Garda debate needs to move past personalities and onto the substance of reforming the entire force

12th September 2017

Green Party Justice Spokesperson, Cllr Roderic O’Gorman has called for the focus of efforts to reform the Gardai to shift to the work of the Commission on the Future of Policing. He was speaking in light of the political response to the resignation of Noreen O’Sullivan.

“The Policing Authority will soon begin the process that will lead to that organisation picking a candidate for Garda Commissioner which will then be sent to Cabinet for approval. But the task of reforming An Garda Síochána is much greater than this. The focus on Noirín O’Sullivan over the last year has distracted from the wider debate on how we improve the force.

“While serious errors have been made by elements of the Gardaí in recent years, I do not accept the contention, but forward by some TDs in recent days, that the force is un-reformable. As I local councillor, I see the good work that the Gardaí do in supporting communities and I know the high regard that many Garda officers are held in by the public.

“However, the approach demonstrated by the Government – an absolute failure to question the position of the Commissioner, even when it was clear her continued leadership was a huge distraction – cannot continue either.

“We need to support and empower these officers. We do this by restoring trust in the force nationally, by ensuring that the crime statistics they supply to the public are accurate and by providing accountability at both a national and local level. We also need to recognise the difficulty of the job that that Gardaí do, and to provide them with the necessary equipment, technology and training to do this.

“The Commission on the Future of Policing, formed in the wake of the varied Garda scandals that emerged during this year, has started a public consultation on how we make these changes. It is vital that politicians, experts, but most importantly the public, engage in this process. The opportunity to reform the Gardaí now belongs to us all. It needs neither the reverential Fine Gael attitude to the force nor a star chamber Public Accounts Committee, but rather forensic analysis from the Dáil of progress on the reforms that are needed.”