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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# tribunal incoming
Michael McDowell calls for the Garda Commissioner to step aside
McDowell, a former attorney general, stood as legal adviser to Maurice McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

pjimage Michael McDowell (l) and Nóirín O'Sullivan

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL Senator Michael McDowell has called for embattled Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to stand aside from her role until a tribunal investigating an alleged smear campaign against Maurice McCabe has completed its work.

In a statement delivered to the Seanad this morning regarding the ongoing Garda controversy, McDowell acknowledged that he is unable to deal in public with the controversy due to his own legal involvement with McCabe having advised the Garda Sergeant during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation into events in Cavan-Monaghan in 2007 and 2008.

He said, however, that “these duties do not prevent me from fulfilling my constitutional and statutory functions… in relation to the proposal to establish a tribunal of inquiry”.

“I believe it will be wrong for me to refrain from stating in this house that I believe the fairness and appropriateness of establishing any such inquiry while Commissioner O’Sullivan continues to exercise her authority and discharge her functions as Commissioner is very much an issue,” he said.

McDowell said that “as a former Tánaiste, Minister for Justice, and Attorney General I believe I am in a good position to form an opinion as to whether it is appropriate or inappropriate” for the Commissioner, “against whom the gravest allegations of misconduct have been made” to remain in her position for the duration of the tribunal.

“The relationship between the government and the Commissioner of an Garda Síochána must be based on confidence. Confidence in anyone’s language includes a solid belief that the person in question is truthful and reliable in every respect. Confidence cannot be said to exist if sufficient doubt exists in the mind of the government in respect of the gravest allegations to warrant the establishment of a tribunal of enquiry,” he said.

Moreover, it is totally inconceivable that officers including senior officers of a disciplined force should be asked in public to accuse the person in charge of them of grave misbehaviour in evidence, and furthermore to instruct counsel to cross examine that person as to her honesty, reliability and suitability for office.

“Accordingly, I wish to state in the strongest possible terms that there is no reason at all for the government to commit that the Garda Commissioner should remain in position, and she must step aside temporarily for the duration of the tribunal until it has reported, or permanently.”

“The determination that the Commissioner should remain in place during the tribunal is neither fair, nor appropriate nor defensible,” McDowell concluded.

Read: Maurice McCabe says he ‘probably wouldn’t do it again’

Read: Live: After a rough week for government, Bruton takes Leaders’ Questions

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