News

Garda commissioner quits over 'unending cycle' of inquiries

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

GARDA Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is to retire blaming an “unending cycle” of investigations.

Ms O’Sullivan said she had been trying to rectify the failures and mistakes of the past.

The commissioner faced opposition calls to step aside amid queries over how she dealt with officers inflating the number of breath tests carried out and police whistle-
blowers.

It was reported on Sunday that Ms O’Sullivan was in line for a €300,000 payout and €100,000 annual pension if she stayed in post until the end of November.

By serving three years in post, it was reported, she would qualify for a lump sum of 150 per cent of her final salary, worth up to €300,000.

Ms O’Sullivan was appointed to the commissioner’s post in November 2014.

She said on Sunday that she was retiring after 36 years of privileged, enjoyable and proud service.

“The support for me to continue in the role is evident,” she said.

“However, I devoted much of my summer break to considering if continuing would be the right thing to do. 

“It has become clear, over the last year, that the core of my job is now about responding to an unending cycle of requests, questions, instructions and public hearings involving various agencies including the Public Accounts Committee, the Justice and Equality Committee, the Policing Authority, and various other inquiries, and dealing with inaccurate commentary surrounding all of these
matters.

“They are all part of a new and necessary system of public accountability. 

“But when a commissioner is trying, as I’ve been trying, to implement the deep cultural and structural reform that is necessary to modernise and reform an organisation of 16,000 people and rectify the failures and mistakes of the past, the difficulty is that the vast majority of her time goes, not to implementing the necessary reforms and meeting the obvious policing and security challenges, but to dealing with this unending cycle.”

A damning report on the scale of fake breath test reports by gardaí found 1,458,221 bogus drink and drug-driving checks from 2009 to 2016, prompting calls for the commissioner to be sacked.

It is not the first time Garda records have been found to be worthless.

The Central Statistics Office previously raised concerns about crime data and said almost a fifth of all crime reported is still not recorded on the Garda’s systems.

In June this year Garda IT specialists admitted scores more people have been killed in Ireland than official Garda figures have claimed over the past decade and a half.

The breath test scandal, on the back of a catalogue of controversies to have dogged the force, not least the treatment of whistle-blowers, prompted the government to promise a “Patten”-style commission to review management, training, recruitment, culture and oversight of the Garda.

A culture of withholding information to avoid external scrutiny of very significant issues at Templemore training college in Co Tipperary was criticised by Irish parliamentarians on the Public Accounts Committee.

Financial irregularities had prompted public concern.

The commissioner was criticised after she said telling relevant authorities was delayed in 2015 and 2016 pending the gathering of information.

A public inquiry is probing claims Garda top brass orchestrated a smear campaign, including false sex abuse allegations, against a high-profile whistleblower who exposed wrongdoing in the service.

Ms O’Sullivan was tasked with overseeing the modernisation of the force after the retirement of previous commissioner Martin Callinan in 2014 over the whistleblowers’ controversy.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

News