"What sort of Republic are we?" - Howlin calls for fundamental change in gardaí

The Labour leader says the Policing Authority needs 'teeth'

"What sort of Republic are we?" - Howlin calls for fundamental change in gardaí

Labour leader Brendan Howlin at the launch of the party's Alternative Budget 2017 proposals in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

The leader of the Labour Party Brendan Howlin says 'fundamental change' is needed in An Garda Síochána.

His comments come as the Central Statistics Office (CSO) says it has further deferred publication of the latest crime statistics.

According to the CSO, the decision was made as a result of An Garda Síochána's decision to extend a review of homicide data.

Earlier this year, it was reported that garda figures for the number of homicides in Ireland understated the actual number by 89 cases over 14 years - from 2003 until May 2017.

The official statistics were said to have been incorrect because of a series of data errors on garda records.

While a report has found that the force recorded of almost 1.5 million fake breath tests.

An investigation discovered an extra 500,000 false tests, and found some gardaí were exaggerating figures by 300%.

A separate report examined cases where around 14,700 people were issued a court summons instead of a fixed charge penalty.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan | File photo 

It found that the current penalty system "is not working as efficiently and effectively as it should".

It has led to renewed calls for Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan to resign.

Deputy Howlin told Pat Kenny here on Newstalk: "We need a fundamental change in the ethos, structure and management of An Garda Síochána.

"I've pushed for the last decade to have, for example, a policing authority established.

"That was rejected until we went into government ourselves and we managed got it done.

"We now need to have a policing authority with teeth that will actually strategically make decisions."

"An additional half a million breath tests on top of the million false breath tests that we know about - today we read that the Central Statistics Office... refuses to publish statistics from An Garda Síochána because they're just not reliable.

"What sort of Republic are we when we can't believe the statistics produced by our policing service?".

"I think now the current government is incapable of making that hard decision.

"Any other jurisdiction that I'm aware of: could you imagine the chief constable of any policing force in Britain announcing that 1.5 million false breath test were recorded... and 14,700 of their citizens were wrongly convicted and would have to have those convictions overturned at God know's what cost in millions - not to mention the personal impact on their lives - that there wouldn't be a consequence for that?

"And the notion that we're always one report away, one inquiry away, one more tribunal away from actually making the changes that we need".