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Labour and Sinn Féin call for Nóirín O'Sullivan to 'stand aside' until new whistleblower inquiry is complete

Brendan Howlin said that, in light of the establishment of a new inquiry, the Garda Commissioner’s current position is “untenable”.

54 Pension Bill_90500879 Brendan Howlin Source: Leah Farrell/

LABOUR LEADER BRENDAN Howlin has called for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to ‘stand aside’ in the wake of an inquiry into the treatment of Garda whistleblowers being announced.

Howlin, who this morning made statements under Dáil privilege concerning separate allegations facing O’Sullivan, was speaking in light of the establishment of an inquiry into the treatment of those whistleblowers.

That inquiry will be helmed by Judge Peter Charleton. The new inquiry was established in light of the publication this morning of a heavily-redacted report by Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill into the whistleblower allegations.

“The Garda Commissioner heads a policing service charged with protecting the security of the State, preventing crime and vindicating the human rights of each individual,” Howlin said this evening.

Yet at the same time, and while still discharging these onerous statutory responsibilities, Commissioner O’Sullivan now faces a statutory investigation.
In the course of this inquiry, the Commissioner’s mobile phones and her phone records for a two year period are to be examined, as are all Garda electronic and paper files, to see if she is implicated in this affair.
Nóirín O’Sullivan as Garda Commissioner is the custodian of the very records that Judge Charleton will be demanding to examine, in order to see if they disclose wrongdoing by the Commissioner.
I believe this places her in an untenable position.

Commission of Inquiry Nóirín O'Sullivan Source: Mark Stedman/

Howlin said that he believed it is necessary for O’Sullivan to “stand aside while the commission of investigation is under way”.

He also called for the O’Neill report to be published in full.

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“Only five paragraphs of his (Judge O’Neill’s) report have been published. It is difficult in that context for any public reassurance to be provided that all of the issues at play have been fully considered,” Howlin said.

I believe it is necessary for Deputies from all parties to be permitted to read the O’Neill report in full before agreeing to these terms of reference, to ensure that they encompass all of the allegations contained within the protected disclosures.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien echoed Howlin’s sentiments this evening.

“It is our understanding that Judge Charleton has been tasked with leading the commission of investigation into the whistleblower allegations that go to the heart of Garda management,” O’Brien said.

We are asking that Nóirín O’Sullivan step aside for the duration… as she has been specifically named in these allegations.
This is no reflection on Commissioner O’Sullivan or a comment on the validity of the allegations, but rather a statement on the need for there to be continued public confidence in the operation of An Garda Síochána.

Read: Guerin, Fennelly, O’Higgins and O’Neill: A quick guide to garda whistleblowing

Read: Nóirín O’Sullivan ‘made allegations of sexual crimes against Maurice McCabe to journalists’, Dáil hears

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