Friday 30 September 2016

Policing Authority has 'deep unease' at Garda 'organisation and management culture'

* 'Deep unease at organisation'
* Examination of issues in 'broad garda context'
* Crisis comes as Dublin's gangland crime spirals out of control
* 'Layered response' needed

Denise Calnan and Martin Grant

Published 26/05/2016 | 21:08

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Photo: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Photo: Gerry Mooney

An urgent response has been requested by An Garda Siochana after the Policing Authority expressed "deep unease at the organisation and management culture" within the organisation.

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The group issued a statement Thursday evening following a meeting with Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on the O’Higgins report.

The statement said the group "had serious concern at the impact on victims and at the systemic performance and management failures."

It said it had "dismay at the familiarity of performance failures through various inquiries and reports" – particularly the Morris Tribunal and various Garda Inspectorate Reports.

They requested an urgent response by the Garda Siochana to the findings and recommendations".

It said the good work being done by gardai every day can "be set to nought while doubts remain about these issues".

The Commissioner was also told during the meeting the Authority expects to see a formal response to the findings by Judge O’Higgins, and must be reflected in the garda strategy statement for 2016-2018 and the policing plan

In the statement, the Policing Authority said the meeting considered the O’Higgins report and other matters.

However, the Authority said their examination of the issues was in a “broad garda context” and not confined to the Cavan-Monaghan district.

They have also decided to hold two public meetings with the Garda Commissioner on June 13 and 30 for a more “detailed discussion” on service to victims, protected disclosure and culture. The Authority added it may further exam the O’Higgins report.

CCTV footage captures the moment Gareth Hutch was targeted by two gunmen outside his house
CCTV footage captures the moment Gareth Hutch was targeted by two gunmen outside his house

In the meantime, the Commissioner was advised the garda public attitudes survey should be published as soon as possible, and an external body should conduct an independent “culture audit” of the force.

Fianna Fail Justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said that he welcomed the Policing Authority’s emphasis on the “dismal management failures” that were highlighted in the O’Higgins report.

“We now need a plan for how management and supervision in the gardaí will be improved so that the rights of victims can be properly be protected,” Mr O’Callaghan told Independent.ie.

“This is the first real test of the Policing Authority and it must play a central role in ensuring that there is a change in culture, management and supervision in An Garda Síochána

Gareth Hutch
Gareth Hutch

“The citizens of this country deserve no less,” he added.

Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien said he has concerns that Nóirín O'Sullivan will not be able to implement the culture change needed in the force.

He said: “Ultimately victim’s themselves have been left down by the very people who are suppose to carry out investigation.

“The Commissioner is going to be responsible in implementing that culture change. She has a lot of questions to answer following the O’ Higgins report.

“You would have to question whether that culture change can happen under her leadership and that remains to be seen.”

The Cork TD said that despite “report after report” the culture mentioned on the O’Higgins report still exists.

“That’s deeply unfair on the rank and file gardaí who are doing their upmost to tackle crime,” he added.

This crisis for the Gardai comes in the midst of Dublin's gangland crime spiralling out of control. Today, prior to the release of the report, Chief Superintendent Pat Leahy said they are "confident" they will catch the killers in capital's ongoing gangland violence.

However, the Chief Superintendent, who is leading the investigation into four recent gang-related murders including the killing of Gareth Hutch, said a layered response is needed.

He said gardai have identified potential targets and assailants, but said if people are intent on killing it will be difficult to prevent it.

Six men has lost their lives in the last four months as part of the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

Father-of-one Gareth Hutch was shot dead at an apartment complex on North Cumberland Street in Dublin's north inner city on Tuesday.

He had expressed concerns about his safety only hours before he was killed. 

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Chief Superintendent Pat Leahy said a layered response to the problem is needed.

He explained that this begins with community policing to provide reassurance to the community, followed by specialist garda units.

"Local gardai have skin in the game," he said as he described how gardai are committed to delivering their duty of care.

Dr Johnny Connolly, a criminologist who is attached with the school of social policy in Trinity College Dublin, reiterated that community policing was urgently needed on the capital's streets.

Speaking to RTE's Drivetime, he said austerity cuts affected frontline services more than any other aspect of An Garda Siochana.

"There are serious resource issues," he said.

"One of the ways garda cutbacks took place, according to the garda inspectorate, was a massive cut to frontline policing," Dr Connolly said.

"There are about 600 gardai off the streets since 2011.

"Why was that the target?

"It's not just that. The inspectorate talks a big deal, and there have been lots of reports about, policing in recent months.

"But there has been very little talk about practical policing.

"The Garda Inspectorate showed reports about community policing."

Dr Johnny Connolly spoke about the drugs trade and said it is very easy for "an entire family to be sucked in" if one person owes money.

"An entire family can be sucked in - anyone earning money, collecting dole payments , will be involved to provide pay off for debts.

"If they simply don't have it, they will hold drugs and be brought into the trade that way," he added.

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