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Whistleblower support not complete, Garda chief admits

Garda chief Noirin O’Sullivan has admitted whistleblowers within the force still face obstacles in speaking up about wrongdoing.

Under questioning from official watchdog the Policing Authority, Ms O’Sullivan said there was a lot of work going on behind the scenes to rectify the shortcomings.

“Have we got it right as of now? Absolutely no,” she said.

“The policy is right, it is certainly compliant with the legislation.

“What we are working very hard at is working with Transparency Ireland and others to makes sure we put that mechanism in place that ensures people can speak up confidently.”

Ms O’Sullivan was being cross-examined in the first of two public meetings dealing with the fall-out of the O’Higgins Commission report.

The latest inquiry into Garda wrongdoing upheld a catalogue of bad policing in the Cavan and Monaghan district after a lengthy battle to expose it by Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Ms O’Sullivan said a major survey ordered by the Garda on the public’s views about the force will be published on Thursday.

Gurchand Singh, Garda head of analysis services, has previously indicated the survey shows almost a third of people who deal with the Garda are not happy with the force.

The study is also expected to confirm younger people and men are more likely to be dissatisfied with their experience of policing.

As part of ongoing reforms, gardai are also carrying out “focus groups” with crime victims to gauge their response to the service.

Ms O’Sullivan said the Garda has been accused of being “insular, defensive and resistant to change” but that she wanted to see an open and collaborative service.

It is “time to move towards a true service” but this was “not going to happen overnight”, she told the watchdog.

A protected disclosure manager – who will oversee whistleblower allegations within the force – has been appointed since the O’Higgins report, she said.

Although the manager is a serving Garda, she would not rule out a civilian being appointed to the role now that a recruitment freeze has been relaxed.

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Ms O’Sullivan said the number of whistleblower allegations made within the force was currently in single figures.

She is to appear before the Policing Authority again later this month.

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