Plans for legislation to reform GSOC and increase its independence

Charlie Flanagan says €342m will be spent on resources into 2021

Plans for legislation to reform GSOC and increase its independence

Charlie Flanagan talking to the media in 2017 | Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says he will bring in legislation to reform the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and increase its independence.

The Association of Garda Superintendents claimed earlier that its members were doing up to 90% of GSOCs investigative work and questioned whether the public is getting an independent watchdog as a result.

Minister Flanagan was asked was it satisfactory that gardaí are investigating themselves.

"No, it's important that there be a level if independent oversight and that people have confidence in the complaints system.

"And I'm working towards that, and looking forward to bringing (in) reforming legislation over the next few months".

It comes as almost one-in-five Garda Superintendents are currently under investigation by GSOC.

The Association of Garda Superintendents has described it as part of a new era of accountability, but said the investigations can take up to five years.

Some 30 out of a total of 166 Garda Superintendents are currently under investigation.

Senior gardaí are also warning that Brexit will be a 'massive draw' on their resources.

In a speech to delegates, Minsiter Flanagan said: "Suitably qualified civilians are going to play a much bigger part in An Garda Síochána.

"The increasing integration of them is gaining pace.

"By 2021, 2,000 new civilian members, with 500 of them due to be recruited this year alone, will bring the percentage of such members up to 20% of the force."

On the issue of resources, he said: "The 1,800 gardaí who have passed out from the Garda College since it reopened in September 2014 are visible proof of the progress that has been made.

"Last month 206 officers, the first of the 2018 groups, passed out.

"By the end of the year they will have been joined by three others, which will bring the total of new members to 800.

"In all, by the end of 2018, garda numbers will be at over 14,000 – a net increase of 500 on top of last year’s increase of 600."

And he said that an investment of some €342m in ICT will be spent between 2016 and 2021.

"This will fund initiatives under the MRP which will help you to manage the garda members under your control more efficiently - including computer aided dispatch facilities, and the development of a roster and duty management system," he added.

The Association of Garda Superintendents is holding its annual conference in Co Kildare.

Additional reporting: Jack Quann