Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins has described the Government’s proposed reform of the Garda Ombudsman, GSOC, as very detailed and overdue.
Deputy Collins said Fianna Fáil will “fully engage with the Government and the Oireachtas Justice Committee to ensure the Dáil can be presented with the most robust legislation possible to rebuild public confidence in the Ombudsman and strengthen its powers of investigation.
“Minister Fitzgerald has been making the right noises since taking over the Department of Justice but her ability to deliver additional resources for the Ombudsman’s office and to consult and co-operate with the opposition and interested groups in reforming GSOC will be essential to its success. As part of these reforms it is vital that GSOC is provided with the resources and the manpower necessary to conduct its duties in a comprehensive and effective manner.
“This legislation will be of little comfort to ordinary citizens unless the dysfunctional relationship and clear lack of cooperation that exists between An Garda Síochána, the Garda Ombudsman and the Department of Justice is rectified. Morale in the ranks of the Gardaí has also been seriously damaged by the Government’s handling of the GSOC bugging controversy and the treatment of the Garda whistleblowers. This is an important opportunity for the Government to restore public confidence and confidence within the force in its independent oversight.
“Fianna Fáil has been calling on the Government to look at many of the measures that are contained in the Heads of the Garda Síochána (Amendment) Bill 2014 approved at Cabinet today. I previously brought legislation before the Dáil to strengthen the Ombudsman’s office but the Government dismissed these proposals.”
“The relationship between GSOC and the new Garda Authority must also be clarified in this legislation. It is important that the independence of GSOC is not compromised in any future legislative provisions on the new authority coming from the Department of Justice,” Deputy Collins added.