Callinan retirement a chance for substantial Garda review, says Agsi

Garda oversight needs auditing in wake of sustained criticism of force, says association

Agsi general secretary John Redmond said a new Garda commissioner must  be appointed very swiftly  and that a  review of the force must be prioritised and treated with urgency. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Agsi general secretary John Redmond said a new Garda commissioner must be appointed very swiftly and that a review of the force must be prioritised and treated with urgency. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Tue, Mar 25, 2014, 15:33

The association representing Garda sergeants and inspectors has said the sudden retirement of Martin Callinan from the position of Garda commissioner should be used as an opportunity to examine the workings of the force.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) said the Garda has been the subject of serious and sustained criticism in recent months, adding systems of Garda oversight need to be included in the review process it is pushing for.

Agsi general secretary, John Redmond said a new commissioner must also be appointed very swiftly by Government and that the review of the force must be prioritised and treated with urgency.

“The Garda organisation has come under the spotlight recently,” he said in the wake of Mr Callinan’s sudden retirement this morning.

“Some of the reports and criticisms have impacted greatly, with morale seriously diminished within the organisation - all of this when our members are trying to deliver a policing service in difficult times.”

He said there was already a review of the force under way as part of the Haddington Road agreement, which deals with a range of industrial relations issues.

However, Agsi believed this process now needs to be expanded and to become much more substantial.

“Now is the opportune time to expand the review of the Garda organisation to include oversight and accountability and indeed to look at service provision generally by the Garda organisation,” he said.

“The public have expectations of what service they want, and yet, this review is not engaging globally with all interested parties and stakeholders.”

He added Agsi would at its annual conference next month debate the need for an independent policing authority, which would effectively act as a buffer between the Garda force and politics.

“We hope that Government fulfil their commitment under the Haddington Road agreement [and] that a robust review of the structure and operations of the Garda organisation, the first in over 40 years, takes place this year.

“The myriad of controversies over the last number of weeks has impacted on public confidence in the Garda organisation.”

Mr Redmond added Minister for Justice Alan Shatter must now act “swiftly” in appointing a new commissioner.

“This is critically important so that confidence and leadership can be provided at this time within An Garda Síochána, ” he said.

The Garda Representative Association, which represents rank and file members of the force and is by far the largest Garda staff body in the State, has yet to make any comment on Mr Callinan’s departure.