EDITORIAL: No improvement in Garda morale

April 23rd, 2017 11:40 PM

By Southern Star Team

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MORALE in An Garda Síochána was bad before last week’s Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) conference in Killarney and was certainly not boosted by the visit of Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, whose arrival was met by delegates with an stony silence. 

They were peeved by her statement at the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality that the inflated breath test figures were caused by ‘at best incompetence and at worst deception,’ because they felt it reflected badly on their members. The AGSI president, Antoinette Cunningham, felt sergeants and inspectors were not afforded due process while the investigations into what happened were continuing.

While the Commissioner opined that it was not about blaming anyone, but about learning from past mistakes, she put the ball back into the AGSI court by asking the delegates how they thought 14,700 wrongful convictions and almost a million invented breath tests came about. All concerned will have their own opinions about these scandals, but the definitive judgements will be made by the parallel internal Garda and Policing Authority investigations. 

However, while acknowledging shortcomings at the most senior levels, Commissioner O’Sullivan was, quite rightly, not letting the middle-ranking officers off the hook, lecturing them that they ‘must do better; much better, by the men and women that you lead.’ Hopefully, she will also follow her own advice in order to give An Garda Síochána a chance to get over its current crisis of confidence.

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