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Dáil Éireann - Private Members Business (Fianna Fáil)
Tuesday 11 April 2017

“That Dáil Éireann:

notes that:

— members of An Garda Síochána play a hugely important role in Irish society and that public trust and confidence are crucial elements of effective policing;

— there is an immediate need to reassure the public that urgent action will be taken to implement real reform, cultural change and oversight of the management of An Garda Síochána;

— the final Report of the Fennelly Commission of Investigation (Certain Matters Relative to An Garda Síochána and other persons), has been published and its findings are alarming;

— accountability structures within An Garda Síochána are inadequate and need to be strengthened and made more transparent so that there is real accountability for Garda wrongdoing and/or mistakes;

— section 11(1) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 stipulates that a person who holds the office of Garda Commissioner can only be removed from office by the Government for stated reasons, including where the person’s removal from office would in the Government’s opinion be in the best interests of the Garda Síochána; and

— section 11(2) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended by the Garda Síochána Policing Authority Act 2015) provides an important and unique role for the Policing Authority in respect of the person who holds the office of the Garda Commissioner;

condemns that:

— there were 146,865 District Court summonses for road traffic offences wrongly issued and that 14,700 convictions were wrongly imposed upon members of the public as a result of shameful errors by An Garda Síochána;

— there were 937,000 breath tests that never occurred but which were falsely, and probably dishonestly, recorded by members of An Garda Síochána on the Police Using Leading Systems Effectively (PULSE) system as a result of deplorable wrongdoing by An Garda Síochána;

— the members of the public who were wrongly convicted were not informed directly by An Garda Síochána or any other agency of the State about their wrongful convictions, notwithstanding the fact that An Garda Síochána and the State were aware from July 2016 that members of the public had been wrongly convicted of these offences;

— An Garda Síochána was notified of discrepancies in its breath test data by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety in 2014, by an audit in its southern region in 2015, and by a national audit that commenced in 2016 (which revealed in 2016 that its data could not be reconciled), but did not inform the public or the Policing Authority of these discrepancies until its press conference on 23rd March, 2017; and

— there has been a lack of progress on implementing reforms recommended by several Garda Inspectorate reports;

acknowledges that:

— the Garda Commissioner has accepted that An Garda Síochána recorded numbers that were false and, that this was at worst deception and at best incompetence, but either way it was individually and organisationally shameful;

— the Garda Commissioner believes that this falsification may not be confined to traffic data and that there may be more revelations;

— such dishonest and unethical behaviour by An Garda Síochána is totally unacceptable;

— these revelations have raised very serious issues about the management of An Garda Síochána;

— there is increasing public concern and diminishing public confidence in the management of An Garda Síochána;

— there is increasing public concern and diminishing public confidence in the administration, direction and supervision of An Garda Síochána;

— there is an urgent need to strengthen the management of An Garda Síochána;

— there is an urgent need to strengthen the oversight of An Garda Síochána; and

— there is a radical need to provide for ongoing professional development to ensure that members of An Garda Síochána are trained for the challenges posed by policing in the 21st century;
calls for:

— the Government to take immediate steps to rectify this real and substantial crisis in confidence in An Garda Síochána;

— the Government to request the Policing Authority to assess the role and capacity of the Garda Commissioner to restore public confidence in An Garda Síochána;

— the Government to empower the Policing Authority so that:

— it will supervise the functioning of the Garda Commissioner’s Office and supervise the discharge of these functions by the Commissioner;

— it will oversee the performance by An Garda Síochána of its functions relating to policing services; and

— it can establish and impose policies and reform measures for An Garda Síochána which shall be binding on all members of An Garda Síochána; and
— the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Fennelly Commission; and

further calls for the Government to establish an Independent Commission of An Garda Síochána that would examine and report on:

(a) the adequacy and appropriateness of the policies and procedures which underpin the operation and performance of An Garda Síochána;

(b) the full implementation of the Garda Inspectorate Reports of 2014 and 2015, within a tight time-frame;

(c) improvements to basic Garda training;

(d) the recruitment of civilians at senior managerial levels of An Garda Síochána;

(e) the recruitment of persons directly at Sergeant, Inspector or Superintendent level;

(f) the introduction of practices to allow Gardaí to be promoted internally, without being required to return to uniform duty;

(g) the extent of the responsibilities that the Department of Justice and Equality has for An Garda Síochána and whether this should be reduced;

(h) the separation of security matters from An Garda Síochána;

(i) the strengthening of the role of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission;

(j) the ongoing training of members of An Garda Síochána on basic core skills of ethical policing;

(k) improvements to professional development and progression within the force; and

(l) the introduction of a professional development structure that would allow better supervisory mechanisms and more accountable management structures to be put in place in order to improve Garda services to citizens, boost morale and build up public trust and confidence.”
 — Jim O'Callaghan, Bobby Aylward, John Brassil, Declan Breathnach, James Browne, Mary Butler, Thomas Byrne, Jackie Cahill, Dara Calleary, Pat Casey, Shane Cassells, Jack Chambers, Lisa M. Chambers, Niall Collins, Barry Cowen, John Curran, Stephen S. Donnelly, Timmy Dooley, Sean Fleming, Pat the Cope Gallagher, Seán Haughey, Billy Kelleher, John Lahart, James Lawless, Marc MacSharry, Micheál Martin, Charlie McConalogue, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Aindrias Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Eugene Murphy, Margaret Murphy O'Mahony, Darragh O'Brien, Éamon Ó Cuív, Willie O'Dea, Kevin O'Keeffe, Fiona O'Loughlin, Frank O'Rourke, Anne Rabbitte, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Niamh Smyth, Robert Troy.