Negative commentary impacting on garda morale - Commissioner

Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has appeared before the Policing Authority for the first time since the public inquiry into the Maurice McCabe affair was announced

The Garda Commissioner has said morale within the force is being impacted upon by repeated scandals and negative public commentary.

Addressing the Policing Authority today, Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan welcomed the fact that the Charleton Inquiry into allegations about whistleblower Maurice McCabe will be held in public.

The commissioner has faced repeated calls to step down from her position while the inquiry - which will look to examine whether Sergeant McCabe was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by senior garda management - is taking place.

She has insisted she has no knowledge of the alleged campaign and refuted “in the strongest terms” allegations that she phoned journalists to make them aware of false claims of sexual abuse made against Sergeant McCabe.

She said it is going to take visible leadership to restore confidence in An Garda Síochána in the face of the repeated scandals - adding that it is critical that confidence is expressed in the force.

“In terms of our own personnel, there is no doubt about it, if somebody wakes up every day and they are reading negativity in the newspapers about an organisation to which they are absolutely committed - and it is not just the newspapers, it is public commentary - of course it has an impact,” she said.

“But I think [...] it is going to take some time to see what the impact on confidence is.

“I think we have to just work really hard in making sure that we reassure people that the day job is continuing to be done and that we are there for people at their times of need.”

Tusla

Meanwhile the Minster for Children and Youth Affairs is to meet with the board of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency tomorrow.

The agency was thrust to the centre of the McCabe scandal when it emerged it had mistakenly created a file containing the false allegations about Sergeant McCabe as a result of a “clerical error.”

Tusla CEO, Fred McBride told an Oireachtas committee yesterday that there was no evidence child protection workers acted with “malice or intent” in the affair.

Mr McBride confirmed the agency began formally engaging with the public tribunal on Tuesday.

He admitted that mistakes were made and confirmed the agency was looking forward to addressing the inquiry.

Today, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said she has “deep concerns” regarding how events unfolded and confirmed she will outline her position to the board on how the mistakes at Tusla should be investigated.

“I am meeting with the board of Tusla tomorrow in order to look at some of these issues as well as to continue the conversation about the establishment of a statutory investigation that is being conducted by HIQA (the Health Information and Quality Authority),” she said.

“It is a very significant piece of work and I think it is an appropriate way to respond.”

The agency is facing three separate investigations into the controversy.