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Stark warning from Commission on Future of Policing must be heeded

The Minister for Justice must heed the stark warning from the Commission on the Future of Policing regarding the extent of the problems in the Garda which are clearly more significant that the government seems to realise, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said today.

Deputy Shortall was commenting on the Commission’s warning in a letter to the Minister that it would be a “serious mistake” to appoint a new Garda Commissioner before it has concluded its report on the transformation of national policing arrangements.

Deputy Shortall said:

“The Minister for Justice fails to appreciate the extent and depth of reforms required to make An Garda Síochána fit for purpose and capable of winning back the trust and confidence of the public. This Government has consistently sought to downplay the deep cultural difficulties that have brought the force into public disrepute and wrecked staff morale.

“Minister Flanagan’s response to the recent retirement of Nóirín O’Sullivan was the latest example of this laissez-faire attitude. Instead of viewing the Garda Commissioner’s departure as an important opportunity to take stock, the Minister instantly asked the Policing Authority to commence a recruitment process for her replacement.

“The Social Democrats warned at the time that the entrenched nature of the problems in the force means it could not be a case of business as usual in seeking a successor to Ms O’Sullivan.”

Deputy Shortall added:

“The Commission on the Future of Policing has vital work to do, and by its very nature this cannot be a rushed job. It must be allowed to fulfil its important remit, and the government must let it be known that it heeds its expert advice in relation to the appointment of a new Commissioner.

“The Commission’s final recommendations will be far reaching – they will shape the force in radical ways and form the basis of a new senior management structure which is capable of delivering the high standards of modern and professional policing that the public deserves.

“In the interim, the Commission is clear that existing management of An Garda Síochána must be supplemented and strengthened by the addition of external management capacity, so that it can incorporate outstanding reform recommendations into its structures and practices.”