Let's give the Minister for Justice the benefit of the doubt – for now

The Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald was answering questions before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva today.

She told the committee that the Government would have an independent police authority in place by the end of the year. It should have been in place since 2005, after the Donegal Gardai corruption outrage but better late than never.

She also said that GSOC would have the power to independently initiate investigations without having to first ask the Minister for Justice. We’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.

On the issue of legislation in this area the Minister said:

The legislation was originally introduced in 2005 and was found to have these gaps in it so we are bringing in these changes later this year.

Let’s be kind to the new minister, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt by accepting that she has no idea of the dark reality lurking behind this legislation and how it’s linked to the Donegal Gardai corruption.

Let’s accept that she’s a political innocent when she speaks of ‘gaps’ as if the presence of these gaps were some sort of oversight by the politicians and civil servants who drew up the legislation in 2005.

Let’s accept she naively believes that the so-called gaps in the legislation were not deliberately designed to specifically ensure that the police and their political masters could continue to enjoy the benefits of operating far outside the requirements of public accountability as they have since 1922.

Let’s accept that she’s green enough to believe that her predecessor, Alan Shatter, would have introduced the current reforms even if the recent avalanche of corruption within the Gardai had remained hidden.

Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt – but only this time.