Garda associations dispute McDowell's comments on Garda Ombudsman

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) and the Garda Representative Association (GRA) have disputed claims by Michael McDowell, the Minister for Justice, that they threatened to refuse to cooperate with the forthcoming Garda Ombudsman Commission.

The Garda Ombudsman Commission is an independent body which will investigate complaints against gardaí, and replaces the Garda Complaints Board, which was largely seen as ineffective.

Speaking at the annual conference of the AGSI in Killarney on 10 April, Michael McDowell said, "I was extremely disappointed by the stance taken by AGSI and the GRA at a joint meeting with me that threatened to refuse to cooperate with the Ombudsman Commission by getting serving members to refuse to carry out investigations for and under the supervision of the Ombudsman Commission.

"That particular threat of non-cooperation was designed to make the Ombudsman Commission inoperable by requiring it to hire outside investigating officers for all its investigations." The threat was "not acceptable." He said, "While that threat of non-cooperation has not featured in the public domain of recent times, I feel that I should clearly signal that it would, if carried out, amount to an unlawful subversion of the functions of the Commission under the law."

Both the AGSI and GRA denied making any such threat. They said that they felt that the Garda Ombudsman Commission would work better if it did not have gardaí working on the investigation team, as is proposed, but that they would cooperate with the Commission regardless.

"This is dirty tactics by the Minister," said a GRA spokesperson.

John Byrne