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Dublin: 4 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

Fitzgerald: There's been a crisis of confidence about the gardaí, and that has to change

Frances Fitzgerald paid tribute to the garda whistleblowers at her first press conference today, saying: “We do have to listen to critics.”

Frances Fitzgerald at her first press conference in Government Buildings today
Frances Fitzgerald at her first press conference in Government Buildings today
Image: Sam Boal

THE NEWLY-APPOINTED Justice Minister says there has been “a crisis of confidence” about the gardaí that has to be dealt with and changed.

Frances Fitzgerald also paid tribute to the work of the garda whistleblowers, singling out Sergeant Maurice McCabe. She said: “I think as a country we’re learning about whistleblowers.”

The Minister was speaking at her first press conference since she was formally appointed as Minister for Justice and Equality in the wake of Alan Shatter’s resignation.

Fitzgerald said that the culture needs to be changed and that “we have to restore confidence and trust.”

She later said: “I do also want to pay tribute to the whistleblowers. We do have to listen to critics.

“We do have to listen to critics of the system, we have to be open to hearing what they have to say, that’s very important and I do intend to provide leadership in that regard.”

Fitzgerald said she has not yet read the Guerin report, which is due to be published tomorrow, but said it is a priority. She plans to meet with the acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan shortly with the restrictions placed on McCabe from accessing the Pulse system to be discussed.

She said there is a “very large amount of work to be done” and that the it is important that “Irish people can have confidence in our policing system, confidence in our police”.

“Clearly, in recent times, there has been, in many ways, a crisis of confidence about the gardaí and that has to be dealt with and that has to be changed.”

The Minister said that it is important that a new garda authority be established by the end of the year, with public input and public hearings needed to have “the very best model possible of an independent policing authority”.

“I would hope that that would be in place by the end of the year,” she said.

On the events of the last 24 hours, Fitzgerald said she “got a call very late last night” and “a text very early this morning” as her appointment became reality and joked that it may be a “sign of things to come”.

“I’m not a stranger to hard work and obviously this is a demanding portfolio,” the Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid-West said. “I don’t underestimate the challenges and the range of issues that have to be addressed.”

The Minister added that she has a “reforming zeal” that is essential for the role which she also described as a “serious job”.

Fitzgerald described her former Cabinet colleague as a “reforming” minister who brought in “critical” reforms which will be of “long-lasting benefit”.

Frances Fitzgerald: From social worker to Justice Minister

Read: Here’s what Twitter thinks of Frances Fitzgerald’s appointment


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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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