-----solution to the issue. That is what we recommended in our report on our powers.
Section 3 is probably the most problematic for us. I refer to my comments about the architecture. First, the authority understands the Deputy's point that it is critical for public confidence that there be an effective mechanism for investigating misconduct by employees of the Garda. We believe there are significant deficiencies in the current system for disciplining members, and we set out our perspective in our submission to the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. Our key points were: the process for investigating and conducting discipline in the Garda Síochána needs to be subjected to a root and branch review having regard to whether it accords with best practice; there is a worrying number of successful appeals and reviews of the outcome of its disciplinary process on procedural grounds - worrying in terms of the Garda's capacity to use the regulations it has; the regulations should be reviewed to ensure the system for investigating complaints and internal discipline accords with best practice; consideration should be given to certain disciplinary tribunals being held in public because it is a mark of the integrity and independence of disciplinary processes in many professions and in many policing services outside Ireland.
In any review of the discipline regulations, we submitted that further consideration should be given to the range of sanctions set down in the regulations. In particular, there is a sanction called "advice", which would not appear to be a sanction at all. That appears twice in the regulations. We made a significant submission to the commission. It concluded with questioning whether the existing model facilitates independent and robust decision-making, includes the necessary supports, by which we mean legal advice, human resources and specialist knowledge in Garda headquarters, and whether it is the subject of appropriate management information to facilitate organisational learning.
With that in mind and in view of what I said about the architecture, we were not clear about what this section would achieve. It appears to be a copy of section 14, under which the Garda Commissioner may dismiss on summary grounds with the consent of the authority. That generally happens when the facts have been established beyond doubt and, in our experience, arises following criminal prosecution and conviction so the facts are not at issue. This section appears to give us a parallel role in the same cases, which worries us. Another set of cases also come through the discipline regulations. We are looking at potentially three different opportunities, and procedures and processes, for a dismissal to arise. It would have to be rationalised between those three for it to be safe.
I take it from the Deputy's remarks that this would be used sparingly and that he meant cases where the facts were not in doubt. This appears to be a type of summary section. If this was to be used in circumstances where a criminal conviction had not been achieved, the authority would have to establish the facts. We would require another range of powers to give effect to this. We would need powers of investigation, which would have to be similar to those of the Garda, a compelling power on the Garda Commissioner and GSOC to give us access to information, and an appeal system. We would need to have a great deal of machinery that is in the discipline regulations.
Finally, we are concerned at the introduction of the Government's consent to the dismissal. When the authority was established, there was a definite effort to take as much as possible away from the Government in the statutory framework. We would be concerned that if the appeal from the authority was to the Government, it might reintroduce a politicisation that would be unhelpful. Our preference would be, and Mr. Justice Charleton spoke about this when referencing the Morris tribunal, that the entire disciplinary process be examined from top to bottom. The acting Garda Commissioner told us recently that he was starting that process. There has been preliminary engagement with the Workplace Relations Commission with a view to starting some work in that regard. A bigger change is needed. Section 3 could complicate this and reintroduce the Government in a way that might not be helpful to the overall statutory framework.
With regard to section 4, I return again to the architecture. It would be helpful to understand better how this would fit with section 26 which sets out the Garda Commissioner's functions, bearing in mind that the authority's view is that the Garda Commissioner should be the chief executive. The Garda Commissioner has a range of functions to direct, carry on, manage and generally control the administration of the Garda Síochána and so forth. If he or she is directing and controlling, where would oversight fit in without being conflicted? On the supervision provision, I would like to better understand what the words "supervise" and "Office" mean in that regard. There would have to be some definitions because the Garda Commissioner is an office with 16,000 people in it. It is an office in that sense. There would also have to be some definitions for supervision.
Section 4(1)(ab) states "establish policies and procedures ... which shall be binding ...". Does that mean the authority would be the body establishing all the policies or just an occasional policy, for example, the code of ethics? If that is the objective, it must be clearer; if it is not the objective, there is a problem with section 26.
Section 4(1)(ac) refers to "cause to be published and made accessible to the public all sections of the Garda code..." and so forth. I have no problem with that but there is a more direct route through a provision which simply directs the Garda Commissioner to do it, rather than putting us in the middle. Why would we be causing something to be published when the Deputy could insert a direct provision directing the Garda Commissioner to do it? We would be happy to position ourselves as an appeal mechanism, which would be more appropriate to oversight. Where the Garda Commissioner decided something could not be released we could be the body somebody could approach to take a view on it. The other option, which is in our submission to the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, is that freedom of information legislation should be extended to a broader range of Garda functions. In that event, and probably most appropriately, the appeal against non-publication would be to the Information Commissioner. There are other ways to achieve what is in the subsection. We do not see the need to include the authority there, causing something that we do not own to be published.
Again, I need to understand better what is meant by section 4(1)(ad) to "review the adequacy and appropriateness of the policies ...". We review some of the policies from time to time on a thematic basis. That is in our remit. However, if this provision states that our main job, day in and day out, should be to review, that is a different task. It could be done but I have to wonder how it would fit with the Garda Inspectorate's functions having regard to our views on duplication. The Garda Inspectorate is reviewing policies and procedures all the time. I need to understand that provision better and then perhaps we can help.
Finally, on the inspectorate, I agree with the Deputy that the idea that it has to announce its arrival does not make any sense. We are clear in our submission to the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland that a strong, independent inspection function is an essential part of the overall architecture for policing. We are not sure, by the way, that this section is needed but that is a matter for the Oireachtas and the inspectorate itself. We are not sure why the inspectorate cannot just do it without a power. That said, having a power that puts it beyond doubt is always helpful. That is my recitation on the four sections.