Wednesday 26 October 2016

Pointless idea from a pair lacking in credibility

Published 17/07/2013 | 05:00

TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace hold a press briefing on the Garda amendment bill
TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace hold a press briefing on the Garda amendment bill

DEPUTIES Mick Wallace and Luke 'Ming' Flanagan want to save the people from the gardai. Well, if it's all the same with you guys, we'll leave that one with you.

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Let's recall that Messrs Wallace and Flanagan were among a group of Independent TDs who late last year told us they had shocking facts that would rock An Garda Siochana.

They claimed a large number of gardai had been wiping motorists' penalty points from licences for no good reason. They flagged 2,198 incidents and insisted there was widespread corruption across the force.

Much of the running was done by Mick Wallace, whose significant issues with the Revenue Commissioners have been well documented, and did not help credibility. His colleague, Deputy Flanagan, admitted while campaigning against this penalty points-based 'Garda corruption' that he had actually benefited from the practice.

But a detailed investigation was carried out by Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Mahoney and his findings were published last May. He found no corruption or skulduggery but he did find some sloppy procedures and administrative practices and the upshot is that three senior gardai are now the subject of disciplinary proceedings.

It found that 96pc of penalty points go through unaltered and as issued.

Last night, undaunted, Deputies Wallace and Flanagan were back in the Dail outlining their new legislation involving sweeping changes to the gardai.

The Bill, which will happily be voted out of existence and forgotten from tonight, contains proposals for the establishment of an independent garda board to improve the force's accountability. This board would have the power to appoint the Garda Commissioner and have the right to receive information from gardai, taking both these responsibilities from the Justice Minister.

Unsurprisingly, Deputy Wallace yesterday said investigations like the recent penalty points controversy demonstrated the need for greater impartiality and independence in the Garda Ombudsman Commission. He said that internal investigations, which are later reviewed by an external body, amount to a "pointless exercise".

Messrs Wallace and Flanagan argue that they only want to make things better. But let us yet again say that we graciously decline and suggest their plans would do anything but improve things.

An Garda Siochana is a special kind of citizen's police force, largely unarmed and operating to high international standards. Under legislation enacted in 2005, it is supervised by the Garda Ombudsman, which provides civilian oversight and independently investigates allegations.

If Deputies Wallace and Flanagan are all that keen to help, maybe they could work on getting better funding and more personnel for an already beleaguered force.

Irish Independent

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