Is An Garda Síochána Accountable to the Irish People?

Date01 January 2015
AuthorDenis S. Kennedy
Is An Garda Síochána accountable to the
Irish people?
An Garda Síochána has been the unitary police force of the southern Irish
state since 1923.1 Manning argues that An Garda Síochána epitomises the
relationship the State has with the Irish people, stating “An Garda Síochána
… [has] a unique history and function … [and] a powerful connection to
the emergence of Irish culture and the independent nation.”2 Consequently,
An Garda Síochána’s continued public support is dependent upon the
condence the Irish population possesses for its practices and accountability
in protecting fundamental human rights.3 Effective police accountability
measures derive from many sources such as: the law of tort, the law of
evidence and the judicial review remedy.4 However, the constraints on this
article require focus to be placed upon two crucial areas within the Irish
criminal justice process needing precise accountability measures; namely,
internal Garda discipline procedures and the detention of suspects at
Garda stations. These areas are pivotal in the process because they both
possess the power to transmit condence to the public that appropriate
procedures are being observed. To conduct this analysis, the article is
divided into three parts. Part one assesses An Garda Síochána’s internal
disciplinary regulations and the regulations on the detention of suspects.
After comparing the equivalent instruments in England and Wales, part
one argues that the absence of dened procedural guidelines for An Garda
Síochána contributes to insufcient accountability. Part two argues for
increased oversight by examining the legislative foundation of the Garda
Síochána Ombudsman Commission [hereinafter the Ombudsman]. Part
three critically assesses the Ombudsman’s role in ensuring Garda Síochána
accountability and argues that the Ombudsman is not adequately involved
in complaints lodged against Gardaí.
1 Garda Síochána (Temporary Provisions) Act 1923 (No. 37), s.2 (1)
2 Peter K. Manning, “Trust and accountability in Ireland: the case of An Garda Síochána
(2012) 22(3) Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy
346, p.350
3 Garda Síochána Act 2005, s.7(1)(c)
4 Dermot P.J. Walsh, Human Rights and Policing in Ireland: Law, Policy and Practice
(Dublin: Clarus Press, 2009), pp.314–320
07[06] Kennedy.indd 145 03/06/2015 15:14

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