Friday 23 June 2017

'It dents your confidence' - Garda managers say scandals are making it harder to do job

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Cathal McMahon and Tom Brady

Garda managers say recent scandals surrounding the force are denting their confidence when doing the day job.

An Garda Síochána has been dogged by controversy since the start of the year with details emerging of inflated breath tests and wrongful road traffic convictions.

Speaking at the annual Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) conference in Killarney vice president and crime prevention and community relations officer in Donegal, Paul Wallace said: "It certainly dents your confidence doing the day job when all these allegations are swirling around in a vortex above your head.

"You still have to provide a service to the public. We have to do the best we can, with the resources we have. That hasn't changed. It’s the perception that is the big one for us.

"I think the public are as bewildered as we are. There has been one scandal after another and there are so many people looking at us. It’s not getting to the answers quickly enough".

He said he did not know what had been going on with exaggerated breath test figures. "Sure, the commissioner has said she doesn't know what's going on".

He criticised the decision to pull the plug on in-service training and continuous professional development, the withdrawal of resources during the recession, but still expecting the organisation to function normally.

Sergeant Nicola Brady, who is based in Blanchardstown station, West Dublin said: “Our job and not just mine, every members’ job is being made a lot more difficult recently with all the negativity that’s on the ground, but ultimately there is a job to be done and is being done and will continue to be done regardless.”

General secretary John Jacob said there was a crisis of confidence in the Garda organisation and it was up to the Tanaiste and the government to address it.

He expressed disappointment that the Tanaiste did not attend but said his association would not shirk its responsibility and they would face up to it if some of its members were found to be at fault.

But firstly he wanted to give an assistant garda commissioner and the Policing Authority the opportunity complete their inquiries and it was unfair for others to be pointing downwards before that conclusion.

He said many AGSI members feared that they would be blamed for the crisis. “The finger of blame is pointing downwards without having the evidence and that can't be correct.”

Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan is due to attend the AGSI conference in Killarney this afternoon.

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