Fitzgerald vows to restore public confidence in gardai
THE new Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has singled out the establishment of a revamped system of garda supervision as a key priority for her office.
At her first public engagement, Ms Fitzgerald also pledged to usher in a new era and culture to restore public confidence in policing.
Within 24 hours of taking over the jam-packed portfolio following the shock resignation of Alan Shatter, the former social worker signalled her intention to work on improving the straitened relations between Government, the gardai and the judiciary.
The former Children's Minister paid tribute to "whistleblowers" and said it was important for officialdom to be able to listen to dissenting voices, singling out Sergeant Maurice McCabe for special mention.
"I do believe hearing the voices of whistleblowers and responding to them in an appropriate way is part of what we need to learn to do properly. I would pay tribute to the work that Sgt Maurice McCabe has done," Ms Fitzgerald said.
The new Justice Minister moved to press the importance of establishing a new garda authority by the end of the year and re-building relationships with An Garda Siochana that appeared to have broken down with Mr Shatter.
"It's about meeting and listening and talking to people and seeing what their concerns are. Clearly Government has to take hard decisions, one can't always respond entirely to the demands of any one particular group, and clearly there are competing interests," she said.
Ms Fitzgerald paid tribute to her predecessor and former cabinet colleague, Mr Shatter.
She also pointedly declined any comment on questions about Mr Shatter's perceived arrogance while in office.
"He was a reforming minister who brought in critical reforms to our justice system, which will be of long-lasting benefit to our country. He had huge reforming zeal and dedication," Ms Fitzgerald said. She also said she would be studying the Guerin Report into the authorities' responses to allegations of serious garda misconduct ahead of its publication today.