Tánaiste pledges support for Garda Commissioner

Frances Fitzgerald has insisted there is "no objective evidence" the commissioner has done anything wrong

Tánaiste pledges support for Garda Commissioner

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in Government Buildings | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice has insisted she has seen no evidence to suggest that the Garda Commissioner has done anything wrong.

Pressure has been mounting on Minister Frances Fitzgerald to step in and remove Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan from her position.

Opposition parties have been highly critical of Minister Fitzgerald over her response to the ongoing controversies engulfing the force – and for her continued support of the commissioner.

Sinn Féin has confirmed it will consider tabling a motion of no confidence if she refuses to take action and sack the commissioner – while Fianna Fáil and Labour have both suggested her position is becoming untenable.

However, speaking today, the Tánaiste again expressed her confidence in the garda chief.

“I have no objective evidence that the Garda Commissioner has done anything wrong,” she said.

“While of course the opposition are going to ramp up the pressure, and use the commissioner to ramp up the pressure, indeed, on me - I would say that politics and political expediency are not going to sort out the very deep seated issues in relation to An Garda Síochána.”

She said many of the issues facing the force - including the financial issues at Templemore and the garda phone-tapping revelations – predate the commissioner’s time in office.

She insisted the commissioner remains a reforming influence on the gardaí adding that she would await the findings of the Public Accounts Committee, the Policing Authority and the Charleton Tribunal – all of which are examining the issues that have arisen in recent times before taking further action.

“I want to reassure the public,” she said. “There are timelines in relation to these issues.”

“Yes there have been quite a number of issues in relation to policing that have emerged in recent times but I would say again, when you shine a light, you see these issues that have been kept in the dark previously.”

“But let’s not put political expediency ahead of policing in this country.”

Fresh details emerged over the weekend appearing to back up claims the commissioner gave misleading information to the Oireachtas during her last appearance before the Public Accounts Committee.

She told the committee she became aware of financial irregularities during a “brief meeting” in July 2015.

The garda human resources director, John Barrett, openly contradicted her evidence - insisting he had kept detailed minutes of the meeting which was “over two hours" long.

The minutes of the meeting – which were handed to the committee last Wednesday – were published by the Daily Mail over the weekend and appear to confirm Garda Barrett’s timeline.