O'Sullivan: Callinan's use of 'disgusting' was 'unfortunate'

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan speaking to reporters in Templemore. Picture: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan has described as "unfortunate" the use of the word "disgusting" by her former boss Martin Callinan in relation to whistleblowers Sergeant Maurice McCabe and retired garda John Wilson.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony at the garda training college in Templemore this morning, Interim Commissioner O'Sullivan said the remark - made during former commissioner Callinan's submissions to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) - was his own personal opinion, to which he was entitled.

At the Oireachtas committee last January, Mr Callinan said the disclosure of data from the Garda Pulse system by the whistleblowers to people outside the force was “disgusting”.

He later said the word was used in reference to "the manner in which personal and sensitive data was inappropriately appearing in the public domain", but came under political pressure to withdraw the remark in the week prior to his resignation.

Interim Commissioner O'Sullivan also said the force has to be more accepting of internal dissent.

"In any large and complex organisation such as An Garda Síochána there are people out there every day who know what the issues are on the ground," she said.

"I feel very strongly that dissent should not be seen as disloyalty.

"If somebody has something to say, and if somebody wants to bring something to our attention - they may not always be right but sometimes what they see and what they identify can act as a catalyst for change and for continuous improvement."

In a letter to gardaí the acting commissioner also said thatrecent issues have created significant challenges for the force, adding that where mistakes have been made appropriate action will have to be taken to ensure they don't happen again.

Today's graduation ceremony was for 58 men and 21 women - of nationalities including Irish, Ukranian, Chinese, Italian, Polish and Romanian - who have completed the Garda Reserve training programme at the Garda College in Templemore.

There are currently almost 1,300 garda reserves.

A spokesperson for the Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the minister was unable to attend today's graduation ceremony because of a backlog of work.

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