Back in 2013, the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s views on whistleblowing became publicly known when two members of the Gardai brought to the attention of members of Dáil Éireann that senior Gardaí had inappropriately wiped penalty points from driving licences. The whistleblowers, Maurice McCabe and John Wilson, made their allegations to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee. When Martin Callinan appeared before that Public Accounts Committee he described the actions of the men as “disgusting”. Shortly after that, the shit really hit the fan.
Following Callinan’s comments a report by the Independent Garda Inspectorate described a consistent and widespread pattern of breaches of policy by those administering the system. In March 2014, Martin Callinan announced his retirement, earlier than had been expected but the press speculated that he’d been pushed by Enda Kenny. To add to the suspicions that things were not as we were told, around the same time the early retirement of Chief Superintendent Kevin Donohoe, head of Special Branch (SDU), was also made known. Weeks later, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter announced his resignation. It seemed that the dominos were falling.
Callinan’s resignation coincided with the outbreak of two other scandals; allegations that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) was under surveillance by an unknown group which had used “government-level technology” following a counter-surveillance operation undertaken by a British private security firm, and the emergence that phone calls in Garda stations throughout the country had been recorded on a mass scale for over 30 years before the practice was brought to an end. The government in April 2014 established a commission of investigation into Callinan’s resignation and these other issues. It is commonly called the Fennelly Commission after its sole member, Nial Fennelly, a retired justice of the Supreme Court. In September 2015,he released his report relating to Callinan’s retirement.
Deputy Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan replaced Callinan as the Garda Commissioner then in 2014 but yesterday she too, ahem, resigned. I covered the McCabe affair last February here
In it I speculated that that Catherine Zappone would be first to lose her job but that didn’t happen. Instead the Minister for Justice was, ahem, moved sideways and I speculated that Commissioner O’Sullivan wouldn’t be long for her job either and that has come true now as predicted. The current Garda controversy regarding claimed breath tests that never happened was the topic of this article of mine last March.
Then out of the blue last week another half-million tests that never happened were also discovered. This, we are expected to believe, was the final straw for the honest Commissioner O’Sullivan so she has now resigned. I doubt that. The choreography is just too perfect. Former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will retire with a lump sum of close to €300,000 and a pension of €90,000 a year – despite leaving the post halfway through her tenure, according to the Indo today.
It is my belief, that like Callinan before her, O’Sullivan got the push. I reckon it was a simple case of someone sitting down with the woman and gently explaining to her the options. “Fuck off now Nóirín with three-hundred-grand, no questions asked, and a pension for life of €7,500 a month. If you won’t do that you could be drop-kicked out the door with fuck-all to show for it all.” With money missing at the Garda Training College, all of those faked breath tests, the whistle-blowers still out there and force morale at an all time low, the woman had her hands full. But in her resignation speech she cited spending her time with inquiries into the force leaving no time to tackle the real problems. That speech sounds ‘prepared,’ to me and I mean prepared by a political handler.
One giveaway was the statement from Leo Varadkar. In it he says, “As she said in her statement, her decision to retire is made in the best interests of An Garda Siochana and ensuring that it can focus on the extensive programme of reform that is now underway.” The problem with that is that she didn’t say anything of the kind. Did some political handler give little Leo the wrong resignation statement? Could this be the first cock-up from his new “Communication’s Unit?” One way or another though, the Lords & Masters have closed ranks yet again, a victim has been thrown to the wolves to placate our need for blood and the Gardai meanwhile are left in the shit again.
Some political opportunists have already been on the radio to say that the public’s confidence in the force is at an all-time low. I say that it isn’t so. It is probably true that the public’s confidence in politicians is at an all-time low but we know that the average Garda is a decent skin doing a hard job, often against impossible odds, they are not particularly well-paid or resourced and they get no thanks for their efforts. Their own senior ranks do not look out for them and the politicians make their lives harder all of the time.
From midnight tonight, Deputy Commissioner, Donall O Cualáin, will step in as Acting Commissioner until the policing authority finds another patsy for the political elites. It was Alan Shatter who promoted Donall to Deputy Commissioner only four years ago. The shenanigans at the highest levels since then have been nothing short of disgraceful. Shatter’s gone, Callinan’s gone and now Nóirín’s gone too. Frances Fitzgerald was sidelined.
Not a single rank and file Garda had anything to do with any of that.