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11 September 2017

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Government must seize opportunity to reform An Garda Síochána – Mary Lou McDonald TD

The culture of unaccountability in the senior ranks of An Garda Síochána has developed over decades under successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led governments. The responsibility lies at their door.

IN THE WEEK before the Dáil rose for the summer break the Public Accounts Committee published its report into the mismanagement of funds at Templemore Garda College and it was damning of Commissioner O’Sullivan’s handling of the controversy.

Calls for the Commissioner to step down were again made and again ignored by Government. Once again the Minister and the Taoiseach sat on their hands as controversy reigned within An Garda Síochána.

As a result of the Government’s continued inaction, public confidence in our gardaí is at an all-time low and morale within the force is at rock bottom. 

Noirin O Sullivan

• Outgoing Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan

The vast majority of gardaí are held in high regard by the public and are committed and dedicated public servants – but they have been badly served by senior management and by successive governments.

Nóirín O’Sullivan’s decision to retire is long overdue but welcome all the same. 

I wish her and her family all the best for the future. Though at times we clashed at the Public Account Committee’s hearings, there was never anything personal in it.

The simple fact was that her position was untenable and reforms so badly needed within the Garda could not be delivered on her watch.

The culture of unaccountability in the senior ranks of An Garda Síochána has developed over decades under successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led governments. The responsibility lies at their door.

Our new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, steadfastly stood by the old guard and allowed further damage to be inflicted on Garda morale and the public standing of An Garda Síochána.

Just last week he reiterated his support and confidence in Commissioner O’Sullivan, which was a mistake.

AP Sept 2017 front

While Commissioner O’Sullivan is now gone the problems in An Garda Síochána remain.

The Government must now use this as an opportunity to begin turning the ship around and start the process of reforming An Garda Síochána.

The first test for the Government will be its approach to replacing Commissioner O’Sullivan. 

Sinn Féin believes the replacement should come from outside this jurisdiction – somebody who has no link to any of the controversies currently engulfing the gardaí.

The Government’s steadfast refusal to remove Commissioner O’Sullivan shows the importance of empowering the Policing Authority to recommend the removal of a commissioner.  It should also have the power to recruit a commissioner.

Leo Varadkar – like Enda Kenny before him – is resisting Sinn Féin calls for a Patten-style commission to ensure a fully open and accountable policing service that operates to the highest international standards. 

That is Sinn Féin’s commitment should we be in government after the next election.

Ultimately, we need a government that is committed to reform An Garda Síochána and that is not afraid to act when major controversies come to light.  

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have so far failed that test.

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An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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Uncomfortable Conversations 

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An initiative for dialogue 

for reconciliation 

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Contributions from key figures in the churches, academia and wider civic society as well as senior republican figures

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