There is something inherently wrong in so many of our institutions, from the church, banking, various charities and bodies, and now the Garda. Much was expected of the first female Garda Commissioner but when wrongdoing was discovered there was not an immediate acknowledgement of it at the time with a plan to deal with it.
Every day the community gardaí face those drug dealers who are taunting them that, because of the lack of legislation, the Garda cannot do anything and the gardaí are constantly being reminded of how much more money these dealers are making over what the gardaí are making. In Dublin Central we have had very serious criminal situations; we have had levels of violence almost normalised on our streets and unprecedented levels of drug dealing, and the gardaí, from the three stations of Mountjoy, the Bridewell and Store Street, have been doing their work professionally in those very difficult situations.
Our unarmed gardaí have been badly served and that would have continued only for the courage of the whistleblowers, their tenacity, and also the support that they got, for example, from Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace. Of course, it should have come to light much sooner. There should not have been a need for whistleblowers if there had been a commitment to fairness and accountability. The gardaí deserve so much better from those in positions of authority and they also need a fairer, more open and accountable way of promotion.
Much was expected of the first female Commissioner, especially one who had come up through the ranks, who had served with the undercover drugs agency – one of the first Mockies – coming through a chauvinistic old boys’ network. The initial signs were promising that she would be a force for change but it is disappointing that when wrongdoing was discovered there was not an immediate acknowledgement of it at the time with a plan to deal with it and deal with those involved following due process.
We have some very good Garda practise in the north inner city, particularly the community policing forum where everybody, from the gardaí to the chief superintendent, will meet the community, either privately or at a public meeting, and answer the issues that the community bring to them. That is a model that could be replicated.
I listened to the deliberations of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors the other day and it referred to the political ping-pong in the Dáil and the numbers of investigations, examinations, tribunals, etc. The time for those is over and the time for action is now in the interest of fairness and justice.