GSOC calls for 'radical overhaul' of laws governing its operations

The Garda oversight organisation says current processes are "overly complicated"

GSOC calls for 'radical overhaul' of laws governing its operations

Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is calling for what it describes as a 'radical overhaul' of the laws governing its operation.

The Garda oversight organisation has been receiving complaints since 2007.

However, the commission is now looking to become a 'fully independent' agency with its own financial resources.

GSOC believes it will have more credibility by reducing its relationship to the Department of Justice.

According to GSOC, the 2005 legislation under which it was established "prescribes processes that are overly complicated and place too much focus on retribution and not enough on resolution".

It is now proposing a greater emphasis on early resolution of complaints, as well as a streamlining of its formal investigative processes.

In a submission to the Department of Justice, GSOC argues: "The overall thrust of our proposals is towards fairness, openness, efficiency and independence.

"We believe, after ten years operational experience, that the system needs a radical overhaul and that significant opportunities exist now and should be grasped."

'Radical changes'

The Social Democrats have voiced their support for their calls from GSOC.

The party's co-leader, Róisín Shortall, argued: "After ten years in operation, and having handled more than 23,000 public complaints, GSOC is in a very strong position to put forward these radical changes.

"The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan must waste no time in introducing the reforms that seek to make sure that complaints are handled with fairness, openness, efficiency and independence."

She added: "Recent Garda controversies have taken their toll on both morale within the force and public confidence. We must not have a situation where sensible proposals from the Garda oversight agency are not implemented or resourced."

The Government has previously agreed to draft amendments to the Garda Síochána Act to allow GSOC to carry out its functions "more effectively and efficiently".

However, GSOC says it wants a new stand-alone piece of legislation rather than amendments to the current laws.