Report recommends single Garda Ombudsman

Launch of Oireachtas Justice Committee Report on the Review of the Garda Síochána Act 2005

Fine Gael Dublin Fingal TD, Alan Farrell, has today (Thursday) launched the report of the Oireachtas Justice Committee on the review of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. The report recommends the appointment of a single Garda Ombudsman.

“The primary purpose of the Oireachtas Justice Committee’s Review of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, is to rebuild public trust in the hard working men and women of An Garda Síochána.

“The report of the Justice Committee has recommended the appointment of a single Garda Ombudsman. The recommendation details a change to the structure of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, so that instead of three people, there is one single Garda Síochána Ombudsman (GSO). In this new system, all members of An Garda Síochána, including the Garda Commissioner, would be accountable to the GSO.

“The GSO would be responsible for the investigation of complaints against Gardaí of all ranks and would have the power to conduct investigations on his/her own initiative. The Committee recommends that all citizens, members of the public, bodies corporate and members of An Garda Síochána should be entitled to raise a genuine concern or complaint to an appropriate complaints body without fear of reproach.

“Another important recommendation contained in this report centres on a change to the way in which PULSE can be accessed. The Justice Committee favours putting access to PULSE by the Ombudsman, on a statutory footing, rather than by way of protocols as is currently the case.

“The report also recommends the formation of a Criminal Justice Inspectorate to oversee and supervise the administration of all aspects of the criminal justice system. This organisation would have powers to oversee a number of bodies, which may include An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Legal Aid Board, the Probation Service and the Ombudsman Commission. The report suggests that this organisation could be developed from expanding the role of the Garda Inspectorate.

“The Oireachtas Justice Committee has worked hard over several months to prepare this report on the operation of An Garda Síochána. Submissions were received from the public and fruitful hearings have been held. All contributions and submissions have been taken into account. The report will now be referred to the Minister for Justice with a view to informing the draft heads of Bill, with further consultation and debate to follow.”