Gardai's double-jobbing is `damaging' the force's relationship with public

 

GARDAI who are also landlords and nightclub "bouncers" are damaging the force's relationship with the public, according to Democratic Left.

"Their work depends on trust and the good relationship that they have with the public, and this is getting in the way," said Ms Liz McManus, Minister of State for the Environment.

She said she could not say whether gardai could be prohibited from having other jobs, but it "shouldn't be a matter of compulsion". Gardai should be persuaded to concentrate on their work for the force, she said.

Mr Eric Byrne TD said "double-jobbing" by gardai "does cause concern and a lot of cynicism among the public". "We believe there is a duty on gardai not to double-job.

"Very often the type of double-jobbing that guards are engaged in is seen to be confrontational. If it's a bouncer on a club, it doesn't do the public image of the guards any favours. It's also reputed - I don't know whether statistics are available - that many guards are landlords, and I think that the image of the guard being a landlord is not a good image for the public in general."

They stressed the Garda had been working effectively recently and its senior officers understood the needs of communities and for "professionalism" from gardai.

Democratic Left was publishing its proposals yesterday for reforming the Garda, aimed at "building trust" between communities and the force. The proposals include liaison committees for local authority areas and "community policing councils" for "vulnerable estates and flat complexes".

According to Democratic Left "any review of Garda operations must be to reverse the over-centralisation trend of recent years" and should also ensure the force has the resources and technology it needs. Mr Byrne said he also wanted to see gardai "getting proper pay for the work they do".

Meanwhile Fianna Fail has said its "zero tolerance" policing scheme would apply to drug dealers as soon as it came into office.

The party's justice spokesman, Mr John O'Donoghue, yesterday said the public wanted action against drug dealers above all else.

The party's main proposal is for special drug courts which could send addicts into treatment courses. It advocates a "twin-track" approach stressing the need to pursue drug dealers, but offering "a policy of caring assistance" for addicts.

Mr O'Donoghue said Fine Gael's policies for tackling drug crime "are capable of being written in block capitals on the back of an envelope".