The Tánaiste will agree it is crucial that the public has confidence in the members of the Garda Síochána as they are the main protectors of the State. Proper policing is crucial to any democracy and to the safety of our communities. The majority of those in the force just want to do the job they took an oath to do, and many have lost their lives carrying out their duties.
Unfortunately, there has been a series of critical reports about management in the Garda in the recent past. While there has been a lot of spin about the way the force is being reformed, there is very little evidence of whether those reforms have made any difference. This reform seems to hit stumbling block after stumbling block. The Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors have threatened to withdraw their services for four days in November as they believe their pay has been far too low and their grievances have been left aside for far too long. That has caused demoralisation among gardaí.
To add to those woes, the recent reports of how whistleblowers were allegedly treated has created yet another potential scandal.
The Tánaiste received information under the protection of disclosure legislation and has stated that she is taking it seriously. In the meantime, however, confidence in the Garda is being allowed to drift. There are allegations and counter-allegations. The Garda Commissioner has stated that she was neither privy to nor approved of any actions designed to target any garda who may have made a protected disclosure and that she would condemn any such actions. The Taoiseach told this House yesterday that a member of the Judiciary may be appointed to investigate the allegations. Today, however, Members read in newspapers that the gardaí who made the allegations may not take part in any investigation unless the Commissioner steps aside temporarily. It also has been reported that a senior garda will demand an inquiry into the dysfunctionality of the Garda Síochána because of perceived system and management failures. It is hard to see beyond the saying, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
Does the Tánaiste understand the genuine concerns about the state of the Garda and the fact that they go far beyond the realm of political soundbites and headline-grabbing? Has the Tánaiste been informed by the two complainants that they will not take part in any inquiry into the allegations unless the Garda Commissioner steps aside, even temporarily? If this becomes a demand, will it be considered? Finally, has the Tánaiste been informed about the request to inquire into Garda administration as a result of dysfunctionality and will she agree to this request?