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Sam Boal/
policing authority

Asked about controversies, Commissioner says there are 'inaccuracies we cannot correct at the moment'

Nóirín O’Sullivan said she was concerned about the impact of recent issues on public confidence in policing.

GARDA COMMISSIONER NÓIRÍN O’Sullivan has spoken of frustration within An Garda Síochána that “inaccuracies” in the public domain have not been openly corrected by management.

She was speaking at the latest public meeting with the Policing Authority – the first public questioning for O’Sullivan and her senior team since a tribunal was called into an alleged smearing campaign against garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Chairperson Josephine Feehily kicked off the meeting by informing those watching proceedings that the authority was not in a position to discuss the specifics of the tribunal, though she acknowledged there were questions the public would like to see asked – and that members would like to be able to ask.

The Commissioner and her management colleagues were, however, asked about whether they were concerned about the impact recent controversies would have on public confidence in the force and on garda morale.

“Of course I am,” O’Sullivan told the meeting. She acknowledged that there were “very significant issues that have arisen” and welcomed the fact that these issues would be dealt with in a public forum.

“A lot of inaccurate information goes into the public domain. We have to address whether we always balance it,” O’Sullivan said. She added that some of this information was “very personal – not just to me”.

There’s lots of frustration on behalf of some of our members – a lot of our members – in terms of the inaccuracies that are portrayed about the…Unfortunately, and I think [Assistant Commissioner] Eugene [Corcoran] touched off it earlier, unfortunately some of those inaccuracies we cannot correct at the moment and there needs to be an understanding of that from our own members.

Corcoran had earlier commented:

Much of the commentary that has taken place to date has taken place in an environment where we’re totally restricted in how we respond. To that extent the establishment of the tribunal will improve the situation. Everybody will be able to see and hear what the responses will be in due course.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll had also spoken of a frustration in relation to recent issues, commenting that “there is another view of events that has not been aired yet”.

“When talking to staff, I’m assuring them this will be a public platform where all information will come out and in an appropriate manner.”

‘Group think’

The Commissioner, O’Driscoll and Corcoran were later warned by authority member Maureen Lynott to be careful “not to group think”.

“The fact is you have a large complicated force and there are issues of significant concern and I think the message you need to be very aware of the message that sends to your garda members,” she told them.

They may well know all’s not well in the garden – I don’t know what I don’t know where – but they will know for sure where things aren’t well in the garden. Saying that, your side of the story, it just it struck me as a little too certain.

In response, O’Sullivan said her earlier comments had not been in relation to the tribunal, rather she had been answering a “question about communications in the media”.

“I was saying that one of the aspects of frustrations of our people was the inaccuracy of some of the stories that are in the public domain.”

Read: Tusla boss admits confidence in system ‘may well have been undermined’>

Read: Abuse claim against McCabe was not ‘copy/paste’ error – report>

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