It's time to meet new challenges, says acting Garda chief
INTERIM Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has told frontline managers they must all have the courage to challenge themselves on how they conduct their business.
She said that meant changing their relationship with the oversight bodies like the Garda Ombudsman Commission and the Garda Inspectorate and anybody else who genuinely wanted to help the force to improve.
She told the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) in Killarney, Co Kerry, they must remind themselves that the input from those bodies would make the Garda a better and stronger organisation.
She said they must look again at the recent Ombudsman and Inspectorate reports and see what progress had been made.
Ms O'Sullivan advised the supervisors to make judgments about priorities and deal with small issues before they turned into major grievances.
"We must have a clear path from day one, when the complaint is first registered until such time as it is fully dealt with in a transparent and thorough manner," she added.
She believed that the whistleblowers legislation, currently before the Dail, would result in stronger measures to protect them.
But, in the meantime, the force must create an environment where people could feel comfortable and confident about making a complaint.
She added: "What we need to always remember is that every phase in the history of a great organisation requires the current generation of managers to step up to the plate and redefine the organisation," she added.
Ms O'Sullivan said the force should be proud of its achievements in the fight against crime and protecting the community.
Referring to the first few days of her tour with senior management of garda stations around the country, she said she felt a sense that the recent controversies had opened up new possibilities.
"When an organisation is suddenly challenged on a number of fronts, you'd expect it would retreat into itself, not take on anything new and get rigid about discipline in case any flexibility opens the floodgates to disaster.
"In fact, An Garda Siochana has not done anything like that," she said, citing the motions on other topics, tabled for debate at the conference.
She said that five days after issuing an online survey to the force, they had already received around 800 replies – even though the deadline was not until April 27; this was very encouraging, she added, and promised that all of the responses would be closely examined as part of the measures to improve the organisation.
Ms O'Sullivan was given a standing ovation as she walked into the conference hall.