08 February 2017

Statement by Brendan Howlin, T.D., Leader of the Labour Party on the announcement this afternoon of the establishment of a Commission of Investigation under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Peter Charleton.

“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.

“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 2 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 herself.

“I believe this places her in an untenable position.

“While I understand the sensitive nature of the work carried out by Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill, aside from his proposed terms of reference for a commission of investigation, only five paragraphs of his 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.

“It would be useful 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. That said, the terms of reference which have now been published appear comprehensive at first reading.

“The matters brought to my attention this morning, from a source that I believe, required me to take action.

“I have long experience pursuing truth, particularly in the justice sector. My experience in helping whistleblowers in this sector dates back as far as the establishment of the Morris Tribunal, and I do not lightly raise issues of the significance that I raised today.

“I also crafted the whistleblowing legislation now in place, and understand that it can be hard for whistleblowers to come forward, especially when powerful institutions are involved.

“The truth of all of these matters will be determined by the commission of investigation to be established. In the interim, all members of the Oireachtas, both Government and Opposition, have responsibility to ensure that the integrity of an Garda Síochána is protected.

“As I have repeatedly said today, it is my view that the reputation of the Gardaí would best be protected by Commissioner O’Sullivan standing aside while the commission carries out its’ work.”

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