Gardaí given new guidelines on how to raise concerns as whistleblowers

Nóirín O'Sullivan has admitted that it will take time to get it right with whistleblowers in the force

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Gardaí nationwide have been given new guidelines on how to raise concerns as whistleblowers.

An internal manager will be appointed to hear concerns from members, under the systems outlined by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

The commissioner claimed that the number of whistleblowers coming forward in the force each year is in "single figures".

However, Ms O'Sullivan also told the Policing Authority it will take time to get it right on protected disclosures.

She said she emailed all 16,000 Garda members and staff this morning outlining the new policy in this area.

The public hearing of the policing authority with the commissioner got underway with chairperson Josephine Feehily warning that, after all the reports into the gardaí, trust was the big issue.

Ms O'Sullivan said whistleblowers must always be heard - even when they are not right - and that a steep change is required in attitudes.

 

"The policy is right - it's certainly compliant with the legislation," she said.

"What we are working very hard at [...] is to make sure the mechanisms [are] put in place."

The authority questioned the appointment of a protected disclosures manager from within the ranks of An Garda Siochána.

The commissioner replied that, when allowed, the force will bring in somebody externally with such HR expertise.

She also admitted that changing the culture from a force set up in 1922 to a service that serves the people will not happen overnight - and may not even happen in the five or six years of the current plan for change

Ms O'Sullivan had been due to attend a public hearing of the new Policing Authority towards the end of this month.

But a special private meeting was called in the wake of the findings of the O'Higgins report, and after a four-hour grilling, the authority decided to hold two public hearings with her instead.

The authority has been stinging in its criticism of the gardaí following the publication of the report which highlighted serious flaws in policing in the Cavan-Monaghan division.

In a hard-hitting statement last month, it noted that many of the criticisms made by Justice Kevin O'Higgins had also been raised by the Garda Inspectorate, GSOC and the Oireachtas.