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Questioning root and branch review
A former member of the Patten Commission on policing reform in Northern Ireland has questioned the need for the “root-and-branch” review of An Garda Síochána, warning against it becoming a “scalp-hunting” exercise.

Dr Maurice Hayes, the former senator and one-time Northern Ireland ombudsman, said that the Garda Inspectorate’s 2015 report Changing Policing in Ireland had not yet been acted upon.

The key to bringing about change to the Garda was through regular reports tracking the implementation of reforms, as the Patten Commission recommended and achieved, he said. He suggested that the Policing Authority could play “a more active role” in reforming the Garda.

“They are in danger of over-complicating things,” said the former Stormont civil servant of the Government’s review. 

“They have a very good report from the inspectorate, which is sitting there. They have all sorts of other inquiries going on and to start tramping over the ground again seems to be a recipe for some degree of delay.”

Mounting pressure

Dr Hayes said that “scalp-hunting” would change the nature of the inquiry. Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has come under mounting pressure to resign over a series of controversies to plague the force.

The Government announced the setting up of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and this week named Kathleen O’Toole, former head of the Garda Inspectorate and current chief of police in Seattle, to lead the review.

“I am sceptical, honestly,” said Dr Hayes. “I think if they could just make use of the material that is there and the people who are there, and get a bit of implementation.”
He expressed concern that the review could affect the morale of rank-and-file gardaí, distracting them from their work. 

There should be a greater focus on improving the “first line of management – sergeants and inspectors” through in-service training, he said.

Dr Hayes described technology standards within the Garda as being “a couple of decades behind” the levels of those of police in Northern Ireland.

Falsely recorded

The Garda revealed in March that almost one million roadside breath tests that never occurred were falsely recorded and thousands of court summons were issued for offences that should have been addressed by fixed-penalty notices. 

Separately, an internal garda audit found financial irregularities at the Garda Training College in Templemore

Ms O’Toole has defended her independence to lead the review, rejecting claims that her role on the interview panel that appointed Ms O’Sullivan in 2014 presented a conflict of interest.

The former Boston police commissioner said by email from the US that she was a professional acquaintance of RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan prior to her work on the Patten Commission, which recommended that the RUC be replaced by the Police Service of Northern Irelandafter the 1998 Belfast Agreement, and “it did not influence my work there”.

She also pointed to the fact that the Policing Authority chair Josephine Feehilysat on the selection panel that picked Ms O’Sullivan.
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Bit of sense there, probably will be ignored, Irish people love their scalp hunting.

Is it just me or do "root and Branch" reviews concentrate on those low down in the roots more so that those in the lofty heights of the branches?
Whatever your reaching for better be a sandwich....coz your gonna eat it......
I am inclined to disagree with him. I think the amount of reviews, reports and their age make them messy. I think a fresh review incorporating all the previous and updating them id the right move.

What I don't agree with is demanding resignations now. First off, there's no did evidence the commissioner has failed (from a public viewpoint) and what's the point in a new commissure when there's a review ongoing.

Better to wait and then make the change. I think Cathleen is no fool and her CV is excellent. She has seen other forces in operation, brought about change that resulted in the psni, now considered an international example of best practice and she is appalled at how backwards our tech and setup is
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Honestly strip the job back to the bone and implement the recommendations. There is still a reluctance to do so. Reason is it will make all levels more accountable. Stop people dragging their heels and make more positions civilian.
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Making more positions civilian will be resisted by those who occupy those cushy numbers! I'm with Silop on this but in my experience the biggest issue is the poor standard of so called leadership that has been promoted to to officer rank in last 10 years or so. Cannot ever recall my Inspector ever being the prosecuting member in a case of his own. My District Officer has never served any time in a busy urban station. All one has to do is read the blogs of # to see how a real officer goes about their daily business and in his soon to be published memoir he details his own struggles with PTSD. Iv yet to be asked about my attendance at the multiple drowning in Buncrana March 2016 by my District Officer let alone an enquiry as to my welfare! This jobs best asset is its frontline people, if they feel uncared for, unwanted then morale will plummet (as it is presently) time for real LEADERSHIP as opposed to "box ticking management"

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This post has been repped by: m4j (8),

Extremely well said
"Choose to be great, choose to be powerful beyond measure"
Email me Here
The Couch, an area to discuss issues of Welfare, Discipline, Peer Support and Concern
Stresskills for further articles and information