Saturday 16 December 2017

Restoring confidence in Garda now a top priority

"Since the foundation of the State there has been great respect in this country for An Garda Siochana."

The resignation yesterday of Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter, preceded by the resignation of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan a little more than a month ago, is unprecedented and indicates a dire need to restore confidence in our police force. Both of these events can be traced back to the handling by the gardai and Mr Shatter of allegations primarily made by whistleblower Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe. The alleged bugging of the GSOC office in Dublin was the spark that set off a series of allegations and subsequent inquiries that led to yesterday's dramatic announcement.

It now appears from Mr Shatter's letter of resignation that while Sean Guerin SC cannot "make any determination of the complaints Gda Sgt McCabe has made" he has recommended that the Government establish a statutory inquiry into what has become known as the 'Penalty Points Scandal'.

Since the foundation of the State there has been great respect in this country for An Garda Siochana. The public have always stood by our police force despite various crises, not least the awful events in Donegal which sullied the force's good name. While it is undoubtedly true that Mr Shatter was, at times, a brilliant and reforming minister, a combination of his own arrogance and a basic failure to deal with serious allegations has now led to his downfall.

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