Policing Authority: An important appointment

Outgoing chairman of the Revenue Commissioners Josephine Feehily has been named as the new chairwoman of the Policing Authority. There can hardly have been a more important appointment to a public body in recent years.

Ms Feehily, in conjunction with the next Garda Commissioner and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald face the gargantuan but vital task of reforming a police force low on morale, struggling for resources and, most importantly, struggling to retain its credibility. This week’s report from Garda Inspectorate confirms the extent of that challenge if the force is to be what the majority of gardaí and society might wish it to be.

Ms Feehily will supervise the establishment of the Policing Authority, which is still at a fledgling stage and is not expected to be fully operational for some months. The heads of the bill providing for the authority were published just last week. It is hard to over-estimate the scale of the task involved in remaking our police force. A litany of scandals, and resignations at the very highest levels, and a series of court cases that have the potential to undermine even further the position of the force in society. There may be resource issues and there may be management issues but it seems that what is needed most of a ll is a deep cultural change within an organisation that has become too insular, too remote, unaccountable, and occasionally arrogant.


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