Fighting back – Garda Ombudsman – Opinion from Irish Times 10th May 2019

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) is fighting back, attempting to maintain a pivotal place for itself in dealing with new oversight and disciplinary structures proposed by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. It is seeking consultations between the Department of Justice and all three independent bodies – the Garda Inspectorate, the Policing Authority and Gsoc – in the preparation of legislation. It warns that failure to do so will cause future difficulties.

Gsoc chair Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring and her two commissioner colleagues told an Oireachtas committee this week that criminal misconduct cases were being investigated by the Garda Síochána, without telling Gsoc. In such circumstances it was not possible for them to do their job. There may be no statutory obligation on the Garda to consult with Gsoc on such investigations at present. But Gsoc wants that to change.

Having been starved of resources for years, it was only when a restructuring of its functions was proposed by the Commission on the Future of Policing, last September, that the Government loosened the purse strings. In future, the organisation will become known as the Independent Office of the Police Ombudsman. It will be expected to investigate incidents, rather than individual gardaí, and “find fault where appropriate”.

Relations between the Garda and Gsoc have been difficult since it was established in 2007. Its activities as an external, punitive body were deeply resented at all levels within the force. This manifested itself through a general lack of co-operation. Garda files went missing during investigations and long delays developed.

Measures dealing with public discourtesy and communication failures are being introduced. But supervision within the force remains poor. A draft protocol on information sharing between the two organisations has been submitted to Commissioner Drew Harris for his approval. His response is awaited but he has said communications must improve. Reform is likely to be a lengthy and difficult process.

2 Responses to Fighting back – Garda Ombudsman – Opinion from Irish Times 10th May 2019

  1. patrick joseph mc May 14, 2019 at 6:09 pm #

    . Brenda Power ,in last SUNDAY Times had an excellent article on legal aid Her advice will go unnoticed as it would stop the gravy train for the legal profession. Some time back Gsoc was saying most complaints should be dealt with at ground level as they were simply customer related . One cannot help thinking many of these statements are Empire Building and making themselves more important. , What happened to the Oath we took to enforce the Law without fear Favour Malice or ill Will . I think she should have glad the gardai were doing just that in investigating their own . Some members of the legal profession have brought that profession into disrepute but I do not the same clamour to subject that profession to the same scrutiny the Gardai are subjected to.

  2. timothy May 21, 2019 at 12:12 pm #

    I have no problem with the forensic scrutiny of The Garda Siochana by a variety of statutory agencies. But it is beyond me how other public groups aren’t given similar examination and publicity as the guards. The guards as guardians of the peace and law enforcers have a nasty job to do which is not popular and its all too easy to criticise them.

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