Inspectorate seeks unimpeded access to garda records

The Garda Inspectorate has called for "unimpeded" access to garda records and the power to carry out inspections and investigations without ministerial approval.

In a submission on suggested reforms about the governance of the force, the inspectorate has also suggested it should be allowed inspect garda stations without prior notice.

Garda Inspectorate chief inspector Robert Olson will appear before the Justice Oireachtas Committee today and outline what changes should be made to legislation to empower the agency.

The inspectorate’s submission, seen by the Irish Examiner, calls for greater powers under the Garda Siochána Act 2005 to monitor the force and investigate matters of concern.

It wants to do an annual “compliance report” on the force, “unimpeded access” to garda records including the Pulse system and to be allowed do “unannounced site inspection visits” of garda facilities.

Meanwhile, Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell is now expected to appear before the committee next week to explain why he and officials failed to respond adequately to claims of misconduct against gardaí.

He yesterday wrote to the committee and agreed to appear. He will be asked about how he and his officials responded to claims against the force raised with the department by Sergeant Maurice McCabe over a number of years and cited in last week’s damning Guerin report. Committee chairman David Stanton said this would likely be next week.

Mr Stanton also revealed that, despite an original request to do so, Mr Purcell would now not address the controversial issue of former garda commissioner Martin Callinan’s recent departure from the force.

The Cork East TD said the committee did want to prejudice a separate probe, the Fennelly inquiry.

However, Mr Purcell’s position hangs in the air after a refusal again yesterday by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to express confidence in him.

The Cabinet has agreed for an external review to be carried out on the performance, management, and administration of the department. Ms Fitzgerald said she would base any confidence in Mr Purcell on “objective evidence” from the review.

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