Thursday 17 August 2017

Head of GRA criticises lack of 'policeman' on commission

Seattle police chief Kathleen O’Toole
Seattle police chief Kathleen O’Toole
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The head of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has criticised the fact there is no "policeman" on the new body chosen to perform a 'root-and-branch' review of the force.

Ciaran O'Neill spoke out as the Cabinet signed off on the membership and terms of reference of Kathleen O'Toole's Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

He told RTÉ's 'Drivetime': "Not one of those people who are on that commission, and no disrespect to any of them, but not one of them has ever walked the beat as a policeman in Ireland previously."

His comments about the make-up of the commission are likely to do little to impress the new chair, Ms O'Toole, who is a senior and experienced police officer based in Seattle.

Ms O'Toole has told Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald that she will "devote whatever time is necessary" to fulfil her role as chairperson of the 'root-and-branch' review of the force.

It has been established in the wake of various controversies to hit the force in recent times, and won't deliver its final report for more than 15 months.

But it has the power to bring forward immediate proposals and rolling recommendations.

A Department of Justice spokesman said Ms O'Toole would travel to Ireland next week to discuss how the commission would operate.

Ms Fitzgerald said the terms for the commission provide for a "comprehensive examination of all aspects of policing" and she believes it will help restore public confidence in An Garda Síochána.

The department also issued a statement on Ms O'Toole's behalf. She said she was fully aware of the "very serious controversies" that had arisen about the Gardaí.

She described the commission as "the most ambitious review of policing in Ireland since the foundation of the State".

She is joined by 11 other commission members, who Mrs Fitzgerald said had "impressive track records".

One member, Peter Fahy, was the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police for eight years, while another is Tonita Murray, a civilian who previously worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Retired Department of Justice secretary general Tim Dalton will also serve, as will Dublin City University law lecturer Dr Vicky Conway, who is a member of the Policing Authority. Ms O'Toole said they would present comprehensive proposals on policing by September 2018.

Irish Independent

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