Garda held back by culture ‘fear and blame’, says senior officer

Acting deputy chief inspector says force can modernise without changes to management

  Acting deputy chief inspector Éimear Fisher of the   Garda Síochána Inspectorate with   deputy chief inspector   Mark Toland: Replying to questions from Senator Frances Black at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Ms  Fisher said “it’s not necessary to have new leadership to have cultural change”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Acting deputy chief inspector Éimear Fisher of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate with deputy chief inspector Mark Toland: Replying to questions from Senator Frances Black at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Ms Fisher said “it’s not necessary to have new leadership to have cultural change”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The Garda does not need new senior management to achieve cultural reform but the climate of fear and blame needed to be dismantled, according a senior officer in the Garda Inspectorate.

Replying to questions from Senator Frances Black at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice yesterday, acting deputy chief inspector Éimear Fisher said “it’s not necessary to have new leadership to have cultural change” in the Garda.

“In the organisations in New Zealand and Australia where there has been significant cultural change across very complex and very challenging cultural issues, it was the sitting police commissioner that drove that change,” she said.

“So I think what is required is a clarity of the vision in relation to the culture that’s required; either a restatement of the values that are there at the moment or at least a rebranding of them.

“And a clear focus and a clear plan, which I believe is included in the [Garda’s] modernisation and reform plan, to deliver that.”

However, Ms Fisher said she was concerned that a blame culture and fear in the Garda, felt even by senior officers, was stifling positive change.

Damaging

“It could be career threatening, career damaging and so on . . . it is a situation that hinders initiative and there has to be a scope for leadership and initiative and encouragement of initiative.”