Policing Authority sets up committees, amid plans for public meeting in March

The group is chaired by the former head of the Revenue Commissioners

Policing Authority, Josephine Feehily, gardai, Frances Fitzgerald, first meeting

Chairperson of the Policing Authority, Josephine Feehily | Image: RollingNews.ie

The new Policing Authority says it established committees and discussed the policing plan for 2016 with Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan at its first meeting.

The authority met for the first time yesterday, having come into existence from January 1st this year.

The Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald visited Authority members and staff to wish them well.

At their first meeting, they identified immediate priorities and put arrangements in place to deal with them.

These included:

  • Continuing the recruitment of staff, establishing internal processes and procedures and other practical matters
  • Establishing three Committees of the Authority: A policing strategy and performance committee, a code of ethics committee and an appointments committee.
  • Agreeing a schedule of plenary meetings for 2016 and deciding that the Authority’s first public meeting will be on March 14th 2016

The policing plan, which was before the Oireachtas on January 14th, was the main agenda item for the meeting.

Commissioner O'Sullivan also set out her vision for a transformed Garda Síochána in the future.

Speaking after the meeting, Policing Authority Chairperson Josephine Feehily said: "Effective policing is crucially important for any society. In order to be effective, it must enjoy a very high standard of public confidence".

"Our job in the Authority is essentially to enhance public confidence by independently overseeing the performance of the Garda Síochána in relation to policing. There are many aspects to oversight of performance and to enhancing public confidence and Garda accountability needs to be seen in a broad context which recognises those things that work very well as well as those which could work better".

She also admitted that it will take time for the Authority to establish itself - but that it is determined to move "as quickly as possible" on some important changes.

The authority will have oversight of the force and will be responsible for making senior appointments - as well as removing senior gardaí in some circumstances.

The creation of the body follows a number of controversies - including the quashing of penalty points, and the retirement of former commissioner Martin Callinan.