Policing boss hears of morale and facility issues for gardaí

Josephine Feehily: Effective police force needed.

Lack of resources, poor morale, equipment problems and, in some cases, dire accommodation are issues gardaí have pressed home to the new police oversight boss.

Policing Authority chairperson Josephine Feehily said gardaí she had met wanted to know what the new oversight body was going to do about it.

She said the authority’s primary job was to build an effective police organisation and improve public confidence in it.

However, she said the authority also wanted accountability to be seen “other than through a lens of blame” and was eager to be a “shop window” for good policing that was going on.

Speaking the day after the first board meeting of the authority, Ms Feehily said:

  • The critical findings of the force made by the Garda Inspectorate were “fairly stark”.
  • The authority would later this year take a stance on whether the force was being adequately resourced.
  • Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was “very impressive” and “knows her brief”.
  • The initial stronger powers for the authority — including making the commissioner “accountable” to it — had changed as a result of “concerns about constitutionality”.

The former Revenue Commissioner chief said she had spent some time in a number of Garda stations.

“They told me they didn’t have enough resources. They asked me what would the authority do about that. They did certainly indicate poor morale. They talked a lot about equipment, but that was before the recent spending.

“Some of the accommodation I saw was dire – there’s work in progress on that as well which I think is very important,” she said.

Ms Feehily said the authority was immediately working on three areas: working with gardaí on devising a strategy statement; taking over the appointment of senior officers; and devising a code of ethics.

Regarding some concerns over the authority’s powers, she said they had “significant powers”.

She said that in the week of the third anniversary of the murder of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe it was worth reminding ourselves “the risks they take every day for us”.

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