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Garda malpractice may not be an isolated incident, Commissioner Drew Harris says

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris addresses a meeting of the policing authority in Dublin Castle on Thursday. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association
Michelle Devane, Press Association

The Garda Commissioner has warned the faults within the service are so "deep-seated" that he cannot be sure it is not continuing to happen.

Drew Harris said the Garda malpractice uncovered by Mr Justice Peter Charleton "may not be an isolated incident" and that he would be "very foolish" to ignore that possibility.

Mr Harris made the comments at a meeting of the policing authority on Thursday.

The commissioner told members of the authority that "a serious deficiency" had been highlighted.

"The faults that it outlines were deep-seated," he said.

He added that he had to be aware that the "risk" still arose of "very negative culture breeding very negative behaviours" in some parts of the organisation.

"This may not be an isolated incident and it would be foolish to ignore that opinion," the commissioner said.

The Charleton report, which was published last month, praised former sergeant Maurice McCabe, who faced unfounded and false allegations of a sexual assault.

The Disclosures Tribunal found former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan was part of a "campaign of calumny" against Mr McCabe, actively aided by his former press officer, Superintendent David Taylor.

Mr Harris said he accepted the report in its entirety and that by doing so he had to accept "some very critical comments" that were levelled at the force.

He commended Mr McCabe, adding the outcome of the report highlighted the "importance of speaking up".

"Maurice McCabe did a great service in terms of flagging of these issues," he said.

He added that he wanted a "responsive" policing service, one that was held to account and that people had trust and faith in, and that gardai had a duty to the public that came ahead of any loyalty to the force.

When asked about measures he would take to rectify issues, he said he would be carrying out an investigation into corruption to see the scale of the issue and would address the problems that they find.

He added that he wanted to update the code of discipline as it was "ripe for modernisation".

The commissioner plans to outline in a policy plan in the new year his vision for the force. He said it would focus on behaviour, on corporate governance and risk management.

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