McDowell makes funding pledge on Garda Ombudsman

The new Garda Ombudsman Commission will have the staffing and the budget to match the Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland, it was claimed tonight.

The members of the new three-person body - Judge Kevin Haugh, former Irish Times editor Conor Brady and former Consumer Affairs Director Carmel Foley - were sworn in today by President Mary McAleese.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said the Garda Ombudsman would help to achieve a radical overhaul of the force.

“It will be fully funded to the same extent as Nuala O’Loan’s (the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland),” he said.

The Garda Ombudsman Commission will have a budget of €10m, which is roughly equivalent to the £7m budget (€10.24m) of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland. It will employ between 50 and 100 staff, some of which may be recruited from abroad, and will investigate complaints from the public about Garda wrongdoing.

Enterprise and Employment Minister Micheal Martin announced that Carmel Foley had resigned today from her position as Director of Consumer Affairs to take up her new position with the Garda Ombudsman Commission.

He said she had consistently argued the consumers’ case in a diverse range of areas and paid tribute to her work during the euro changeover in particular.

“I am sure that the director’s experience in serving the consumers’ and the public’s interest would be a tremendous asset to the Garda Ombudsman Commission in carrying out its important work.”

The Garda Siochana Act Implementation Review Group said in its report today that the Garda Ombudsman Commission was now likely to start operating in January next year.

Its headquarters will be in Dublin to ensure there is a highly visible presence to the greatest number of citizens, and there will also be two regional offices in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, and in Longford.

The review group’s chairman, Senator Maurice Hayes, said the Garda Ombudsman Commission had to make a crucial decision on whether to investigate all complaints itself, or delegate some of them to the Gardaí.

He pointed out that the Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland had chosen to investigate every complaint directly but the Independent Police Complaints Commission in Britain had chosen a different approach.

“It’ll be up to them to decide how they address their task. All we have established is that whatever their decision, the resources should be provided,” he said.

The discredited Garda Complaints Board, which had itself complained about its lack of powers, will conclude its remaining investigations before being wound up.

Senator Hayes said the three strengths of an Garda Siochana were their people, their tradition of service and the respect they had gained from the community. But he warned that he had encountered a significant level of demoralisation in the force.

“I think the guards by and large feel undervalued in society. I think they feel undervalued by the public and by their organisation. They’re worried about changes and that demands are being made on them and the resources aren’t there.”

More in this Section

Numbers on trolleys in Irish hospitals hits five-month highNumbers on trolleys in Irish hospitals hits five-month high

Westmeath obstetrician 'relieved' as Medical Council dismisses case against her over 'weak' evidenceWestmeath obstetrician 'relieved' as Medical Council dismisses case against her over 'weak' evidence

Man, 70s, dies after early-morning crash in Co RoscommonMan, 70s, dies after early-morning crash in Co Roscommon

Beef crisis latest:  'Self harm' being inflicted on industry; Concern for non-EU workers laid offBeef crisis latest: 'Self harm' being inflicted on industry; Concern for non-EU workers laid off


Kya deLongchamps is looking forward to another winter coloured by the transformative power of paintYour paint primer for the season ahead

A new RTÉ series takes viewers behind the scenes at Ireland’s finest eateries – including Restaurant Chestnut, a Michelin award-winner within six months of opening. Vickie Maye meets the chef behind it, Rob KrawczykGoing beyond the menu: RTÉ series goes behind the scenes at some of Ireland's finest restaurants

Whether you’re into a ‘no make-up make-up’ look or jet black lipstick, LFW had it all.These are the biggest beauty looks from a vampy London Fashion Week

It will take you out of your beauty comfort zone, but is remarkably easy to pull off.London Fashion Week: This top make-up artist wants you to ditch your cat-eye for a ‘blue fade’

More From The Irish Examiner