Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald about the allegation.
Mr Mooney reported that the protected disclosure has been referred to the Disclosures Tribunal where Judge Peter Charleton is examining claims that the circulation of this false rape allegation was part of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.
The Sunday Times‘ article didn’t report what specific day in May 2014 Ms O’Sullivan was supposedly informed.
Nor did it make clear whether the protected disclosure stated that Ms O’Sullivan was told the false rape allegation was a bona fide referral, or if she was told that a false rape referral had been made against Sgt McCabe and that there had been a catastrophic mistake.
This would appear to be crucial as May 2014 was both the month Tusla presented the false referral to the gardai as a bona fide referral and the month Tusla later informed senior gardai that the referral was botched.
The Disclosures Tribunal has already been told by retired senior gardai that the fake rape referral travelled up the chain of command in An Garda Siochana and reached the Garda Commissioner’s office in May 2014 and that an update to inform Ms O’Sullivan that it was false was never passed on to Ms O’Sullivan.
Readers will recall…
A complaint by a Ms D was made in December 2006 some 11 months after her father, a guard, Mr D “lost his position and was reverted to other duties” after Sgt McCabe “caused the institution of serious disciplinary procedure against” Mr D in January 2006.
After the DPP investigated Ms D’s complaint, a letter from the DPP’s office was sent to the State solicitor for Cavan Rory Hayden on April 5, 2007, which stated: “Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”
The tribunal has heard how Mr Cunningham never gave or informed Sgt McCabe of the DDP’s full instructions but, unbeknownst to Mr Cunningham, Sgt McCabe had been fully briefed of them by Mr Hayden on April 5, 2007.
Readers will recall how Ms D’s 2006 allegation resurfaced during a counselling session, seven years later in the summer 2013, in Cavan, with RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy.
An erroneous allegation of rape against Sgt McCabe ended up being attributed to Ms D when Ms Brophy sent a botched referral to Tusla in August 2013.
Then, readers will recall, on April 30, 2014, Tusla social worker Laura Connolly plucked Sgt McCabe’s file randomly from a cabinet which contained unallocated cases and sent a notification of Sgt McCabe’s file to the gardai even though she was aware the 2006 allegation had already been sent to the gardai and that the DPP had ordered for no charges to be brought.
Ms Connolly made a monumental error by combining both the 2006 allegation, which was found to have no foundation by the DPP, and the 2013 allegation of rape pertaining to a Ms Y which had nothing to do with Ms D but was wrongly recorded by counsellor Laura Brophy as an allegation Ms D had made against Sgt McCabe.
Readers will recall on May 6, 2014, Sean Guerin SC, after examining allegations of Garda misconduct made by Sgt McCabe, Mr Guerin recommended a Commission of Investigation be held into the complaints.
(This would eventually lead to the setting up of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015, during which An Garda Siochana said it would argue that Sgt McCabe acted out of malice and that evidence of this would be based on a meeting Sgt McCabe had with two gardai, Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin, in Mullingar in August 2008.
It was also claimed at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation that the reason Sgt McCabe was acting in such a way was because he wanted the 2007 DPP’s directions overturned.
An Garda Siochana dropped both claims when Sgt McCabe produced a recording of the meeting in Mullingar and told the commission he had been fully briefed of the DPP’s directions and was very satisfied with them and, therefore, had no reason to want them overturned.)
The tribunal has heard that on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 – the same day then Justice Minister Alan Shatter resigned – Supt Leo McGinn, the district officer in Bailieboro, on receipt of Ms Connolly’s referral, forwarded Ms Connolly’s botched referral to the then Chief Superintendent Jim Sheridan, stating that he recommended the 2006/2007 investigation be reviewed.
Then, on May 14, 2014, the then Chief Superintendent Sheridan sent a letter to the then Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny.
This was the same day Ms D informed RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy that her referral to the gardai was incorrect.
In addition, Mr Sheridan told the tribunal that Supt McGinn told him the referral was incorrect on May 13, 2014.
