Apologies to readers. Believe it or not I have been busy. What doing you may ask. Well for one, pouring over the detail in the second report of the Morris Tribunal.
The 688 page document makes for interesting reading. It’s almost the 8th of June, and already the explosive report has been all but forgotten. Even today on The Last Word, Minister McDowell applauded the Garda Commissioner, praising his hard work and defending his statements to the Tribunal.
Speaking as a citizen, I have a problem with ASBO’s being introduced or giving An Garda Siochana any more powers. The State should only be given more power over citizens when those powers are balanced with a system of recourse and accountability which is, at present, sorely lacking. If Gardai are to have more powers, it should only be in circumstances where scrutiny, culpability and transparency are to the fore, and where Garda corruption, incompetence, or indeed Garda criminality are properly and independently investigated. If McDowell wants to strengthen the Gardai, it should only be done while a Garda Ombudsman, similar if not identical to the model in Northern Ireland is established.
You could not get a more clear cut document than the Morris Tribunal report, indeed the whole thing is a work of absolute horror. For example section 6.36, (my emphasis):
There was evidence to suggest that a member of An Garda Síochána had been involved in a criminal offence while handling a police informer and in the course of his duties. This was not investigated. The responsibility for this lies with Chief Superintendent Denis Fitzpatrick and Superintendent Kevin Lennon. When, eventually, questions came to be asked, an inexcusable delay had occurred. The Commissioner of An Garda Síochána was entitled to know what his officers were doing in the course of their duties. It is utterly astonishing that in a modern European democracy a member of the police force, such as Garda John O’Dowd, is entitled, apparently, by virtue of the chaotic state of the discipline regulations and the failure of the Department of Justice to impose order and discipline on the force, to answer his superiors about a matter of vital interest to the Commissionerin an evasive, cunning and treacherous way.
The document itself, though long, is easy reading and has little legal language. But it only deals with very specific terms of reference, not taking into account the actions of the Department of Justice, the AG or the Minister for Justice. One has to ask the question, what do these people have to fear?
This issue will resurface again in the future in a different form. Perhaps an undercover operation, akin to the Nursing Home Prime Time program on RTE. An undercover journo recruited into the Gardai will unveil behaviour that may shock the nation into action. For now the State seems quite happy to say “We accept the report”, but feck all will be done in relation to its recommendations.
As a PS, a dedicated weblog would serve as a very good base from which to work, an anti-corruption blog if you will. It would help keep stories alive that the mainstream media have let slide, and serve as a forum for concerns about corruption. Anonymous weblog detailing stories of corruption anyone?