GRA questions Policing Authority's role in reviewing use of force by gardaí

Gra Questions Policing Authority's Role In Reviewing Use Of Force By Gardaí
GRA president Brendan O'Connor said members have been left “scratching their heads” over Helen McEntee's decision to task the Policing Authority to review the matter. Photo: PA Images
Share this article

Vivenne Clarke

The president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), Brendan O’Connor has questioned why Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has tasked the Policing Authority with reviewing the use of force by gardaí.

This was not the role of the Policing Authority, he told RTÉ radio’s News at One, adding that the Policing Authority did not have a statutory role.


It is the Director of Public Prosecutions that is the arbiter in such cases, he noted.

Mr O’Connor also expressed concern that gardaí have launched a criminal investigation into the role played by far-right online agitators in fomenting last Thursday's violence in Dublin city, and specifically the fact they seem to have identified a number of posts online seeking information on the home addresses of gardaí.



However, this was not something new, he said. Such activity had been seen in the past during protests against the introduction of water charges, and it was an issue which had been highlighted, he said.

“In France, it's a criminal offence to incite someone to identify or encourage violence against a member of the police service,” Mr O'Connor said.

“So there is possibly legislation, but it is very concerning.”

Asked about Ms McEntee's decision to task the Policing Authority with clarifying the situation about the use of force by gardaí, Mr O’Connor said his members were “scratching their heads” because the reason that members were reticent and hesitant to use force was because of their experience of the statutory functions exercised by Garda management, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), while the final arbiter of whether someone had acted proportionally was the Director of Public Prosecutions.


Our members who have acted proportionately in the past and acted lawfully have still found themselves dragged before the courts

“Our members who have acted proportionately in the past and acted lawfully have still found themselves dragged before the courts and put through a torturous experience, some of them suspended for years on end and many, many often then acquitted by either judges or by juries of their peers.

“So certainly the Policing Authority has no statutory function. They have no role in the process that has led to this,” he said.

Mr O’Connor also endorsed comments made by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at a meeting with Dublin City Councillors on Monday night, in which he said he did not want to see gardaí having to operate “with their hands tied behind their back”.


Mr O’Connor said this is an ongoing issue for gardaí across the country, not just in regard to mass public order incidents like last week's riots.

“I want to be very, very clear on this. We, our members, completely embrace accountability, completely embrace the need for a compliance structure,” he said.

“Basically, the way guards feel is it's the opposite of the criminal justice system – our members often feel that they are guilty until they prove their innocence.

“By the time their innocence has been proven, reputational damage and career damage is actually done,” he added, warning this is “impacting on the effectiveness of policing”.

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2024, developed by Square1 and powered by