When Chief Supt Sheridan sent this letter to Mr Kenny on May 14, 2014, Mr Sheridan attached the referral with the unrelated digital penetration error and said the “the allegations contained in the attached referral have been the subject of a previous Garda investigation” which resulted in the DPP directing that there be no prosecution against Sgt Maurice McCabe.
He also stated that it was his understanding that Ms D had made complaints, based on the allegations set out in the attached referral, to Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and GSOC.
Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, asked Mr Sheridan why he didn’t tell Asst Comm Kenny that the allegation in the referral was incorrect.
Mr Sheridan said he perhaps should have but he was trying to establish how the error had occurred.
“Perhaps in hinsight, I should have,” Mr Sheridan said.
Asked, in regards to the mention of complaints to Mr Martin and GSOC, was he of the understanding that Ms D had made complaints based on the digital penetration allegation, Mr Sheridan said no, he didn’t think that.
Once again, Ms Leader asked Mr Sheridan why he didn’t state that in the letter?
Mr Sheridan accepted that, in hindsight, he should have and said that there was no malice in his actions.
Ms Leader also asked Mr Sheridan about his knowledge of the complaints to Mr Martin and GSOC.
Mr Sheridan said he knew of the complaints based on media reports and he doesn’t recollect any official notification from GSOC.
The tribunal has heard that, similar to Mr Sheridan, Mr Kenny knew the 2006/2007 investigation had nothing to do with any rape allegation.
When former Mr Kenny gave evidence to the tribunal he told how, on May 16, 2014, he sent a letter to the Commissioner’s office [Noirin O’Sullivan], with the wrong referral attached.
The letter included the line:
“You will note that the allegation identifies the alleged perpetrator as Maurice McCabe.”
Mr Kenny was asked, while passing the matter on to Ms O’Sullivan, if he advised her that the allegation he was sending was different to the allegation of 2006.
He said: No.
The tribunal has previously heard that Mr Sheridan received an amended referral from Tusla on May 20 and that Mr Sheridan then passed this on to Mr Kenny.
But Mr Kenny said henever passed this on to the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.
The tribunal has also heard evidence from Ms O’Sullivan’s private secretary Frank Walsh who said that, despite a later letter sent by Mr Kenny to the Commissioner’s office on July 28, 2014, stating that “developments will be reported” in regards to the matter – no such developments were reported.
In addition, Det Sgt Walsh told the tribunal that the false allegation against Sgt McCabe was still on file in the Commissioner’s office until the tribunal began earlier this year.
In his article, Mr Mooney also reports: “The tribunal is trying to establish whether the Department of Justice was told about the file, or whether garda management decided to withhold the information pending further inquiries.”
Readers may also wish to note that on February 12, 2017, following a report about the false rape allegation on RTE’s Prime Time on February 9…
Frances Fitzgerald told RTÉ’s The Week In Politics:
“I had no knowledge of all of the things that have emerged on Prime Time in relation to referrals to Tusla and how inadequately they were dealt with; the problems with the counsellor, those issues were absolutely … I was stunned watching those on Thursday night as the public were and as concerned and that’s the truth.”
“…I had no reason to put Tusla in the terms of reference because, as I said to you, I had no knowledge of the facts that emerged on the Prime Time programme on Thursday evening. That’s the reality of the situation. I did not know those details.”
However, later, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin told RTE :
“Mrs Frances Fitzgerald is saying she wasn’t aware of the Tusla file until Thursday. I think she needs to clarify that. I need to put on record that our spokesperson for justice, deputy Jim O’Callaghan, met with Frances Fitzgerald on Wednesday evening, specifically to broaden the terms of reference of the Charleton inquiry, to take on board the Tusla file because we had been alerted to it and I had spoken to Maurice McCabe on the Wednesday.
“I was anxious the terms of reference would include the Tusla file. Jim O’Callaghan met Frances Fitzgerald, alerted her to the existence of the file and that it needed to be covered.”
From top: Sgt Maurice McCabe; former Garda Commissioners Martin Callinan and Noirin O’Sullivan
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) issued a statement announcing the appointment of former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan as the IACP’s Director of Strategic Partnerships for Europe.
It’s a newly created role.
