Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan
A local TD and member of a key Oireachtas committee credited with holding the Gardaí and other government agencies to account has said he was “surprised” by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s decision to step down.
Peter Burke, Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath said Ms O’Sullivan’s resignation was something he had not been expecting when news of her departure broke on Sunday evening.
Mr Burke, who sits on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), wouldn’t be drawn on whether he agreed with her decision to resign, instead acknowledging her 36 years of service with the force.
“I was surprised, yes,” he told the Leader, citing her regular recent appearances before PAC into a string of controversies within the Gardaí and financial irregularities at its training college in Templemore.
Mr Burke, who less than two months ago went on public record to express his “full confidence” in Ms O'Sullivan, stopped short of indicating what his feelings were as to the timing of Sunday's announcement.
“I think that that is her decision,” he said.
Mr Burke was likewise quick to defend the Government's handling of an issue that threatens to overshadow the resumption of the Dail next week.
The chartered accountant said the decision to set up an independent policing authority was one such example of underlining Fine Gael's long held commitment to law and order.
“I think Fine Gael's record is very clear.
“Number one was the setting up of an independent policing authority, number two has been the extension of powers given to whistleblowers and number three, the extension of powers to GSOC (Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission).”
Mr Burke referred to Ms O'Sullivan's statement in which she alluded to how an "unending cycle" of investigations and inquiries had made her job increasingly onerous.
“She has obviously reflected on her position during her annual leave regarding her future and she has made it clear that responding to requests to appear before the Public Accounts Committee, the Justice and Equality Committee, the Policing Authority, that has made it difficult to carry out her duties as commissioner,” he said.
The task now confronting the Policing Authority, he added was to identify Ms O'Sullivan's successor, a duty Mr Burke added should not be subject to political persuasion or interference.