Only proper reform can bring clarity to Justice system
The findings of the Review of the Department of Justice raise serious questions as to whether this is the right time for Garda reform and whether the Department as currently structured is in a position to lead such reform.
The Review describes the Department's relationship with the Gardaí as 'deferential', 'confused', 'passive' and 'disaggregated'. It calls for an end to ineffectual oversight, and change in the practice of formal and the 'shared culture of secrecy'.
The findings give little confidence to reform of the Gardaí being undertaken within the Department as currently configured. It is particularly damning in its appraisal of the handling of briefings to the Minister in relation to recent events. Mentioning the Garda Division and senior management, it lists four particular 'management failings': "No one person in charge of the overall issue. No overall plan to deal with the issues as they unfolded. No recognition of the serious potential impact of the issues. Unable to see where things went wrong." This does not instill confidence for major changes to be introduced to the Gardaí. There are undoubtedly talented and dedicated people in the Department, and a Minister who seems to be committed to real reform, but that reform may need to begin at home.