Tuesday 20 March 2018

Garda blame 'can't be pinned on one person'

The force is facing major reform in the future. Stock picture
The force is facing major reform in the future. Stock picture
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The blame for the series of controversies engulfing the Garda cannot be pinned on any one individual, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has said.

The Justice Minister said both herself and the embattled Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan were working to "shine a light" on "endemic issues" in the force, such as rogue phone tapping.

And she said that while she had "no current concerns" about phones being tapped without the proper oversight, the power must be used "rarely and carefully".

"Clearly this is a very important power and there can be no question of abuse.

"I would want to reassure the public that there can be no question of abuse of this power.

"But I would equally say that when you are fighting terrorism and serious criminals you need the power of interception."

Speaking in defence of Ms O'Sullivan, she said that much of the criticism of An Garda Síochána related to a time before she was in charge.

"I have no objective evidence that the Garda Commissioner has done anything wrong. I've no evidence in relation to that."

She indicated she intended to fight back against the criticism of her own performance from Opposition parties.

"Of course the Opposition is going to ramp up to the pressure and use the Commissioner to ramp up pressure on me," she said.

"I would say that politics and political expediency aren't going to sort out the very deep-seated issues in relation to An Garda Síochána."

Her comments come after an Irish Independent investigation revealed gardaí had tapped the phones of a number of innocent people and a political activist.

Senior politicians from both Labour and Fianna Fáil have expressed concerns about the revelations.

However, Ms Fitzgerald said that "politics and political expediency" would not resolve the problems.

"When you shine a light you see a lot of things that were kept in the dark for a long period, and by previous governments.

"The issues for example in relation to Templemore and interception.

"The interception problems go back to the early 2000s," she said.

"You had Fianna Fáil in government for 11 of the last 17 years.

"Templemore, we have had reports in 2008 and 2009. What action was taken then?" she asked.

"The idea that somehow you blame people who are trying to shine a light and do the current reforms is simply not the way that we are going to get real reform.

"These are endemic issues and the idea of pinning responsibility onto any one person is simply not the way forward," she added.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section