Opposition parties to be consulted over planned policing review

The Tánaiste has received Cabinet approval to begin establishing the commission

Opposition parties to be consulted over planned policing review

Frances Fitzgerald. Picture by Niall Carson PA Archive/PA Images

The opposition will be asked for its input into a review of policing in Ireland.

The Tánaiste has briefed the Cabinet about plans to establish a panel commission to carry out the root and branch review.

It follows the revelations about fake breath tests and thousands of people wrongly convicted in court for road traffic offences.

Officials announced last month that major discrepancies had been discovered in the forces roadside breath testing figures – with almost one million tests recorded that never occurred.

Separately it emerged that thousands of court summonses were issued for offences that should have been dealt with by way of fixed penalty notice.

The Independent Alliance had already secured a guarantee for a major review of the force of the wake of the Garda whistleblower scandal.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says that review will be wide-ranging.

He told the Dáil: "What the Minister is proposing is to engage here with this House - with the opposition spokespersons - in putting together a review that will look at the management and structures of all the functions of the Gardaí".

In a statement, the Justice Department said the Tánaiste has also formally requested the Policing Authority to conduct a review into the recent scandals in the force.

It explains: "The Authority will conduct an examination to identify how and why the issues have arisen, the incidence and scale of the issues, and the solutions implemented to ensure that there is no recurrence. It is expected that it will engage outside expertise to carry out this work."

Root and branch review

The in-depth review is being called the 'Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland'.

It is believed that while more consultation is required over the coming week, the broad scope of the review has already been identified.

It will examine the forces culture and ethos as well as recruitment and training practices.

The "appropriate structures for oversight and accountability" and "the legislative framework for policing" will also be addressed.

The panel will be asked to assess Garda management structures and consider whether more civilians should be appointed to senior management positions.

It will look at best practices in the policing models of other countries, as well as previous reports on policing in Ireland.

In addition to the opposition, the Garda Inspectorate, the Policing Authority and GSOC will be invited to provide their views on the review.

The formal terms of reference for the review is expected to be prepared for the Cabinet meeting next week.

The proposal to award the Policing Authority with greater supervisory powers over the Garda Commissioner’s office was put forward by Fianna Fáil following the commissioner’s appearance before the Oireachtas last week.

It has been reported that Minister Fitzgerald is happy to accept the proposals – which were originally recommended by an Oireachtas report on Garda oversight.