BY FRANK McBREARTY JNR: I am reading the Sunday newspapers on February 16th and it feels like I am watching the Groundhog Day movie. The flashbacks and memories of the gardaí trying to frame me for a murder that didn’t happen aided with the help of Garda informants comes rushing back to remind me of the injustice committed against my family and I at the hands of corrupt gardaí, each day repeating itself over and over and at the stroke of midnight the nightmare starts over again and again. What has changed?
These are the issues that need to be addressed.
Garda reform and recommendations from the Morris Tribunal report need to be implemented.
GSOC: to be given the powers and properly funded by Government to be totally independent and no member of An Garda Síochána past or present to be allowed to work for the GSOC.
GSOC: to be given oversight powers of senior Garda management right up to the rank of Garda Commissioner when allegations of wrong-doing are made against senior Garda management. GSOC: to be given the same powers as its counterpart in Northern Ireland. GSOC: to be given the remit and powers to investigate complaints against the force from allegations made by Garda whistleblowers.
The establishment of new policing boards for each Garda district in Ireland to be put in place with proper powers to enable them to hold senior Garda management to account for policing and that the current joint policing committees be terminated. I have been a member of Donegal’s joint policing committee since 2009. It is a waste of taxpayers’ money.
The former Garda inspectorate Kathleen O’Toole’s work over the five years she was in the job needs to be fully published.
Informants: oversight and constant inspections by an independent authority needs to be established concerning their operations and handling to ensure that no criminality occurs.
For example, after the Morris Tribunal, the Garda force was required to register informants under its Covert Human Intelligence Source system (CHIS). Informants are not supposed to be actively engaged in criminality. What watchdog ensures that the rules are not broken?
See Fr McVerry’s (Jesuit Centre for Faith & Justice) report (workingnotes.ie) on the Morris Tribunal in 2004 long before its conclusion and An Garda Síochána Bill 2004. It makes for interesting reading. See also Morris’s reports.
The problems that have been aired over recent weeks all stem back to the handling by An Garda Síochána of informants and the intelligence-gathering conducted through their flawed system CHIS.
We must have an independent oversight of the Department of Justice as this is where the heart of our problems lies and their relationship with the Minister and Garda Commissioner is questionable to say the least in a modern day democracy. Reform needs to happen here also.
The question that now needs to be asked is how many innocent people are in jail at the hands of corrupt gardaí. We need to stop this and begin to look at policing in the past, present and into the future so we can learn from our mistakes. Accountability.
Publish the Carty report (internal Garda investigation): this will show why we need reform of the Garda.
So what has changed? Nothing. The only thing that has changed is the gardaí have more power and what comes with more power, more abuse of power.
A threat to justice anywhere in Ireland is a threat to justice everywhere in Ireland.