Gardaí must be shown more support, Seanad told

FF Senator says morale at ‘all time low’ as officers face ‘onslaught of allegations’ from public

Fianna Fáil Senator Aidan Davitt said Garda morale is at an all-time low, particularly among rank-and-file officers.

Fianna Fáil Senator Aidan Davitt said Garda morale is at an all-time low, particularly among rank-and-file officers.

 

Politicians, the media and all stakeholders in society need to show more support for gardaí or face the serious social problems which are already happening, the Seanad has been warned.

Fianna Fáil Senator Aidan Davitt said Garda morale is at an all-time low, particularly among rank-and-file officers.

Gardaí told him that while on their beat, they faced “an onslaught of allegations of corruption from ordinary members of the public”.

He said he would have found this hard to believe except that he had witnessed on Wednesday morning a 40-year-old man who “stuck his fingers up” at a Garda car as it passed.

He subsequently happened to meet the gardaí at a petrol station “they told me that they were used to it and that, over the past two years, respect for the Garda had been at an all-time low”.

The Co Westmeath Senator said there were problems in An Garda although many of them were legacy issues.

“We are pillorying the Garda Commissioner about accounts and systems that were set up in the 1960s but, speaking as someone without an accountancy background, where are we going?

“I am sure that many mistakes have been made at the top echelons of the Garda and I am not here to defend the Commissioner or the top echelons, but we must be careful about what we want as a society.”

He said that “if we continue to hammer the Garda at every available opportunity, where will we go? If there is a problem with law and order or any other issue, we usually turn to gardaí.”

He added: “If we are not going to protect and back gardaí and place the full rigour of the law behind them, there will be a serious social problem in Ireland. It is happening now.”

He believed there was a disconnect between people on the ground and An Garda.

“As we have been told by senior gardaí, there is a severe threat level of terrorist attack for the first time in 25 years, but gardaí will have a worse relationship with people on the ground, and it is not of their doing.

“I ask that every stakeholder, including senior politicians and the media, get behind rank and file gardaí. If we do not have rank and file gardaí operating correctly, we will have no State. That is the bottom line.”