Saturday 3 December 2016

Turmoil in ranks must not be allowed to fester

Published 20/08/2015 | 02:30

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan

The inner turmoil that has been evident within An Garda Síochána, particularly at the higher ranks, will take some time to abate.

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It was inevitable that there would be significant fall-out after the events of the past few years, culminating in a series of internal and external inquiries and the controversial retirement of Commissioner Martin Callinan.

And while the speedy introduction of a raft of measures was necessary to ensure that the mistakes of the past were not repeated, it also added to the difficulties in bedding down a traumatised organisation.

Many of the measures being put into place by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and her cabinet colleagues have been accepted without too much complaint.

But the extent of the changes has added to the tensions that already existed within a senior management team that remains badly depleted due to the number of unfilled posts at the top.

Six of the seven assistant commissioners decided to meet in private at The Heritage hotel in Portlaoise last Friday morning to discuss a range of issues, including the possible formation of a staff association.

The group believes they are losing out as the only garda rank without an association to negotiate on their behalf.

One of the big issues to be tackled by the commissioner will be her handling of inquiries into allegations of unauthorised disclosure of information to the media by a superintendent, in opting for a criminal rather than disciplinary investigation.

This resulted in the arrest and overnight detention of the officer last April and his subsequent suspension.

The move has left the officer with only 75pc of his salary. Many senior officers take the view that he has been badly treated.

Friday's meeting is not the forerunner of a revolt in the top management team, and officers are adamant that all of the major issues can be worked out through discussion and negotiation.

But the decision to hold the meeting is an indication of the unrest that exists in the senior ranks.

It should focus the minds of those in power to tackle it effectively, rather than allowing it to fester.

Irish Independent

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