Archbishop warns against unrelenting criticism of Garda

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said there is a need to restore public confidence in the law, but he warned against unrelenting criticism of the Garda.

In a wide-ranging address to the Institute of Public Administration, he said: “I feel strongly that in Ireland today we need to restore confidence in the workings of the law. While there have been failings within An Garda Síochána, a culture of constant criticism of our police force is not good for society or for the economy or for the mainstream of a force which is highly dedicated and highly professional.”

The criticisms did not fit with the general public view of the Garda, he pointed out. “The regrets expressed at the closure of Garda stations is in itself a real expression of appreciation for the contribution the gardaí make within our communities and the respect in which they are held.”

His address was on the subject of ‘Good Governance, Culture and Ethics’ and he hit out at the use of ‘spin’ in organisations. “You can win many battles with spin, but spin in the long run weakens victory of the real war which is about trust and confidence,” he said.

“When spin gets out of control, then it gets tied up in knots and people are left adrift not knowing where they stand, where the truth is to be found, and the confidence in institutions is weakened.

“When that occurs in public institutions and in public life then the consequences of a failure in trust are serious. Spin is a huge business in Ireland and spin is rarely the friend of transparency.”

He said Pope Francis provided inspiration for organisations seeking to reform themselves. “Pope Francis has shown remarkable sense of leadership. He has achieved something that is the real dream of any CEO: he has turned around the image of his office and of his organisation.

“He has moved from an organisation which was uncertain about its way, bogged down with scandals and challenges. Pope Francis has given many a new hope and a feeling that there are reasons why believers can be proud of their Church. He attained this from the first moment in which he appeared after his election, without the help of expensive public relations strategies and spin doctors.”

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