Monday, April 10, 2017

Update 2.25pm: Seven out of ten people don’t believe there’s enough investment in crime prevention in rural areas.

That’s one of the findings of a survey carried out on behalf of the AGSI, whose annual conference begins this evening.

150 delegates representing more than 2000 garda sergeants and inspectors will attend the three day conference in Kerry to debate motions set down before the latest scandals to hit the force.

The poll was carried out before the recent revelations on the inflation of breath tests and wrongful convictions, which the association agrees has damaged the force.

However, General Secretary John Jacob said he doesn’t think the research is out of date.

“I don’t think the facts would have changed, the public would like to see the Government investing in the Garda organisation and policing generally.”

Since that poll by Red C, we’ve learned that almost a million breath tests were faked and that there were close to 15,000 wrongful convictions for penalty points

President of the AGSI, Antoinette Cunningham admitted those revelations were hugely damaging.

“I really think it is incumbent on everybody involved in law and order in this country to come together now and see what we can do to rebuild public trust.”

The Garda Commissioner will attend the conference tomorrow, and for the moment, AGSI leadership wouldn’t be drawn on whether they still have confidence in Noirin O’Sullivan.

Sergeant Cunningham said she would rather focus on regaining the trust of the public, and rebuilding the morale of her members.

Update 10.50am: The AGSI president has issued a warning to Frances Fitzgerald, that ordinary gardaí must be consulted as part of the forthcoming root and branch review of the force.

The Tanaiste and Minister for Justice (pictured) was invited to attend their annual conference in Killarney, which starts today.

She initially accepted, but the AGSI said she later had to cancel, citing Dáil business – something President Antoinette Cunningham says she will address in a speech this evening.

This morning, she has hit out at the list of groups Frances Fitzgerald wants consulted as part of the review, because she said regular members haven’t been mentioned.

“Fundamental reform and change in any organisation cannot succeed unless people communicate with the people who are doing the job,” Ms Cunningham said.

“We are asking the Minister for Justice to publicly state that in any reform process the very people who are doing the job on a daily basis must be communicated with and must be consulted on it.”

Update 9am: More than half the country thinks Gardaí should have the right to strike according to a new poll.

The RedC survey was carried out on behalf of middle-ranking officers, who will hold their annual conference in Killarney today.

The Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan will address delegates tomorrow as the latest scandals see calls for her resignation.

AGSI deputy general secretary Donal Smyth said they are eager to talk to her too.

“This is where we get our chance to address the Commissioner.

“As representative associations, you have to ask the difficult questions of your management. The Garda Commissioner is coming down to us tomorrow evening and it will be interesting to see what the results are of the issues we raise with her on the day.”

Earlier: Mid-ranking Gardai are calling for pedestrians and cyclists to be obliged to wear hi-visibility clothing and helmets.

It is just one of close to 30 motions to be debated by 150 delegates representing over 2000 sergeants and inspectors gathering in Killarney for their annual conference.

However with two motions of confidence concerning the Garda Commissioner before the Dail this week, the spotlight will be on Noirín O’Sullivan when she addresses the AGSI tomorrow.

The official theme of the AGSI’s annual conference is Modernising the Industrial Relations Landscape, but scandal after scandal hitting the force is impacting on Garda sergeants and inspectors.

There is no mention in the conference motions of investigations into whistleblowers, wrongful convictions for penalty points, false breathalyser data or the upcoming root and branch review of An Garda Siochana.

Noirin O’Sullivan will address the conference tomorrow, just ahead of a Fianna Fáil motion calling for the Policing Authority to review her position, before Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in the Commissioner on Wednesday.

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