Fianna Fáil has today published a Bill to extend the scope and powers of the Garda Siochána Oversight Commission. Following a series of recent controversies, Fianna Fáil have argued that GSOC needs to be strengthened in order to allow it properly carry out its function and restore public confidence in oversight. The development comes as concern grows about the scope and extent of Minister Shatter’s proposed inquiry into the bugging controversy.
The Fianna Fáil Bill:
– Makes the Garda Commissioner responsible to GSOC;
– Allows GSOC investigate complaints about the conduct of individual Gardaí made by other Gardaí;
– Gives GSOC access to the PULSE computer system;
– Allows GSOC reach informal resolution of complaints without requiring consent; and;
– Allows GSOC examine any AGS practice, policy or procedure in order to prevent complaints arising.
Launching the Bill at Leinster House today, the Party’s Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins commented, “It has been increasingly clear over recent months that the law governing the activity of GSOC needs to be updated and extended. Fianna Fáil is proud to have introduced the function in the first place, but the time has clearly come to further strengthen the organisation.
“This need has become even more urgent following the activities of the Government over the last week. The systematic effort to undermine the organisation, led by the Taoiseach and implemented enthusiastically by Alan Shatter and his allies is a source of major concern and a real threat to public confidence in our system of law and order. Earlier today, the Government announced with great fanfare that it has listened to critics and will have a judge-led inquiry into the GSOC bugging controversy. However, as more information emerges about the inquiry it becomes less and less clear that the inquiry will do what is needed. Specifically, Fianna Fáil would have major concerns about the scope of the inquiry and the fact that it will report to the Minister, who will also set the terms of reference.
“As a constructive party of opposition, fully committed to protecting public confidence in An Garda Siochána, Fianna Fáil is today publishing a realistic and robust Bill that will counter the threat posed by those seeking to undermine GSOC and help restore faith in the ability of the organisation to scrutinise the work of our police service.
“We believe that the mishandling of this crisis by Government has damaged faith in these institutions and this is our attempt to help undo that damage. I would call on deputies from all parties, who have spoken privately and publicly about their unease with the behaviour of the Taoiseach and Minister for Justice, to get behind this Bill and support its passage.”