Saturday 10 December 2016

Commissioner's bid to 'name and shame' under-performing garda districts shot down

#HaveYourSay: Do you think under-performing Garda districts should be 'named and shamed'?

Published 26/10/2016 | 02:30

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan was openly challenged at a meeting of her senior management team after she proposed to "name and shame" under-performing Garda districts at an upcoming summit of superintendents.

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The proposal to effectively single out certain Garda districts was shot down at a meeting in Garda Headquarters last Friday amid fears it would cause further divisions within the force.

It was argued that now is not the time to risk alienating gardaí of superintendent rank in light of the threatened industrial unrest by rank-and-file and middle-ranking officers.

But later in the meeting, the Commissioner significantly toned down her proposal with sources insisting she recognised that she may have used the "wrong choice of words".

One source insisted that at no point did the Commissioner intend to do anything that would upset superintendents.

Nonetheless, the clash illustrates the strained relations at the moment within Garda Headquarters.

Another meeting between Garda management and superintendents is scheduled to take place at the Garda Club in Westmanstown, West Dublin, on Tuesday.

Commissioner O'Sullivan has now personally written to all superintendents, stating that the meeting next week will be to discuss issues about crime statistics detailed by the CSO.

In the letter, the Commissioner stressed the need to move from a "blame to a learning culture".

The meeting is expected to hear of contingency plans ahead of the first day of strike action by members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) three days later.

GRA sources said they widely anticipate the strike action to go ahead - unless the Government tables a radically improved set of proposals relating to pay tomorrow.

There was also widespread dismay among GRA members following the decision by the Commissioner to fly to San Diego for a policing conference, despite the threat of industrial action.

Sources said it showed a level of "detachment" between senior management and rank-and-file gardaí.

In a statement last night, a spokesman for the Commissioner said the meeting on November 1 will focus heavily on "data quality".

"The Commissioner wrote to all of An Garda Síochána's senior leadership team on Monday requesting that any issues regarding systems, data or processes relating to data quality be identified in advance of the meeting," the statement said.

"In keeping with the renewal of our culture, the Commissioner stressed in her letter the need to move from a blame to a learning culture. The meeting on November 1 2016 will focus on how Garda management can encourage proper and accurate data recording among personnel, and ensure the proper supports, systems and processes are in place to support continuous improvement in this area."

The news comes as a senior officer in the force puts the finishing touches to a protected disclosure that will urge the Justice Minister to take "immediate action" to tackle what he describes as a "dysfunctional" environment within the force.

It's expected the disclosure will be sent to retired High Court judge Iarfhlaith O'Neill, who is examining claims of a smear campaign against whistleblowers.

Irish Independent

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