Wednesday 21 March 2018

Gardai 'have lost all faith and trust in watchdog'

Tom Brady Security Editor

GARDAI operating "at the coalface" have no confidence in their independent watchdog.

Rank and file members of the force have told the Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) they do not trust the impartiality and fairness of its investigations.

It is the latest salvo in a public war of words between the ombudsman and the force.

The row had been simmering for some time but erupted into the open over the publication of the ombudsman's four-year investigation into allegations surrounding the garda handling of some of its informants.

The ombudsman's report failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing by the gardai but there were clashes between the two sides over the level of co-operation provided by the force.

Earlier this week, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan rejected claims by the Ombudsman that the force was in need of a culture change and said he was satisfied that none of its informants was being run "off the books".

The latest criticism of the ombudsman comes from the Garda Representative Association in its magazine, 'Garda Review'.

In an editorial, the association told the ombudsman that it did not have the confidence of members at the coalface.

"Trust is hard earned and easily lost and while the GSOC continues to fail to prosecute those who make vexatious and malicious complaints against members, this will not improve."

It said the association had expressed the need for a fully independent and impartial investigation by an external agency so that confidence would be engendered both within the gardai and the members of the public they served.


Because of the confrontational nature of policing, most of the complaints were made against members of garda rank, it pointed out, and the ombudsman seemed to be critical of their right to be represented by a lawyer and to elect not to comment.

"If gardai were to suggest the same, it would be deemed rightly as unconstitutional and the guardians of civil rights and liberties would be justifiably incensed," the association added.

The vast majority of complaints against gardai were not allegations of criminality and the most common complaints related to discourtesy or abuse of authority.

Irish Independent

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