10 February 2017
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) today expressed its concerns at the ongoing controversy surrounding the treatment of Garda whistle-blower Sergeant Maurice McCabe and notes that issues arising may be so profound as to require a broader response engaging institutions beyond the proposed Commission of Investigation.
The potential involvement of a range of state agencies in the alleged smear campaign against Sergeant McCabe run to the very heart of the Ireland’s justice system and its political system, even raising issues of public confidence in the State’s child protection systems.
While the ICCL has consistently called for a robust and a comprehensive Commission of Investigation to address the issue of the treatment of Garda whistle-blowers, it is now clear that wider issues central to the future of policing and the vindication of rights also fall to be addressed.
Speaking today, ICCL Executive Director Mr Liam Herrick said: “Information which has been placed into the public domain in the last 48 hours including very serious allegations of misconduct in the treatment of Sgt Maurice McCabe raise very serious questions for accountability and oversight across a range state agencies which must be addressed if the public is to retain full confidence in the administration of justice and policing in Ireland. The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality must ensure that the proposed Commission of Inquiry is constituted to ‘stop the rot’ and that measures to ensure meaningful reform of policing and justice are implemented without delay.”
“As a first step, the Tánaiste should consider broadening the scope and authority of the Commission to investigate matters it deems pertinent to complete its work, including, but not limited to, the actions of Tusla – Child and Family Agency, while ensuring that this is achieved within a specified time frame.”, he added.
Drawing attention to the time frame in which the Commission of Investigation will conduct its work, Mr Herrick noted:
“It is imperative that Judge Charelton is empowered to reach full conclusions within a specified timeframe and can do so while respecting and vindicating the rights of all parties to the Investigation. However, it is equally important that the Government and the relevant oversight bodies now accelerate the wider process of Garda reform. From the seriousness of the issues that arise in this case, it is clear that Garda reform to date has been partial, and that systemic and cultural resistance to reform remains.”
While the ICCL acknowledges the significant steps taken to reform whistle-blower practice within An Garda Síochána, including the input of the Policing Authority, the public must be provided with concrete assurances that reforms, including the recommendations of the Policing Authority, have been adopted and are being implemented.
The ICCL also notes that while the Garda Inspectorate is charged with undertaking inspections and inquiries into aspects of policing, it may have a role in play in examining the general issues of data control and data protection within An Garda Síochána, and the issues of the interaction between An Garda Síochána and the media. Similarly, issues of concern to the Data Protection Commissioner should not be overlooked.
For more information, please contact ICCL at:
Ph: 01 799 4504