Public trust in Garda high despite controversies

Politicians score badly in latest poll, while doctors emerge as most trusted group

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan with Supt Fintan Fanning at the Garda Reserve graduation ceremony in Templemore yesterday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan with Supt Fintan Fanning at the Garda Reserve graduation ceremony in Templemore yesterday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Sat, Apr 5, 2014, 08:25

There is still a considerable level of public trust in the Garda Síochána in spite of all the controversies that have beset the force in recent months, according to the latest Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI opinion poll.

While the level of trust in the Garda has declined since a similar Irish Times poll in 2012, a respectable 67 per cent of people say they trust gardaí to tell the truth.

In the poll two years ago, 80 per cent said they had trust in the Garda Síochána.

Labour Party voters are the most likely to trust gardaí, closely followed by Fine Gael voters, with Fianna Fáil voters a bit behind. Sinn Féin voters are by far the least likely to trust the Garda, with party supporters almost equally divided on the issue.

This reflects class differences on the issue, with the poorest DE voters expressing the least trust in the Garda, while the best-off AB voters and farmers have most trust in the force.

There is quite a difference in age terms, with the youngest, 18 to 34-year-old groups less trusting of the force than older people.

There is also a regional difference, with voters in Dublin expressing the least trust and voters in Connacht Ulster the most.

Overall, though, gardaí come out far ahead of politicians when it comes to public trust.

Just 20 per cent of people surveyed said they trusted Ministers to tell the truth. Fine Gael voters were by far the most likely to trust Ministers, with Sinn Féin supporters the least likely.

TDs in general also fare badly, with just 23 per cent saying they tell the truth. Again, Fine Gael voters are much more likely to trust politicians than supporters of other parties, with Sinn Féin voters at the other end of the spectrum.

County or city councillors fare better than Ministers or TDs, with 42 per cent saying they tell the truth.

European politicians also do better than members of the Dáil, with 34 per cent believing them. Some 36 per cent of respondents to the poll said they were prepared to believe business leaders and 44 per cent believed charities.

At the other end of the scale, doctors emerge as the most trusted group, with 89 per cent of people saying they trust them to tell the truth.

Opinion polling companies have a very high rating, with 73 per cent expressing trust in their ability to tell the truth. They are followed by judges, who get a rating of 69 per cent and civil servants, who have a rating of 55 per cent.

Trust in journalists has improved since the last Irish Times poll on the issue, with 50 per cent of people expressing the belief that they tell the truth, compared to 42 per cent two years ago.

The survey was undertaken on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to- face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.