The Garda Representative Association has criticised the Garda Inspectorate's report on tackling garda corruption describing it as "a spin operation to bulk up figures to justify draconian oversight."

The association has accused the Inspectorate of "inferring there was a widespread problem where no such problem exists."

It pointed out that the vast majority of complaints to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission are not upheld and those that are only result in low level sanctions.

The Inspectorate’s report, which was published a fortnight ago, warned of the potential for gardaí to abuse their power and pointed to weaknesses in supervision and guidelines.

The GRA said it caused "justifiable annoyance" among its 12,000 rank and file members.

The report examined An Garda Síochána's effectiveness at preventing, detecting and mitigating against the threat of internal corruption and warned of the potential for gardaí to abuse their power for sexual gain and the need for them to notify their supervisors of associations and relationships. 

It pointed to weaknesses in the governance and supervision of garda discretion and highlighted an absence of policies and guidelines in substance testing, business interests and post employment activities. 

It also said a high volume of prosecution cases for serious offences such as drink driving, threats to public safety and public order offences had been discontinued at court, in many cases because gardaí failed to turn up in court.

The GRA said the report actually says little about garda conduct, but that the language used is the melodramatic, hyperbolic and sensationalist and creates an air of workplace fear among gardaí by inferring a widespread problem where no such problem exists.

Anti-corruption unit set up for An Garda Síochána

GRA Interim General Secretary Philip McAnenly said the public may be surprised to learn that little over 0.1% of complaints made to GSOC were upheld and even when they were, they resulted in low-level sanctions.

He said the Inspectorate report could encourage yet more vexatious complaints to GSOC and that even if a garda crosses the line inadvertently or there is a legitimate difference of opinion in the appropriate use of discretion, it is called corruption.

He insists that incidents of corruption in the Garda are rare by international comparison.

The association has also accused the Inspectorate of being involved in "a spin operation" to bulk up the figures to justify draconian oversight by equating actual corruption such as bribery with forming personal or business relationships.

Mr McAnenly also criticised the fact that while the report was finalised last September it has only recently been published and he said there appears to have been co-ordination between Garda Management and the Inspectorate in this.

"It looks as though the Inspectorate has timed the release of its report to enlist public and political support for Management's air-of-mutual-suspicion strategy that it wants to implement through the new Garda Anti-Corruption Unit," he said.

The GRA said it will continue to engage with management on anti-corruption policies and defend members' entitlement to use their discretion and enjoy a private life away from the job.