Saturday 24 February 2018

Whistleblowers must co-operate

Garda whistleblowers, whether identified or not, have done the State a service. Stock photo
Garda whistleblowers, whether identified or not, have done the State a service. Stock photo

That controversies related to the administration of justice, and specifically to the operation of An Garda Siochana, continue to reverberate two years after the forced retirement of a Garda Commissioner, the resignation of a Minister for Justice, the removal of a Garda confidential recipient and the sideways transfer of a secretary general of the Department of Justice not only forcefully underlines how urgent reform of the Garda was in the first place, but also raises serious questions as to the extent agreed reforms have been embraced. Those questions must be answered and doubts dispelled.

An Garda Siochana has stood this country in good stead since its foundation, throughout some of the most turbulent times any nation was likely to experience, not least throughout three decades when the Garda stood between the security of the State and the terrorist activities of the Provisional IRA, with many police officers paying the ultimate price with their lives. In more recent times, such threats have been shown not to have gone away. In the past three years two officers have been killed in the line of duty facing down threats from individuals with known links to dissident terrorists.

The former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan and his successor, Noirin O'Sullivan were formed as police officers in the era of the Troubles when hard policing was required, which in itself tended to foster a culture of loyalty between officers which was not only required but could be said to be essential to effective policing and the development of a police force necessary to meet the challenges as presented uniquely here compared to mainland Europe. No apology should be made for this. An Garda Siochana met those challenges head on while many of its now critics were in short pants, unaware of, or too young to recall the threat that was thrown down to the security of the State.

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