Saturday 29 April 2017

We must dig deep to root out the force's cultural malaise

Plans to reform An Garda Siochana must ensure a culture change radical enough to restore its reputation

'Garda culture has thwarted legitimate oversight structures, as just mentioned, and frustrated efforts to recruit more civilians into the force' (stock photo)
'Garda culture has thwarted legitimate oversight structures, as just mentioned, and frustrated efforts to recruit more civilians into the force' (stock photo)

Eddie Molloy

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan concedes that massive, country-wide inflation of drink-driving test numbers and the wrongful conviction of 14,700 people for motoring offences revealed "individual and collective ethical failure" in An Garda Siochana.

Individual ethical failure comes down to character and, given the career-wrecking price paid by individuals who dare to challenge malpractice by colleagues or, especially, Garda bosses, it is unreasonable to expect the average garda to make this sacrifice. Speaking out has been not just risky; it carried with it the near certainty of retribution. The roots of the problem are in the "collective".

The Policing Authority, echoing the Commissioner, spoke of "lack of integrity and moral failure" and, like dozens of reports on similar scandals over the last 20 years, attributes responsibility to "poor management and supervision". The Morris Tribunal concluded that the can of worms unearthed in Donegal was not down to a few bad apples in the North West. Management at headquarters and elsewhere also had questions to answer.

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