Ceann Comhairle: Attempts to remove Garda Commissioner 'one step short of mob rule'

The Dail's ceann comhairle has hit out at attempts to remove garda commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan without "evidence", saying Ireland is at risk of "group think" which is "one step short of mob rule", writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghaíl made the comment about his "brave" close friend after the latest controversy to engulf the force.

Speaking to presenter Shane Beatty on the TD's local radio station Kildare FM, Mr Ó Fearghaíl strongly defended Ms O'Sullivan, saying she is a "very brave and courageous" person who is entitled to her good name.

He said TDs and senators "need to be very careful" about their use of Oireachtas privilege to make comments "without evidence" in relation to the Commissioner, whose husband is a former school friend of Mr Ó Fearghaíl.

And, in a move that is likely to spark criticism he has breached the strict neutrality of the Ceann Comhairle position, he added that in his personal opinion much of the clamour for Ms O'Sullivan's removal has been "group think" that is effectively "mob rule".

"We need to be careful to be fair, there has been an element in the country at large of group think. And group think is one step short of mob rule.

"I do know the Garda Commissioner, people in Kildare will know that her husband was in school with me and that we're good friends.

"My personal experience of her is that she's a very fine member of the force, that she's very brave and courageous. I would be very surprised if there was any evidence to suggest Noirin O'Sullivan had done anything untoward as garda commissioner," he said.

The controversial comments come as Ms O'Sullivan is continuing to ignore opposition party calls for her to resign amid a flurry of Garda scandals to hit the force under her watch.

They include, but are not limited to, almost one million phantom drink driving tests, 14,700 wrongful traffic convictions, Garda Training College financial issues, an alleged smear campaign against whistle-blower Maurice McCabe, the penalty points saga, alleged phone tapping spanning back decades, and other whistle-blower controversies.


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