The figures published yesterday in the first report of the Garda Ombudsman Commission are staggering and very disturbing (RTE News, 2nd report).
Nearly 3,000 complaints plus 300 referrals from the Garda Commissioner.
750 investigations into allegations of criminal conduct – mostly of assault.
Nine files sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (Only very serious cases are referred to the DPP).
Clearly, Judge Morris was correct when he said that the Gardai were losing their status as a disciplined force.
It should also be noted that millions are paid out each year by the taxpayer to compensate citizens who have been assaulted or otherwise damaged by Gardai.
The details of the vast bulk of these cases remain a State secret because the Gardai do not come under the remit of the Freedom of Information Act as is the norm in most Western democracies.
Judging by the attitude of the Garda Representative Association’s new president, Michael O’Boyce, the Commission has a lot more work to do. O’Boyce made a scathing attack on the Commission accusing it of blundering incompetence. Commission member Carmel Foley was strong in her response.
“I really wonder if this is all about Gardai being unable to contemplate the fact that another body can walk into a Garda station with a search warrant and conduct a search of the premises. I think they’re going to have to get used to that.”