Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan has denied accusing a whistle-blower in her ranks of being malicious.
The police chief broke her silence amid deepening political pressure over allegations that her lawyers launched an attack on Sergeant Maurice McCabe during private hearings in the O’Higgins Commission.
“Like every member of An Garda Siochana, Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s contribution is valued and the service has changed for the better in response to the issues about which he complained,” she said.
“I want to make it clear that I do not – and have never, regarded Sergeant McCabe as malicious.”
The Commissioner issued the statement after demands for her to respond the claims in a report on unpublished documents from the inquiry by The Irish Examiner.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and other opposition TDs called for her to answer, as well as Labour leader and former tanaiste Joan Burton who said there was no law stopping her from explaining the allegations.
The Commissioner insisted she had been advised not to disclose what was said in the inquiry.
“I have consistently and without exception, within An Garda Siochana and in public, stated clearly that dissent is not disloyalty, that we must listen to our people at every level with respect and with trust, and that we stand to gain, rather than lose, when members bring to our attention practices they believe to be unacceptable,” she said.
The Commissioner added: “Any member of An Garda Siochana who raises issues will be fully supported. Each and every one of them must know they have the right and responsibility to raise their concerns and be confident that they will be listened to and addressed.
“They won’t always be right and we in management won’t always be right either.
“But we are on a journey towards a markedly better policing service and we will learn from every mistake we make.”
Sgt McCabe’s reports on bad policing, negligence and wrongdoing among officers in Bailieboro and the Cavan-Monaghan district were examined by the O’Higgins Commission.
The vast majority of them were proven with the worst case involving the murder of Sylvia Roche Kelly. She was murdered by Jerry McGrath in late 2007 while he was out on bail for a savage assault on a taxi driver and after being caught attempting to abduct a five-year-old girl from a house.
Whole commission chair, retired judge Kevin O’Higgins, said while some of the information in some reports made by Sgt McCabe were exaggerated he also found him to be credible, truthful, a man of integrity and “understandably” living in fear that colleagues were attempting to blame him for the negligence of others.
The Commissioner said she accepts the report in full.
And she apologised to people who were faced with mistakes, wrongdoing and attempted cover-ups by gardai.
“Our immediate concern, arising out of the O’Higgins Commission, must be with victims who believe – with justification, they were not dealt with properly by An Garda Siochana. We are sorry the victims did not get the service they were entitled to, and we will seek to work with them,” the Commissioner said.