Sunday 26 May 2019

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris says row which has created rift in AGSI leadership is impacting on garda force

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

The row that has created a rift in the leadership of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) is impacting on the overall garda organisation, according to Commissioner Drew Harris.

He said the allegations that had been made concerning a member of the association were being treated very seriously and must be treated with due process.

He trusted the association and its members, he added, and when a conclusion was reached, he hoped the issue could be resolved in terms of not only the association but also An Garda Siochana because of its impact on the organisation also.

Mr Harris, who addressed the annual conference of the association in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, yesterday, told reporters he was precluded from commenting on the specifics of the case but he said the allegations were being dealt with expeditiously and he hoped he would soon see "the papers" in respect of that.

He hoped to study those papers carefully and make an objective decision based on them.

"The question of discipline in an organisation, particularily a policing organisation, such as ourselves, is a very important one.

He said the gardai were public servants and the public had a rightful expectation "as to what our behaviours are.

"We, as An Garda Siochana, should be able to be trusted to the ends of the earth, and I want to make sure that our behaviours within the organisation are exemplary and demonstrate that".

Two senior members of the association, vice president Paul Wallace and deputy general secretary Antoinette Cunningham stayed away from the conference as they were not satisfied at the way the allegations were being handled by the association.

Asked about the controversy surrounding the security arrangements, which resulted in armed PSNI officers taking the commissioner across the Border and driven into Garda headquarters in their vehicle, Mr Harris said he was satisfied that they were in line with the protocols that had been in place for the past six years.

He said: "I am the garda commissioner and regrettably because of the lifestyle threats have been imposed on me and because of this I receive security. It is not a position that one would volunteer for but the same time does directly relate to my security and the security of my family. I do not wish to comment any further on this".

Mr Harris said it was not acceptable that almost 4,000 of the more than 12,000 gardai, who had received code of ethics training, had yet to sign the code.

Recalling the remarks of Mr Justice Peter Charleton, he said the gardai were collectively obliged to provide a policing and security service, based on high standards and ethical behaviours.

"It is what I also expect of you. These standards and behaviours are essential to continue to securing public confidence and support."

However, he said, this has been undermined by the large number who had yet to sign the code, which was their guide as to how they did their business.

"Every trainee who passes out of college signs the code of ethics. If they can sign up, then there is no reason why others shouldn’t. I appreciate there have been concerns about the implications of signing the code but at this stage these concerns have been well addressed.

 "And I would now again ask the association to encourage its members to sign the code. In the end it’s what the public expect of us, and we are public servants", Mr Harris added.

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