Process to appoint garda commissioner set to begin

Friday 20 June 2014 19.36
Frances Fitzgerald again declined to express confidence in Brian Purcell
Frances Fitzgerald again declined to express confidence in Brian Purcell

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said the process of appointing a new garda commissioner will begin next month.

Ms Fitzgerald said the new Independent Garda Authority will not be established until the end of the year, but its members could be involved in the appointment of the new commissioner.

Speaking at a conference on justice reform today, she again declined to express confidence in Department of Justice Secretary General Brian Purcell.

The minister said she would await the outcome of the departmental review, but was working with Mr Purcell on a daily basis.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors highlighted the lack of garda resources and the problems with the garda fleet, which the Garda Inspectorate described as a ticking time bomb.

The minister said €4m remained to be spent on the garda fleet.

While acknowledging that garda numbers had dropped below 13,000 members, she said these were "challenging times" and everyone was working in challenging circumstances.

Ms Fitzgerald also said former minister for justice Alan Shatter was entitled to express his opinions on the Guerin Report in the Dáil.

However, she said it was a preliminary report that the Government had accepted and added that everyone would get to have their say at the Commission of Investigation.

Also speaking at the conference, Interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan said the public has great confidence in the gardaí policing their own communities.

However, she said more work needs to be done on how the force is managed from Garda Headquarters.

Ms O'Sullivan said an internal survey of members of the force also showed that gardaí wanted to do the job and wanted to do it right, but had been hurt and were very concerned by the recent scandals.

She also accepted that the force was constrained by the reduction in resources and personnel, but insisted these were adequate to police the country.

On the garda fleet, she said 140 new cars and vans had been bought this year.

The force is looking at what it can do with what it has now, she said.

She described the shooting of a six-year-old boy in Dublin last week as "absolutely appalling", and said gardaí are making good progress in the case.

She also said garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe was back at work and being supported by local garda management.

Asked about whether serving garda Kieran O'Reilly would be allowed participate in the forthcoming series of the RTÉ Drama Love/Hate, she said she was not aware he had been asked.

She said she did not think it was fair to comment on an individual member, but added that there is a comprehensive policy on the spare time activities that gardaí can and cannot engage in.