Thursday 27 October 2016

The Yates Anthology: Only an outsider can shake up Garda force

Published 12/12/2015 | 02:30

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

The 'Changing Policing in Ireland' report excoriates senior Garda management. Yet again, Bob Olson and the Garda Inspectorate who compiled it expose how outdated, inefficient and lacking in technology our police force is.

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In a litany of withering criticism it highlights out-of-date technology. All told, one would surmise that there's no hiding place for our top cops. The deployment of front-line gardaí in Dublin depletes the numbers available for community policing. It also underlines how the Government made an egregious error in not appointing a foreigner as Garda Commissioner.

To change the culture from the top down, you must recruit a complete outsider to shake up the higher tiers to eradicate any chance of the "this is the way we always do things" mentality taking hold.

Jack Charlton, Joe Schmidt, Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O'Neill were role models who offered external expertise. Their clear mission was to transition entire squads. Their appointment cleared the way for new systems.

The appointment of Noreen O'Sullivan (below) suggested to some that only minimalist incremental change was ever likely, instead of the radical reform required.

The report's 81 recommendations amount to a damning indictment of all inside Phoenix Park headquarters.

Incredibly, this bloated top tier contains 13 assistant commissioners and two executive directors. We clearly should reduce the number of Garda regions from six to three.

The Pulse technology is so out of date that spare parts are no longer even available. There's no cyber-crime unit and some 999 calls are recorded on scraps of paper.

There's no central communications network.

We can't continue with the closed, defensive and blame-orientated culture. To signify and stimulate change, systemic recruitment of civilian administration staff would release gardaí onto the beat.

Police work would replace pen-pushing behind desks. Only 540 out of the 12,800 gardaí are visibly apparent on streets.

Before the next government throws extra cash at the security services, we must demand new streamlined structures. It is time to bring in modern HR practices, state of the art information technology and effective training.

Since 2007, the Garda Inspectorate has produced multiple, practical implementable reports - alas, they've largely been ignored.

In my view, the report makes an overwhelming case to bring in a police chief from either the UK or the US.

Publicity storms

Battle though you might, old age tends to make one cynical. The media dallies with amateur theatrics and a crisis becomes a melodrama. Last Saturday night, you didn't need to watch the X Factor or Strictly to be entertained. RTE television news bulletins at six and nine o'clock screened Torrent Teresa (Mannion) live from the edge of hurricane central at Salthill, Galway. If you missed it, check out SUPER CEILI on You Tube. There's a tradition for RTE western correspondents to go for broke with weather stories, and with the Atlantic at your back door there's plenty to run with. Jim Fahy did himself proud down the years with pieces from boats/back end of tractors in waders surrounded by floods. But this was taken to a whole new level with hysterical admonitions to stay indoors, not like the "idiotic" fools who were jumping into the water.

The plight of Crossmolina had Teresa in convulsions, as her soaked woollen hat was almost blown away. The cameraman seemed well sheltered, equipment didn't move throughout this epic endurance test. Such histrionics were a tad over the top. We get the message. Storm Desmond wasn't mucking about. After storms Abigail, Clodagh and the aforementioned Desmond, next up 'Storm Enda' is expected to bring a cold front followed by freezing fog in the New Year.

Meanwhile, this year's stunt of the year must go to Clare Daly and Mick Wallace - the stoicism with which they endured their suffering and persecution for their convictions was inspirational. They sounded like Nelson Mandela on release from prison; despite their ordeals only lasting a few hours.

This lawbreaking charade was brought to new levels of farce by the media circus outside Limerick Prison.

They are perfectly entitled to make whatever protest they like; as legislators they could've just paid the €2,000 fines. Overcrowding dictated that our dysfunctional justice system would never see them inside for long.

And so they reap the priceless bounty of a blaze of pre-election, prime-time publicity - well done to all.

Horses for courses

My favourite gig of the year is the Horse Racing Ireland awards at the Leopardstown pavilion. I interviewed the winners to extract some inside information. Willie Mullins: best unraced bumper horse, Admiral Chief (Gigginstown Stud-owned); future top novice chaser/hurdler, Kilultagh Vic and Limini; gossip of back problems with Faugheen are completely untrue, all set now to win the Christmas hurdle at Kempton; Cheltenham Gold Cup glory will finally be achieved next March.

Pat Smullen (flat award) revealed Emergent as his best three-year-old ride next season. She won well at Navan. Free Eagle is primed to win the Hong Kong Cup this weekend. Enda Bolger (point-to-point winner) confirmed On The Fringe is on track to repeat last year's treble of festival hunter chase crowns, Jossie's Orders is a star in making. Eddie O'Leary: "Disko could emerge as the best young star."

A standing ovation was rightly reserved for the commentator Dessie Scahill for a lifetime's dedication to horseracing.

His iconic version of Dawn Run's Gold Cup win in 1986 will always be remembered.

He's a die-hard Man Utd fan - decrying 0-0 boredom last Monday, he said he'd even prefer 2 - 3 defeats.

Be careful what you wish for Des, did we not just see the Reds crash out of the Champion's League?

Irish Independent

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