Garda Commissioner Noírín O'Sullivan under pressure over Sgt Maurice McCabe views

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Image copyright RTE
Image caption Garda Commissioner Noírín O'Sullivan has said she has never have regarded whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe as malicious

The Irish police commissioner, Noírín O'Sullivan, is coming under pressure over her views towards a whistleblower.

The Garda commissioner has been asked to explain apparent contradictions between her public support for Sgt Maurice McCabe and reports that her legal team were under instructions to "attack" his character and motivation.

Sgt McCabe had claimed that senior police officers had inappropriately wiped the penalty points from the driving licences of often well-connected offenders.

He also complained about flaws and failures in criminal investigations in the Cavan-Monaghan division.

A 349-page report published last week by former High Court judge Kevin O'Higgins described Sgt McCabe as a "dedicated and committed" member of the force.

It said he acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns about Garda behaviour in the Cavan-Monaghan division and in Bailieboro Garda station in particular.

While some of his complaints were upheld in the O'Higgins report, others were said to be overstated or exaggerated and some were unfounded.

'Never viewed as malicious'

In her second statement on the report in a number of days Commissioner O'Sullivan said: "I want to make it clear that that I do not, and never have regarded Sgt McCabe as malicious."

But last week, the Irish Examiner newspaper said it had obtained documents relating to the O'Higgins' commission's work in which the barrister for senior Garda officers, including Ms O'Sullivan, agreed with the commission that their line of enquiry would be to attack Sgt McCabe's motivation and character.

Commissioner O'Sullivan has repeated in her second statement that she cannot by law discuss the proceedings before the commission, but this has been rejected by opposition politicians who say the law refers to evidence and not statements made by lawyers.

Sinn Féin and the Labour party have called on her to clarify her position on the apparent contradiction.

While the O'Higgins report was largely supportive of Sgt McCabe, it also noted that his allegations of corruption against the previous Garda commissioner, Martin Callinan, were "hurtful" and rejected them.

The report also found that the former justice minister, Alan Shatter, had handled the sergeant's complaints in an "appropriate manner" and also, effectively, cleared him of any wrong-doing.

With Ms O'Sullivan's statements likely to be raised in the Dail the Housing minister, Simon Coveney, has said people should take the Garda commissioner at her word when she said she had never regarded Sgt McCabe as malicious.

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