Policing Authority has 'serious concerns' over garda oversight reform

Policing Authority has 'serious concerns' over garda oversight reform

The Policing Authority has raised serious concerns at key recommendations in the Policing Commission report regarding an overhaul of garda oversight structures.

The changes proposed will see a significant reduction in the powers of the authority, much of it being transferred to a new internal Garda governance body and the Garda Commissioner.

Following an internal meeting this morning, the authority has issued a statement in which it commended many of the proposals in the report of the Policing Commission, but raised concerns regarding the new Garda Síochána Board.

The statement read: “It is not clear to the Authority how the public interest and the current level of transparency can be maintained, let alone enhanced, through the architecture of the proposed internal board given the usual fiduciary duties that attach to the board of a public body.”

The authority said that both it and the Oireachtas Justice Committee had suggested a “single pair of eyes” in terms of garda performance and oversight.

“It is somewhat surprising that the Commission proposes adding two further layers, and the Authority will be interested in hearing the detail of how this might work,” the statement said.

The statement will feed into the work of officials in the Department of Justice who are seeking input from all the relevant agencies as it prepares for the establishment of an implementation group.

The authority said it looked forward to the consultation process.

The authority is due to hold its first public meeting with the new commissioner, Drew Harris, this afternoon.

The Policing Commission report, published last week, laid out a blueprint of reform in policing and oversight.

The authority's statement follows the comments in today's Irish Examiner of law professor Dermot Walsh, who said the proposals will “concentrate power” in the government and Garda management.

The author on policing and accountability said the recommendations will be to the “detriment” of effective oversight and called for the plans to be “fundamentally reworked” in any implementing legislation.

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