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Gardai step up pressure for probe measures

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has assured frontline gardai she recognises the ordeal they endure as they cope with the fall-out from a series of alleged scandals involving the force.

She said yesterday it was very difficult for those gardai, as they heard of "one scandal after another", when all they wanted was to get on with their job.

Mrs Fitzgerald was responding to the general secretary of the Garda Representative Association, P J Stone, who warned the government that untested allegations of malpractice, put forward by a "whistleblower", had caused incalculable damage to junior members of the force.

Mr Stone attacked the government for failing to set out the terms of reference for an inquiry into the allegations, four months after they had been published in what he described as a one-sided report from senior counsel, Sean Guerin.

Pressure

Last night the general secretary of the Association of Garda Superintendents, Pat McCabe stepped up the pressure for the setting up of a commission.

He said his association had called for an early investigation of the allegations at their annual conference last April.

It was now almost October and it was no further advanced, he added.

"Lets get the process up and running and then whatever falls out from it, we can deal with it.

"We are not making any comment on the rights and wrongs of what has been alleged.

"But we need to ascertain the facts and handle whatever arises from the outcome of the process", Superintendent McCabe added.

The minister accepted that four months on, the government had not yet laid down the terms of reference for a commission into the allegations of garda wrongdoing.

But she blamed the delay on the outcome of a review of over 270 specific complaints

She wanted to know the findings of that review and include them, where appropriate, in the new commission investigation rather than setting up one process and then having to establish another one later.

Meanwhile, "whistleblower", Sgt Maurice McCabe is starting work with the Garda's professional standards unit to identify his latest penalty point complaints.

Irish Independent