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O'Sullivan was focused on changing garda culture, says witness

Thursday, 8th February, 2018 4:11pm

O'Sullivan was focused on changing garda culture, says witness

Noirin OSullivan.jpg

Gerard Cunningham

A civilian witness has told the Charleton tribunal that former garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan was more focused on changing the culture of the organisation than her predecessor.
The tribunal, in its current module, is examining whether unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by Ms O'Sullivan to discredit whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O'Higgins Commission of Investigation.
The commission, which sat in private in 2015, investigated complaints made by Sgt McCabe about certain policing matters and about serious allegations against senior officers including then Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan.
Cyril Dunne, the former civilian chief administrative officer with An Garda Siochana, was today cross examined by John Rogers SC on behalf of John Barrett, a garda human resources executive.
Mr Dunne denies saying to Mr Barrett in May 2015 "we are going after him [Sgt McCabe] at the commission".
Mr Dunne told Mr Rogers he was concerned when he saw Mr Barrett's statement, as it seemed to suggest he had a "directing role" in relation to the garda legal strategy at the commission.
In his statement to the tribunal, Mr Dunne said he had a working relationship with former commissioner Martin Callinan, but it was not close and they did not have a relationship outside work. He said he had a closer working relationship with Ms O'Sullivan, "driven by the interest both of us had in change".
"Her focus on what she saw as being important was not so much operational policing but on the culture of the organisation," Mr Dunne said. He said the two commissioners had different personal styles, and he had much more engagement with Ms O'Sullivan.
Mr Dunne, who held a position equivalent to that of a deputy commissioner, said that when he began work with An Garda Siochana he initially had a peer-to-peer relationship with Ms O'Sullivan as deputy commissioner, which he never had with Commissioner Callinan.
Mr Dunne, who attended a meeting with Ms O'Sullivan and senior officers about Sgt McCabe's experiences of a "toxic work environment" in Mullingar garda station in February 2015, agreed it was "most unusual" that the commissioner would be involved in "micro-managing" a particular station.
Mr Dunne said he understood his role at the meeting was to "bring an alternative viewpoint" to the discussion on Sgt McCabe.
Mr Dunne said he was concerned "there was group-think going on" at the meeting, with everyone discussing whether Sgt McCabe could be found a different workplace.
"Maurice McCabe's issues may not be resolved simply by finding somewhere different for him to work," Mr Dunne said.
"The problem was Sgt McCabe was in a situation that was absolutely unsustainable," Mr Dunne said.
Mr Dunne said his sense at the time was the Sgt McCabe "must be under a severe amount of stress."
Last week, Mr Barrett told the tribunal that he had told Chief Supt Tony McLoughlin about Mr Dunne's alleged comment in May or June of 2015.
Today/yesterday (THURS) Chief Supt McLoughlin said he had no memory of being told by Mr Barrett of any comments about "going after" Sgt McCabe by Mr Dunne in 2015.
"I have no memory, I do not remember Mr Barrett saying that to me," Chief Supt McLoughlin said.
Chief Supt McLoughlin said he did recall Mr Barrett mentioning the conversation to him in late 2017 and early 2018, but he told Mr Barrett he did not recall any earlier conversations in 2015.
The tribunal continues.

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