Friday 30 September 2016

GSOC 'appalling' on vexatious complaints

Published 21/04/2016 | 02:30

High Court judge and GSOC chairwoman Mary Ellen Ring. Picture: Arthur Carron
High Court judge and GSOC chairwoman Mary Ellen Ring. Picture: Arthur Carron

The chairwoman of the Garda Ombudsman Commission has admitted that it has an "appalling" success rate in bringing prosecutions against people alleged to have made vexatious complaints against gardaí.

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Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring said it was very difficult to prove those prosecutions, and she compared it to bringing a perjury case after a trial.

She said the Ombudsman sent files to the Director of Public Prosecutions, which could then come back marked "no prosecution".

It is understood that one of the big difficulties in securing a conviction is the onus to prove that a person has knowingly and with intent given false or misleading information.

Since the Ombudsman Commission was established ten years ago, a total of 26 files have been sent to the DPP and 11 have resulted in a prosecution.

A breakdown of those cases before a court resulted in six convictions, two dismissals and three complaint withdrawals.

Ms Justice Ring told the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents in Naas that she believed they should revert to receiving written complaints, rather than receiving some overnight online, and this would reduce the number of spurious complaints.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan told delegates that a public attitude survey had shown that about 85pc of the public had trust and confidence in the Garda organisation at the moment, up from 67pc two years ago.

"Its at an all-time high. That's simply phenomenal and we should be proud of it", she said.

She said good progress was being made in the garda investigation into the murder of Martin O'Rourke in the north inner city last week as well as the other gangland killings.

"We do not take our eye off the fight against organised crime, nor will we. The twin track of maintaining policing and security is paramount", Ms O'Sullivan said.

"We take three strands to organised crime fight. One is investigative, the second is preventative, and the third, the intelligence.

"The gardaí are out on the streets. You will see patrols right across the city, indeed right across the country with Operation Thor.

"Unfortunately it is not possible to prevent every single crime. That's just not possible," the commissioner added.

Irish Independent

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