Mick Wallace The #US and #EU are increasingly using #sanctions as a weapon against countries that don't bow to their financial i… https://t.co/qMbVI1XYfc
Mick Wallace How bad that the #EU of the so called 'European Values' has supported this Terrorism against the people of #Syriahttps://t.co/wRXMSubfYi
Mick Wallace Western Colonialism never really stopped, it just got a make over - It's now called 'Financial Imperialism'. Are we… https://t.co/KoMpQ69bBw
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: Would mean something for Irish people and the notion of 'Irish Neutrality' if Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs @simoncov

Dáil Diary no 3- 16 Jan. 15

Much talk of Reform of Policing- But no Substance…

 

It’s over 8 months since the former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter stepped down, since then, there’s been much talk of reform of An Garda Siochana, but little has materialised. It appears that this Government has no appetite for real change to the manner in which we do policing in Ireland, and the political appointments of the new Commissioner Noirin O’ Sullivan and the Chair designate of the New Policing Authority, Josephine Feehily, lacking Independence and Transparency, are very worrying. Here’s part of my exchanges in the Dáil yesterday with the Minister, Frances Fitzgerald-

Deputy Mick Wallace:   I ask the Minister to outline the details of the Guerin commission of investigation and explain the reason she provided it with such parochial terms of reference. The investigation will focus on the Cavan-Monaghan division. Given that the Garda Inspectorate report was the result of an investigation into serious crime only, surely a root and branch review would have provided a template for reform of the entire force.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald:   I established a commission of investigation on foot of the recommendations of the Guerin report. I laid before the House a draft of the order, which includes the terms of reference, proposing the establishment of the commission. I also laid before the House a statement of the reasons for establishing the commission. All of the matters recommended by Mr. Seán Guerin SC for inclusion in a commission of investigation are included in the terms of reference. The draft order specifies me, as the Minister for Justice and Equality, as the Minister responsible for overseeing the administrative matters relating to the establishment of the commission.

 It is important to note that a resolution approving the draft order must be passed by each House. As such, the terms of reference will shortly come before the House for discussion and approval, possibly as early as next week. This will provide Deputies with an opportunity to discuss the terms of reference and work of the Guerin commission…


…the Guerin commission examined a particular set of circumstances. When I decided to establish a commission of investigation I also took the initiative to refer the Guerin report to the Garda Inspectorate. The inspectorate's recent report included a chapter on the Guerin report which addressed many of the issues raised by Mr. Guerin. The inspectorate's report is to be implemented by me and An Garda Síochána and will not be the subject of a further commission.

Deputy Mick Wallace:   On that issue, it was disappointing that the new Garda Commissioner did not welcome all the points raised in the Garda Inspectorate's report. She denied, for example, that crime figures were being massaged, which is completely at variance with the conclusions of the inspectorate's report.

I raised a point regarding the parochial nature of the terms of reference of the Guerin review. The Minister is correct that Mr. Guerin's investigation was confined to the Cavan-Monaghan area. Little progress has been made since the introduction by the then Minister, Mr. Michael McDowell, of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 in response to a case in County Donegal. The 2005 legislation was clearly not the answer to all of our problems. We know from what has occurred in recent years that serious problems persist in the Garda. We are receiving information from three new Garda whistleblowers and it is frightening to note what continues to take place. Things that have gone on in the Midlands, Cork and Limerick are every bit as bad, if not worse, than what went on in Cavan-Monaghan. The Minister has an opportunity to carry out a complete root and branch of the Garda and how it operates. A failure to introduce root and branch reform will result in sticking plasters being used to tackle serious problems.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald:   As the Deputy stated, a considerable amount of analysis has been done at this stage. It is important to act now to bring about change and the Government has taken action to address the issues the Deputy outlined. A commission of investigation was established on foot of the Guerin report and will be led by Mr. Justice Kevin O'Higgins. We have also established the Fennelly commission, which is examining aspects of the behaviour of members of An Garda Síochána. These commissions will provide further information. It is very important that we also get on with introducing change and reform. We have established an independent police authority and appointed a Garda Commissioner through a new and independent process. We are amending the legislation governing the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to give it greater powers to initiate investigations. I hope Second Stage of that Bill will conclude next week. The new Garda Commissioner is committed to change in the force.

The concerns have been well analysed, including in the Garda Inspectorate's report. The Deputy is correct that serious issues arise and the inspectorate's report is clear on that matter. A series of actions are being taken to address these issues. This process cannot be completed overnight but many processes are in place that are making a difference in respect of the points the Deputy outlined.

Deputy Mick Wallace:   I wish I could share the Minister's optimism that things will be different. To cite one example, on the watch of the Garda Commissioner, Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan, an assistant Garda Commissioner, Mr. Donal Ó Cualáin, is examining certain serious allegations made by a serving Garda whistleblower. The investigation, which has been ongoing for nine months, does not appear to be making any progress and no reports have been forthcoming. The handling of this matter is extremely worrying. I am not so sure things have changed much. As I have stated previously, we should have examined the approach taken to policing in Northern Ireland where an active effort was made to clean out the old hierarchy and start afresh. This has not been done here.

On the independent review mechanism, the Minister went to great pains in her previous replies to refer to the independence and objectivity of the mechanism. We must remember that the various positions were not advertised, the review's terms of reference were not published, the individuals who made the complaints have not been interviewed and have not received feedback and the mechanism does not have judicial status and, as such, is not subject to an appeal mechanism. As far as the individuals in question are concerned, it is akin to a kangaroo court. While I do not want to prejudge the final outcome, the way in which this matter has been handled is worrying.

Mick Wallace.

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