Independent Deputy, Mick Wallace, told the Dáil last Friday (December 16 ) that a campaign was waged against former Athlone-based Garda whistleblower, Keith Harrison, to "destroy his reputation" and discredit the accusations he levelled at members of the force.
Garda Harrison alleged in 2014 that Garda top brass intentionally targeted him after he had arrested a member of the Athlone drugs unit for drink driving. Harrison claims this campaign was taken against him in the hope he would not pursue the issue any further, while the Garda in question was offered protection by management.
While questioning the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Wallace asked whether both parties retained full confidence in Garda Commissioner, Noirin O'Sullivan.
Minister Fitzgerald gave the commissioner her backing and reminded the house that no finding of wrongdoing of any kind has been made against Ms O'Sullivan. "In those circumstances, she is entitled to our full confidence and support," she said.
Deputy Wallace asked the Minister whether she would consider suspending the commissioner if an investigation is established. "At this stage, we know of 10 protected disclosures, and if a quarter of what they allege is true, then we have a serious problem," he said.
"The Minister has the power to remove the Commissioner while the inquiry is ongoing. There will be information required and the Commissioner has control over much of it. The Minister spoke about doing things properly and fairly. In the interest of fairness, I do not see how the Minister could possibly leave the Commissioner in place if she is the subject of an inquiry in any form," he added.
Deputy Fitzgerald said she is not in a position to comment if any further inquiries might prove necessary. "I have no reason to think that everyone involved will not co-operate fully," she said. "It would be a bizarre proposition to suggest that where no wrongdoing of any kind has been established against someone, they should be suspended from office. Clearly that is not natural justice."