Lenihan rejects request to examine crowd control policy

A REQUEST by the Garda Ombudsman to examine the force’s crowd control procedures, following complaints by protesters at Shell’s controversial terminal in north Mayo, was rejected by Justice Minister Brian Lenihan.

The annual report of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) will reveal its request to look at crowd control procedures was refused by the minister.

Under its remit, the GSOC can ask the minister for permission to examine practices, policies and procedures in the force.

In its first annual report, the Ombudsman says it submitted a number of requests to the minister, one of which concerned the force’s policy when it comes to civil disobedience.

The GSOC’s request was prompted by dozens of formal complaints from protestors who clashed with gardaí at the site of Shell’s terminal in north Mayo.

The GSOC’s annual report shows it investigated 12 deaths in 2007. Six people died in incidents involving gardaí during road traffic accidents. Another six people died during or following garda custody.

The Garda Commissioner referred a separate 237 incidents to the GSOC’s offices, where the conduct of a garda may have resulted in serious harm.

Separately, another 2,084 complaints from members of the public were dealt with in 2007.

It is thought the Ombudsman has received several hundred more complaints and referrals since the end of last year.

The annual report calls for nearly 10 legislative changes to how the GSOC operates.

One includes the need for it to have the power to carry out quick investigations or preliminary inquiries. Some cases, which have come before it since it began operations in May last year, did not require full investigations.

However, once a complaint is accepted, a full inquiry must be carried out.

The Ombudsman wants the power to examine documents or the backgrounds of individuals before deciding on a full investigation, especially in sensitive family cases.

It also wants more discretion when it comes to deciding how a complaint should be investigated.


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