Number of Garda whistleblowers in single figures, Commissioner tells Policing Authority

Number of Garda whistleblowers in single figures, Commissioner tells Policing Authority
Nóirín O'Sullivan (left) and Chairperson of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily (right) arrive for a public meeting with the Policing Authority at the King's Inns, Constitution Hill in Dublin. Picture: PA

Update 7.45pm: Concluding the meeting today Chairperson Josephine Feehily said it was a “work in progress”.

“In relation to the topics discussed today – service to victims, speaking up and culture change – the position is that they are work in progress.

“This was readily acknowledged by the Garda Commissioner and her colleagues, which is welcomed. For victims of crime, for Garda staff and members and for community confidence it is important that progress takes place.

“The Authority’s engagement with these topics will continue, not least in the context of the work to prepare a Garda Code of Ethics and the report in relation to whistle blowing requested by the Tánaiste.”

Earlier: The Garda Commissioner has revealed that the number of whistleblowers coming forward in the force each year is in "single figures".

Nóirín O'Sullivan has told the Policing Authority that it will take time to get it right on so-called "protected disclosures".

Commissioner O'Sullivan emailed all 16,000 members and staff in the Gardaí this morning outlining the new policy in this area.

The public hearing of the policing authority with the Commissioner got underway with chairperson Josephine Feehily warning that after all the reports into the Gardaí trust was the big issue.

"The Authority remains concerned that the good work done every day by the women and men of An Garda Síochána can be set at nought while doubts remain about these issues," she said.

Nóirín O'Sullivan said whistleblowers must always be heard, even when they are not right, and that a "step change" is required in attitudes.

She revealed she emailed all 16,000 members and staff in An Garda Siochána this morning outlining the new protected disclosures policy, but added it would take time to get this right.

"Have we got it right as of now? Absolutely, no. The policy is right. It's certainly compliant with the legislation. It does take a lot of time and commitment," she said.

The Authority questioned the appointment of a protected disclosures manager from within the ranks of An Garda Siochána. The Commissioner replied that, when allowed, they will bring in somebody externally with such HR expertise.

She also admitted that changing the culture from a force set up in 1922 would not happen overnight, and may not even happen in the five or six years of the current plan for change.

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