Garda Síochána and accountability

 

Sir,– Perhaps the first question to ask is which group or individuals benefited from the over-reporting of 937,212 breath tests on the Garda Pulse system from 2011 to 2016?

The answer might help us understand the consistent lack of urgency to solve the problem. – Yours, etc,

DERMOT O’ROURKE,

Lucan,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – The Garda Commissioner has stated that she has “a journey of work” ahead of her.

The question is, how many checkpoints will she actually encounter on her travels? – Yours, etc,

RITA O’BRIEN,

Lucan,

Co Dublin.

A chara, – The present situation in regard to Garda incompetence invites the consideration of the appointment of a governance team from a reputable police force or forces. That means a proper and broad search for personnel from international police forces with suitable expertise and sense of probity. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN BRADY ,

Oldcastle,

Co Meath.

Sir, – I see little point in calling for the head of yet another Garda Commissioner. Nóirín O’Sullivan’s departure would only lead to further flux in a management team that has more than enough on its plate.

However, she and her senior colleagues would need to get real about accountability for the most recent scandalous revelations. These would suggest gross incompetence, irresponsibility and a conspiracy to mislead at certain levels in the Garda. Talk of remedial and corrective action is completely insufficient. Those responsible would need to be subject to punitive action, be that demotion, dismissal or whatever other form of discipline may be merited. Like it or not, some heads are going to have to roll, in order to rebuild political and public trust. The only question is whose. – Yours, etc,

AODH Ó DOMHNAILL,

Dundrum,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – The fact that the Garda managed to perform two million breath tests while using only one million mouthpieces has attracted a lot of negative comments. Maybe we should view this amazing performance in the light of the efficient use materials and the practice of that much promoted adage “Reduce, reuse, recycle”? – Yours, etc,

JOHN EGAN,

Carlow.

Sir, – The surprising thing about the latest Garda scandals is that anybody is surprised anymore. Shocked, yes, but surprised?

Anyone professing to be surprised has not been following the work of the Garda Inspectorate and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission over the last 10 years, the multiplicity of reports cataloguing issue after issue in working with Garda management to access information and to achieve transparency. It’s all a bit late for politicians to wring their hands and cry “whoa” when the evidence has been before their eyes for quite some time.

The causes of the current “systemic failure” had long been pointed out. There has been a paucity of line management for a number of years and only recently has the Garda Síochána started to fill vacant sergeant and inspector posts.

Clearly a million fraudulent breath-test records require multiple persons to enter them into the Pulse system. In simple terms, it implies that hundreds, if not thousands, of rank-and-file members were deliberately placing false entries on the record either to boost their own returns or, at the behest of management, to boost corporate returns. It is not plausible to believe that these practices were not known to supervisory sergeants, many recently promoted and who, one might conjecture, may once have participated in the very practice.

A similar broad assumption cannot be made about inspectors and superintendents, but what can be said is that any ignorance on their part must arise from an abdication of any close supervisory role.

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect is the endemic petty dishonesty that the scandal reveals. If it is permissible to perpetrate such a wide-scale abuse of record-keeping one must ask what other liberties were being taken, and what other deceits were practised?

We already know from the CSO that crime statistics were significantly altered to favour the Garda Síochána. Once a police service accepts such a wide-scale dishonesty as normal practice then it is on a slippery slope. What effect does it have on the veracity of other legal process? The implications go to the fundamentals of our criminal justice system.

Over the course of recent years, the larger public service has signed up to performance management assessment systems, and to additional productivity returns. These are imperfect processes and met a number of problems in implementation but at least they have succeeded in bringing a degree of accountability and transparency to the supply of public services. To the best of my knowledge, the Garda Síochána has successfully resisted the introduction of any such performance management regime.

This recent information in relation to the scandals arises some short months after Garda members bullied an unconditional pay increase out of the Government at a time of ongoing financial constraints.

I’m genuinely saddened by this scandal; it does an incredible disservice to the extraordinary men and women with whom I’ve worked over the years, who are as honest as the day is long, who never hesitated to step up when the going got tough, who (literally) put their lives on the line when duty called, who work ridiculous rosters that upset family lives and metabolisms.

This is just not good enough for them or for the citizens of this State who are entitled to expect the highest standards from the guardians of law and order. – Yours, etc,

RAY LEONARD,

Blessington,

Co Wicklow.