Labour seeks motion expressing no confidence in Garda chiefs

Howlin says FF should amend its motion to reflect Dáil’s lack of confidence in O’Sullivan

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, pictured here with Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, will on Tuesday bring to Cabinet proposed draft terms of reference for the examination of the force. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, pictured here with Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, will on Tuesday bring to Cabinet proposed draft terms of reference for the examination of the force. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has called on Fianna Fáil to amend its Dáil motion to express no confidence in Garda management.

Fianna Fáil had tabled a motion seeking a review of the Garda Commissioner’s role by the Policing Authority. Labour and Sinn Féin are both due to table amendments on Tuesday insisting the current motion does not go far enough.

Mr Howlin said it was clear a majority of the Dáil did not have confidence in the management of the force and that should be reflected by the motion.

He said the House was not precluded from expressing a position on the management of An Garda Síochána.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on justice Jim O’Callaghan said he had not seen any amendments by opposition parties but would discuss any potential changes with his frontbench on Tuesday.

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

It also calls on the Government “to take immediate steps to rectify this real and substantial crisis in confidence in An Garda Síochána”.

The Government will consider whether to oppose the Fianna Fáil Private Member’s motion at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Patten-style inquiry

Sinn Féin has said it will not support the proposal, which will be debated on Tuesday, but has not decided whether to abstain or vote against the motion.

It will table a number of amendments including the necessity for a Patten-style inquiry into the gardaí.

The party’s whip Aengus O’Snodaigh has also written to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl criticising the facilitation of the Fianna Fáil motion. Mr O’Snodaigh said the party had used its Private Member’s time to “gazump the Sinn Féin motion on the same topic”.

Sinn Féin said tabling two similar motions in the same week was a breach of standing orders and should have been ruled out of order by the Ceann Comhairle.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet will on Tuesday decide the scope of a root-and-branch review of An Garda Síochána. Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is to bring proposed draft terms of reference for the examination of the force.

The inquiry will focus on accountability, transparency and the structure of the gardaí, including the position of senior management.

Proposals

Ms Fitzgerald has accepted a number of proposals made by the opposition parties including measures by Fianna Fáil to examine whether gardaí should be allowed to facilitate promotions from within.

A spokesman for the Tánaiste declined to comment ahead of the Cabinet discussion.

However, he said the training and recruitment of gardaí, the culture and ethos and the appointments of civilians to the force would be examined as part of the review.

Ms Fitzgerald is also likely to push for an assessment of the oversight and accountability of the force and whether bodies such as the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and the Policing Authority require more powers to conduct their duties.

The wide-ranging review follows revelations that the number of breathalyser tests was exaggerated by one million, and 14,700 people were wrongly convicted of motoring offences.

An independent panel will be appointed by the Government. Fianna Fáil and the Independent Alliance has sought the recruitment of former Northern Ireland police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan as chairwoman.

Ms Fitzgerald will seek further discussion with the Opposition this week with a view to establishing the scope of the review after the Easter break.