Friday 24 May 2019

One in five Garda superintendents tied up in GSOC investigations

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

One in five Garda superintendents in the country are tied up in investigations being carried out by the force's watchdog body, GSOC.

In most of the investigations, the superintendents are being held to account because of a complaint lodged against a member of the force under their control.

The inquiries are taking between three and five years to complete and, according to the Association of Garda Superintendents, its members do not have the "robust" legal representative structures they require to support them.

Association president Noel Cunningham told its annual conference in Naas this afternoon: "Justice delayed is justice denied".

He estimated that about 30 of the association's 166-strong membership were involved in GSOC investigations, mainly because gardai under their overall supervision were subjected to complaints or accused of wrongdoing.

Mr Cunningham said his members were also concerned that they were being drafted in to carry out investigations because GSOC had not been given sufficient resources.

GSOC had been established to ensure the public had independent investigations into complaints against the force.

But without the proper resources for each of their units, GSOC were handing the investigations over to the gardai.

At present, he reckoned, he had ten investigation files on his desk and these had to be dealt with on top of the day-to-day management of his district.

No senior garda officer has been found guilty in a GSOC investigation.

Mr Cunningham said his members had also voiced concern at proposed changes to management structures, which could eliminate the current role of superintendents as district officers.

Local communities relied on district officers and if the superintendents were removed from that role, the people would feel disenfranchised.

He said current proposals seemed to be in favour of creating central roles within a division for superintendents to deal with specific areas such as crime and traffic and this model could get rid of the district officer.

"We need to have positive local engagement", he added.

He also called for the appointment of fully trained and qualified personnel, garda and civilian, to specialised roles, such as IT jobs, in the organisation and the identification of career paths and job opportunities for the existing civilian workforce.

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