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'I am innocent': Nóirín O'Sullivan says she won't step aside

The commissioner says her position remains the same as it did before this weekend.
Feb 13th 2017, 12:14 PM 28,701 214

Commission of Inquiry

GARDA COMMISSIONER NÓIRÍN O’Sullivan has released a statement saying her position “remains unchanged”.

Following a raft of allegations and calls for her to step aside while a commission of investigation into the garda whistleblower controversy gets underway, the commissioner has said she will not vacate her position.

In an unexpected move last week, Labour TD Brendan Howlin made use of his Dáil privilege to make serious allegations about how the Garda Commissioner treated Maurice McCabe.

Based on Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill’s report, which centres on allegations that a smear campaign against whistleblower Maurice McCabe was initiated by senior gardaí, a commission of investigation was approved by Cabinet last week.

McCabe had himself previously made allegations that senior gardaí had tried to tarnish his reputation.

In a statement today, Commissioner O’Sullivan refuted the allegations against her and said in strong terms that she would not be stepping down.

Nothing has emerged in the last three weeks which in any way changes that situation. A campaign of false accusations, repeated and multiplied, do not make me guilty of anything.
I have made it clear that I was not part of any campaign to spread rumours about Sergeant McCabe and didn’t know it was happening at the time it was happening. I have repeatedly refuted that claim and do so again.
The easiest option for me would be to step aside until the Commission finishes its work.
I’m not taking that option because I am innocent and because An Garda Síochána, under my leadership, has been making significant progress, with the help of our people, the Government, the Policing Authority and Garda Inspectorate, in becoming a beacon of twenty-first century policing.

‘Assess where she stands’

Earlier today, Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin took to the airwaves on Cork’s 96FM and said “the commissioner herself should assess where she stands”.

This is a slight deviation from the party’s stance over the weekend, when it refused to call for her to step aside.

It’s understood that Martin will be meeting with garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe today, with McCabe expected to release a statement later today.

Two versions of the same event 

A full-scale political storm is also brewing between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over reports about a Tusla file which had false information about Maurice McCabe in it due to an “administrative error”.

Both Jim O’Callaghan and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald have completely separate accounts of their conversation which took place on Wednesday evening.

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O’Callaghan claims he raised the Tusla file regarding Maurice McCabe a number of times during their conversation, while Fitzgerald definitively stated that she first heard the details of the file when she saw the RTÉ Prime Time programme of Thursday night.

O’Callaghan said he raised the issue of the Tusla file regarding Maurice McCabe a number of times during his conversation with Fitzgerald.

McCabe has rejected an apology from the HSE in relation to the file which contained false allegations stating that the organisation’s apology to his family had false information contained in it.

While Fine Gael are battling it out with Fianna Fáil (who they have a confidence and supply agreement with) they are also facing down a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in the government.

Fianna Fáil are set to abstain from the vote.

Meanwhile, the Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, who has been the central focus of the Tusla false allegation affair over the weekend, is returning from the United States today.

Due to the seriousness of the situation, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has also been summoned home to Ireland from Colombia, and all absentee requests from party members have been suspended.

Read: Sinn Féin to publish motion of no confidence in government today>

Read: Here’s what the main players are saying about the Maurice McCabe scandal>

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Christina Finn

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