Government has no role in Garda discipline, says Gilmore

Opposition accuses Shatter of attempting to silence gardaí

Four Garda sergeants faced disciplinary hearings after their walkout earlier in the week when Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and  Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan addressed the conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

Four Garda sergeants faced disciplinary hearings after their walkout earlier in the week when Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan addressed the conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

Thu, Mar 28, 2013, 20:59

The Government has no role in Garda discipline, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has insisted as Opposition TDs accused the Minister for Justice of attempting to silence gardaí and of being vindictive towards them.

Four Garda sergeants faced disciplinary hearings after their walkout earlier in the week when Alan Shatter and later Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan addressed the conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

In the Dáil, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald described the disciplinary attempt as “utterly wrong” and she accused Mr Shatter of treating rank-and-file gardaí with “nothing short of contempt”.

She claimed he was attempting to silence gardaí and of being vindictive against them in their protests against the renegotiated Croke Park deal.

But Mr Gilmore said “the Government is not disciplining anybody. The matter of Garda discipline is a matter for the Garda Commissioner. It’s not a matter for the Minister for Justice, it’s not a matter for the Government and it should not be a matter for political debate and discussion or political interference . . . it should be left with the Garda Commissioner.”

Ms McDonald asked why Mr Shatter was “so hell-bent on silencing members of the Garda Síochána. if they are critical of the strategy pursued by the Government”. She said the gardaí needed to be disciplined but they should not be silenced as citizens of the State.

But Mr Gilmore accused Sinn Féin of political opportunism and said to the party’s deputy leader “can you tell me how many voices of gardaí were silenced permanently by your organisation”.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath accused Mr Shatter of being prejudiced against gardaí and said it was “totally unacceptable” to discipline the gardaí in this way. The Tipperary South TD said Ireland looked less like a democracy and “more like Russia or a military junta” with the four officers, who had 130 years’ service between them, being summoned to a disciplinary hearing.

And then in a personalised attack, he claimed the Minister had refused to allow gardaí protecting him at his home use toilet facilities there.

Mr Gilmore said: “Well, if we ever needed a demonstration as to why the management of the Garda Síochána and matters relating to discipline in the Garda Síochána should not become a matter of political debate, we’ve just had it.”

Mr McGrath also called for a management board, a “buffer zone” between politics and the Garda to be set up and claimed the Garda Commissioner was “compromised” because of his own continuing service beyond his pension age.

Mr Gilmore called in the Tipperary South TD to “reflect seriously on the personalised attack he has just made on the Garda Commissioner”.