A matter for the Garda commissioner to clarify ‘murkiness’

A Garda staff association has said it is “a matter for the Garda commissioner” to clarify any “murkiness” over claims made to the O’Higgins inquiry by her lawyers that Sergeant Maurice McCabe was motivated by “malice”.

A matter for the Garda commissioner to clarify ‘murkiness’

Antoinette Cunningham, president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors,

was speaking as members of the AGSI travel this morning from all over the country to march on the Dáil.

The so-called Blue Wave protest is the first in a series of industrial actions by the association over pay.

The AGSI president declined to comment on the individual case of Sgt McCabe, who is a member of the association.

Speaking generally, she said An Garda Síochána had a “responsibility” to ensure that people who want to make disclosures had a safe way to do that.

“I know the Protective Disclosures Act 2014 brings the guards into that. There shouldn’t be any repercussions for anybody who wants to report corruption.”

Regarding the McCabe story first reported by the Irish Examiner, when asked on RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke programme if there should be clarity on the “murky” matter, she said: “I think that’s a matter for the Garda commissioner.”

She added: “I think if there is a murkiness or anything attached to it that needs clarity, it’s not for me to provide that clarity. It’s a matter for the Garda commissioner.”

Ms Cunningham pointed out that there was a policy internally about making confidential disclosures.

“I think that policy, once it’s adhered to in its strictest sense, will provide the comfort that people need and as an association we approve of accountability.”

As somebody who had worked in Templemore Training College she said professional values and ethical standards were “hugely important” for students and she “would encourage more of it”.

She said the bonds of working as police officers no longer stretched to tolerating conduct that was unacceptable.

“I don’t think loyalty can be misplaced anymore: there is too much accountability.”

She said they were subject to the Government, Garda Ombudsman, the Policing Authority, and the Garda Inspectorate.

The AGSI president agreed that supervision of gardaí — a key deficiency highlighted in the O’Higgins report — was “a matter that does need to be addressed as a matter of urgency”.

She said a sergeant in Kinsale currently supervises a unit in Bandon, 20km away — something replicated across the country.

Ms Cunningham said today’s Blue Wave march was the result of “sheer frustration” at the Government’s failure to review garda pay.

She said they had “no forum to negotiate on Garda pay”. She said today’s march will be followed by pickets at the offices of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice, starting next week. She said they were even prepared to consider strike action.

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