Readers will recall how the Disclosures Tribunal is currently examining claims that a smear campaign was conducted against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan – with the knowledge of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan – as alleged by the former head of the Garda Press Office, Superintendent David Taylor.
It’s examining how a ‘humping’ allegation made in 2006, pertaining to a game of hide and seek in 1998 by the daughter of a guard previously disciplined by Sgt McCabe – an allegation which the DPP found in 2007 had no foundation – became a false allegation of rape in 2013 and was circulated among gardai, Tusla, politicians and members of the media.
Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan are expected to give evidence in November/December.
Both Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan deny the allegations.
Readers will also recall how, during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015 – which looked into Sgt McCabe’s allegations of Garda misconduct – legal counsel for the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said that evidence would be produced to show that Sgt McCabe had told two other gardai that he made his complaints out of malice at a meeting in Mullingar in 2008.
This claim of intention on the part of An Garda Siochana was later dropped as Sgt McCabe went on to produce a recording of the meeting which proved this was untrue.
In addition, Broadsheet reported in August that An Garda Siochana told the commission that what motivated Sgt McCabe to act out of malice was that he wanted the 2007 directions from the DPP, in respect of Ms D’s 2006 “humping” allegation, overturned.
This claim, by An Garda Siochana, was based on the belief that Sgt McCabe never saw the full instructions.
However Sgt McCabe had seen the instructions and knew they were unequivocally in his favour.
When Sgt McCabe made this known at the commission, this claim was also dropped by An Garda Siochana.
Further to this…
Some people have been tweeting the IACP.
You do know Noirin O’Sullivan is accused of trying to destroy reputation of whistleblower & there’s a Tribunal investigating the matter? pic.twitter.com/MjVqYq6ZDL
From top: Garda Nicky Keogh, Garda Keith Harrison; Acting Garda Commissioner Dónal Ó Cualáin and former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan
Further to Noirin O’Sullivan stepping down from her position as Garda Commissioner.
The new acting Garda Commissioner, until a replacement is found, is Deputy Commissioner Dónal Ó Cualáin.
Readers may wish to note that Mr O’Cualáin has previously been named in the Dáil, in relation to claims of a cover-up regarding Garda collusion with heroin dealers.
Garda Keith Harrison first raised his suspicion that a garda was involved in the distribution of drugs in Athlone in November 2008 but he claims, in a complaint to GSOC and in his statement to the Disclosures Tribunal, that nothing happened on foot of making his suspicions known.
Garda Harrison later arrested this same garda for drink-driving in June 2009.
Garda Nicky Keogh then made a formal complaint to the then Confidential Recipient Judge Pat McMahon about the same garda and the sale of heroin in Athlone in May 2014.
His complaint was investigated by then Assistant Commissioner Donal Ó Cualáin.
In October 2015, Garda Keogh made a complaint to GSOC regarding the manner in which the then Assistant Commissioner Dónal Ó Cualáin was carrying out his investigation into the alleged involvement of a garda into heroin dealing with Garda Keogh alleging that there appeared to be a cover-up.
Later that month, Mr Ó Cualáin was promoted to Deputy Commissioner.
A GSOC report into their investigation of Garda Keogh’s complaint has yet to be released.
On May 25 in 2016, following the publication of the report of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, which investigated complaints of Garda misconduct in Cavan/Monaghan by Sgt Maurice McCabe, TDs gave statements in respect of the report.
During his speech in the Dail, Mick Wallace, Independents 4 Change TD, said:
“In the past two years myself and Deputy Clare Daly have raised issues 18 times about how the Department and the Commissioner have dealt with whistleblowers.
Garda Nicky Keogh wrote to the Minister [Frances Fitzgerald] last week. He made allegations on May 8, 2014 to the confidential recipient, Judge Pat McMahon. After that, he said he was subject to five internal investigations and relentless harassment. He said he has been driven out and has been out sick since December 26. He also says he has got no protection. The Minister will know this from the letter she received.
His letter went on to say that further to his letter dated July 25, 2015, he had made a protected disclosure to GSOC in respect of a flawed Garda criminal investigation into a conspiracy to supply heroin involving a member of An Garda Síochána in contravention of section 21 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.
