Varadkar calls for light in dark areas

Minister was struck by the tribunal’s criticism of gardaí for putting reputation over honesty

“The Garda Commissioner ...needs to make sure that the culture of the gardaí is always to root out the bad apples, and to demand honesty and probity,” said Mr Varadkar. Photograph: Dan Sheridan

“The Garda Commissioner ...needs to make sure that the culture of the gardaí is always to root out the bad apples, and to demand honesty and probity,” said Mr Varadkar. Photograph: Dan Sheridan

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 01:00

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said the Garda leadership in the wake of the Smithwick report must adopt an approach that seeks to shine a light into “dark areas” and root out any malpractice in the force.

Citing the penalty points controversy in his response to the report’s findings, the Minister said he was struck by the tribunal’s criticism of gardaí for putting loyalty over trust and reputation over honesty and probity.

His remarks on television yesterday morning went virtually unnoticed on a day dominated by claims from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams that murdered RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan had taken a “laissez-faire” attitude to their own safety.

Sinn Féin indicated last night that Mr Adams would not be apologising.

On RTÉ’s Morning Edition programme, Mr Varadkar said the tribunal investigated events of 20 or 25 years ago, but noted that “other issues” such as problems around the management of fixed charge notices and penalty points had emerged in recent months.

“The Garda Commissioner in particular needs to make sure that the culture of the Gardaí is always to root out the bad apples, and to demand honesty and probity,” he said.

He said it would be unfair to say Garda culture was not that way currently but said there had been “a lot of stories” in recent months in relation to problems in the force.

“What is incumbent now on the commissioner and on all the top brass in the Gardaí is to adopt an approach that tries to shine a light into dark areas rather than maybe this view that existed in the past that it’s best to keep this problem in the house, that ‘there’s nothing to see here, move along’, and I did have a bit of a sense about that when it came to the issues around the penalty points.”

Mr Adams’s remarks on Newstalk radio prompted strident criticism from Government figures and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Asked whether there would be apology, a Sinn Féin spokesman said: “Gerry Adams was merely repeating, in the course of an interview, what was said in the report of the Smithwick Tribunal regarding the frequency of visits by the two RUC officers to Dundalk. ”

Mr Adams said former IRA figures had said one of the officers was spotted coming from Dundalk station and that a pattern of meetings was traced.

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