Comment

Thursday 31 July 2014

Government is unlikely to cede control of gardai

Tom Brady

Published 01/07/2014|02:30

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Government is unlikely to cede control of gardai
Government is unlikely to cede control of gardai

Many of the recommendations made by the Oireachtas committee are likely to be accepted by the Government but anybody who believes all of the proposals will be taken on board is living in another world.

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The radical report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has upped the ante for government politicians.

For the past four months ministers from the two coalition parties have been competing to find a proposal that will grab the headlines and paint themselves as a true reformer of an organisation that has served the community well since the foundation of the State.

However, they have all been trumped by the interim findings of a cross-party committee, who have come up with their own solution to the multitude of problems – take the politicians out of the equation.

The committee wants an end to political control over the garda force and says the proposed new authority should have responsibility for appointments to fill vacancies from the rank of chief superintendent upwards.

It is a brave recommendation that deserves careful study and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has promised she will do that by including the report in ongoing discussions on an overhaul of the Garda Siochana Act, 2005, which led to the establishment of the Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

But is it a likely runner?

Is any government likely to cede all of its control over the running of the Garda force?

In the heady days after the forced resignation of Martin Callinan as commissioner and the reports recommending widespread changes in the running of the force, the Garda's relationship with GSOC and in GSOC itself, politicians have been quick to support any proposed reform.

But the final decisions on many of the key issues will not be made until the end of the year. Mrs Fitzgerald has indicated that the creation of the authority will not be rushed and issues, including the permanent appointment of a new commissioner, have been parked until then.

This will allow for a period of reflection and calmer consideration of what is best for the force and for its service.

Irish Independent

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