Thursday 27 October 2016

Letters: Garda Commissioner has to be accountable to the public

Published 03/07/2014 | 02:30

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald

After prolonged deliberation, the thrust of the interim recommendations from the Oireachtas Justice Committee on garda oversight seem absurd.

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They suggest inter alia that the Garda Commissioner should be accountable to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission; that appointments to and membership of the proposed Garda Siochana Authority be the exclusive responsibility of the Public Appointments Service, without government or ministerial involvement, and that all senior roles in An Garda Siochana should be the responsibility of the proposed authority.

They further suggest that this authority could adequately discharge a duty of public accountability and transparency through an annual report to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The ancient Latin expression 'quis custodiet ipsos custodes' means 'who guards the guards themselves'. This ought to mean in a sovereign democratic republic that citizens are thoroughly safeguarded against abuse from those placed in positions of power or trust.

The moral authority of a Garda Ombudsman rests in the integrity of that office based on its independence. How could integrity and independence be sustained if the Garda Commissioner were to report to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman, without the disgusting charge being levied loudly that the guards are investigating complaints against themselves?

The suggestion that the Public Appointments Service become responsible for recruiting and appointing the membership of a Garda Authority is nonsense.

If the Oireachtas Justice Committee considers that public accountability of this new quango could be achieved through the medium of an annual report delivered many months after a year-end to the Houses of the Oireachtas, what will they propose next? An account of Ladies' Day at the Galway Races delivered the following Easter?

The commissioner should be appointed by the President, accountable to the public and report to the Justice Minister.

Finally, if it is the avowed intention of minister Fitzgerald to advertise the position of Garda Commissioner internationally, would she consider it appropriate to invite applications only from Irish citizens, for the sake of recognising that this sovereign independent nation does have unique security considerations and it is not a minor backwater of some mightier jurisdiction?





The restatement of the obvious is the first duty of an intelligent person. This quote by Orwell is key in the battle to defend marriage, as the Government has announced plans to redefine it.

This is the same Government whose own Justice Minster resigned, so perhaps it is hardly the best group to alter one of the core concepts of society.

No doubt instead a rainbow range of groups will seek to rely on hand-waving and emotive cliches: failing that, given the form displayed by their fellow travellers in other countries, they will seek to demonise their opponents by an avalanche of accusations of phobic comments as well as seeking to deny employment to anyone openly defending traditional marriage, as has happened in the United States.

However, this is now an opportunity for the people of Ireland to roll back the tirade of progressive and re-emphasise support for the family, the teleological crux marriage, which has been declining across all Europe.

Hence a vote against this government proposal will be a vote to send a message to support actual marriage.





In response to Brendan Lynch's letter (Letters, June 28), which claims that Uber taxis are 'not regulated', I would like to point out that, to the contrary, we operate legally in Ireland under a Dispatch Licence. Uber abides fully by all regulations in all of the markets in which it operates, and has done since its launch. Meanwhile, the amazing reception we have had from Dubliners shows the great local support for the service across the city.





Unfortunately, various elements on both sides of the public discourse on next spring's same sex marriage referendum have turned from arguing the merits of amending the Constitution yet again to discussing what exactly they should call it to have the best, most propagandising effect on voters.

From the potentially offensive 'Gay Marriage' (and worse) on one side, to the complete misnomers of 'Marriage Equality' and just 'Marriage' on the other, we can see the debate taking a turn for the worst before our eyes.

Let's just call it what it is: a referendum on whether or not to allow people of the same sex to marry, or the same sex marriage referendum.

In describing it like that, I don't think I can be accused of inaccuracy, offensiveness or selective wording.





I refer to a recent decision by the Environment Minister to cease providing funding for the National Advocacy Service for Deaf people under the aegis of the Irish Deaf Society. The decision is short-sighted and defies logic. Indeed, as one of the original creators of this service, I am baffled and horrified.

The decision was apparently based on a criteria that obliged voluntary organisations to compete with each other for vital funding, rendering any uniqueness that a service may have irrelevant.

This particular service is run by peer advocates and is a space where deaf people can receive various services through their first language – Irish Sign Language.

The decision will result in a greater sense of helplessness and dependence upon the State among deaf people, despite the Government professing that this is something it wishes to decrease. In addition, last January, the Government rejected the Irish Sign Language Bill that came before Seanad Eireann. Minister for State with responsibility for Disability, Kathleen Lynch, delivered a statement on behalf of the Government explaining that it could not support the bill as "we need to put the service in place before we put the legislation in place".

Given this most recent decision, the statement seems hollow and an empty promise to many of us in the Deaf community. I hope that the minister will heed this appeal and act in a favourable manner.





Eamon Delaney's article (Irish Independent, July 1) gets to the core of everything that is wrong with modern Ireland.

We have created a society where being honest and working hard is punished – in order to pay for those who are overpaid and unaccountable, or those who choose not to work.

Meantime, who should I, as a working taxpayer, vote for? None of the big three parties cares about us, and SF will never get my vote.





President Higgins, in the course of a recent speech, remarked that "you'll know if you're notable". So take note folks, some of us are clearly more equal (sorry, notable) than others.



Irish Independent

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