Friday 22 September 2017

Concern over lack of young people on Garda review commission

Jack Chambers TD Picture: Tom Burke
Jack Chambers TD Picture: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

There is a "clear deficit" of representation by younger people on the commission undertaking the 'root-and-branch' review of the Garda, according to the youngest TD in the Dáil.

At least eight of the 12 members of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland - set up in the wake of various controversies to hit the Garda force - are over 50 years of age.

Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers, who at 26 years of age is the youngest TD in the Dáil and a member of the Oireachtas justice committee, said the commission was lacking in younger members.

While saying its current members were well qualified and experienced, the TD argued that there was "a clear deficit of representation from younger generations, which is an important component in any systemic examination", before describing it as a "missed opportunity".

"My concern is can they reflect the perspectives and challenges that exist for the younger generation of gardaí?

"For example, we have seen how the rise of social media has presented new challenges for gardaí and one they have said they are struggling to deal with. I wonder what experiences many of the members of this commission have in this."

The Irish Independent last month reported how gardaí are getting increasing numbers of complaints relating to social media, including reports of harassment and bullying.

It was revealed how regular gardaí get no specific training in the job for such complaints and the Pulse computer system doesn't permit access to sites like Facebook, making them difficult to investigate.

The commission is chaired by Seattle Police chief Kathleen O'Toole.

Of the members of the commission who are over 50, the average age is around 61.

A Department of Justice spokesman said the commission members are people "of the highest calibre" with "impressive track records". He said the age of an individual is not considered an appropriate selection criterion under the terms of reference for the commission.

He pointed out that the commission was required to consult with the public and civic society and others and added that Ms O'Toole has said it would consult widely with "members at all ranks of An Garda Síochána".

The commission is to produce a final report by September 2018, but can bring forward immediate proposals and rolling recommendations.

Ms O'Toole has pledged it will be "the most ambitious review of policing in Ireland since the foundation of the State".

Irish Independent

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