Saturday 20 January 2018

Government forced garda commissioner Martin Callinan out of office’ – GRA boss

Garda Representative Association boss PJ Stone told conference Mr Callinan had been removed on a ‘political whim’

Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan
Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan

Tom Brady, Security Editor

The leader of the biggest garda representative group in the State has accused the Government of forcing former commissioner Martin Callinan out of office.

PJ Stone, who heads up the 10,500-strong Garda Representative Association, said Mr Callinan had been removed on a political whim.

He said Mr Callinan had been treated in a disgraceful way as the commissioner of the police force.

Asked if Mr Callinan had been sacked by politicians, Mr Stone declared: "I am saying that Martin Callinan was removed from office and that is obvious to everybody.

"The gentleman was given no option or no choice in my view", the association's general secretary said during their annual conference in Killarney yesterday.

"If your despatch a head of a department after a political meeting, one can only conclude that there had to be political interference", he added.

Mr Stone said it was not necessary for him to spell out in detail who had removed Mr Callinan in office.

He noted that there was currently an inquiry under way, which would establish all of the facts surrounding his retirement and bring them into the public arena.

He was sure that Mr Callinan would co-operate with the inquiry and all would be revealed in the course of time.

Mr Stone said Mr Callinan's removal clearly illustrated to him that the force was subject to political whim.

"The force has been under severe pressure, issues have arisen which have spiralled out of control.

"None of the members of my association is responsible for those debacles and I think it is now time to ensure that confidence is restored.

"And in order for that to happen in a meaningful way, I think we need an independent oversight body, which would take control of the Garda Siochana, its budgets, its resources,  its capital expenditure and, more importantly, its promotion system", Mr Stone added.

He said politicians were responsible for appointing the commissioner and "at the end of the day, that is not a good place to be either".

Mr Stone pointed out that after interviews for the position of deputy commissioner, three names had been sent down to the Department of Justice.

"Is there a lottery wheel in the department of justice that is spun to pick out whomever", he asked.

"That is not the way to deal with promotions in the Garda Siochana", he added.

He argued that there was little doubt that the promotion system overall needed to be examined.

"What we are doing at the bottom of the organisation is looking for real leadership, for people who have the capacity and the ability to become commissioner, to become sergeants and inspectors", he said.

Mr Stone claimed that people were overlooked in some of the promotion and selection processes and it was in that context that they were looking for an independent approach to policing in the State.

"The promotions system needs to be radically overhauled and we are the only ones saying that, which is a great pity", he said.

He claimed there was a trend in the force where people whose fathers had been senior officers were likely to be promoted above others.

He said he stood by that remark and did not believe it cast aspersions on those who had been promoted.

"There are people, who are not promoted and could equally say they had aspersions cast on them by the system and their inability to be promoted".

He pointed out that they were working within a very small pool,  He had joined the force 40 years ago and 80pc of those, who joined with him, remained as guards.

He said the system had to be seen to be above reproach and he was not satisfied that it was.

He believed the minister for justice, or the department, should not have any say in the selection of the next commissioner, or deputy commissioner.

It needed to be under the control of an independent body, responsible for policing, and that  would restore confidence in the force.

"We cannot continue to be part of some political machinations whereby the Garda Siochana is hauled out to be dusted down when the politicians have problems of their own", Mr Stone added.

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