Garda chief defends plans to set up authority

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan has defended plans to set up a Garda authority and said it will add additional trust between the public and the force.

In a clear reference to whistleblowers, the head of the force also signalled that gardaí had missed messages in the past.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal, she said the garda commissioner would be accountable to the new authority which in turn would report to the Oireachtas and Government.

Ms O’Sullivan also defended recent closures of garda stations, saying that the purpose of policing was to serve communities and not man desks in stations.

“I believe that the independent authority will add an additional layer of trust,” she said.

“The way I envisage it working is that the Garda Commissioner would be accountable to the Policing Authority in respect of all policing matters. And, on national security, the commissioner would report to the minister, the Oireachtas and the Government.”

She said changes were afoot for the force and it was “time to get it right”.

Following the recent scandals to hit the force, Ms O’Sullivan said the Garda Garda Siochana was hurting but “hungry for change”.

She defended the force’s action against crime and terrorist threats.

“We have a proud record of protecting this country from sophisticated subversive organisations that were, and some still are, determined to inflict anarchy, mayhem and murder on our people with the aim of destroying the democratic foundations of this State,” she said.

“We have dismantled vicious organised crime gangs who don’t care about the trail of destruction and despair they leave behind in the communities that they push their drugs in.

“We have made our roads safer, so we now have over 200 fewer deaths on roads than this time 10 years ago.”

She said dissent could not be seen as disloyalty and it was important everybody was listened to.

In a clear reference to whistleblowers who raised malpractice in the force, she added: “We now know that if you concentrate too much on the messenger, you may miss the message.”

Members of the audience quizzed her about garda station closures, but she replied: “The purpose of policing is to serve the community and not man desks in stations.”

Ms O’Sullivan also said that garda recruits would begin training again in September in Templemore, Co Tipperary.


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