McCabe lawyers call for Garda Commissioner to stand aside

Lawyers have written to the Minister for Justice arguing Commissioner O'Sullivan's continued presence could undermine the tribunals work

Lawyers acting for garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe have reportedly demanded that the Garda Commissioner be removed from her post while the Disclosure Tribunal completes its work.

The Irish Examiner reports that they have written to the Minister for Justice insisting Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s continued presence would undermine the tribunal and calling for her to stand aside.

The tribunal was set up to examine claims that there was a smear campaign against Sergeant McCabe orchestrated by senior members of the force.

Superintendent David Taylor, the former head of the garda press office, has alleged that Commissioner O’Sullivan was aware of the campaign.

Ms O’Sullivan however has insisted she had no knowledge of the alleged campaign and refuted “in the strongest terms” claims that she contacted journalists to make them aware of false claims of sexual abuse against Sergeant McCabe.

The tribunal will also examine the circumstances surrounding the creation of a Tusla file carrying the false allegations of sex abuse against Sergeant McCabe.

In the letter, Sergeant McCabe’s lawyers set out the reasons they believe Ms O’Sullivan should stand aside while the investigation is ongoing.

The list includes their concern that she has full access to garda resources and that her presence could discourage serving garda members from giving evidence that could be perceived as damaging to her reputation.

They are also concerned that she had oversight of the setting up of a handpicked liaison group at Garda HQ to deal with tribunal related issues.

Last month the head of the Policing Authority, Josephine Feehily also said she was concerned about the commissioner’s ability to carry out her role while the tribunal is ongoing.

Commissioner O’Sullivan has continually insisted she is not guilty of anything adding that to stand aside would be taking the “easiest option.”

"I'm not taking that option because I am innocent and because An Garda Síochána, under my leadership, has been making significant progress,” she said last month.

Irish Examiner journalist Mick Clifford, who revealed the solicitors letter this morning, told Newstalk Breakfast it may have a real impact on proceedings.

“The reason, I would suggest, that we are actually having a tribunal as opposed to a private inquiry - the accelerator for that was when Sergeant McCabe issued a statement calling for it on the basis of his previous experience,” he said. “So, I suppose to that extent it will pile the pressure on the commissioner.”