Commission will carry out Patten-style Garda review

The draft terms of a wide-ranging review of the Garda have been published
The draft terms of a wide-ranging review of the Garda have been published The draft terms of a wide-ranging review of the Garda have been published

A COMMISSION to examine the Garda will look at serious concerns surrounding the force including its culture and ethos.

The Republic's government yesterday published the commission's draft terms of reference.

Serious concerns have been raised about the Garda in recent months, including its treatment of whistleblowers and revelations that it grossly exaggerated the number of breath tests it claimed to have carried out.

The commission's draft terms said there are concerns about the accountability, leadership, management capacity, and the culture and ethos of the Garda.

It added that a fundamental review of the force is needed. The terms also cover agencies including the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, the Police Authority and the Department of Justice in their interactions with the Garda.

The review, expected to be called the Commission on Future Policing, will conduct a wide-ranging review of the Garda. It is expected to be similar to the Patten Commission into policing in the north which led to the establishment of the PSNI.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied he panicked and forced the resignation of former Garda chief Martin Callinan over revelations of unlawful telephone recording systems at Garda stations.

In the wake of a State inquiry into the affair, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Taoiseach of having been "alarmist" in pushing out Mr Callinan over the discovery of the decades-old secret taping system.

The Fennelly commission's final report, published last week, showed the consequences of the recordings as predicted by Mr Kenny, on the advice of the Attorney General Máire Whelan, were "significantly overestimated", he said.

"You said the entire criminal justice system could break down, convictions would be overturned, entire court proceedings would be rendered null and void," Mr Martin said in the Dáil.

"But more serious than that, it is very clear that the alarmist and overactive response of the government forced the removal of a Garda commissioner on that specific issue."

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan unexpectedly resigned in March 2014, the morning after a senior government official visited his house late at night to tell him he may have lost the confidence of the Cabinet over the phone-taping scandal.

Mr Kenny said the remarks about Ms Whelan were "quite extraordinary" in "attacking an officer of the State" who was not in the Dáil to defend herself.

The Attorney General could not have known the extent of the issues at the time and acted "quite appropriately" in bringing them to his attention, he said.

Mr Kenny said the interim findings of the Fennelly commission made it very clear he had no intention of forcing the resignation of Mr Callinan and that he had decided to retire.

"This was not a case of overreaction and panic," he said.

"It was a very important element of the security of the state and confidence in the gardaí."