A top legal expert has said it is “doubtful” An Garda Síochána will address the threat posed by internal corruption in spite of a recent hard-hitting report by the Garda Inspectorate.
Professor Dermot Walsh, who specialises in criminal justice and policing, said that while the report was comprehensive and incisive, he felt the recommendations were less impressive and could reflect a “resignation” at the prospects of real change.
The inspectorate’s report flagged a range of serious corruption issues, including: A “poor grasp” in the force of the threat posed by gardaí abusing their power for sexual gain; the threat posed by inadequate vetting procedures, and the need for a properly empowered and resourced Garda Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).
In a lengthy analysis of the report, Prof Walsh said: "Given the resilience of internal garda corruption over the years, it is doubtful that the report will prove to be a gamechanger.”
The professor of law at University of Kent said shelves “were stacked” with the findings and recommendations of many reports on individual instances and systemic forms of corruption.
He said that despite all the official commitments and programmes of action for reform, the contents of the inspectorate’s report suggested that there had been “little actual progress”.
The academic said the topic and recommendations of the report had a “depressingly familiar ring”, which he said included abuse of garda powers.
He said it was a “poor reflection” on garda management that “basic and banal” recommendations from the inspectorate had to be made in 2021.
Prof Walsh said that a “more profound culture shift” will be required to deliver meaningful change.
In relation to concerns on abuse of garda discretion, he said the inspectorate’s recommendations “do not inspire confidence that change will be realised on the ground”.
He said while the inspectorate's various reports were "outstanding", it was hard to heap the same praise on this report’s recommendations.
"It is almost as if the inspectorate is exasperated that such measures are not already standard and operational. Equally, they may reflect a resignation that the prospects for effective remedial action.”
After the inspectorate's report, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said a number of anti-corruption measures had already been taken, including a staffed ACU.