He said he believed this was no more than a deliberate and unmitigated cover–up by the Deputy Commissioner, Donal Ó Cualáin. He said he believed that the investigation was similar to the internal Garda investigations into Garda misconduct in Donegal in the 1990s.
He went on to say that the protection offered to him as a whistleblower under the terms of the protected disclosures legislation was completely disregarded and ignored by the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan.”
Two years prior to Mr Wallace’s statement to the Dáil, then Independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan spoke of Garda Nicky Keogh’s allegations in the Dáil, on May 8, 2014, saying:
“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.”
On October 2, 2016, John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reported that an internal investigation into Garda Nicky Keogh’s complaints of Garda collusion in heroin dealing in the Midlands had “found evidence to substantiate claims” made by Mr Keogh but that the DPP advised there was “insufficient evidence to prosecute those implicated”.
Broadsheet understands no report on this internal investigation has been published to date.
Readers will recall how the report into the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation didn’t mention certain events which took place during the private commission.
After the report was published, Michael Clifford, of the Irish Examiner, andKatie Hannon, of RTE’s Prime Time, reportedthat Colm Smyth, the senior counsel for the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, set out in the early stages of the commission that evidence would be produced to show that Sgt McCabe had told two other gardaí that he was making his complaints out of malice.
But a few days after this submission, Sgt McCabe told Judge Kevin O’Higgins he had a tape recording of the meeting in question.
The matter was subsequently dropped when the recording proved the allegation to be wrong.
In addition, readers may also wish to note that Broadsheet reported last week that, in regards to the wrongful allegation of malice, An Garda Siochana also claimed the reason Sgt McCabe was supposedly acting out of malice was because he wanted the DPP’s directions against him, in respect of Ms D’s 2006 allegation of “humping” – a matter which is part of the current Disclosures Tribunal – overturned.
It’s understood An Garda Siochana made this allegation on the belief that Sgt McCabe didn’t know the DPP’s directions.
However, it was also dropped when Sgt McCabe informed Judge O’Higgins that he had full knowledge of the DPP’s directions and was very satisfied with them.
Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly spoke to Sean O’Rourke in light of Noirin O’Sullivan’s resignation.
From the discussion…
Clare Daly: “I think there’s been an attempt here to kind of change the narrative to sort of portray the former commissioner as a sort of a victim. Too many people asking questions, she couldn’t get on with the job – the reason why there were so many people asking questions is that answers weren’t being given. Transparency and accountability wasn’t being delivered.
“And the sad fact is that there was open warfare inside the hierarchy of An Garda Siochana, between the civilian heads and between most of the senior garda management. And sadly, we’ve had a roadmap for how to deliver a modern police service, based on really comprehensive reports that were done by the Garda Inspectorate in previous years which all we need to do is implement them.
“And the problem being that the people at the top of An Garda Siocahana come from the old guard and are not best equipped to deal with that type of change that is necessary to herald in a new type of Garda management.”
Sean O’Rourke: “So you’re talking about, not just a new commissioner but a new top layer of management are you?”
Daly: “I think that’s absolutely necessary and we would be very concerned with some of the recent promotions by the Policing Authority for people who we know have been the subject of serious complaints and investigations by GSOC and Garda management, in example, for harassment of whistleblowers, have actually ended up on the promotion list. And…”
O’Rourke: “So the Policing Authority has to go as well, does it?”
Daly: “No, the Policing Authority has to be…”
O’Rourke: “If they’re promoting these people…”
Daly: “What this Government didn’t want it to be – a fully independent body. Let’s remember the personnel of the present Policing Authority were effectively hand-picked by the last government, there wasn’t open recruitment and selection for that. And their hands have been tied and they’ve allowed their hands to be tied even further. I made the example earlier and what happened in Scotland and other jurisdictions, they seem to manage it perfectly well.
“Where a garda commissioner or a chief constable, whatever they’re called, are actually held to account by a proper policing authority. We haven’t go that here. We’ve got a halfway house and the legislation has been there to deal with it.”
Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and Acting Garda Commissioner Donal O’Cualain leaving a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality in March; Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan; tweet by Fine Gael TD and Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty yesterday
In light of Noirin O’Sullivan’s resignation yesterday evening from her role as Garda Commissioner…
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was interviewed by Paul Cunningham on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
He said he wasn’t surprised by her resignation and that the possibility of it was made known to him in recent weeks.
He also said “there’s lots happening” in terms of reforming An Garda Siochana.
From the interview:
Charlie Flanagan: “I wasn’t surprised at the news. The possibility the commissioner O’Sullivan might retire was flagged to me over the last couple of weeks. Of course it was treated as confidential until such time as the commissioner made her decision which was indicated to me approximately at 5pm to me yesterday evening.”
Paul Cunningham: “Because it was of interest, in the Irish Independent, John Downing was just noting that in the past week you were asked in one interview, on four occasions, but you avoided saying whether she would be in the job this time next year. You mentioned you had some inkling over the past weeks, where did those inklings come from?”
Flanagan: “I understand that there were some discussions, having regard for the fact that the commissioner said that she would devote much of her summer break to giving consideration to whether or not she’d continue as Garda Commissioner and whether such continuing would be the right thing for her to do. In the course of that, there were discussions with officials from my department.”
Cunningham: “Did you contact her and ask her to stay because only in the past couple of days, your cabinet colleague, Minister [Regina] Doherty said that the Garda Commissioner had the vision and the grit that was needed.”
Flanagan: “No I didn’t, I haven’t been speaking to the Garda Commissioner since before she took her summer break at the end of July.”
Cunningham: “The TD from the Social Democrats, Roisin Shortall, said that the commissioner had lost all credibility and authority and it was very difficult to comprehend why the Government continued to defend her. Why didn’t you move earlier? Why did you not recognise that her position was untenable?”
Flanagan: “She was the Garda Commissioner, she was engaged in the process of reform. She took a break over the summer months, she was back at her desk last week. I had intended meeting her this week. Obviously there are urgent issues to be discussed – the programme of reform, the five-year action plan, the Garda Inspectorate Report, Changing Policing In Ireland, but obviously the Garda Commissioner took a decision that she felt was the right thing to do, to retire, and of course I accepted that.
“And this morning I will be making contact with the Policing Authority so as we can set in train the process of finding her replacement. In the meantime, I’m very pleased that Deputy Commissioner Donal O’Cualain will now act as police commissioner with all the powers and role and function that Noirin O’Sullivan had.”
Cunningham: “Before we come to that come to that question of process because it’s vitally important, can I just ask you whether you accept what Jim O’Callaghan, of Fianna Fail, said last night, that the resignation was effectively some accountability within An Garda Siochana for the 1.5million fake breath tests.”
Flanagan: “Well. I want to acknowledge here that this has been a very, very difficult time for the Garda Siochana, there are a number of inquiries, there’s a tribunal and, you know, I’m under no illusion here. The scale of reform here, and the need to move with a certain urgency is essential. But, from what I see, from both Garda management and from frontline gardai on a daily basis is that they have the appetite to see change and it’s up to us as political leaders to ensure we can drive change.
“And that’s why, just before I took office, my predecessor [Frances Fitzgerald] introduced the Future of Policing [commission] which is now considering all aspects of the garda service and all functions of the garda service and indeed the many oversight bodies whom I’ve been meeting in the course of the summer, the Policing Authority, the Garda Inspectorate, the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission and, you know, I will ensure that we will coordinate a programme of reform which is both urgent and important in Garda Siochana. And I believe it’s important too, that the reform programme now gains a certain momentum and that, of course, in no circumstances, would its credibility be adversely affected or undermined.”
Cunningham: “The Taoiseach said that the Government was now going to see how best to accelerate the crucial and essential reform programme. Why aren’t you doing that already? Why are we only going to accelerate it now?”
Flanagan:“Oh, well, we are doing it already. We have the report from December 2015,Changing Policing In Ireland; 18 main recommendations in relation to the structure of An Garda Siochana; the manner in which practices are deployed; culture of the Garda Siochana; human resources; financial management; all Garda practices and, of course, I’m looking forward to this year’s budget for next year when we can continue to ensure the acceleration of recruitment, both new garda siochana going in for training in Templemore graduating, at the earliest opportunity and also the further civilianisation of the garda organisation and the roll-out of modern policing. So there’s lots happening.”
