We are here today to publish two important reports recommending radical reform of the top management structure of An Garda Síochána.
The reports are by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the Garda Síochána Advisory Group chaired by Senator Maurice Hayes. Before outlining their recommendations, let me give some background information.
The Garda Síochána Inspectorate was established in July 2006. Its objective under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 is to ensure that the resources available to An Garda Síochána are used so as to achieve and maintain the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness in its operation and administration, as measured by reference to the best standards of comparable police services. This is its first report. Its members are Chief Inspector Kathleen O'Toole, former Police Commissioner of the City of Boston, Robert Olson, former Chief of Police for the City of Minneapolis, and Gwen Boniface, former Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.
The Advisory Group was appointed by me in August 2006 to advise the Garda Commissioner on addressing the leadership and management challenges currently facing the Garda Síochána. In addition to Senator Maurice Hayes, the members of the Group are Emer Daly, former Director of Strategic Planning and Risk Management with Axa Insurance, Maurice Keane, former Group Chief Executive of the Bank of Ireland, and Michael Mulreany, Assistant Director General of the Institute of Public Administration.
This is the Advisory Group's first, and interim, report to the Garda Commissioner.
Key recommendations of reports
Both reports recommend enhanced civilian support for senior Garda management. Specifically, they recommend a new civilian post at Deputy Garda Commissioner level to deal with administration and resource management, including areas such as finance and information technology. I should explain here that there are currently two Deputy Commissioners, but that recruitment is under way of a third Deputy Commissioner to deal with strategic change management. Both reports support this development, and the Advisory Group specifically supports the decision I made to extend eligibility for this post beyond Assistant Commissioners to Chief Superintendents. Both reports also envisage the retention of the existing Deputy Commissioner for Operations, with the new civilian post effectively replacing the other existing Deputy Commissioner post for Strategic and Resource Management. The Garda Inspectorate Report recommends that the civilian should be recruited in time to work through a transition period with the current Deputy Commissioner for Strategic and Resource Management before replacing him on his retirement. The new post would carry the title of Chief Administrative Officer, Resource Management.
Both reports also recommend other important changes. Both recommend a new post of Assistant Commissioner for professional standards, reporting direct to the Garda Commissioner. The Garda Inspectorate report also recommends that three new executive civilian posts should be created, namely Legal Advisor, Director of Human Resource Management and Director of ICT. More generally, the Advisory Group urges accelerated recruitment of civilian support staff so as to release Gardaí for operational duties.
The Advisory Group also calls for the maximum delegation of operational responsibility to the Assistant Commissioners in charge of the Regions, with appropriate support by civilian staff in areas such as finance, HR and analysis. The Garda Inspectorate report also recognises the central role of these Regional Commissioners and the core policing functions they exercise, and recommends a realignment of the An Garda Síochána's organisational chart to reflect their importance.
Response to reports
I very much welcome these timely reports as a very significant contribution to the current reform and renewal of An Garda Síochána. I have said on many occasions, and I say it again here now, that An Garda Síochána is one of the key organisations in the State, and one which has so many decent, dedicated and capable men and women. They are entitled to the fullest possible range of support. They deserve expert civilian support staff and an organisational structure which frees them to use their skill and experience on operational policing duties. These reports are a major step in that direction.
The Government is fully supportive of these recommendations and I will now be discussing their speedy implementation with the Garda Commissioner. I want to express my appreciation to Commissioner Conroy for his unwavering support throughout the ongoing process of reform which the Force is undergoing. He is leading and implementing more fundamental change than the organisation has seen over the course of its 84 years in existence. Both the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the Advisory Group have consulted extensively with the Commissioner and many members of the Gardaí in coming to their conclusions and I believe that these reforms open up the prospect of a hugely enhanced policing service for the people of this country. I am confident that the necessary resources will be made available for these reforms.
I should emphasise, in conclusion, that these reports are the beginning and not the end of a process of reform and modernisation. The report of the Advisory Group is an interim one, and the Garda Síochána Inspectorate will be reporting on many other aspects of the administration and operation of the Garda Síochána. I want to thank the members of the Advisory Group and the Inspectorate for the work they have put into these reports, and I also want to acknowledge the co-operation they have received from An Garda Síochána.
7 November 2006