Wednesday 17 January 2018

Coalition to establish independent Garda body

Noirin O'Sullivan
Noirin O'Sullivan
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The Government has moved to establish the long-awaited independent policing authority which will be given direct powers to scrutinise the work of the Garda Commissioner.

The nine-member authority, headed by independent chairperson Josephine Feehily, will be devise a new code of practice for serving officers.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan will be required to present annual policing plans to the new oversight body, which is scheduled to hold at least quarterly meetings in public.

Under the legislation, due to be published this week, the authority will be given direct powers to request the garda ombudsman to investigate allegations of misconduct by members of the force.

The practices and procedures of the force will also come under scrutiny for the first time.

The new authority, which is modelled on similar bodies in the North and the UK, has been repeatedly called for by garda unions.

Senior Fine Gael figures, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, agreed to the establishment of the authority last year following Labour Party demands.

The moves came in the wake of the garda tapes scandal.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is due to launch the bill later this week, before it is debated in the Oireachtas.

Last night, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said the new oversight body provides for a "clear separation" between the political system and garda management.

"The new authority offers the possibility that garda resources and management might finally be free of political expediency; and where a Garda Commissioner can outline the reality of policing, free from political interference and constraint."

Irish Independent

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