Cork has three garda chief superintendents but, under new guidelines issued by the departments of justice and environment, only two will in future be allowed to sit on the county’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC).
Cork County Council is to petition Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to revert back to the old criteria where all three senior gardaí were allowed to sit on the Cork County JPC.
Newly-elected JPC chairman, Cllr Frank O’Flynn, said Cork was such a big county and it was “ludicrous” only two of its most senior gardaí would be involved in the JPC.
He said the city’s chief superintendent, Michael Finn, is also responsible for large urbanised areas of the county, especially suburbs such as Ballincollig and Carrigaline.
Cllr O’Flynn said it was vitally important that chief superintendents Ger Dillane (North and East Cork) and Tom Hayes (West Cork) were also on the forum.
The demise of the county’s town council network has also led to the disbandment of their local JPCs. Cllr Donnchadh O Laoghaire (SF) said there would be concern as many communities would be left without a voice on policing in their areas.
“It’s totally inappropriate that we now just have one JPC for a county of our size which is also hugely diverse,” he said.
He suggested JPCs should be created in the eight municipal districts which effectively replaced town councils.
Senior council official Louis Duffy said, at the request of councillors he would write to Minister Fitzgerald and Minister Alan Kelly seeking to relax the “two chiefs” rule for the JPC meetings.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said the council should look at a different structure for such meetings while Cllr Cathal Rasmussen (Lab) said sub-committees should be set up as the workload would be enormous for just one countywide meeting.
Mr Duffy said the new guidelines did allow for the provision of sub-committees in the JPCs.
The forum, which meets again in January, will have places for five members of the Oireachtas. The council is to seek expressions of interest from Cork-based TDs and senators.
The committee will also include 15 councillors along with seven “community representatives”. Traditionally, the community sector involved voluntary organisations and business interests but Minister Fitzgerald wants the JPC to consider involving more young people, victim groups and representatives from Traveller organisations and immigrant communities. She also wants more women involved.
Under the new guidelines, the JPC will also have to set itself annual strategic plans and an overall six-year achievement target.
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