Cabinet agrees details of root and branch garda review

The commission will report by September 2018

Cabinet agrees details of root and branch garda review

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald reviews a guard of honour made up of garda students at a Garda Probationer Passing Out Parade in Templemore Garda College | Image:

The Cabinet has approved a 12-member review commission to do the root and branch review of An Garda Síochána.

Chaired by Seattle police chief Kathleen O'Toole, other members include former Irish Times editor Conor Brady, Noeleen Blackwell of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Peter Fahy, a former chief constable in the UK.

The Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald says along with a final report, the commission may bring forward immediate and rolling recommendations it feels need to be implemented in the short term.

Ms Fitzgerald says: "These terms of reference for the Commission of the Future of Policing in Ireland encompass all functions carried out by An Garda Síochána including community safety, state security and immigration, and also the full range of bodies that have a role in providing oversight and accountability including the three statutory bodies, but also my department and the Government.

"They provide for a comprehensive examination of all aspects of policing in Ireland.

"The individuals who make up the commission have impressive track records in their respective fields.

"The membership seeks to strike the right balance between domestic and international perspectives and between academic, operational policing, community and victims’ perspectives, change management, governance and indeed Government experience."

Minister Fitzgerald says issues which have arisen mean the time is right for this "fundamental examination of all aspects of policing in this State".

'Exclusion of garda members'

But the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has criticised the make-up of the commission for having no current or former members of the gardaí.

AGSI President Antoinette Cunningham said: "Our association welcomes the commission and are heartened to see the level of collective national and international expertise among the 12 members - however we question the exclusion of a current or a former member of An Garda Síochána."

"I would temper our enthusiasm by saying that we have witnessed first-hand how progress is paralysed by Government inaction.

"As a typical example of this, six months on from a threatened withdrawal of service by gardaí and the Government have not progressed legislation to give us access to the Workplace Relations Commission or the Labour Court which should have been progressed by January of this year.

"This is paralyses of progress caused by Government inaction and we don’t want to see this happen with this new commission." 

Kathleen O'Toole will chair of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland | Image:

The review has extensive terms of reference - including to look at culture and ethos of the gardaí, recruitment and training, management structures and oversight.

It will also examine whether there should be separation of policing and security in the State.

The commission will report in September 2018.

The Department of Justice says proposals from the commission should address, among other areas:

  • The structures and management arrangements required for the most effective delivery of policing (including all functions currently carried out by An Garda Síochána
  • the most appropriate structures for delivering all aspects of policing are established (whether a unitary structure or otherwise),
  • there is appropriate leadership and management capacity to deliver effective and accountable policing
  • that there are adequate management and supervisory systems in place
  • that information systems appropriate to the needs of a modern police service available
  • The culture and ethos of policing, to ensure 
  • the culture of policing is aligned with a clearly articulated ethos that promotes the values and behaviours that should be expected of a modern police service including in relation to the rights of those affected by crime
  • an ethos and culture that values accountability and embraces change, and engages pro-actively, routinely and continuously with, and is responsive to the needs of, the diverse communities it serves
  • valuable elements of police culture that exist are recognised and maintained
  • The appropriate structures for governance, oversight and accountability, to ensure
  • that policing operates within a clear framework of governance and accountability to the law and the community, that is supported by coherent structures
  • that policing is constrained by, accountable to and acts only within the law
  • that policing powers and procedures, like the law, are clearly established and publicly available
  • that breaches of discipline are effectively and fairly addressed
  • that there are open, accessible and independent means of investigating and adjudicating fairly upon complaints against the police
  • that there are arrangements for accountability and for the effective, efficient and economic use of resources in carrying out all policing functions and delivering policing objectives
  • that there are effective means to ensure independent professional scrutiny of the police services to ensure that proper professional standards are maintained

The commission is being encouraged to consult widely, including with the public and civic society and any other bodies or individuals it considers appropriate.

Additional reporting: Jack Quann