Alan Shatter: Serious faults in gardaí

There are “substantial” managerial and cultural problems in the Garda Síochána — but efforts to address them should not “completely undermine” the capability of the organisation to fulfil its function, former justice minister Alan Shatter has said.

Alan Shatter: Serious faults in gardaí

Mr Shatter, who has also served as defence minister, said that during his tenure there was “far greater competence” at senior ranks of the Defence Forces than in the gardaí — which he said was partially a training and education issue.

The former Fine Gael minister rejected claims from former attorney general, Michael McDowell, that he was bitterly opposed to setting up the Policing Authority, but had been overruled by the Cabinet shortly before he resigned in May 2014 over a separate Garda crisis.

Speaking on The Sean O’Rourke show on RTÉ about his memoir, Life is a Funny Business, Mr Shatter also revealed that the suicide of his mother, whose body he found at age 14, had a “very traumatic” effect on him.

He said the continuing Garda controversies were exposing serious faultlines in the organisation.

“I think further revelations over the last 12 months show the substantial managerial dysfunction in the gardaí; there’s a cultural problem also within the gardaí,” he said.

“But in addressing it, we need to make sure we don’t completely undermine the capacity of the Garda Síochána to carry out their day-to-day duties in protecting communities and investigating criminality.”

He said that during his term, stretching over three years, he commissioned the Garda Inspectorate to conduct a comprehensive report, which had issued a myriad of recommendations.

“Clearly, there is a difficulty in their being implemented,” he said. “There’s a need for a fundamental change of approach on these issues in An Garda Síochána, a fundamental change in how we deal with recruitment and training.”

He added: “One of the things that was clear to me s minister — I was minister for defence and minister for justice — was that when you got to the senior ranks within the Defence Forces, there was far greater competence than with senior ranks of Garda Síochána. I think that is a problem, partially a problem of training and education.”

He said that while he was “converted” to the case for the Policing Authority, he was not bitterly opposed to it.

He said his concern was that it would not be accountable and would allow the justice minister to avoid answering Dáil questions – just like, for years, health ministers and the HSE.

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