Sunday 23 October 2016

It's now time for the GSOC board to resign

Published 19/01/2016 | 02:30

Enda Kenny criticised the GSOC Photo: Damien Eagers
Enda Kenny criticised the GSOC Photo: Damien Eagers

How many more scandals will the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission be involved in before the bungling organisation is overhauled?

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The bottle-of-smoke bugging affair was an embarrassing debacle.

The suicide of a garda who wasn't told he had been cleared in an investigation was a dreadful tragedy.

The accessing of journalists' telephone records is a clear infringement on the democratic principles of a free press.

GSOC has now been put on the spot by both sides of the Coalition as Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton have slapped the organisation down.

"Clearly the fundamental principle of journalistic sources being confidential is very important in a democracy," Mr Kenny said.

Ms Burton said it "goes without saying that the protection of journalism sources is of critical and primary importance".

The stinging rebuke has placed an unwelcome spotlight back on the organisation.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have made their views clear. The Government is now, belatedly, reviewing the legislation governing GSOC, particularly around access to telecommunications records.

But this review doesn't go far enough if it means GSOC simply carries on regardless.

If GSOC had a sterling track record of service under its belt, then it would have a strong defence. But the organisation offers little in the form of oversight and its record of uncovering corruption is virtually non-existent.

The Garda Ombudsman is yet again under immense pressure. The watchdog's reputation is in tatters.

Although there has been a change of chairman, it appears the lessons of past mistakes have not been learned.

It is now time for the GSOC board to resign.

A dry Good Friday is not the end of the world

Frank Sinatra was in no doubt that drink was the enemy, but he was also quick to  point out how the Bible entices us to love our enemies. However, as far as the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) and the Licensed Vintners' Association (LVA) see it, the glass is very much half-empty when it comes to banning the sale of alcohol on Good Friday.

The vintners have even somewhat curiously invoked the 1916 celebrations to strengthen their argument.

"Every Good Friday we have thousands of tourists wandering around the streets of our cities and towns asking why they can't go into a pub for a drink," said Donal O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA. The closure of pubs on Good Friday may well be a relic of old decency - a respectful nod towards temperance and tradition.

Some evidently would prefer to hold a requiem for it than seek a preservation order. Publicans see the prohibition as "archaic" and "discriminatory". One could certainly make a case on both counts. One could also argue that one day free from drink won't really stop the world on its axis. The Angelus is now a pause for reflection, and Holy Hour is a piece of forgotten sociological history from a time when the pulpit decreed and the publican and pint-drinker took the penance. As for the dry Good Friday? The publican will still benefit: what's seldom is wonderful, and abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.

Irish Independent

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