Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins TD has expressed unease following the comments of PAC Member, Deputy Shane Ross, on this morning’s RTÉ Morning Ireland and has called on the Public Accounts Committee to proceed in the case of Garda complaints with caution.
Deputy Collins commented, “Listening to Deputy Shane Ross this morning, I would have some serious concerns about the approach that certain members of the PAC are taking towards their interaction with the Gardaí. For example, Deputy Ross expressed surprise and disapproval at the fact that the most senior Garda officer in the country referred to ‘subordinates’ and presented it as evidence that junior Garda ranks are treated as ‘second class citizens’. This betrays a worrying lack of understanding and respect for the nature and role of An Garda Siochána.
“It is, necessarily, a hierarchical organisation with a defined chain of command. It is not the same as other State agencies that Oireachtas committees interact with and should not be treated as such. Tomorrow’s first anniversary of the murder of Detective Adrian Donohoe, murdered as he went about his work, should be a stark reminder of that fact for everyone in the Oireachtas.
“Elsewhere in his interview, Shane Ross talked about the fact that the Commissioner was not committed to ‘open democracy’ because he challenged some of the assumptions of the PAC. Having watched much of the proceedings, this is not a description that I recognise.
“The work of the PAC is crucially important and should be supported, but deputies need to be careful that in their enthusiasm to find the next villain, they do not undermine that work. The Irish public were clear in the recent referendum on the subject that they do not want politicians acting as judge, jury and executioner.
“However, the key issues being brought up in these hearings need to be thoroughly investigated. In Fianna Fáil we are currently investigating whether the Garda Ombudsman Commission needs further resources or statutory powers to carry out this role. We believe that this is the most appropriate forum for investigation into accusations of wrongdoing within An Garda Siochána, ensuring public confidence that issues are being properly addressed, while also taking into account the unique nature of the organisation and its role.”