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'It is appalling that the GRA has come out in favour of a Yes vote'

Nuala O’Loan, former Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, said she isn’t keen on the GRA’s position.

Omagh case a blot on governments Nuala O'Loan Source: Niall Carson/PA Wire

A FORMER POLICE Ombudsman for Northern Ireland has slammed the Garda Representative Association (GRA) for coming out in favour of a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage.

“Policing everywhere is supposed to provide an impartial and independent service,”  Baroness Nuala O’Loan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

I think it’s appalling that they’ve come out with this.

In Garda Review editorial, GRA chief PJ Stone has called for the organisation’s members to vote Yes in the referendum.

It is the first time the GRA has taken a stance like this, and described the vote as a moral rather than political issue.

However, following an opinion piece in The Irish Catholic, O’Loan told RTÉ that she believes this goes beyond the function of the GRA.

“These guards, they swear an oath that they will faithfully discharge the duties of a member of the Garda Síochána with fairness, integrity, regard for human rights, diligence and impartiality, upholding the Constitution and the laws,” she said.

It doesn’t say that they will act to change the laws if they don’t represent or comply with their views on the law.

O’Loan, who said she is staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage but in favour of all relationships being entitled to the same legal protections and respect, said the GRA is acting “way outside” of their remit as an organisation to represent gardaí.

Acting politically is clearly something you don’t want your police to do.

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The baroness said she would be just as vocal if the GRA came out in favour or against any other political issue.

Mothers and Fathers Matter said O’Loan “is right, obviously”, and said it raises the issue of the silent No vote.

“Across the country, people are simply afraid to say that they are voting no, for fear of the backlash,” the group said a statement.

The appearance of a member of the force in a Yes Equality photocall sparked criticism from MAFM.

Read: ‘The No side seem fixated on the notion of the ‘ideal family’ – whatever that means’ >

More: No group says presence of gardaí at a Yes event has ‘fractured’ its neutrality >

Look: The same-sex marriage mural has been damaged by the weather >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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