Gardaí and civilian staff will be subject to a new code of ethics which encourages and facilitates the reporting of wrongdoing within the force under the proposed new Policing Authority.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has published a draft bill to establish the new nine-person authority, which she hopes will bring “a further layer of public accountability” to the administration of policing services.
“In particular, the new authority will be tasked with holding the Garda Commissioner to account in relation to all policing services, while developing a key role in the future appointment of senior Garda management,” she said.
Under the new proposals, the authority will establish and publish, within 12 months, a code of ethics that includes standards of conduct and practice which will “encourage and facilitate the reporting of wrongdoing in the Garda Síochána by members of the Garda Síochána”.
The authority will also be expected to hold at least quarterly meetings in public.
Under the new proposals, the Garda commissioner will report to the policing authority in respect of policing matters and to the minister for justice in relation to security matters.
Ms Fitzgerald said she intends to bring proposals to Government shortly in relation to the nomination of a chairperson-designate for the authority.
The other eight ‘ordinary’ members of the body will be appointed by Government, following a further recruitment drive by the Public Appointments Service.
Commenting on the Bill, director of the Irish Council of Civil Liberties Mark Kelly said he had concerns over the “opaque” nature of the appointment process for the new authority.
“We welcome the publication of this important draft legislation, but regret that the minister appears to be intent on retaining provisions that will create a two-speed appointments process: Opaque and politicised for the chairperson and open and transparent for the other eight members,” said Mr Kelly.
“Taken together with provisions that would install the minister as the referee between the policing authority and An Garda Síochána in relation to the definition of security matters, these create the clear impression that the Department of Justice is not yet prepared to relinquish its political control of policing to a wholly independent authority.”
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