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The Policing Authority chair has a 'degree of confidence' in the Garda Commissioner

Josephine Feehily said the ongoing “saga” is “potentially corrosive” for garda morale.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE CHAIRPERSON OF the Policing Authority has said that she has a “degree of confidence” in the ability of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to carry out her duties for the duration of the Charleton Tribunal.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Josephine Feehily stressed that she has confidence in O’Sullivan’s ability to do her job now, but she questions whether this would be the case when the Tribunal was up and running.

Feehily said that it was vital that all voices get heard in the inquiry, and that it should move at a pace that should bring an end to a “saga” which is “potentially corrosive” to policing and to garda morale.

When asked if the Authority was concerned about the ability of senior management to fulfill their duties when the Tribunal gets underway, Feehily said: “Yes, of course we are”.

We asked the commissioner yesterday to assure us in that regard. She certainly gave us considerable assurance, but we will continue to ask that question.
On the topic of the confidence she had in O’Sullivan’s ability to fulfill their duties while the Tribunal is running, she said:
I would say we have a degree of confidence, but we are concerned. I’m not saying that that’s a deep concern at this point. The tribunal hasn’t begun.

Feehily added that they had intended to flag that concern, and raised it in a public forum yesterday.

When asked what would happen if the events of the Tribunal “increased these concerns”, the Policing Authority chairperson said that they would “wait and see”.

Protected disclosures

She also said that the authority had found some deficiencies in the policy of An Garda Síochana on the issue of protected disclosures, which is when a worker discloses action they believe to be wrongdoing in the area they work in.

“We shared those back with the gardaí,” she said. “They accepted some of our recommendations. Some took a little bit of encouragement for them to accept and others have not been accepted just yet.”

Issues of contention between the Policing Authority and the gardaí in terms of protected disclosures came in the form of the motivation of protected disclosures and who was responsible for handling protected disclosures.

She said that the Policing Authority was keen to understand how An Garda Síochana is creating “an environment for speaking out”.

Brendan Howlin

Labour party leader Brendan Howlin gave his reaction to Feehily’s comments, saying that he welcomed her making a public statement on the matter.

“To hear the view of the chair of the [Policing] Authority on this critical matter is important,” he said.

Howlin said that it was a priority that elected representatives ensure that An Garda Síochana remains “effectively managed to the best of its ability”.

The Labour leader added that for the gardaí to be effectively modernised and run to the best standard, then O’Sullivan should step aside “without prejudice” while “retaining her good name” for the duration of the Charleton Tribunal.

Speaking yesterday at the public meeting of 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, O’Sullivan said that she was frustrated that “inaccuracies” in the public domain have not been openly corrected by management.

“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.

Read: Asked about controversies, Commissioner says there are ‘inaccuracies we cannot correct at the moment’

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

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Sean Murray

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