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Superintendents reject Gsoc claim they could be accused of cover-ups in investigations of gardaí

Gsoc chairperson Judge Mary Ellen Ring said An Garda Síochana runs the risk of undermining public trust in the force.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE ASSOCIATION REPRESENTING garda superintendents has rejected a suggestion by the Garda Ombudsman that they could be accused of a ‘cover-up’ because they are not informing Gsoc about criminal investigations involving gardaí.

They were responding after the head of Gsoc made comments to the Oireachtas Justice Committee this morning. Gsoc chairperson Judge Mary Ellen Ring, said it was troubling that An Garda Síochána continues to conduct criminal investigations of its own members without the knowledge or participation of GSOC.

An Garda Síochána is not required to inform the ombudsman’s office of all internal disciplinary inquiries and criminal investigations of gardaí.

Judge Ring said this practice “flies in the face” of the recommendation of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI) that all complaints against An Garda Síochána be routed through the ombudsman to determine what action should be taken.

This practice runs the risk of allegations of cover up or bias or corruption when it becomes known that such investigations have been carried out internally. 
It runs the risk that fair and independent investigations are not seen as such by the public because they were not notified outside the organisation. Most importantly they run the risk of undermining public trust significantly if such internal investigations go wrong.

Speaking at the Association of Garda Superintendents annual conference today, its president Noel Cunningham said he would like “a bit of clarity” around Judge Ring’s comments.

“It’s very difficult to understand any suggestion of cover-up,” he told reporters.

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“It doesn’t make sense that somebody would be trying to hide an investigation or suggest that it’s not happening, because generally an investigation like that – especially a criminal matter – will have witnesses and the witnesses will be civilians, will be persons not involved in the organisation.

“So you’re not going to cover up them, you’re not going to hide their complaint. If they have a legitimate complaint, obviously they’re entitled to talk about that too so it just flies in the face of reason for me but, again, I’d like to get a greater understanding and maybe Judge Mary Ellen Ring would give us that clarity.”

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