Such a super-watchdog would be responsible for inspecting not just for the Garda, but the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, the Courts Service, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Probation Service, and the Legal Aid Board.
It could be expanded to take in the State pathologist, forensic science laboratory, and prison governors.
In its report on reforming the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Oireachtas Justice Committee also wants the Garda Inspectorate’s powers to be beefed up in relation to the Garda by removing any necessity for it to give “advance notice” of its inspections.
Other recommendations include:
nBringing the Garda Inspectorate and the Garda Ombudsman under the control of the proposed Garda Authority;
nReplacing the three-person leadership of the Garda Ombudsman with a single head to avoid possible “dissenting voices”;
nGarda Authority be set up in a “shadow format” initially to ensure correct structures are in place before assuming full powers;
nAppointment of chief superintendent up to become the responsibility of the Garda Authority.
The report has been sent to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who is finalising proposed legislation on the Garda Síochána Act, including the establishment of the police authority.
Some of the recommendations in the Oireachtas report have already been signalled. These include the power for both ombudsman and the inspectorate to examine practices and procedures on their own volition. Ms Fitzgerald also plans to give the ombudsman the power to investigate the commissioner — but only if the minster consents to it. The committee report suggests taking “customer service” complaints about gardaí — such as discourtesy and rudeness — away from GSOC and giving these to the Garda Authority. The report recommends that appointments to the Garda Authority are processed through the Public Appointments Process, with the final appointment made by the minister and government.