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RTÉ has been dragged into the Garda whistleblower mire

A new commission of investigation into the saga is to probe whether or not the Garda Commissioner “orchestrated” broadcasts on RTÉ in May 2016.

File Photo It has been confirmed that RTE will outsource all of its young people'sÊprogramming to the independent sector. Source: RollingNews.ie

IRELAND’S STATE BROADCASTER has been namechecked in the just-published (though heavily-redacted) O’Neill report into Garda whistleblowing.

On foot of Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill’s report regarding allegations that a smear campaign had been carried out against whistleblower Maurice McCabe, a further commission of investigation has been established to investigate the circumstances surrounding two protected disclosures made by McCabe and one other whistleblower.

That new commission is to be chaired by Justice Peter Charleton.

O’Neill’s report was so heavily redacted upon publication that in fact only the terms of reference of the new commission of investigation have been published.

Those terms of reference, which can be viewed here, include allegations that the former head of the Garda Press Office David Taylor was directed to focus journalists’ attention on allegations of criminal misconduct made against McCabe, and a licence to investigate any knowledge that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and O’Sullivan may have had regarding that matter.

One of the more interesting of the nine terms of reference however is a mandate to “investigate whether Commissioner O’Sullivan, using briefing material prepared in Garda Headquarters, planned and orchestrated broadcasts on RTÉ on 9 May 2016, purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O’Higgins Commission Report, in which Sgt McCabe was branded a liar and irresponsible”.

Commission of Inquiry Nóirín O'Sullivan Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

This alludes to, among other broadcasts on that date, an edition of RTÉ’s Morning Ireland broadcast in which alleged details of the then as-yet-unreleased O’Higgins Report (which investigated goings on in the Cavan / Monaghan Division of the gardaí in and around 2008) were summarised for listeners.

That broadcast can be listened to here (direct link here) - the relevant section, which runs for 15 minutes, can be heard from 1 hour 23 minutes into the recording.

The publication of the O’Higgins Report served chiefly to ramp up the pressure on Nóirín O’Sullivan, who has been fire-fighting the ongoing whistleblower saga since first taking over from Callinan on an initially interim basis in March 2014.

Commission of Inquiry Maurice McCabe Source: Laura Hutton/Rollingnews.ie

Earlier today, O’Sullivan strongly refuted allegations made against her by Labour leader Brendan Howlin under Dáil privilege in Leinster House this morning.

Howlin, together with Sinn Féin, earlier this evening called for O’Sullivan to stand aside from her role while the Charleton inquiry is carried out.

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