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Garda Ombudsman Office on Abbey Street in Dublin Alamy Stock Photo

Garda Ombudsman invited to appear before Oireachtas Committee over Dublin riots

‘Questions have to be asked to GSOC and we would like to give GSOC the opportunity to answer these questions’, said one Fine Gael senator.

THE GARDA SÍOCHÁNA Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) will be invited to appear before an Oireachtas Committee in relation to Dublin riots last month.

The riots in the capital on 23 November – which involved far-right elements and saw Garda cars, buses and trams set alight and shops looted and damaged – flared after a knife attack on three children and their care assistant outside a school in Parnell Square East.

A five-year-old girl who received the most serious injuries in the attack remains in hospital.

In a statement today, Fine Gael senator Tim Lombard said members of the Joint Committee on Public Petitions and the Ombudsman have agreed to invite GSOC before the committee.

Senator Lombard had contacted the Cathaoirleach of the committee, Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne, to “urge” him to invite representatives from GSOC to appear at Leinster House in the near future.

Lombard today said: “In light of recent events in Dublin, we need to hear a clear explanation of the complaints investigation process and a review is needed on the guidelines set out for members of An Garda Síochána.

“It’s essential that members of the force are aware of how they can respond in hostile situations.

“We do not want any garda to have any doubt about this when they are responding to scenes such as those seen in Dublin last month.”

In the days following the riots, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was before an Oireachtas Justice Committee to respond to questioning on the response of gardaí to the riots.

Former Attorney General and Justice Minister Michael McDowell asked Harris if gardaí are confident in their ability to use force appropriately when under attack.

Harris said new measures like the further use of spray, and public order gardaí being armed with tasers, will enhance members’ ability to protect themselves and others.

Meanwhile, Senator Lombard today said that “reforms may be needed and it’s important to address issues that occur”.

He added: “Questions have to be asked to GSOC as to why some members of the Gardaí felt that they had to be so restrained in their response, and we would like to give GSOC the opportunity to answer these questions.

“It is of vital importance that current guidelines do not prevent members of An Garda Síochána from providing an appropriate and adequate response to public order incidents.

“We cannot have a repeat where members of the force were unsure of how they could respond to the rioters in our capital city,” said Lombard.

He also called on GSOC to “take up this invitation to come before the Public Petitions Committee”.