Government had opened distance between itself and O’Sullivan

During the summer a senior Government TD made an appearance on a national radio show in the midst of another week of controversy surrounding An Garda Síochána.

Usually TDs or Senators are given some form of guidance from above on how to react when various topics are raised. Nóirín O’Sullivan, again at the centre of political debate, was bound to come up during the broadcast. The TD was told to hold the line and defend O’Sullivan, but not to “die in a ditch” for her.

The incident accurately summed up the attitude of the Government towards the now former Garda commissioner in recent months: they were not going to agitate for her removal and they would defend her, but they were also creating a bit of distance should she have to step aside, which she did to general surprise on Sunday.

Given the experience the Fine Gael-Labour government had when Martin Callinan, O’Sullivan’s predecessor, retired – when Enda Kenny faced accusations that he effectively sacked Callinan by sending a senior civil servant to his home – it was unlikely Ministers would attempt to push O’Sullivan from her post.

When asked if anything would be done about her position, Government sources shrugged that they would ideally like it if she was not commissioner any longer, but believed there was nothing they could do.


But distance was being created, even though the timing of the retirement announcement was a surprise. One Minister said that, in the wake of the internal Garda report into the fake breath tests controversy published last week, the discussion had moved on.