During a four-hour meeting of Cabinet yesterday — mostly consumed with the latest Garda fiasco — it was agreed that a “root and branch” review will be conducted.
The timeframe, powers and people to head this though have yet to be agreed. This external review will be on top of two others of the force, including an internal one by gardaí themselves and a separate review by the policing authority of the penalty points and breathaliser test scandal.
Government partners, Independent Alliance, said they are reserving a “wait-and-see” approach on the issue, until Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan answers questions at an Oireachtas committee tomorrow.
But a spokeswoman for the Alliance said they feel “vindicated” after more recent demands for an external review of the force.
Alliance de-facto leader Shane Ross and Environment Minister Denis Naughten emphasised the need for the external review at yesterday’s weekly meeting.
However, the Government has not agreed yet how long this external review will take; who might lead it; or what powers it will have.
Crucially, a Government spokesman said it will include an examination of garda management but the review, in general, is “not fault finding”.
Government sources expect that a Patten-type commission could be contemplated when Cabinet resume deliberations on this in the coming days — a model on a previous review of policing in the North which led to an overhaul of the force there.
A memo on the exact nature of the external review will go to Cabinet next week, a spokesman said.
The process will also include examining if existing legislation can be used or not.
A Government statement added: “The Government believes the level of public concern is now so profound that it may now be time to conduct a thorough, comprehensive and independent root-and-branch review of An Garda Síochána. That is clearly a proposal that will require further detailed consideration by the Government.”
The opposition will also be consulted about the nature of the review.