Tuesday 26 September 2017

'I think we need completely new management in An Garda Síochana,' Brendan Howlin

Brendan Howlin. Photo: Tom Burke
Brendan Howlin. Photo: Tom Burke
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has called for new management at the top of An Garda Síochana after it emerged that 14,700 people were incorrectly prosecuted for road traffic offences due to a blunder.

Speaking to Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning Mr Howlin said the force has been rocked by a series of events "every one more and more eroding of public confidence".

"We have to be able to believe the statistics, the facts that are put out there by An Garda Siochana."

Gardaí also acknowledged yesterday that the number of roadside breath tests carried out over five years was grossly exaggerated in official figures.

The startling admissions drew an immediate rebuke from the force watchdog, the Policing Authority.

Mr Howlin said: "It seems always to be to the advantage of the guards. The statistics that are reported embellish policing. When the facts are known they are always less positive for the garda siochana."

Mr Howlin said it "beggars belief" that so many extra breath tests were recorded in the period.

"There is no answer to it. The buck stops with the person in charge and the Commissioner needs to explain in very real terms what happened. This is not an error, you can't manufacture a thing that didn't happen and call it an error," he said.

"Either they just made it up or it was a deliberate policy as it happened in all garda stations."

Asked if he had confidence in the Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan, Mr Howlin said: "Nobody could have confidence in the management of An Garda Siochan now. i have great confidence in the garda inspectorate."

He called for insights to be brought in from abroad to advise on how policing should be carried out in Ireland.

Asked if new management starts with a new Commissioner being installed, Mr Howlin said "yes". "But it is not one individual," he added.

"We can't just limp from crisis to crisis, establish a new tribunal or a new commission of enquiry and just carry on."

He said: "I think we need completely new management in An Garda Síochana and we need to have a clear political view of how that is to be achieved.

"That means we need to migrate to a different management structure and that certainly will mean a change of Commissioner."

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