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New whistleblowing 'commandments' for Gardaí

Members of the force will be given further protection in the area of whistleblowing, under plans to set up an independent policing authority.

GARDAÍ AND CIVILIAN employees of the force will soon be subject to a new ‘code of ethics’ which encourages the reporting of any wrongdoing committed by their colleagues.

A plan to bring in the measure is included in the draft Bill to establish a new Policing Authority, published today by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald made the establishment of the authority a priority of her tenure after taking over from Alan Shatter following a string of Garda-related controversies earlier this year.

It’s intended the new nine-person body will provide an extra layer of oversight of policing.

One of the provisions fleshed out today by the Department includes a requirement for the Authority to publish a Garda ethics code within 12 months of its establishment.

According to a statement, the new commandments for members would “encourage and facilitate the reporting of wrongdoing in the Garda Síochána by members of  the Garda Síochána”.

Bodies like the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission would have a role in drafting the new code, as would representative associations like the GRA and the AGSI.

Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images ... Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald

Elsewhere, the new Bill sets out that the Authority should hold quarterly public meetings with Garda management, in order to improve accountability and transparency.

According to the Minister…

…the new Authority will be tasked with holding the Garda Commissioner to account in relation to all policing services while developing a key role in the future appointment of senior Garda management.

Under the new measures, the Garda Commissioner will report directly to the Policing Authority on all ‘policing’ matters. However, when it comes to units dealing with security and counter-terrorism issues, the head of the force will continue to report to the Minister of the day.

A recruitment campaign to find a chairperson for the Authority is already under way. The other eight ‘ordinary’ members of the body will be appointed by Government, following a further recruitment drive by the Public Appointments Service.

The heads of the new Bill are to be forwarded to the Joint Committee on Justice and Defence for scrutiny. Fitzgerald says she hopes to bring the planned legislation before the Oireachtas as soon as practicable.

Read: “Shafted? No”: 10 things we learned from Alan Shatter’s Late Late Show interview

Read: Ming: I was followed by an unmarked Garda car… and so was John Wilson

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