One in five superintendents are being investigated by the garda ombudsman (GSOC), with many of the inquiries taking up to five years to complete.
The Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS) said many of the cases embroiled their members, because the complaint related to gardaí under their charge. They said this was a “new departure”.
Speaking at their annual conference, AGS president, Noel Cunningham, said it was “unfair” that the investigations were taking so long, but GSOC was not being given sufficient resources to conduct inquiries efficiently and speedily.
He said that 30 of their 166 members were now under investigation by the ombudsman.
“It is to be concerned about,” said Supt Cunningham. “We are in a new era of accountability, which is very important. It is very important superintendents are held to account for their stewardship, but it’s very important that, if we are held to account, that we are dealt with fairly in the process and that’s why GSOC needs to be resourced.”
He added: “Many of our own members are currently under investigation, with investigations running from three to five years. That’s very unfair and that’s because GSOC are not fully resourced. They should be properly resourced, so investigations can be carried out promptly and professionally.”
He said superintendents were being investigated for issues “in relation to their own stewardship” and some wrong they were perceived to have done.
He added: “But the superintendent is now often included — which is a new departure — in relation to wrongdoings or perceived wrongdoings or inactivity by the members under their control, and the superintendent is investigated to establish what he did or didn’t do to ensure the particular incident was properly investigated.”
Mr Cunningham said that this was due to either the complainant including the superintendent in the complaint, or GSOC doing so after examining a complaint against a garda.
Separately, he said superintendents were also being asked to carry out investigations on GSOC’s behalf into complaints involving junior members.
“At present, we have a situation where superintendents are carrying out 90% of the investigations for GSOC and this is on top of our daily job,” he said.
“This is unfair. It’s unfair on the public who make complaints against members of the gardaí and they expect an independent investigation to be carried out.”
He said having superintendents investigate these cases required a “significant amount of resources and time”.
He said: “We have our day jobs to do, we have our local communities to police and look after, and if we are carrying out investigations, that is taking us away from that.”
Supt Cunningham said that lack of resources was also a major issue in relation to the implementation of major modernisation projects, including the rollout of dedicated sexual-assault and domestic-violence units in divisions.
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