Members of An Garda Síochána should treat their obligation to the public as superior to any false sense that individual gardaí should stick up for each other, according to the third interim report of the Disclosures Tribunal.

The report by Mr Justice Peter Charleton was published this afternoon.

It examines three main areas, namely the Tusla file containing the false rape claim against garda whistleblower Sergeamnt McCabe; former garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan's legal approach at the O'Higgins Commission; and the alleged senior garda smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

The recommendations made by Justice Charleton are listed below:


Calling to Account

The report stated that the tribunal had been about calling the police force to account, and that Sgt McCabe had been concerned to maintain standards.

The tribunal also found that Sgt McCabe was an ordinary human being who could make mistakes, and who at times, was prone to grasp the wrong end of an issue.

It said his evidence was tested before the tribunal and in the most important respect, as regards disagreements between Sgt McCabe and Superintendent David Taylor about what happened at their September 2016 meetings, there was a clear preference for Sgt McCabe's evidence.


Reaction to justified criticism

The report found the reaction of Tusla and An Garda Síochána to mistakes made by both agencies were "disheartening".

The tribunal stated that airline travel was safe because of the 'black box mentality', whereby if something went wrong, there was an all-out effort to discover why and learn from error. 

It said that regrettably, neither TUSLA nor the An Garda Síochána currently displayed that mentality.

The tribunal found that the gardaí offered no criticism of themselves and needed a complete turn-around in their attitude, which has to be led from senior management.


Worthwhile police work

The report stated that the tribunal had also been about good police work.

It said the police force was a resource of brilliant men and women.

The report said that it must be dispiriting for them that all of what is detailed in this report happened, and said they were crying out for leadership.


Continuation of problems

The report found that central to reform of the ggardaí was not any new structure, but that the organisation should be able to look at itself honestly and to identify its own faults.

It states that those in the police should be accountable to senior officers and senior officers should be tasked with ensuring that those under their command should do a day of honest work on behalf of the taxpayer on every working day.


Obligations of gardaí

The Tribunal is suggesting a number of open-ended obligations as the duty of police personnel, including that gardaí be honest and visible.

Judge Charleton said many of the gardaí who had given evidence to the tribunal stood out by their keen intelligence and application to duty.

He said that in contrast to other police forces, the extraordinary aspect of the gardaí was that they kept themselves isolated in police stations and transported themselves around in squad cars.

He said it was extraordinarily rare that gardaí are seen in uniform on the streets, and that people behaved well generally in the presence of uniformed officers.

Judge Charleton said everyone serving in the police should give a portion of the day to foot and bicycle patrols.

The tribunal found that the garda organisation must treat its obligation to the public as superior to any false sense that individual police men and women should stick up for each other.


Discipline and dismissal

The tribunal found that the discipline process within the gardaí was far too technical.

The report said that garda discipline rules should be supplemented with open-ended obligations and breach of these should invoke a simplified disciplinary code.


Public relations

The report found that the Garda Press Office and Garda Headquarters now felt themselves free to make confidential communications on matters of public moment to journalists, which obliges the media to assert privilege.

It stated that public relations speak as a substitute for plain speaking was an affront to the duty of our police force to be accountable.

It said the correct approach for an organisation was to enable those who are expert on a subject to speak on its behalf.

The tribunal described as extraordinary the fact that Supt Taylor was the Garda Press Officer when he had no relevant experience in media matters.

It also found that experience of working in the Press Office should be regarded as useful for the job of directing it, and that an honest person was required for the position.


Protected disclosures

The tribunal outlined that two of the protected disclosures which concerned the inquiry, despite having been made in the proper manner, were promptly disclosed, inter alia, to public representatives and journalists.

The report said that constituted "not merely the ignition switch, but the accelerant used to inflame public opinion" in relation to the matters concerned.

It suggests that the Oireachtas might wish to consider whether any further regulation of the use of protected disclosures might be properly put in place to deal with this type of issue.


Uncovering the truth

The report said that it had been a "dreadful struggle" to attempt to uncover what may have gone on behind closed doors, and that this should not happen.

The tribunal report stated that people were obligated by patriotic duty to co-operate with judicial processes, whether in the police, or public service, or not.