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Garda boss denies political interference in running force

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Delegates John McRory, James Collins and Christy Galligan, from Co Donegal, at the Association of Garda Sergeants and
Inspectors Conference at the Seafield Hotel in Gorey, Co Wexford, yesterday

Delegates John McRory, James Collins and Christy Galligan, from Co Donegal, at the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors Conference at the Seafield Hotel in Gorey, Co Wexford, yesterday

Delegates John McRory, James Collins and Christy Galligan, from Co Donegal, at the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors Conference at the Seafield Hotel in Gorey, Co Wexford, yesterday

GARDA Commissioner Martin Callinan last night dismissed any suggestion of political interference in the running of his force.

He said he had never come across a situation where the Justice Minister had tried to influence him or interfere with his right to carry out his duties as he deemed appropriate.

The legislation clearly laid out the role and functions of the commissioner, he said.

Mr Callinan's comments came after the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors heard that perceptions of political interference would exist until control of the force was handed over to an independent police authority.

But speaking before he addressed the delegates in Ballymoney, Co Wexford, Mr Callinan said he had never experienced any example of it.

He said consideration of more station closures was being carried out in the context of financial efficiencies, which were being confronted by every organisation.

Effective

The garda force, he said, was obliged to find efficiencies and station closures were part of that process.

But the closures were being examined under a wide-ranging review that also looked at several other areas including civilianisation, deployment of resources in the courts, allocating gardai to security postings and looking at how they trained their members.

It was impossible to predict at this stage how many stations might be shut, he added.

"The important thing is that we are still able to provide an effective policing service in a shrinking organisation."

Asked about the delay in deciding whether there should be a criminal investigation into the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal report, Mr Callinan said the gardai were currently consulting with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

A year ago, Mr Callinan appointed the head of the Criminal Assets Bureau, Det Chief Supt Eugene Corcoran, to head up a team to review the findings and that study was completed shortly before Christmas.

The commissioner said yesterday that this was a very complex report that had taken the tribunal with its wide-ranging powers several years to complete and it was right and proper that the findings should be carefully considered before any action was taken.

He said the decision to consult with the DPP was not unprecedented and had been taken in the past in relation to other inquiries, such as the Anglo Irish investigation.

Gardai are prohibited from using any of the evidence given to the Moriarty Tribunal unless they can establish independent verification of the details.

Association president Padraic Dolan called on Mr Callinan to ensure adequate staffing continued to be deployed to the Anglo Irish investigation to bring about a speedy resolution.

"The whole area of white-collar crime needs to be upgraded in priority. The country deserves no less," he told the conference.

Irish Independent