FF tables motion over confidence crisis in Garda

Party seeks Policing Authority to assess if O’Sullivan capable of restoring belief in force

Fianna Fáil’s private members’ motion regarding Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will be taken in the Dáil next week. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Fianna Fáil’s private members’ motion regarding Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will be taken in the Dáil next week. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Fianna Fáil has tabled a Dáil motion calling on the Government to ask the Policing Authority to assess if Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is capable of restoring public confidence in the force.

The party’s private members’ motion will be taken in the Dáil next week before a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Ms O’Sullivan.

Fianna Fáil has made clear it will not support the Sinn Féin motion, and instead calls on the Government “to take immediate steps to rectify this real and substantial crisis in confidence in An Garda Síochána”.

It also calls on the Government “to request the Policing Authority to assess the role and capacity of the Garda Commissioner to restore public confidence in An Garda Síochána”.

While a spokesman for Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said the Government has no objection in principle to giving more powers to the Policing Authority, it is understood the aspects of the Fianna Fáil motion around the authority could cause difficulty.

Specific task

Sources said directing the authority to undertake a specific task amounts to political interference and would undermine its independence.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan asked for other parties to support the motion. A Sinn Féin spokesman said it had yet to see the Fianna Fáil proposal. Labour is understood to be assessing the motion.

It also proposes giving the Policing Authority more power to “supervise the functioning of the Garda Commissioner’s Office and supervise the discharge of these functions by the Commissioner”.

The Policing Authority would also be empowered to “establish and impose policies and reform” on the force, and calls for an independent commission into the Garda.

This would examine and report “adequacy and appropriateness of the policies and procedures which underpin the operation and performance of An Garda Síochána”, drive the full implementation of Garda Inspectorate reports and implement other changes such as improvements in training, the recruitment of civilians to senior positions in the force.

Breath tests

Meanwhile, the Policing Authority has said it commissioned an independent audit into recording of one million breath tests that never happened and erroneous conviction of thousands of people for motoring offences.

In a statement, the authority said it had received information it requested from An Garda Síochána on both issues.

It said a “large amount of data and information” was given to it last week, and this documentation has been reviewed.

It says that, in parallel, an independent external audit of the reporting of breath tests and mandatory alcohol testing checkpoints and the issuing of fixed charge notices, and summonses for fixed charge notice offences, has been commissioned.