New code of ethics for Gardaí is a "missed opportunity" - GRA

The new code includes a focus on reporting wrongdoings, as well as a greater focus on transparency

New code of ethics for Gardaí is a "missed opportunity" - GRA

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The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has described a new code of ethics for the force as 'flawed' and a 'missed opportunity'.

The document revealed by the Policing Authority today sets out nine standards Gardaí should stick by when carrying out their jobs.

These include a duty to uphold the law, commitments to honesty and integrity, and a greater focus on transparency in the organisation.

There is also a focus on reporting wrongdoings, following a number of whistleblower scandals within An Garda Síochana.

On that subject, the new code says Gardaí should "protect the integrity of the Garda Síochana by rigorously opposing unprofessional, unethical, illegal, or corrupt behaviour.

"Where the seriousness of the issue warrants it, [officers] will report, challenge or take action against such behaviour," it suggests, adding that Gardaí should support any colleague who "speaks up in accordance with the law".

Policing Authority Chairperson Josephine Feehily suggested the new code is an "important development for the wider community to know that there is a set of principles and standards to guide the behaviour of all those who work in the Garda organisation".

The GRA claims the authority missing an opportunity "to create a modern, stirring and influential ‘system of beliefs’ to enhance policing in the 21st Century". 

In a statement, GRA General Secretary Pat Ennis said: “The Policing Authority has introduced another layer of disciplinary rules and specific prohibitions unnecessarily through this flawed process; Gardaí are already under oath and subject to common law, the Garda Code and Garda Discipline Regulations - as well as supervision by senior ranks.

“If the Garda selection and recruitment process is correctly designed, structured and implemented then a code of ethics should be implicit in the nature and character of the trainees and should be nurtured rather than dictated," he added.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the new code.

At the launch this morning, she argued: "Gardaí across the country work tirelessly, and to a very high standard, protecting the public and keeping the community safe. They have to make judgments and complex choices in diverse, often highly pressurised situations.

"This Code of Ethics, and the training it will give rise to, will help in guiding those decisions."

Additional reporting by Sean Defoe