Fitzgerald promises 'new era' for the Gardaí

By Mary Regan, Political Editor

The newly-appointed Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald has praised the garda whistle-blowers whose actions led to resignation of her predecessor, Alan Shatter, and promised a “new era and new culture.”

In her first press conference after receiving the ministerial seal of office from the President this afternoon, she said she was honoured to take up the position and the responsibilities involved.

She would not say whether serving garda, Maurice McCabe, should be allowed to access the Pulse system to carry out his duties, which she said was an "operational matter" for the force.

But she praised the work of him and another whistleblower, John Wilson.

"We do have to listen to critics of the system, we have to be open to hearing what they say, that is very important and I do intend to provide leadership in that regard," she said.

The Minister - who said she got a phone call from the Taoiseach late last night and a text message about the job at 6am this morning - said there has, in recent times, been a crisis of confidence about the gardaí “and that has to be dealt with and has to be changed.”

She said: “We need a new era, a new culture so that Irish citizens can have confidence in our policing system. Confidence in our police is a critical part of our democracy and confidence in our justice system is equally critical.”

Speaking on the steps of Government Buildings, the Minister paid tribute to Mr Shatter who she said brought in “critical reforms which will be of long-lasting benefit to citizens and our country”.

She said: “I do want to continue the reforming work that has begun in the Department of Justice on a whole range of issues: the legal services, marriage equality, family relationships bill, the equality agenda and very important as well that we establish the court of appeal.”

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