THE Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has been in operation since May 2007.
Under the 2005 Garda Siochana Act, it took over responsibility for investigating complaints against members of the force from the Garda Complaints Board.
Unlike the complaints board, which used gardai to conduct investigations into their colleagues, GSOC has its own investigators, including former police officers from Ireland and abroad. It has a budget of €8.7m a year, some €5.7m of which is spent on salaries and allowances for staff.
GSOC can launch investigations following complaints from members of the public or from gardai. It also has power to mount "public interest" investigations where no complaint is received.
GSOC is headed up by three commissioners, Simon O'Brien, Carmel Foley and Kieran FitzGerald. It also has a four-man management team overseeing 80 staff, including a 33-member investigations unit.