An Garda Siochana released the following statement:
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan today announced that she is retiring from An Garda Síochána after 36 years of privileged, enjoyable and proud service.
Ms. O’Sullivan notified Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan this afternoon, thanking them for their continued confidence in her.
She also thanked former Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
“The support for me to continue in the role is evident,” the Commissioner said today.
“However, I devoted much of my summer break to considering if continuing would be the right thing to do.
“It has become clear, over the last year, that the core of my job is now about responding to an unending cycle of requests, questions, instructions and public hearings involving various agencies including the Public Accounts Committee, the Justice and Equality Committee, the Policing Authority, and various other inquiries, and dealing with inaccurate commentary surrounding all of these matters.
“They are all part of a new – and necessary – system of public accountability. But when a Commissioner is trying – as I’ve been trying – to implement the deep cultural and structural reform that is necessary to modernise and reform an organisation of 16,000 people and rectify the failures and mistakes of the past, the difficulty is that the vast majority of her time goes, not to implementing the necessary reforms and meeting the obvious policing and security challenges, but to dealing with this unending cycle.”
The Commissioner expressed the hope that her successor would be given the space and necessary supports in which to do the job, build on the platform that has been developed over the last three years, and move forward the Garda Modernisation and Renewal Programme, which will see An Garda Síochána become a beacon of 21st century policing.
She also said that she was not leaving her role to take up another job.
In early summer, international colleagues, she said, had encouraged her to apply for the top job in Europol. Because it would have been a prestigious appointment for an Irish citizen, she agreed to consider it, but did not proceed with the application.
“I may decide to take on some other interesting and exciting challenge down the line,” she said, but for now her intention is to retire and take some time with her family and adapt to the new phase of her life.
Simultaneous with the press release announcing her retirement, the Commissioner placed on the Garda’s internal portal a message to all staff which pointed out that despite the controversies of the past few years, the general public still registers a high degree of confidence in An Garda Síochána.
The Commissioner thanked staff for their hard work and commitment in protecting and serving our communities during what has been an unprecedented and difficult time for policing.
The Commissioner said that despite the unprecedented challenges, controversies and criticisms of the last few years, she looks back on her 36 years in the service with enormous pride.
“Being a Guard is the best job in the world. You’re committed to the public good. You’re encountering people at the lowest points in their lives. You can make a difference. As long as you avoid cynicism, you can make a profound difference – for the better – in other people’s lives”
The Commissioner said that she would be making no further comment at this time.
The Disclosures Tribunal will resume in two weeks’ time on Monday, September 18 – two days before the Dáil resumes.
The tribunal is investigating claims of an orchestrated smear campaign against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and with the knowledge of the current Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, as alleged by the former Head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor.
The tribunal released an opening statement in February in which it stated that, there were 15 phones which were of interest to the tribunal’s investigators but only four had been located at that point.
Further to this…
John Mooney, in yesterday’s Sunday Times, reported:
Garda Headquarters has so far been unable to account for what happened to certain phones, which the tribunal wants to have forensically examined to extract data, emails and internet browsing histories.
Charleton’s team has taken possession of at least two of the six phones once used by Callinan, who retired from his position amid controversy in 2014.
The tribunal team has yet to recover mobile phones used by O’Sullivan, who succeeded Callinan.
She used at least six mobile phones during the period under investigation. A smartphone she used while deputy commissioner in charge of operations, and which is of particular significance to the tribunal, is said to be lost.
Of 15 mobile phones the tribunal has sought, fewer than six have been located so far by gardai. Other pieces of IT hardware, including iPads used by O’Sullivan and laptop computers, have been surrendered.
In addition, Mr Mooney reported:
“The tribunal recently interviewed both civilian staff and gardai who worked at the garda press office at relevant times to ascertain if they had knowledge of any media strategy against McCabe. The witnesses have denied knowledge of any conspiracy. It is understood their evidence has been accepted by investigators working for Charleton.”