"Any issues around gardaí have been treated with political expediency" - Mick Clifford

The Irish Examiner Correspondent says the Policing Authority statement was "excoriating"

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Yesterday's statement from the Policing Authority on the controversy surrounding the O'Higgins Commission was 'excoriating', according to Mick Clifford.

The authority said they have "serious concern" over suggestions in the commision's report of Garda performance failures.

Following a meeting with Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, the authority said they will hold two meetings in public next month for more detailed discussion on the issues.

The authority also expressed a "deep unease" at Garda organisation and management culture, including the environment for speaking out.

It added there is a need for "an urgent response" by An Garda Síochána to the findings and recommendations of the O'Higgins Commission.

Yesterday's meeting followed a fresh statement from Nóirín O'Sullivan earlier this week, stating her lawyers were not instructed to accuse garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe of malice.

Speaking to Jonathan Healy on Newstalk Lunchtime this afternoon, Special Correspondent with the Irish Examiner Mick Clifford said he was surprised by the authority's critical comments.

"I was at their first public meeting around a month ago," he explained. "It was a very tame affair - I got the impression that the members of the Authority... to be honest with you I didn't think they were that clued in. They were doing a small bit of gentle probing and that was it.

"Obviously I was wrong. That was merely testing the waters for all of them, and they got stuck in behind closed doors. They had a two hour scheduled meeting yesterday - it went on for four hours. The statement that came out for such a body, in its infancy, was excoriating".

Mick, who has been widely praised for his coverage of the whistleblowing controversy and its fallout, argued 'there is no question' that politicians have been too soft in terms of holding gardaí to account. He said that can be seen in Garda scandals in the 70s, 80s and 90s, such as the Kerry babies case.

"Any issues around the gardaí have been treated with political expediency by governments of all hue, going all the way back, and that has ill-served the force," he suggested. "If there is any kind of a cock-up, there is a cover-up of some form or another".