The difficulty of disciplining a member of An Garda Síochána arose recently at the launch of an Irish Council for Civil Liberties submission to the Policing Commission.
One of the speakers at the event was Judge Mary Ellen Ring, chair of the Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
She displayed a complicated diagram representing the steps that must be followed in dealing with any complaint against a member of the force, including disciplinary action against anybody found to have transgressed.
Describing the process as a maze, she said: “If we go out of any of these boxes, we’re told we can’t. We are [trying] to put forward ways of making sense of the maze, which you, the community and the gardaí, have to navigate.”
A complicated process, the Garda disciplinary maze takes up a huge amount of time and resources. This in a police service that we are constantly told is stretched.
GSOC is at the coalface of dealing with Garda discipline. Its chair is quite obviously frustrated at a system that, to a large extent, makes GSOC’s job all but impossible in places.
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