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Gardai must rebuild trust – O'Sullivan

INTERIM Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan has admitted the force needs to overhaul its relationship with GSOC and the Garda Inspectorate to rebuild confidence from within.

Commissioner O'Sullivan said she welcomed internal criticism of the force, as it helps make it a better and stronger organisation.

She told delegates in attendance at the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) annual conference in Kerry that progress has been made on recommendations from the recent Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and the Garda Inspectorate.


But she said that it is every supervisor's responsibility to prioritise the small issues before they turned into major grievances.

"We must have a clear path from day one, when the complaint is first registered until such time as it is fully dealt with in a transparent and thorough manner," she added.

But, she said, in the meantime, the force must create an environment where people feel comfortable and confident about making a complaint.

She added that the gardai still have the support of the Irish people and she did not believe dissent was disloyalty and when they received criticism they should not push back against it.

"What we need to always remember is that every phase in the history of a great organisation requires the current generation of managers to step up to the plate and redefine the organisation," she added.

Referring to the first few days of her tour with senior management of garda stations around the country, she said she felt a sense that while the gardai never wanted the recent controversies, they, nonetheless, opened up possibilities.

"That's a surprising reality. When an organisation is suddenly challenged on a number of fronts, you'd expect it would retreat into itself, not take on anything new and get rigid about discipline in case any flexibility opens the floodgates to disaster.


"In fact, An Garda Siochana has not done anything like that", she said, citing the motions on other topics, tabled for debate at the conference.

Ms O'Sullivan said the force should be proud of its achievements in the fight against crime and the steps they took to protect the community.

She believed that the whistleblowers legislation, currently before the Dail, would result in stronger measures to protect them.