O'Brien says overtime ban hitting availability of Garda patrol cars

Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 00:00

SeanadThe unavailability for several hours of any Garda patrol car in an area of north Dublin with a population of 150,000 showed how Government policies were letting people down, Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien has contended.

Gardaí were having the rug pulled from under them by the Minister for Justice. The lack of cars in the Swords, Malahide and Coolock area last Monday meant that burglaries and traffic incidents were not attended to. Because of the refusal by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to permit overtime payments for court appearances, gardaí were now driving patrol cars to the courts.

The Minister should explain what he was going to do to win back the confidence of the Garda who, in an unprecedented step in various parts, had voted no confidence in him. This situation would get worse. “We are going to be talking in two weeks’ time about industrial action. . .”

Ronán Mullen (Ind) said Mr O’Brien had raised an issue that would not go away. Older people in particular did not feel they had the level of security which they were entitled to expect.

While signalling his support for the Garda, he would like to hear from the Minister about the problems that sometimes occurred when gardaí talked to the media. He had huge sympathy with Clare Daly TD (Ind) over the way she had been treated recently.

The damage to a public representative was particularly severe when there was any kind of suspicion about their actions. What had happened was not just a matter for the Garda Ombudsman. The House needed to hear what the Department of Justice was doing to ensure that gardaí were acting properly.

If there was any kind of nexus, on a financial or other basis, or any kind of vendetta mentality towards certain politicians because of things they had done in a particular regard, that would bring the force into disrepute and it would need to be stamped out.

Paul Bradford (FG) said he agreed that there was a need for a mature and genuine debate on policing. Acting Seanad leader Ivana Bacik (Lab) said she shared the concerns of Senator Mullen.