“The establishment of the Policing Authority delivers a sea-change in the oversight of policing in the State which I committed to when I assumed office” - Fitzgerald

“The Authority will provide a new, effective and independent forum for the public oversight of policing services in Ireland."

 

1st January, 2016

 

Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality, has today welcomed the formal establishment of the Policing Authority, which she said marked a new era in policing in Ireland.

 

Minister Fitzgerald said: “The establishment of an independent Policing Authority represents a key element of the Government’s comprehensive programme of justice reform and delivers a sea-change in the oversight of policing in the State which I committed to when I assumed office. The Authority is now in place and ready to begin its very important work.”

 

“The Authority will provide a new, effective and independent forum for the public oversight of policing services in Ireland."

 

The core function of the Authority will be to oversee the performance by the Garda Síochána of its functions in relation to policing services. It will hold regular meetings with the Garda Commissioner; at least 4 of these meetings each year will be open to the public and the media will be able to broadcast them. Its other functions include approving Garda strategy statements and annual policing plans, setting priorities and performance targets for the Garda Síochána, and making appointments to senior Garda ranks. Importantly, the Authority will be able to request the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and/or the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to initiate an inspection or inquiry or to examine Garda practices or procedures.

 

Among the Authority’s first tasks will be the approval of the overall Garda strategy for 2016-2018 and the development of a Code of Ethics for Garda members and civilian staff.

 

Under the new governance arrangements, the Garda Commissioner will retain operational independence and the Minister will remain accountable for policing to the Oireachtas; the framework in which these functions are exercised will change to reflect the new oversight role of the Authority.

 

The Minister added: “I do not underestimate the challenges in introducing new structures into as sensitive and important an area as policing, which goes to the heart of the State’s duties to its people. We must support what is good and improve those areas where we can do better. Having worked closely with the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, and the Chairperson of the Authority, Josephine Feehily, over the last several months, I know there is a real unity of purpose around the need to promote a continuous improvement in policing and a determination to work together to achieve that.”

 

The Minister also welcomed the appointment of the membership of the Policing Authority, whom she described as a team of the highest calibre: “The quality of those who sought appointment to the Authority reflects the central importance of policing in the lives of our citizens and the desire of people from all different backgrounds to contribute to its ongoing improvement. I am delighted that the membership of the Authority reflects such a range of achievement, knowledge and experience.”

 

Ends…/

 

Note for Editors:

 

Background

The establishment of a Policing Authority is a key element of the Government’s programme of justice reform and was highlighted as a priority in the Statement of Government Priorities 2014 – 2016. A Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform, chaired by An Taoiseach, was established in April 2014 and has overseen the development of the legislative proposals for the new Authority.

 

The views of the public on the proposal to establish a new Authority were sought by way of a Government public consultation process that took place in May 2014. In addition, a consultation seminar on justice reform was hosted by the Minister for Justice and Equality on 20 June 2014 at Farmleigh House, attended by some 100 participants. The purpose of the seminar was to provide a platform for key stakeholders and persons with an interest in Garda reform to discuss elements of the Government justice reform programme.

 

Following a public consultation process and a number of hearings with interested parties, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality published a report of its review of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 in October 2014. A number of the report’s recommendations relate to the establishment of a new Policing Authority and the Committee’s recommendations were taken into account in the drafting of the legislation.

 

The provisions of the Bill are generally in line with the Scheme of a Bill published by the Minister in November 2014. The Joint Oireachtas Committee considered the Scheme, by way of pre-legislative scrutiny, and broadly welcomed its proposals.

 

The Chairperson and members of the Authority were selected for appointment following selection processes run by the Public Appointments Service.

 

Functions of the Authority

The main function of the Authority will be to oversee the performance by the Garda Síochána of its functions relating to policing services. The Authority’s functions include:

 

- keeping under review the adequacy in the Garda Síochána of:

· the corporate governance arrangements and structures;

· the arrangements for the recruitment, training and development of the members and members of the civilian staff;

· the mechanisms in place for the measurement of performance and accountability of members and civilian staff; and

· the arrangements for managing and deploying the available resources.

 

- regular meetings with the Garda Commissioner, at least 4 of which will be held in public each year and broadcast;

 

- nominating persons for appointment by the Government to the posts of Garda Commissioner and Deputy Garda Commissioner, and recommending their removal in certain circumstances,;

 

- appointing persons to the ranks of Superintendent, Chief Superintendent and Assistant Commissioner (and removing them for reasons related to policing services);

 

- determining (with the agreement of the Minister) Garda priorities in relation to policing services;

 

- approving (with the agreement of the Minister) the 3 year Garda strategy statement;

 

- approving (with the agreement of the Minister) the annual policing plan;

 

- establishing a Garda code of ethics;

 

- promoting and supporting the continuous improvement of policing in the State;

 

- accounting, as appropriate, to the Public Accounts Committee and to other Oireachtas Committees;

 

- requesting the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and/or the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to initiate an inspection or inquiry or to examine Garda practices or procedures;

 

- monitoring, assessing and reporting to the Minister on the measures taken by the Garda Síochána in relation to recommendations made in a report of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate; and

 

- exercising the current functions of the Minister in relation to Joint Policing Committees.

 

Members

· Josephine Feehily is former chairperson of the Revenue Commissioners;

· Noel Brett is the CEO of Banking and Payments Federation Ireland and former CEO of the Road Safety Authority;

· Bob Collins is a former Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and former Director General of RTE;

· Vicky Conway is a lecturer in Law, Dublin City University and former senior Lecturer in Law, Kent Law School;

· Patrick Costello is the CEO of Chartered Accountants Ireland, former CEO of the Irish Tax Institute and former officer in the Defence Forces;

· Judith Gillespie is a Policing and Leadership Adviser and former Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland;

· Valerie Judge is a Management Consultant specialising in strategic planning, governance, HR, process leadership and change, the Chair of Ruhama, and a former Director of Shared Services in the HSE Eastern Region;

· Maureen Lynott is the former Chair of the Top Level Advisory Committee (TLAC) and the taskforce to establish the Child & Family Agency;

· Moling Ryan is a Barrister and the former Chief Executive of the Legal Aid Board and Director of Human Resources and Change Management in the Courts Service.