Garda members do not trust whistleblower procedure

The Tánaiste says it will take time for confidence in whistleblowing procedures to build

Updated 11:00

An internal poll has found that the majority of garda sergeants and inspectors do not trust the force enough to handover information as a whistleblower.

The survey of 579 members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) found that 71% do not have confidence in the system for making protected disclosures within the force.

91% said they either did not know enough about the procedures or did not have any faith in them.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said there has never been an educational process about the system for making disclosures and “people simply don’t understand what the current charter is all about.”

“AGSI has never been consulted in relation to a protected disclosures charter in an Garda Síochána and again I think that is a big mistake,” she said.

“If 91% of your membership are telling you that either they do not have faith in it or they don’t know enough about it and 71% would not feel confident in the process then I think that is a matter that garda management and the government need to sit up and take notice of,” she said.

Speaking this morning, the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said it will take time for confidence in whistleblowing procedures to build:

“It is important that that there are procedures are in place that whistleblowers can trust and in government what we have done recently is we have the protected disclosures which is unearthing quite a lot which really wasn’t spoken about before,” she said.

“We have GSOC where garda complaints now go so it is going to take time for confidence to build but what we have to do is put the different building blocks in place.

"The Policing Authority will have an ongoing role in assessing how the policy is developing and the more they examine it and make recommendations I think the greater the confidence that members of an Garda Síochána can have in the approach of management." 

Working group

Ms Cunningham also called on Minister Fitzgerald to urgently review a decision to exclude AGSI from the Government and Garda Management working group set up to look at industrial relations structures within the force.

The group is examining some of the issues that resulted in the long running dispute over pay and conditions which nearly led to the first garda strike last year.

“I think everybody went away last November thinking there would be full consultation and cooperation between all the parties to try and find resolutions to what was a very difficult situation for everybody,” said Ms Cunningham.

“AGSI wanted to be part of any discussions that were taking place to ensure that what happened last November could be avoided at all possible costs into the future.”

She said the AGSI executive is “absolutely astounded” that the group is discussing the matters that led to the dispute with “everybody it would appear other than the very people it affected.”

“What is sad about this situation is the Government now has decided to establish this high level working group but they have left the very people that are involved in the process on ground level out of it and I think that is a big mistake from the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice,” she said.

“It is a very bad footing to set off on and I think it is symptomatic of how government lacks transparency in matters that affect the garda organisation.”

The group has reportedly already met on two occasions to discuss its terms of reference - however Ms Cunningham said the AGSI was never asked to contribute.