Shatter to miss garda conference due to clash with religious festival
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has turned down an invitation to attend the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) because it clashes with Jewish Passover.
The minister has told AGSI that he cannot travel to Killarney due to a private commitment relating to the religious holiday.
He is also due to fly to a Luxembourg twice-yearly meeting of EU defence ministers on Tuesday.
The conference, which is traditionally addressed by the Justice Minister, will hear that garda supervisors want stronger protection for whistleblowers in the force.
The motion on whistleblowers, which has been tabled by the Donegal branch, is expected to spark a debate on the garda controversies of the past year and, particularly, the allegations levelled by Sgt Maurice McCabe and retired garda John Wilson in relation to the cancellation of penalty points and claims of garda incompetence and malpractice.
Delegates are being asked to direct the association's national executive to seek a review of the confidential reporting charter, which covers the actions of whistleblowers, and to push for changes making the charter more robust.
Interim garda commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan will outline her vision for the future of the organisation when she talks to the delegates on Tuesday afternoon.
She has already written to each member of the force and sent them a questionnaire – to answer anonymously – with their views taken on board by management in a review of how the organisation can be improved.
A special emphasis is being placed at this year's conference on garda reforms in the wake of the Haddington Road agreement.
Delegates also want taser guns made available to more gardai. Tasers are non-lethal weapons that can create an electric shock, and help gardai to overpower a potentially dangerous suspect behaving violently or in danger of causing harm to themselves or to others.