Sinn Féin has accused Fianna Fáil of putting forward a “cowardly” motion seeking the reform of the Garda force in an attempt to undermine Sinn Féin’s own motion seeking Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s resignation later today.
Sinn Féin justice spokesman Jonathan O’Brien made the claim as he outlined a series of alternative plans to reform the gardaí put forward by his party.
Speaking at the launch of the Restoring Public Confidence in Policing document yesterday, Mr O’Brien said the Fianna Fáil motion, which focuses on wider Garda management accountability and increasing the Policing Authority’s powers, is “cowardly”.
He said it makes no mention of Ms O’Sullivan and passes responsibility to decide whether to remove her to the Policing Authority.
“It just allows them to sit on the fence for even longer,” said Mr O’Brien. “It’s a just a cowardly motion to stop them asking the most obvious question: do they believe Government should remove Nóirín O’Sullivan, yes or no.”
Mr O’Brien defended his own party’s motion due to be heard in the Dáil later today, saying parties are obliged to raise concerns over Ms O’Sullivan’s performance despite Fianna Fáil’s insistence that a Garda Commissioner can only be removed by the Policing Authority or Government.
He was speaking at the launch of a Sinn Féin policy document the party claims will restore trust in the force.
Among the key areas of reform highlighted are for the Policing Authority to be allowed to conduct its work without the consent of the sitting Justice Minister, to potentially fire the Garda Commissioner and senior management if needed, and to discipline senior managers if deemed necessary.
The Sinn Féin document also calls for reforms to the Garda Ombudsman to ensure it does not “serve officers of the Garda” before the public, and for a new criminal justice inspectorate to “oversee” all justice system issues.
Mr O’Brien said it is “insulting” that Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald failed to attend the AGSI conference.
Dismissing Ms Fitzgerald’s view that the Dáil motions prevented her from attending, he said: “That’s a bit insulting. The minister couldn’t take an hour or two out of her day to go and attend the conference.
"At a time when morale in the Garda is obviously low, it is disappointing the minister didn’t see fit to do so.”
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