'Not acceptable' that almost one-third of gardaí have not signed ethics code, says Harris

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Picture: Lorraine Teevan

The Garda Commissioner has told middle-ranking gardaí that allegations engulfing their staff association is impacting on the entire organisation.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, Drew Harris said he wanted the matter resolved “as soon as possible”.

But he told the leadership of the AGSI that he still did trust the association and the individuals within it.

Those comments contrasted with that of Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, who told delegates on Monday evening that he needed an association that he could trust representing sergeants and inspectors.

On other issues, the commissioner said:

  • He could not comment on reports of being transported by the PSNI, with armed PSNI officers, in the Republic saying that publicising details of his travel arrangements – which he said were in place for the last six years - could compromise his and his family's security
  • It was “not acceptable” that nearly 4,000 of more than the 12,000 gardaí who have received training on the Code of Ethics had not yet signed the code
  • There is a “copycat” element, involving different gangs, to the spate of ATM thefts, hitting the North and the border region in the South

Asked about allegations concerning a senior member in the AGSI, he declined to comment on the specifics, but said: "It's been dealt with, it's been dealt with expeditiously and I would hope soon to see the papers in respect of that and obviously I would wish to study those carefully and make an objective decision based on those papers.”

He said he would like the matter resolved “as quickly as possible”.

Asked did he have trust in the association, given the comments of the minister on Monday evening, he said: “Yes, I trust the association, I trust the individuals within that.

"Allegations have been made and they are treated very seriously and must be subject to due process and when we get to a conclusion on that then this matter can hopefully be resolved in terms not just of AGSI but also An Garda Síochána as well because it impacts on the organisation too.”

Questioned by the media on recent reports that he was transported by the PSNI, with armed officers on board, into Garda Headquarters, he declined to give specific answers citing security concerns.

He said all the protocols regarding cross-border movement, which he stressed have been in place for the last six years, were adhered to.

“I am not going to answer that question directly because it does impact directly on my security and my security arrangements."

He added: “This matter relates to my own security and the security of my family and I don't wish to comment any further.”

On ethical policing, he said that according to Mr Justice Peter Charleton in his Disclosure Tribunal report, that gardaí were “collectively obliged” to provide a policing and security service based on high standards and ethical behaviour.

“It is what I also expect of you all,” he told delegates.

But he said this was "undermined" by the fact nearly 4,000 of the more than 12,000 garda members who have received Code of Ethics training have yet to sign the code.

"This is not acceptable,” he said.

Regarding AGSI concerns on policing arrangements around repossession orders, the commissioner said Garda HQ provided further guidance on the issue last February.

He said he recognised the AGSI concerns and said the Garda Inspectorate was finishing an inspection covering the issue.

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