Dáil to debate Policing Authority this week

Increased powers for the Independent Policing Authority to allow it remove and discipline officers of any rank are to be debated in the Dáil this week.

A new bill, brought by Fianna Fáil’s Justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan, will expand the oversight reach of the authority, which has been criticised for its lack of powers.

Under the terms of the Garda Síochána (Amendment) Bill 2017, the authority would be given “greater oversight over the workings of An Garda Síochána and the commissioner’s office”.

The bill is to be debated on Thursday and the Government’s response is to be discussed at Cabinet tomorrow.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr O’Callaghan said had the bill been in place, the gardaí would have had to disclose the fake breath test issue much earlier to the Policing Authority as opposed to “internalising it”. He said: “I would be hopeful the Government will not oppose the bill as its provisions would greatly add to the authority’s powers and effectiveness.”

Under the provisions of the bill, the authority would be empowered to supervise the functioning of the Garda Commissioner’s Office and the discharge of these functions by the commissioner.

It would also oversee the performance by the Garda Síochána of its functions relating to policing services and establish policies and procedures for An Garda Síochána which shall be binding on all members.

The bill allows the authority to review the adequacy and appropriateness of the policies and procedures which underpin the operation of the force .

Mr O’Callaghan said the public’s confidence in the gardaí has been badly shaken and urgently needs to be restored.

“In the meantime however, I believe it important to move decisively to try and shore up confidence in the processes and procedures around Garda oversight,” he said. “I hope all parties in the Dáil will be able to support this bill. Most of the provisions were also recommended by a recent report on Garda Oversight by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality.

“The people depend on the Garda Siochána to feel safe in their communities and to uphold the rule of law. That is why it is so important for us to hold the force to account and ensure we achieve and maintain the highest possible standards,” he said.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was not available for comment yesterday. A spokesman for the Department of Justice merely said the matter will be discussed by the Cabinet when it meets.


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