Wednesday 16 August 2017

Frances Fitzgerald: Government must await outcome of probe into Garda Training College scandal

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
John Downing

John Downing

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has insisted the Government must await the outcome of probes by the Policing Authority and the Dáil Public Accounts Committee into funding scandals at the Garda Training College.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, today paid tribute to ordinary gardaí and insisted they deserved better from the garda leadership and the Government. He said gardaí suffered because their reputation was undermined and their morale was now very low.

“As politicians we have an obligation to ensure that we rectify that situation and that we rebuilt the reputation of the force,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

Mr O’Callaghan asked what the Minister had to say about only receiving the report on the Garda Training College financial irregularities after a 14-month delay. He also wanted to know what she had said to the Garda Commissioner about this delay.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said An Garda Síochána faced “a conveyor belt of controversies” and the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan had to be made resign. She added that the Commissioner’s political bosses, the Justice Minister and the Taoiseach, were doing nothing.

“Is it any wonder the Commissioner refuses to do the right thing and resign?” Mary Lou McDonald asked.

Ms McDonald also said that Fianna Fáil were refusing to face up to the logical conclusions of their criticisms of Commissioner O’Sullivan. “Will you stop bluffing and remove the Commissioner,” the Sinn Féin deputy leader told the Justice Minister.

Read More: Former garda commissioners may be called before PAC on Templemore controversy

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Labour leader Brendan Howlin also pointed out that three senior civilian officials working in An Garda Síochána were highly critical of procedures in the force and dissociated themselves from several reports prepared upon these matters.

The Justice Minister said it was her job to try to rebuild the reputation and morale of An Garda Síochána. She told Mr O’Callaghan that it was a matter for the Commissioner to decide what matters she should report to the Minister.

Ms Fitzgerald accused Sinn Féin spokeswoman of prejudging matters which were currently being examined by the Public Accounts Committee. The results of this investigation, and another by the Policing Authority, must be awaited before action could be taken.

“We cannot have a running commentary on these processes. Most people want to reach a verdict before the evidence is heard,” the Justice Minister said.

Ms Fitzgerald said work was continuing on garda reforms. The garda ombudsman’s powers were strengthened and a new Policing Authority was established.

Read More: Authority of O'Sullivan and Taoiseach eroded

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