Commission to investigate claims of garda 'smear campaign'

Cabinet has agreed to an inquiry following a report by retired High Court judge

Commission to investigate claims of garda 'smear campaign'

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The Cabinet has agreed there should be a full Commission of Investigation into claims of a smear campaign against two garda whistleblowers.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald confirmed it will be led by Supreme Court Judge Peter Charlton.

She has refused to say if Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan or any other senior officer will be asked to step aside while the inquiry takes place.

The recommendation of a full Commission of Investigation comes following a report from retired Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill into protected disclosures concerning the force.

The disclosures claimed that whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe was the victim of a smear campaign following his attempts to bring information regarding alleged penalty points malpractice within the force into the public domain.

It has previously been reported that Justice O'Neill heard 'contradictory' claims from various Garda members about the extent of any such smear campaign.

An Garda Síochána say it will "co-operate fully" with the commission.

In a statement, the force says: "An Garda Síochána welcomes and will co-operate fully with the Commission of Investigation chaired by Mr Justice Peter Charlton so that the truth and facts are established."

Frances Fitzgerald claims she is restricted on what she can say about the report as a result of legislation regarding whistleblowers.

"The judge has recommended that this is the way forward," she explained. "I will be accepting his recommendations in full, and his terms of reference in full.

"I will be publishing the parts of the report that I am in a position to publish tomorrow," she added.