Wallace proposes major changes to Garda in private members bill

Bill provides for the establishment of an independent board that will take over many of the functions currently reserved for the Minister for Justice

Independent TD Mick Wallace has  proposed that the new board have a strong human rights purpose

Independent TD Mick Wallace has proposed that the new board have a strong human rights purpose

Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 01:00


Independent TD Mick Wallace has proposed sweeping changes to the Garda Síochána in a Private Members’ Bill he will introduce in the Dáil tomorrow.

Mr Wallace’s Bill, which will be debated in the Dáil over two days, provides for the establishment of an independent board that will take over many of the functions currently reserved for the Minister for Justice as they relate to the gardaí. These include the power to appoint a Garda commissioner and the right to receive information from gardaí.


Wholesale changes
Mr Wallace, who was to the forefront in highlighting alleged abuse of discretionary powers in relation to penalty points, has drafted a comprehensive piece of legislation that involves wholesale changes to the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

He said at the weekend the purpose of the Bill was to strengthen the independence of the Garda Ombudsman Commission, establish the independent board and separate the Government and the commissioner.

Mr Wallace has proposed that the new board have a strong human rights purpose and that it comprise 16 members, four of whom are TDs, with representatives of Garda unions, civil society and the new human rights commission.


‘Important step’
He said the creation of the board was “an important step in strengthening the democratic accountability of An Garda Síochána, which is necessary to promote public confidence and trust in the force.

“The board’s objectives include the promotion of respect for human rights within the Garda Síochána, and the board’s functions include the human rights-proofing of all Garda policies, procedures and practices, and the publication of all codes and operational policies of the Garda Síochána.”

The Bill proposes that all complaints made against the Garda be investigated by the ombudsman commission, rather than the four in 10 cases at present.