Tuesday 20 August 2019

Demote or sack gardaí who block claims of whistleblowers, report urges

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Garda officers found to have interfered with or obstructed legitimate whistleblower claims should be demoted or dismissed, TDs and Senators have said. The recommendation is contained in a report by the Oireachtas Justice Committee.

Committee chairman Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin noted the "outstanding work" of the majority of gardaí, but said the service had been "mired in controversy", in particular due to whistleblower allegations. He said public confidence in gardaí must be "restored and maintained by having the very highest standards of oversight and accountability".

The report stated that the role played by whistleblowers needed to be "acknowledged and commended". It said dismissal of anyone obstructing genuine claims should take place "in the most serious cases".

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's spokesman said the proposed sanctions were only one of the report's recommendations and they would be "carefully considered".

Garda management previously introduced a Protected Disclosures Policy and Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has repeatedly said whistleblowers would be taken seriously.

The committee report said extending power to watchdog GSOC to investigate former gardaí should be considered.

It also noted 20pc of issues GSOC dealt with were minor complaints like alleged rudeness and suggested these could more efficiently be dealt with by Garda line management.

The report said the commencement of the Policing Authority's role in appointing senior gardaí should be "completed without delay".

It said the Garda Inspectorate should have the power to make unannounced visits to Garda stations.

Committee member Fianna Fáil's Jack Chambers said the recommendations, if implemented, would bring "future clarity on the role, focus and oversight functions of each of the agencies".

Irish Independent

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