A review into public order policing in Ireland has described the lack of internal monitoring of the use of force by gardaí, as a "significant gap in governance".

The review, which was published by the Policing Authority, was carried out by the Garda Inspectorate, and will be presented to the Garda Commissioner at the authority's next public meeting tomorrow.

It was prompted by the authority's oversight of garda performance at two public order incidents in 2014 and 2018.

These incidents occurred at An Cosán in Tallaght in 2014 and North Frederick Street in 2018.

There has been limited progress in implementing the recommendations from the internal garda reviews of those incidents.

However, this review does identify a number of positive aspects of public order policing, including the level of capacity and the standardisation of training across divisions.

The review makes 19 recommendations in total.

It recommends that data on the use of force by members of An Garda Síochána should be published. It says that unlike other comparable police services, garda use of force statistics are not routinely published.

The inspectorate recommends that this data should be published on the garda website, as well as all procedures and guidelines relating to public order and the use of force.

Currently, it says external accountability was limited to the reporting of the use of incapacitant spray, taser and conventional firearm use to the Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission.

It now recommends that the external oversight of garda use of force trends be incorporated into the performance monitoring activities of the Policing Authority.

Among the other recommendations is the inspectorate's support for the planned legislation to record images in public.

It said: "[It] fully supports the use of photographic and video equipment by the gardaí at public events for evidence gathering purposes."

This review found that greatest risk with regard to public order for An Garda Síochána is not the potential for widespread public disorder, but rather the "inconsistent governance and application of garda policy". 

The review found that there is no Strategic Threat and Risk assessment relating to public order within An Garda Síochána.

It says that is a "significant organisational risk", and that the force should "urgently develop a formalised public order strategic assessment of threat and risk".

Chair of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily thanked the inspectorate for the review.

"Effective public order policing which recognises the right to freedom of assembly and the right to public protest is essential in  a healthy democracy and, in this context, every year, the Garda Síochána manages many large public gatherings effectively and without incident", she said. 

Ms Feehily said that the review identified that the risk around public order "doesn't arise from the potential from widespread public disorder, but rather from inconsistent governance and application of garda policy".

She said it was an "internal risk" rather than one posed by the environment.
Ms Feehily described the review as concise and she welcomed the "clarity with which the Garda Inspectorate grounded its assessment on human rights and on the Garda Code of Ethics". 

She said the Policing Authority looks forward to discussing the recommendations with the Garda Commissioner.