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New group to oversee gardai is fast-tracked


 Martin Callinan. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Martin Callinan. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Martin Callinan. Photo: Caroline Quinn

THE Government is fast-tracking a plan for civilian oversight of the gardai in an effort to defuse the coalition row over the garda whistleblower affair.

As the public split over Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan's description of the action of the penalty points whistleblowers as "disgusting" was still going last night, Fine Gael and Labour Party officials were engaged in talks on the creation of a new independent garda authority.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore have also been in contact over the weekend about the crisis.

In an effort to ease Labour concerns over the accountability of the gardai, Fine Gael is seeking to speed up the draft of the plan for a garda oversight body and the Government is now expected to signal the setting up of the new body in principle.

The new authority's responsibilities would include receiving regular reports from garda management; drawing up policy statements; approving budgets and questioning the Garda Commissioner and senior officers.

The garda authority would be broadly based on the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Unlike the North's model, it wouldn't have the power to appoint the Garda Commissioner, which would remain with the Government. However, it might be involved in the selection process and drawing up a shortlist of candidates.

The issue will be discussed at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow but Justice Minister Alan Shatter is not expected to bring a memo for consideration.


A broad agreement would be viewed as a signal of a desire to change the overall culture of accountability in the garda.

But there is little sign of resolution to the tensions around Commissioner Martin Callinan.