Several Garda reviews and investigations ordered in recent years
They include the Cooke report, the Fennelly Commission and the O’Higgins Commission
Former minister for justice Alan Shatter resigned in 2014 over a report by Sean Guerin SC. This year the Court of Appeal found the report made “seriously damaging” conclusions that breached Mr Shatter’s constitutional rights. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
A whole series of reviews and investigations into Garda affairs have been ordered by the current Government and its predecessor.
A report by the Garda Inspectorate into the motoring penalty points system was published in February 2014. It was requested by former minister for justice Alan Shatter following allegations by whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, among others, that there had been widespread quashing of penalty points.
A report by Sean Guerin SC was carried out on foot of other allegations by Sgt McCabe that the Garda mishandled cases of murder, assault and abduction. It also examined how claims by whistleblowers were handled by the Department of Justice. Its findings led to the resignation of Mr Shatter from Cabinet in 2014. Earlier this year, however, the Court of Appeal found that the report had made “seriously damaging” conclusions in a manner that breached Mr Shatter’s constitutional rights. Mr Shatter has said he was forced to resign by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
The Cooke Report in June 2014 investigated the alleged bugging of the offices of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). It concluded there was no evidence of surveillance at GSOC’s offices.
The Fennelly Commission was established in April 2014, primarily to investigate the taping of phone calls at Garda stations but also to issue an interim report on the resignation of Martin Callinan as Garda commissioner in early 2014. It has yet to release its final report on the taping issue, although this is expected shortly. Its interim report concluded Mr Kenny “did not intend” to put pressure on Mr Callinan to resign.
The report of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation into the Cavan-Monaghan region of An Garda Síochána was published last year. It was established on foot of the findings of the Guerin report. The O’Higgins report found Mr Shatter, Mr Callinan and the Department of Justice handled complaints made by Sgt McCabe in a professional and appropriate manner “at all times”. It identified serious flaws and failures in criminal investigations in the Cavan-Monaghan division in 2007 and 2008, but found no evidence of Garda criminality or corruption.
Retired judge Iarflaith O’Neill carried out a report into allegations of a smear campaign within the force against Sgt McCabe. Judge O’Neill recommended a commission of investigation into the issue, although Sgt McCabe objected to this approach, as did various political parties. The investigation was upgraded into a full tribunal of inquiry, which has now begun its work under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Peter Charleton.
The Government this week announced its intention to carry out a “root and branch” review of An Garda Síochána following concern over the exaggeration of the number of drink driving breath tests carried out. It is an expansion of a previous review requested by the Independent Alliance into the management and culture of the force. The precise approach of the inquiry has yet to be worked out, but Ministers at this week’s Cabinet meeting cited the example of the review of policing in Northern Ireland following the 1998 Belfast Agreement.