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Tuesday 23 September 2014

'Force has learnt the hard way it needs to change' - Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Lise Hand in Glenties

Published 22/07/2014 | 17:45

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Acting garda chief Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Collins
Acting garda chief Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Collins

Interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said today that the force “has learned the hard way” that it must change, “as the needs of our time are different.”

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Speaking at the MacGill Summer School, she said that the lesson has been “hard for us and for those who wanted to alert us to problems. We now know that if you concentrate too much on the messenger, you may miss the message”.

Last May the Guerin Report into whistleblowers criticised the Gardai, the Garda Ombudsman and the Department of Justice or failing to heed the word of Sergeant Maurice McCabe after he first raised concerns in September 2012. Ms O’Sullivan said, “I will certainly not tolerate bullying, harassment or intimidation of any type of any of our members”.

The acting commissioner, who was appointed in March following the resignation of Martin Callinan, told the audience at the summer school that the Garda Siochana isn’t broken in the wake of a series of controversies. “Damaged, yes. Hurting, yes. In need of change, yes. Hungry for change, absolutely”.

O’Sullivan also addressed the issue of the setting up of an independent Garda authority, and said that while she welcomed “stronger oversight from the proposed independent authority, “it’s important to take time to get it right”.

She said that reform involved building on the positive aspects of garda culture while recognising the negative elements, “our insularity, our deafness to external criticism, and our instinctive rejection of internal dissent”.

Defending the 1500 members of the force, she said, “We are the true definition of a decentralised organisation, with employees interacting with citizens from every corner and country throughout the land”.

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